Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Great Computer Crash

My Dell laptop is over three years old. That's like 21 years in dog years and about the same in computer years. It crashed the other day. For some inexplicable reason, I left it on while I ran some errands and came home to find the screen black with a message that it couldn't find some file, so I rebooted it. It wouldn't start up, so with an amazing calmness (for me anyway--one must remember that I have no patience and being disconnected from the internet for more than several hours at a time completely freaks me out...), I pulled out my Operating System CD and started to reinstall Windows XP.

This required booting up with the CD drive, which required me to hold the drive door shut so the computer would read the CD (it's been a little tricky for ages now...). About an hour later, I had everything back up and running--although I spent another hour or so running virus checks and file scans just to be safe. Reloading Windows caused a couple of quirks--the first was that I kept getting message alerts that my registry files needed cleaning. Are you @#$% kidding me? After I spent 2-3 hours reinstalling Windows and running scans? Turns out the problem was "fixed" by disabling the alert system. My sister used to cover weird car noises by turning up the radio, but I don't think this is the same thing...

The second "quirk" occurred when I went to recharge my iPod. Within seconds iTunes erased almost 100 songs off my nano because my computer wasn't authorized to share them. Now THAT freaked me out. But a quick search of the iTunes help showed that you can authorized your computer by logging into iTunes. Whew! That's a relief. I guessed the authorization got wiped out with the XP reinstall. So I logged into iTunes to have it authorize my laptop and got all but 34 of my songs returned to my iPod. Started freaking out again until I realized that I must have purchased the other 34 songs under another iTunes account. So I logged into the iTunes store using my old e-mail address (Lycos--aka "Spam Central") and was able to recover the other 34 tunes.

It's kind of weird that iTunes has this Big Brother thing going on. I mean, you can authorize up to five computers to share your tunes and the only songs iTunes had "issues" with were the ones I purchased from iTunes. Songs copied from my CD collection (and uh, "other" sources...) required no authorization. How strange is that?

All's well that ends well and I'm thankful my computer is running just fine right now. Couldn't live without it! Amazing how dependent we've become on them--really only in the last decade or so. Useful for research, obtaining and distributing information, making and maintaining connections--and this story in the Washington Post epitomizes everything that's so great about the computer and the Internet: Amateur Sleuths Name Anonymous Dead. Through perseverance and the use of technology, civilians are tracking down the identities of Jane and John Does.

A much better use of the Internet than downloading porn, in my opinion...

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