THE SCARIEST THING

I was terrified.

Was it a big hairy spider? A home invader? A tornado? A threatened lawsuit? A burst pipe? A volcanic eruption (in New England, that would really be something else!) … ?

No. My computer refused to boot. It got to the “welcome” screen then just sat there. Going around and around and around. It has never done that. It was fine when we left to go to the grocery store. No blue screens of death or anything at all. It was computering along uncomplaining. Fine, thank you.

But. It. Would. Not. Boot.

I put it in “safe mode with networking” and restored it to the last save point … two days ago. And now, it’s fine again. No idea what happened except for a tiny, brief message that said “new drivers installed” then vanished — this while it was in “safe mode.” What drivers? I didn’t install any new equipment and the only driver I regularly upgrade is for my graphics card.

72-Alien Computer-B_06

So I have no idea what happened, but my heart is pounding and I’ve got a headache. I think my blood pressure just went into the stratosphere.

Although the computer is essential to my life, in fact everything on it would be easy enough to restore. Photographs and documents are safely stored on two external hard drives. My virtual life is on various clouds somewhere out in the Ether World — WordPress, Google, the bank, Amazon and probably a few others I can’t think of offhand. Other than Photoshop which I have on DVD, all my software is easy enough to replace by downloading.  Yet having my computer not boot filled me with dread and a horrible feeling of powerlessness. I think I’m less afraid of spiders … and that’s saying something because I’m really phobic about arachnids.

I will never know what happened. A virus? A bad download? Nothing is supposed to download to this system without my permission. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like Windows 10. You can’t turn off automatic downloads. I hate when things happen and I have no control over them.

If I wasn’t sure how important my computer is in my world, this absolutely showed me the bare, ugly truth. I need my computer like I need air. How did it come to this?

And wasn’t it a long way down.

32 thoughts on “THE SCARIEST THING

  1. I’ve been having that sort of issue with my computer for the last couple of months. I’ll be working away and suddenly it will freeze, or it will lose connection to the internet, or ~ ~ ~. I find that if I shut it down and unplug it for a moment, then plug it in and begin again, it usually solves whatever the problem was, although I need to remember to be patient and reboot it slowly. It’s frustrating to the nth degree — but I think that MS has been sending updates.

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    • Well, I don’t have Windows 10 because I don’t want Microsoft sticking stuff into my system without my looking at it first, but despite my settings, they tried (and failed) multiple times to install Windows 10 — even though I had NOT agreed to it. So … yeah, possibly. Still, this was strange. There were no updates showing. Nothing. Losing the connection happens all the time, but that’s because of Charter’s unstable servers.

      Plus, this is a laptop, so you can’t unplug it. You can (usually) force it to reboot, but if that doesn’t work, your goose is well and truly cooked. I’ve been looking at computers for a while because I know, like it or not, there’s going to be a new one in in my future. But hopefully, not this week or this year. I really can’t afford to replace this beast yet. I need to get a few other expenses paid off first!

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  2. Ya t’ink maybe we are too much attached to the computer?

    I go into panic mode when a program asks me for a password that I set and forget and never think about again. Until a program asks me to verify. Yes, I have them stored. But sometimes the password I have isn’t the one that the program wants.
    At that point the blue screen of death would be preferable.

    I think I liked computing when you still had to know what you were doing to download a program, type in the information, and basically run your stuff yourself. It took forever, but by god it was yours. Now we are at the mercy of Apple, or Microsoft, and not only does the software belong to them, so do we.

    Deep breaths, pleasant thoughts, you’ll be okay once your lungs start taking in air again.

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    • I took my blood pressure medication and I’m breathing deeply. I’m hoping this wasn’t a warning shot across the bow that the distant future computer will be a lot sooner than I want. I HATE new computers. I hate the price, I hate the week of work it takes me to turn a new machine into “my” computer. But right now, most of all, I really can’t afford it. I need at least six months to a year to pay for all the dental work we’ve both had. I have to hope this was just some weird glitch and it won’t recur.

      And yes, I really hate the lack of control we have over our computers these days. For the first time, I’m seriously considering Linnux. At least you get to own your computer.

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  3. At the moment Windows 10 is on its knees and begging me to do an update of the Windows Defender. It is bitterly disappointed that I have my own private virus system which does not allow the Defender. Mr. Swiss had a look and said if you have a firewall, then what could possibly happen. I believed him, discovered that I have a firewall, and so am ignoring the windows defender. They also tried to push me into a sort of Windows crap cleaner version, begging me to update. I made a decision, I threw it out of my system, it is now dead, no longer breathing. Edge is another intruder, which I have managed to ignore up to now as I am a Chrome person. I sometimes feel like a lion tamer at the circus keeping these intruders under control.

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    • This is one of many concerns I have about getting a new computer. You should have virus protection of some kind. Firewalls can and do fail. Windows free virus protection works as well as anything else. It’s what I use. Even if I had an unlimited budget, I’d have a hard time deciding what to buy. Nothing is ever simple.

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  4. We get computers which do that occasionally at work. Holding the power button in until it turns of and then switching it back on again always does the trick for us.
    It’s possible your laptop came with that Dell manager thing pre-installed – mine always have. That download drivers, BIOS flashes etc behind the scenes. Sometimes it pops up and tells me it’s installed something and needs to reboot. You can uninstall it if you have it and don’t want it, we did on all the work machines.
    Although I haven’t managed to stop my Windows 10 downloading updates (which I want anyway), I’ve fiddled with Group Policy to stop it installing and randomly rebooting. It’s a start – at least I can control the install.

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    • And that is exactly what I did. And … it would not boot. Not all the way. It got to the welcome then spun round and round and round. I finally got it to boot into Safe Mode and from there, restored it backward a couple of days and that seems to have fixed it. Which suggests that something downloaded without my permission and gummed up the works. But it was weird because the computer was not ON while I was out. I don’t leave mine in sleep mode. I actually turn it off when I’m going to be away for an hour or more, so it shouldn’t have been possible. But lately, I’ve found that a lot of impossible things happen in the computer world. Maybe something had downloaded before I turned it off and when I turned it back on, it grabbed the OS and locked it up. Microsoft isn’t the only company after my computer. There’s also Adobe and Google who don’t bother to ask permission and ignore it even if I say no. Also, if they want to update something and they send a brief warning, if I don’t respond during the nanosecond it’s on my screen, they just go ahead. The last update that brought my computer down was a recent version of the NVIDIA driver. I had to wait to they came out with a newer driver and use that, just refusing to use the one that turned my graphics software to rubble.

      Too many downloads, updates, and other pointless system alterations. I’m convinced that much of this is unnecessary. They are correction to the upgrades which are themselves additions to or corrections to previous “updates.”

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  5. My entire life is on my computer, so boy, can I relate! I have ESET Smart Security, and everything’s backed up onto Carbonite because I’m so paranoid about losing it all. If that happened, I might have to go drown myself in the toilet.

    Man, how things change. When I was a sprout (many moons ago), we had one phone, a big black table model with a dial and handset, a radio and a television. And that was it. And I can remember when we didn’t have the t.v. 🙂

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  6. I can imagine what a nasty feeling that was. I remember you getting that laptop. It wasn’t so long ago although by computer standards I suppose it was but certainly you would be hoping not to get another one for some time. I find being disconnected very frustrating. A few months ago my ISP decided to update its firmware and ended up ‘killing” hundreds of modems by sending them into some kind of infinite loop. I had to get a new one which they paid for but for a week I had no internet. If I have an addiction I’m afraid that is it.

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    • It’s heading into three years for this laptop, but this is still as good as anything I could buy to replace it. And replacing it would NOT be cheap. This was a very expensive machine and anything that is as good or even nearly as good cost just as much now as it did three years ago. Moreover, I don’t WANT a new computer. I like this one just fine.

      This is really worse than an addiction. You can break free of addiction, but how do you break free of all the tools you use to run your life … and create whatever you feel is your art? I don’t even know how to function without a computer. As my body has gotten less agile, the stuff I do online has more or less filled in the blank spots. I’m just hoping it was a glitch and that’s it.

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  7. This must be the time for computer breakdowns as I have been having similar problems….but mine warned me my hard drive was corrupted so back up your stuff before you lose it.
    Well, long story short, I am getting a new hard drive but now also have to get new Microsoft Word and who knows what else if I am to ever be able to call up all the stuff I have backed up safe someplace else.
    Is this one of those darned if you do and darned if you don’t situations?
    In any case, thanks for sharing. Have a great day.

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    • I got that hard drive warning once, but before I got it through my head what was happening, the hard drive died. Game over. At least I back up my stuff these days, but somehow, it doesn’t comfort me as much as it should. I have often found that backed up information becomes inaccessible exactly when you need it.

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  9. That is definitely a scary time indeed. I know this post is over a month now, but I just wanted to add that you could have checked the event viewer to see what driver was re-installed. Your issue doesn’t seem like a driver issue though, otherwise you most likely would have most likely seen the BSOD. Could have been a corrupt .dll file that randomly craps out under Windows 10. I’m not a fan of the OS myself.

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    • I ended up getting a new computer and retiring the older one to use as “the other computer.” I still don’t know what happened, but that one is Win 7 Pro and the new on is Win 10 Pro. I like the pro versions. They are usually more stable than the home versions. As one of my old bosses used to say, “there’s always a reason why something happens. The question is whether or not the amount of time and effort you’ll have to invest in figuring out exactly what it was probably exceeds the value of the knowledge gained.” Not to mention that I’m not a developer and past a certain point, I simply can’t go any further. It hasn’t happened again, but I’m not beating it to death anymore. My primary computer does a lot of miles for me and I need to be able to absolutely depend on it. I think the previous one was just a little short of what it needed. This one seems to do everything with grace. Two years from now? That’ll be the test, I guess. I didn’t want to buy a new computer, but in the end, I did and I’m not sorry except when the bills come in. There has been a huge leap in software since the last one, not to mention the architecture is different and, I think, better. Time will tell. It probably was a corrupt file of some kind. I tried to install Win 10 on it and it errored out not once, but three times. I am pretty sure that it caused some problems that may never be found or fixed, but occasionally pop up without warning. Computers — especially high-end computers — really don’t like new OS installs. This new one was born for win 10. The other one, not. This had better be the LAST one because I am not getting any richer!

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