Saturday, March 31, 2007

A sleeper?

Last night a slow-moving line of heavy thunderstorms moved across my part of South Texas. I was shaken out of a fitful, dreaming sleep by the crash of thunder from somewhere nearby. I glanced at the bedside clock. 5:59 a.m. Lightning flickered almost continuously, and I thought about my desktop computer in the next room.

I had left it on overnight, as I customarily do. The rumbles and booms were increasing in both frequency and volume, so I got up and padded barefoot down the hall to protect my delicate machine.

The power had apparently already been off, at least momentarily. The computer had one light on, but was not responsive to mouse movement or taps on the keyboard. I reached behind the metal case, flipped off the power switch and unplugged the cord from the wall.

A couple of hours later the storms had passed and I plugged the cord back in and flipped on the switch. Nothing.

For the NEXT couple of hours I tried everything I could think of to get the computer to start up. I checked that the power cord had 117 volts at the point where it connected to the computer. I took off the front and side panels and looked in vain for any breaker or reset button on or around the power supply inside the case. I recycled the power switch umpteen times, and kept pressing the little “start” button on the front.

The only indication of life was a tiny green LED on the motherboard, labeled with a microscopic “CR6F1.” A trip through the manual revealed that when that particular light was on, the computer was in “sleep” mode. It would appear to be off, but there WAS current to the memory modules and the PCI bus connectors.

Ha! Okay then! Right! There you are!


I poked around. I prodded. I wiggled all manner of wires and cables and connections. I considered lighting a candle and chanting, “O wake, O wake, O computer,” but forbore.

I turned my back on the machine, leaving it looking naked and skeletal; half-disassembled on the desktop with most of the wires and cables unplugged from the back. Only the power cord, monitor cable, and parallel printer cable remained attached.

I called my I.T. (Information Technology) guys from work to ask their thoughts. Their succinct opinion was: it’s fried.

I turned to Carol’s laptop and navigated to the Dell web site to spec out my new machine, mentally relegating this old one to a recycle container AFTER I removed the hard drives with all my precious data. And yes, I had backed up most of that data on an EXTERNAL hard drive I bought last year for just that purpose. Because "stuff" happens!

I spent roughly 30 minutes alternating between lust for Dell’s “Ultimate Power and Gaming Machine,” and (later) acceptance of their more practical (cheaper) less-than-ultimate-but-still-not-bad desktop model.

I put my choices in a wish list, and yielded the laptop to Carol. Already missing my morning fix of emails and blogs, I trudged off to do something else for a while. Outside activities were precluded by the wet conditions – we had standing water all around, having had over 4 inches of rain during the night – so I picked up a book I’m in the middle of and read.

With no warning, and for absolutely no discernible reason, my computer in the other room sprang to life! Nobody touched it. There had been no input of any kind (all cables were still disconnected except the power cord). Its cooling fans just started whirring and it booted up. All by itself.

I heard the noise and went to see. The machine was happily running, hard drive clicking away like a clock on steroids. I plugged in the monitor's cable and pushed its power button. The screen lit up in time for me to see my “open on Windows startup” applications come online.

Carol and I looked at each other, mouths agape. She offered, “I guess it knew you were going to replace it, so it decided to run a while longer after all.”

I don’t know. It would be easy for me to just blame the “C” word and see what THAT stirs up. But I thought back to that little green LED, and I wonder if maybe the machine was, simply, asleep. It may have just decided to take a little nap. And when it was sufficiently rested, it awoke.

Regardless, it continues to run and I am typing this post on it. But I think I will leave that nice, new, fully spec-ed out Dell machine in my wish list for a week or two. Lest this older model tends to become complacent again... or just terminally tired. (decides to take the long sleep.)


Karyn Lyndon said...

Get a MAC.

Hale McKay said...

I can distinctly hear Rod Serling in the background ..."you have entered a demension not of sight and sound but of the mind..."

Thanks for the comments about my adventure into chivalry. It was a feel-good experience where one good turn did desrve another.

While surfing around for some material (er .. harvesting) .. I found something that may be of interest to you and Carol:

A real golf gadget?

Anonymous said...

John, I thought you were joking with the post you left on my site. Now I see you were serious. I'm not wireless here, so when a storm comes through, I also unplug the phone connection with the power cable. Don't want the DSL modem to fry. Dell makes good machines, even if they look like refigerators.

r.e.wolf said...

My clients often don't believe me when I say these machines have minds of their own

Duke_of_Earle said...


(SIGH) Yes, I understand. People don't believe ME, either, when I tell them or write about the famous "Conspiracy." Their disbelief does not make it any the less true!


Candace said...

Whoa! That was like unto a miracle.

Duke_of_Earle said...


Yes. I almost titled the post "A Resurrection," but with Easter so near I felt that would be a bit tacky, so...

schnoodlepooh said...

The old computer is just not ready to give up the ghost yet. I was visiting the Dell website lately also, as my computer is getting old. But after pricing out the model that I wanted, I decided that my old machine is doing just fine - slow but mostly steady. Sometimes that's the way to go..

Badabing said...

Most definitely the "C" thing John...caffeine ;-) You see, the computer was in sleep mode, needed a caffeine fix, and decided to spring to life. Happens to me every morning.