Friday, 30 May 2008


It's been a busy week - the kind where work doesn't stop at home or even when I'm asleep. Pressure of work invaded my dreams and gave me sleepless nights.

One big rush is over now but my laptop, evidently feeling the pressure as much as I did. is having problems. It lacks power and runs out of energy rapidly - just like me. Worse, it's taken to emitting frantic squeaks on occasion. They must mean something - or perhaps there's something satisfying in sitting down and squeaking loudly. I may try it one day.

I'm going to see if one of the technicians at work can help. The technicians are amazing. I used to think that they had brilliant technical knowledge and expertise but in the last couple of years I've realised there's more to it than that. They have magic powers. I was unwilling to believe this but the evidence is overwhelming. For instance, I can be struggling with a bloody-minded printer for more than an hour. It will spew out paper in a frenzy or sulk in the corner of my desk, refusing to do anything at all. Finally, in despair, I will phone a technician. As soon as he or she arrives, the printer responds. Sometimes the technician will just walk in the door. On other occasions the magic words are required. I know the magic words - they are, "What seems to be the trouble?" - but they don't have the same effect when I say them. But on the arrival of a fully-initiated technician, the printer gives a little shrug and complies with my requests at once, turning out page after page of perfectly printed script.

Sometimes I wonder about the training of technicians. There must be secret rites and rituals from which other mortals are banned. The technicians never reveal the secret.

I hope they can save the laptop. My fear is that it will behave perfectly in their presence and then return to its customary ways of neuroses and rebellion. Computers can be like that.


Anonymous said...

Hope it's something easily fixed, with magic or without. But worth keeping backups up to date -- which I am sure you do anyway -- just in case the squeaking bodes a hard disk that's about to fail.
PS: Just saw this news about Hicham Yezza. Good to know that being articulate and well-connected still trumps being the wrong race and religion.

Kathz said...

Alas - I'm not very good at keeping back ups. There's always something I haven't backed up that I need. Fortunately it wasn't the hard drive. The problem seems to be with the part of the computer that plugs in to the battery charger and no-one is sure whether it can be saved. I've borrowed a laptop for now. It's glossy and new and is already driving me mad because it's unfamiliar. Oh well - at least I quickly copied some material onto CD-Rom for the weekend.

The news about Hicham Yezza is good - I hope they let him out of the detention centre. But I worry about those who have fewer friends and whose deportations are barely noticed. They too may be suffering injustice.

KateJ said...

easiest way to keep back ups is to have an external hard drive. That way, if your precious laptop is stolen on your way to work, you've still got all your data. If you haven't got that much memory-heavy data (photos for example) and most of the data is just text, a couple of memory pens are probably enough.

Kathz said...

I have now purchased an external hard-drive. I hope I still have a laptop with which I can use it.

Clark said...

Hello Kathz,

Clark, commenter at Craig Murray's here. I've noted the effect you describe as 'magic powers'; from the tech's viewpoint it is a total nuisance'. I'm not officially a tech, but I do regard myself as an engineer; on-record we call these 'Intermittent Faults'. Privately we call them 'Gremlins'. It's much the same as taking out an umbrella to ensure it doesn't rain, or tooth pain that stops as soon as you've made an appointment with the dentist.

I've become quite superstitious about Gremlins. A device doesn't work, but I can't investigate further without dismantling something. With access achieved (a lengthy, delicate procedure), the fault cannot be replicated. After reassembly the original fault returns.

But there is a reliable countermeasure; paper and pencil (don't try a pen as it will stop working at a critical moment). Write down every action you take, no matter how trivial it seems, and what effect this seems to have. If it seems to have no effect, write down 'No effect noticed' - not 'No effect', this is important; seering self-honesty seems to be what is required.

I used to think that Gremlins lived behind closed access covers, but the self-honesty effect has convinced me that they live in the hidden parts of our minds, in the spaces between our conscious thoughts. In time, your Gremlins will come to know you. Eventually they will take flight as soon as they see you take your paper and pencil from the draw.

'Murphy's Law' by Ed Bloch now sits on my Technical Reference shelf, next to 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. Happy blogging.

Kathz said...

Hello Clark, thanks for stopping by.

I find pencils quite untrustworthy. They break at crucial moments or the writing becomes erased. (Mind you, my handwriting's almost entirely illegible anyway so that might not matter.) I almost always carry a selection of pens, refills, cartridges and pencils as well as a range of stationery because different kinds of writing require different kinds of paper. But how rarely I have time for the necessary writing.

Is there a trick to locating extra time?