lower-tech than I figured
Monday, January 13 2003
To the casual reader it might seem as if I am doing well financially and living a full and exciting life as a settled adult. I live in a massive house and it's just a matter of time before I marry my long lost formerly-estranged lover. And when it comes to making an honest living, I'm my own boss. In truth though, professionally I'm living in a regressed state, the sort that, like Microsoft Office, flies in the face of all Western notions of forward progress. Today I found myself doing yet another project that amounted to little more than simple mindless text editing, cleaning garbage out of old documents unrecognized by Microsoft Word (even though some of them were actually written in an earlier version of that program - Microsoft formats are the digital media equivalent of a sandy beach). Such mundane, repetitive work is a far cry from the programming I was doing two years ago. But no one will pay me to write programs anymore. There's precious little demand for higher cerebral functions in this particular economy.
After the snows of Christmas and early January, there was more than a week of reasonably warm weather, hovering around freezing and occasionally rising as high as the forties. Now, though, the weather has turned colder and (worse still) windy. The boiler is working harder to keep this massive house warm, something we've made easier by turning down all the thermostats except places where we spend a lot of time (the attic rooms, mostly). Gretchen's office, though, is the one room routinely used in the basement. But since it sits with the rest of the basement on a monolithic slab, it can't be singled out for heating purposes. So today Gretchen put an oil-filled electric heater in her room to keep her warm while she worked. But then when she turned on her printer, the computer "crashed." I thought this was because of the added complication of accessing a file across the local network (on my computer two floors away), but it turned out that the problem was considerably lower-tech than I figured. The computer wasn't crashing - it was actually starving. When the printer switched on, the power strip couldn't supply the necessary juice to also power an electric heater and a computer at the same time. The resulting voltage drop on the power strip caused the computer to reboot. It did this so many times that by the time I came to fix the problem, Gretchen's settings and personal files had all vanished, moved by the operating system to a folder called Administrator.bak. Her desktop was no longer recognizable. If her computer had been running any Microsoft operating system other than Windows NT 4.0, this day would have probably been a tragic one.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next