The Great Computer Disaster – Episode 1

The Great Computer Disaster

Episode 1

It’s Sunday, 1.30 am. My husband and I have just returned from a party. My son, the Computer Whizz (CW), has our two Macs open on neighbouring tables, their guts spilled in anything but reassuring disarray.

He wants my husband (He Who Knows Nothing [HWKN], according to the CW) to help him by removing one of the hard disks from my G3. HWKN recognises the note of panic in the CW’s voice and, overcome by fatherly love, he stays up to help.

I have serious doubts about the wisdom of this. The CW and HWKN have never to date been able to work amicably together on anything. A tiny voice of wisdom tells me to keep out of it. I retire to the bedroom and, as I fall asleep, I hear the two of them arguing, voices rising to levels which indicate they’re losing it. There’s at least an even chance one of them will be dead by morning. I say a silent prayer that the survivor will be the one who can put the bits back together in the proper order.

8.30 am

I’m usually up by 6.30, even on Sundays, even after parties. That inner voice of wisdom must have been telling me to conserve my energy.

My husband is already awake but still in bed. “I suppose,” I say, wondering why he’s hugging me in a sort of comforting way, “that I can get on my computer to check my email.”

The comforting hug tightens. “Er – no,” HWKN replies, “neither of the computers will start. we stayed up till 3.30. Don’t be hard on him … I just hope he hasn’t damaged his computer.”

‘His’ computer is a G4, and more important than my G3 I suppose.

(NOTE: None of the following was my idea. Not only was it not my idea, I specifically and emphatically expressed the opinion that it was not a very GOOD idea. But who takes any notice of me.)

My G3 hadn’t been very well, and numerous attempts to fix it had been only moderately successful. The plan was to move one of the HDs in my G3 (the one containing all my data, apps and settings) into the CW’s G4. This would benefit all, I was told. We could all use the G4, which would be set up on my computer table instead of in the CW’s room behind a barricade of dirty clothes, assorted musical devices, and a collection of wrappers from every candy bar he’s ever eaten. HWKN would use the G4 during the day while I was at work and the CW slept. I would use it in the evenings and before leaving for work. And the CW would use it after I went to bed. HWKN and I would gain access to a faster, more glamorous machine until such time as we decided which Mac to buy next and conjured up a way to finance it, while the CW would have the use of our Internet connection, scanner, colour printer, zip drive, and various other essentials he passed over in his eagerness to have the latest and greatest Mac on the market.

It all sounded feasible – attractive even – but I was wary. I knew my son. I feared the gains in faster technology and visual splendour would be wiped out by loss of control over my work space.

I also didn’t believe the operation would run smoothly. I was accused of being negative.

8.45 am

HWKN is now planting little kisses on my neck. I refuse to be distracted.

I don’t cry. I don’t shout. I don’t even say “I told you so.” I am uncharacteristically and inexplicably calm.

I consider going back to sleep in the hopes I’ll awake later and find it was all a bad dream. Instead, I get out of bed to let the cat out. Kasha is Siamese, so her voice is less easily ignored than the average cat’s.

9.00 am

I’m sitting on the verandah eating pawpaw (‘papaya’ to those who know no better). It’s a lovely pawpaw. We grew it ourselves. Perhaps that’s a bit of an overstatement – it grew out of the improperly tended compost heap where we bury our vegie scraps under occasional lawn clippings. The possums love the compost heap, but they can’t eat all the pawpaw seeds. Anyway, as I was saying, it’s a lovely pawpaw.

Next I wander around the garden, seeing things I’ve never seen before. I suspect they’ve never been there before, but I could be wrong. I do spend a lot of time indoors at the computer. I decide I should be leading a more balanced life. Perhaps I should buy a Powerbook.

9.30 am

The CW has awoken. I steel myself against the trials to come.

The CW is distraught and looking for someone to blame – which isn’t easy as he direct the whole disaster himself. He has the sense to realise he’d better be nice to innocent bystanders in case he needs their help. Perhaps he’s growing up at last.

I suggest he tries to restart the G4, reminding him of another time when it seemingly died, only to awaken the next morning as if from a deep, refreshing sleep. His eyes light with a tiny glimmer of hope. He hits the start button and is rewarded by the familiar chime, but our whoops of jubilation are interrupted by a funny choking noise on the end of the chime.

“That’s a stuffed up sound,” says the CW, speaking my language.

To be continued.

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