Monday, May 09, 2011

F---ed up on my computer and my mind starts roaming

Since this weekend I haven't had the use of my personal laptop, which is a little bit annoying. Kyle, at least, has work and personal laptops of her own, which helped me decide that my registry got corrupted in such a way as to kill Windows XP's local authentication service on startup. The upshot being that the system is reduced to a mouse pointer on a black screen, which unless you are a cat will probably not meet your home computing needs.

This all would be pretty straightforward to resolve if I had the Windows CDs that came with my laptop when I bought it several years ago. Indeed, I believed in my heart of hearts -- still I believe! -- that these were duly packed up with all of my other important stuff when I left Northern Virginia and survived the move west. My faith did waver, it's true, when I looked for them in the single place where they would be if all that had happened, where they were not.

Picking through your closets, bookshelves, miscellaneous shitpiles, and so on turns out to be a sort of internally humiliating experience. Not just because I'm dealing with a small tear in the fabric of my self-image as a reasonably organized person but because I have to question my intelligence and priorities too, and square my understanding of myself with the less flattering concept of a person who drives the user manual for his toaster 3,000 miles across the country while not keeping the computer equivalent of a spare key to your car.

The computerness of the issue rankles, too, because I am a software professional and you would think -- I would think, without much evidence over the past decade -- that I'd be more generally on top of the data backups, antivirus updates, etc. that prevent and minimize the impact of this sort of thing. In fact I'm exposed again as a person who, although engaged enough by writing code, has an attitude towards the nuts and bolts of PC hardware and maintenance that ranges from vaguely curious to crankily indifferent. And that's not good. I've often taken comfort in the cliche of the plumber who can't bring himself to fix the leaky pipes at home after hours, but this makes me feel more like a plumber who's just dug an open pit where his toilet is supposed to be.

As for the laptop itself, it should be recovered easily enough with more time than I should have had to put to it. The greater issue is the temptation just to take the somewhat creaky old Dell Inspiron out back to the apartment complex's communal yard and Old Yeller it, then go buy a shiny new MacBook, but my iTunes library and password database should lure me away from that fantasy. That and some amount of scanned and MS-Paint-doodled nonsense that's accumulated without being good enough to email to somebody or to put up on the blog. (This is a low bar to clear, as longtime readers and/or correspondents will be aware.) On the one hand, that notion should only galvanize me to put away childish halfway efforts for good and engage afresh in deeper, more committed creative work, but on the other hand, "Noooooo, my nonsense".

At any rate, I intended to bring my work laptop home tonight to tide me over, and even brought my computer bag to make this transfer more comfortable, forgetting, however, to move the key for the cable securing my laptop to my desk out of my non-computer bag and into my computer bag. Thus, probably no computers this evening for me, save for this bit of after-hours, office-bound usage. That will at least keep me relatively undistracted from combing my apartment for those XP discs. Also, I have nothing time-sensitive to write except that anyone considering a jaunt to New York on Thursday for the Oregon Symphony's Carnegie Hall premiere -- by which I basically mean Jack -- should absolutely do it, since I heard their war-themed, English/American program on Saturday night and it was exceptionally well-played, as well as one of the most astonishingly thoughtful concert line-ups I've ever heard. And, there!, but for some illustrative details I've just blogged that. So all is well in the cosmos.


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