Here's Johnny - Not-OK Computer
Dear Readers may have noticed my frequent whining lately about the struggle to come up with a new column idea every week - or how writing about that dilemma can amount to one-third of a column. Well, I should be careful what I wish for, because this week's topic came to me in the form of a broken computer. (The headline is a reference to Radiohead's 1997 album, "OK Computer," which is a favorite of mine and considered an all-time classic by most rock critics. Check it out - I don't think it's what broke my computer. Still, the irony ...) I shouldn't complain. The 320-gig Toshiba laptop has been a workhorse for five or six years, and when I'm home and awake, it's usually on. It has given me good service. Sunday night, though, it stopped working. Or rather, it stopped showing me what it was working on. I could hear it whirring and feel the heat it was putting out, but the monitor showed nothing. I tried the first solution to almost any mechanical or computer-related problem: a la advice given in the the BBC comedy, "The IT Crowd," I turned it off and back on again. Nothing - and that was a hard pill to swallow. I use my computer for emails and sports scores and Facebook posts (John McGary - Woodford Sun). I use it to rip, burn and listen to music. I use it to write down the occasional deep thought and short story. And I use it to review past Here's Johnny columns for the compilation I aim to compile in time for Christmas 2017. Or, at this pace, Christmas 2018. My computer is my loyal friend, and with it not working, I feel lonely and cut off from a good part of the world. I do have a smart phone, but to save money, I've forgone the data plan and settled for unlimited talk and text for a measly $27.30 a month. I've not missed having a phone data plan and I've especially not missed paying $80 a month for it. When I'm at work or at home, I'm always near a computer. Like right now, for instance. (I'm at work, in case you hadn't guessed. My home computer's broken.) I don't mind texting or using my smart phone's wifi ability to go online, but, being 6'3" with appropriately sized hands, I'm far more comfortable on a computer keyboard. Point is ... I miss my computer, and as this is written, I've only been without it for a little more than 12 hours. Monday morning, I dropped it off at Computer Surgeons, because it's near The Sun and The Silver Fox (editor Steve Peterson) said the owner's a good guy. (Disclaimer: I am getting no mention-my-store discount - they don't know my precious baby in their hands is the subject of this column.) Handing a stranger a computer full of pictures and letters and half-finished short stories and bright ideas and copies of emails and emails never sent is sort of scary. There's nothing on there that is illegal or even inappropriate, but still ... I feel all vulnerable and stuff. After describing the symptoms and the fact that I had tried hooking it up to my computer monitor at work, the nice young lady behind the counter said I might have a bad video card. If the video card's attached to the motherboard, it'll be cheaper to buy a new computer, she said. I don't want to shell out for a new laptop, but I will if I have to. Sorry, Toshiba-circa 2011/2012. Meantime, they'll attempt to transfer stuff I should have transferred a year ago to my external hard drive. I stopped doing that awhile back because it took 12 hours or so for a full back-up and I never took the time to narrow the back-up to my writing, pictures and other smaller files. See, most of the 230 gigs or so on the hard drive of my ailing and possibly fatally ill computer consist of music - all ripped perfectly legally as far as anyone can prove. So actually, I would want to back that up, too. Even "OK Computer." Coda: As I was attempting to upload this document to send to a friend for review, my work computer locked up. I kid you not. I turned it off and back on again. It is now working. Thus this coda.