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A Woman's Journal


It's working now...

By Maggie Turner

January 6, 2000

It's working now...

I find that panic, not lack of knowledge, is my worst enemy when dealing with computers. There is something about the mysterious clicking and whirling in the box that intimidates me. I cannot see what is happening in there. If I cannot see it, how am I ever going to fix it? So my unconscious feels. That is why, when one of my computers malfunctions, I sit staring at the screen frozen like a deer caught in the headlights. The sudden loss of communication caused by a malfunction is always a shock. I feel betrayed. I turn the machine off, knowing that the time for troubleshooting will have to come later, when I feel like a victor and not a victim. I have several computers; if one of them crashes I can turn it off, turn another one on, and continue on my merry way. It is sort of like a child's security blanket, having more than one computer. Add computers to the list of things I like to collect.

2:30 p.m. Y2K did not visit our house, the Computer Stumbler did. I refer to myself of course. It is a sad tale. On Saturday morning, all systems started up without a problem. On Sunday, confident, I decided to update the anti-virus software. It seemed simple enough. The Windows 95 system had no problem with it; the Macintosh systems had no problem with it.

Windows 98 did not like it one bit. In fact, somehow the registry (an important file) became corrupted and the restore failed and then nothing at all would work on that machine. A moment of supreme panic struck when the computer refused to start from the floppy disk (boot disk). I turned it all off. This is the only reasonable recourse with computers, other than using a hammer. Four days later, I reinserted the boot disk, pushed the start button and it sputtered to a hopeful "a:" prompt, waiting for my typed command.

Quite a few files were damaged, some beyond repair. I kept confusing UNIX commands with DOS commands; close doesn't count in these situations. Finally, I realized that I would have to reinstall Windows. Once I got to that point, the rest was easy and time consuming. I started with the boot disk at 6:30 a.m. this morning; it is now 2:30 p.m. This will give you an idea of how time consuming installation problems can be, at least for Computer Stumblers like me. Oh yes, I must not forget, the software is not installed. That is a project for another day.

I am a collector. Mostly I collect books. Our limited resources dictate a limited number of new book purchases, as does the size of our house. However, with access to the Internet, the public library system and yard sales, I don't feel much of a need for new books. I happened to be around when some old computer books were being tossed, so I grabbed them, and carted them home in boxes. Among them was a manual for DOS 5, which came in very handy today. It may be out of date, but it contained everything I needed to know.

I am looking forward to reading this entry twenty years from now. I probably will not remember what DOS was or why a registry file was important. I will wonder at how such temporal detail occupied my time.


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