Aug 29

Tempting Fate – A Personal Story

A woman I know got very upset at me for wishing her a Happy Birthday. Her birthday was on Tuesday, but I ran into her on Sunday and thought it would be appropriate to say something nice. Wrong! She said that it was “tempting fate” to wish someone a happy birthday before it arrives. I found myself quickly apologizing to her and at the same time wondering how I had stumbled into offending someone by trying to do something friendly. Her belief had no religious overtones, unless the Lutheran Church has changed its doctrine, so I concluded that it was a strongly held superstition. Later I told a mutual friend that witnessed this bizarre event that I should probably have been flattered that she thought I could wield such power as to jeopardize her life by indiscriminately throwing around lightning bolt phrases.

I tried to think of the most ridiculous example to illustrate a point, but apparently somewhere in our genes is buried a superstition DNA strand that randomly chooses when to appear. In spite of intellectual checks and balances, we all have episodes of granting ourselves superhuman power through the spoken word or individual action. The traffic lights are always red when I am in a hurry, so my mere presence sends an electrical force ahead of me to change them from green before I get there. In a thunderstorm I do not dare to say that I hope the power does not go out for fear of being jinxed into darkness. If I had not written in an article Illiterate But Technically Literate? on how I had learned my lesson about being overly dependent on technology then I would probably have not had the catastrophic demise of my primary desktop computer. Yes, lesson relearned…again.

The computer in my home office is the focal point of my life. My muse resides there along with all of my blog posts. Discounting the fact that I had jinxed this computer by my overconfidence, the problems began with something I had done hundreds of times before: Updating Windows with critical security fixes. So the real test of my psychic powers failed when Microsoft was not consumed by a thermonuclear explosion leaving only a crater where Seattle used to be. Of course my local tech expert tells me it was my fault for starting the update and walking away. I’ll never know what happened, but when I returned it had attempted to reboot and a critical .dll file was missing. The lesson learned here is that the Windows idiotproofed operating system only works for idiots and must be watched like a hawk or it will laugh hysterically at you. If there is to be a lengthy update requiring reboot, a power saving shutdown can wreck the process or an inadvertent reboot at the wrong time is inviting disaster.

The short version of this story is that after multiple attempts to repair the OS without wiping the hard drive failed, I bit the bullet and started from scratch. I learned more than I wanted to know about restoring something called hal.dll and recreating a boot.ini, but in the end it was time to do some housecleaning. I did have some expert advice from my tech guy, but the ringing endorsement that must be made is to Carbonite and their tech support. I won’t mention how long their first level support person spent with me before she escalated the problem because she probably isn’t supposed to spend that much time with a customer when the problem is on the computer and not with their product. By poking around remotely, she showed me things that were not where they were supposed to be and we concluded that reformatting the hard drive was the only way to go. I must point out that once that was done, Carbonite worked flawlessly and not only restored all my data it gave me the option to omit some old stuff that was no longer needed. My boasting that I had chosen to backup everything now appeared to be genius in that I had picked a smart backup system.

Now I owe an apology to my friends who live in the Seattle area and specifically to those I know at Microsoft. I never really wanted you to become extra crispy through the power of my curse. I actually should thank the Windows team for forcing me to once again face the reality that overdependence on technology is as bad as I had predicted. I also would encourage other companies to copy the Carbonite model of marrying a great product with excellent customer support: i.e. the product is supposed to work and someone knowledgeable is supposed to answer the phone. Yes, this is an unconditional recommendation!


Image credit: CakeExtinguisher sarrobi / 123RF Stock Photo