at some point you have to give up
Thursday, March 18 2010
Last night Gretchen had come in from her cooking class at the Garden Café in Woodstock and we'd immediately plunked down in front of our 13 year old CRT-based television to watch American Idol. Then we'd climbed into our king-sized bed and found it blissfully critter-free. We love our critters, but trying to find a place to sleep in the narrow channels, bays, sounds, seas, and gulfs of their archipelago can be a challenge.
Then this morning as I was headed out to my brownhouse to take care of some bidness, I found Eleanor and Sally sitting in the Honda Civic. Gretchen had failed to let them out last night after she'd come home from Woodstock. We're the world's worst dog parents! Strangely, though, neither dog was too upset from having spent 12 hours in a car. And both had been able to suppress whatever biological urgencies they'd experienced during that time. Still, Gretchen noted a slight chill from Eleanor for the rest of the day. "I hope you're not still made at me," Gretchen said at one point while they were sunning themselves in the driveway, and Eleanor turned and looked at the car.
The main reason I changed Gretchen's computer from a Pentium 4 to an Atom 330-based machine was to save energy (and, incidentally, make her computer quieter, cooler, and faster). So you can imagine my alarm when I discovered that this new computer (built atop a fresh installation of Windows XP) would not automatically go into standby or hibernate modes. These two modes are crucial because they allow a computer that is not being used to switch off some or all of its electricity-using components. I ended up spending the better part of my afternoon and evening trying to figure out why standby was failing. But in the end I had to give up. A failure of standby is one of the most impossible-to-diagnose problems in the world of computers. Because standby failure is usually the result of some process that won't give up its hold on the operating system, nothing related to the problem ends up in any logs. You are left to wonder: are my drivers up to date? What drivers do I have? What the fuck is a driver anyway? Had Windows been developed in more energy-conscious times, perhaps more attention would have been focused on providing ways to debug this problem. But no, we're all left to try black magic. I mean, really, what am I expected to do? The thing doesn't go into standby after a clean install!
These sorts of problems really eat at me. I kept revisiting Gretchen's computer to try different things, occasionally rebooting in the process. Finally she told me that she'd had enough, to just leave it alone, that she wanted her goddamn computer back. This made sense; at this point computers are almost like parts of our bodies. Who wants someone, even a spouse, constantly trying to remove a splinter in your foot? At some point you have to give up, no matter how irritating it is to know that the problem is there.
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