Monday, August 06, 2007

A Personal Tragedy

As many of my regular readers will remember, we had a new addition to my family back in April. We were thrilled at his arrival, and marveled at each stage of his rapid development as week after week we discovered new facets of his personality and capabilities.

Well, I am sad to relate that he passed away very suddenly this past Saturday between 11:00 am and 4:30 pm. Carol and I were out of the house when it happened, so I don’t know exactly what caused his demise. It didn’t appear that he suffered.

I’m talking, of course, about my new, state of the art Dell desktop computer. The one with the dual-core processor, more memory than Einstein, a 250 GB hard drive that was running Windows Vista.

When I left, he was running Firefox browser displaying the interactive weather map. When I returned, the monitor was still showing the web site. That’s unusual, since the system is set to go into “power save” mode after 30 minutes of inactivity.

I sat down and wiggled the mouse to find the cursor. Nothing happened. I used the “Windows” and the tab keys to switch between open applications. Nothing.

Thinking to myself, “Boy, this thing is frozen up big time,” I tried the antepenultimate solution to all Windows computer problems: I hit control-alt-delete.

Nothing happened!

Well, when all else fails . . . pull the plug! That action (forced re-boot) will solve the vast majority of computer problems. So I gritted my teeth, reached around to the back of the cabinet and literally pulled the plug!

Finally! Something happened. The monitor went dark, the fan stopped blowing, and all signs of life disappeared. Satisfied, I waited about a count of ten, and plugged the monster back in. An amber light appeared in the power button on the front, and the fan started blowing. But nothing else. No beeps or boops. No reboot. Just an amber light and the fan blowing.

NOW what?

HEY! This thing is still in warranty!

Down to the last (ultimate) possible solution (short of just buying a new machine), I called Dell’s 800 warranty number and punched in my machine’s service tag code. A very courteous technician named Jeff asked me questions and requested that I perform several actions for him. Then several more. Then more. (No, these were not what you’re thinking, though they DID require some contortions.)

By now I had all peripherals disconnected and nothing but the power cord plugged into the machine. Jeff then asked me to open it up. At his direction I unplugged the cables inside the box from the hard drive, the DVD drive, the sound and video cards, and more. I removed the memory strips, reducing the machine to the status of an idiot. I took out the PCI cards. Then I plugged in the power one more time.

Still no lights or diagnostic beeps.

At 5:45 pm Jeff declared the machine officially dead.

To Dell’s credit, Jeff was apologetic and empathetic. He told me he would order me a new power supply, complete motherboard, and diagnostics panel. The problem was unlikely to involve all of those components, but it might involve more than one of them so he would just replace them all. They were to be shipped to my home overnight, and upon their arrival a technician would be dispatched to install them for me.

That’s the “in home” warranty service they brag about. I, for one, am impressed.

Bottom line: the “Conspiracy” wins this round in terms of causing me some inconvenience, but since it couldn’t wait 8 more months until the warranty had run out, it didn’t cost me any real money. HA!

(Victories over the Conspiracy, always minor and fleeting, are rare and thus sweet to the taste. And at least I had Carol’s laptop to use in this pinch. Now if the “C” will just leave her laptop alone for a few more days . . .)


r.e.wolf said...

Of the 2 new machines I bout last summer, 1 died at 4 months of age. New power supply and new motherboard. Since we both work, however, I got "in-office" service: I shlepped the bloody thing to work and the technician fixed it there!

kenju said...

Perhaps Vista is the culprit? I heard it had a lot of bugs to sort out.

Thank Heaven for it being still in warranty!

Anonymous said...

John Earle, you gave me a scare. As I began reading your blog, I thought something had happened to Treavor.

I read the April part but that just went over my head as I kept reading.

Thank God it was "just" your computer.


southernbelle said...

Oh dear, oh dear - bad timing for me to make an announcement that I am back in Blogland. Having read your post I am now having to brace myself for a vicious attack from the big C. I will let you know very quickly when "it" arrives here.

Duke_of_Earle said...

Ruth, I am SO sorry. Obviously I meant for people to think that there had been a death, but I figured anyone who knew me would think (at worst) that it was a pet. If I thought anyone might think it was my grandson I would never have tried to be funny.

It's not the first time I've tried to be a smart-a$$, and ended up just being an a$$. . . as many of my regular readers will attest.

You'd think I'd learn, wouldn't you?

Ivy said...

I'm glad that it was under warranty! Much better than your past problems with the conspiracy!