Monday, November 08, 2010

A Word of Caution

Why is this always happening to me?
What's one of the worst things that can happen to an academic/job seeker/freelance writer/columnist/part-time blogger such a myself? One who spends an inordinate amount of time scrunched over typing? You guessed it (or maybe you didn't): a catastrophic computer meltdown. This has happened to me before, is happening to me right now, and will no doubt happen to me again in the future. Sometimes technology really pisses me off. 

In the past 5 years I've gone through 3 laptops, and these weren't cheap laptops either. Two were fancy Mac Powerbooks, one was a decent HP Notebook. The first one was stolen (yes, this is a true and very sad story. Still makes me mad to talk about it, so we won't dwell on this); the replacement Mac was great until the screen suddenly went out AFTER the warranty had expired. And, of course, it was going to cost $1,100 minimum to replace the screen. Well, forget that. I was a recently minted PhD looking for work, with tons of debt on my shoulders and funds barely sufficient to cover my monthly expenses. Fixing the Mac, or buying a new one, was out of the question at that point. But I still needed a laptop: FAST. Desperate times called for desperate measures, so I broke down and bought my first ever PC, the HP Notebook. (No offense PC people, but never, never again will I buy a PC, even if I am poor as dirt).

I won't get into boring details, but the HP Notebook has caused me nothing but grief over the past 2 years. It constantly overheats, constantly dies, constantly sounds like a rocket ship, constantly gets viruses, constantly sucks. Period. But I'm still an academic job seeker and thus poor; as such I was hoping this puppy would last me until next year, when I could finally afford to buy a new Mac Powerbook after landing a sweet academic or non-academic job (HAHAHAHAHA). Sounds like a good plan, right? Just make due for now?

On Friday night the motherboard on my Notebook apparently fried, completely without warning.  There was a loud zeeezzuuuum sound and then the screen went black. It hasn't restarted since. At least the Mac screen had the courtesy of going out after slowly fading over a period of 3 weeks, which gave me ample warning to save my files and videos. This time it was like--POOF--your computer is no longer. Your stuff is gone (I assume). Luckily, I've had so many negative experiences with technology in the past that I've learned my lesson and have the vast majority of my files saved elsewhere, but this is still a very bad situation. Very bad indeed. I had hoped to avoid the expense of repairing a laptop or buying a new one. However, my hopes and wishes are irrelevant.

Moral of this Monday morning story: back up your files, back up your files, back up your files. You will never regret taking the time to SAVE your work. Even job seekers without a stable income can be cursed with catastrophic computer failure at any time. Your poverty, good will, and innocence will not save you! Nothing will!

Anyone else have the same bad luck with technology? Care to share a horror strory of your own? I hope to be back blogging soon about higher ed, once I sort out my annoying computer problems . . .


Anonymous said...

So your success with laptops is 100% failure, but 66% of that failure has come from Macs (which are very expensive). And yet, you'll never buy a PC again!

Eliza Woolf said...

Yep, that's right. The first Mac was stolen and the 2nd worked perfectly until the screen gave out. But the PC Notebook has been a pain the entire time I've owned it and I've had so many problems with it just in daily use. Everything dies eventually, I just want a laptop that will treat me right while we're still together.

WorstProfEver said...

When I was just starting out my job, my cat knocked my laptop off the table when the thumb drive was in it, and there was major smashage everywhere. I didn't have any money, and recovery services were majorly expensive so I had to take the thumb drive to the campus's infamous underground geek. He was fine, but there was some proto-WorstProfEver/novel material on there and I always wondered what he thought...

So yes, always back everything up. One of those things it's really easy to say and not do.

Good luck with the new computer!

Anonymous said...

Do you do on-line back-up? I use and while I (fortunately) have never had cause to use it, I gather it's pretty cool.

My Dell laptop has been chugging away for over three years now. Knock on wood.

Ben (too lazy to log in)

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