Saturday, August 04, 2007

Newsletter Thursday

I am the Webmaster and the editor of the newsletter for an organization I belong to, and every Thursday I spend the better part of the day writing up the week’s program and updating the Web site. This week was an especially frustrating experience.

When the weather is nice I take the laptop out on the deck and work on the outdoor table that has an umbrella over it to keep the sun off me. This week, as with many summer days, there was the possibility of a late afternoon/early evening thundershower, but when it was time to write up Tuesday’s program, the sun was shining. After lunch I went back outside and went to work finishing the write-up, and around 2 p.m. completed the task. At that point I had to go inside to the office at set up the Web pages and upload the newsletter and other updated pages to the Web host. After about a half-hour, I realized that there was some information that I needed that I had left on the table outside.

When I climbed the stairs from the basement office I could see sunshine on the hillside out back through the door to the deck, but when I got to the top of the stairs and could see the deck itself, I realized that it was also raining. I didn’t get too excited, since the rain was more of a sprinkle than a downpour, and the computer was, after all, under the umbrella. But I couldn’t see the table from where I was and when I went out on the deck and made my way over to the table, I saw that the papers I had out there were soaked, and I realized that while it was only sprinkling now, it apparently had really poured before that. When I got to the computer, its screen was dark and water droplets covered the screen, the keyboard, the mouse pad … everything on the table was soaked and the computer had gotten wet enough to have shut down.

Panic ensued.

This laptop had survived a few crises, and had been replaced by a new one when it developed a problem accessing the Internet that I couldn’t solve. What good is a computer that can’t access the Internet, after all? So I replaced it. Not too long thereafter, the new laptop developed a problem I couldn’t solve, so I reactivated the one that was now soaked, and found and cured the Internet access problem (weird how necessity creates solutions you couldn’t find before the crisis, isn’t it?), and have been using it for a few months. Efforts to get the computer to run failed; it just sat there, doing nothing.

Well, I didn’t immediately go out and get a new machine, although that prospect did enter my mind. Who wants to have to spend a thousand bucks that you don’t have on a new laptop that has Windows Vista on it that isn’t compatible with most of your non-Microsoft software, and which comes with almost no programs pre-loaded? So, I put the laptop in a position that would drain the water out of it, and let it sit for a few hours. I tried to fire it up a few times at various intervals without success, sometimes hearing “frying” sounds that gave me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, and then left it until this morning, figuring that both it and me would benefit from a night’s sleep.

This morning I plugged the cord into the wall, only to find that the light that indicates that the computer is plugged in was flashing like it should be, which it always did, and that the light that indicates that the computer is on was flashing, too, which it should not be, but which it had been doing since the ill-fated, un-expected and un-forecast rainstorm. I had just resigned myself to having to buy a new laptop, when one of those little flashes of insight flashed in my brain. I remembered the reset button on the bottom of the laptop, stuck my mechanical pencil in the little hole and reset the machine, and, eureka, it started working.

So, to borrow from my friend Buffalo, life is sweet – when things work out and you don’t have to contemplate buying a new computer.

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