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Death of the computer

I went to the library this morning to send some emails and do a blog post. The gods had other ideas; my reliable old laptop wouldn’t boot. It went into an endless loop of error messages and unfollowable instructions.

I came home and re-installed the OS, hoping that would be the solution. But nope. The looping errors quit, but so did everything else. The only good sign: I can look at the directories via a live DVD and see that data (Some? All? A smidge?) is intact. Otherwise I’m without contact and without clue.

I’m composing this on a phone, which I’m glad to have, but OMG. I’m not sure when I’ll be back and fully functional.

Weird feeling. Part of me says it’s a disaster, especially because there’s recent email I don’t want to lose. Another part of me feels liberated from the machine.

I think I’ll spend the afternoon making apple-apricot chutney. I may be limited to blogging via the library’s desktop machines for some unknown time, but today I’m not going to worry about it.

Good luck to us all.


  1. Bear
    Bear October 15, 2019 2:11 pm

    If you have an external drive for backup, load up your live DVD and back it up now. Sounds like the drive itself is failing, and started with the boot sector.

    Good news is that replacement drives are surprisingly cheap if your settle for non solid state, and very easy to replace (shouldn’t need anything but a small screwdriver to get at the guts). Email me the make and model, and I’ll get you specific instructions.

  2. Zendo Deb
    Zendo Deb October 15, 2019 4:25 pm

    If you know anyone with a copy of SpinRite, or you want to spend the money… Once your at this stage it is a crap shoot.

    The moral of the story = backup everything. for SpinRite 6

  3. MP
    MP October 15, 2019 4:43 pm

    Left you a PM about this in the Cabal, Claire.

    And I have a copy of SpinRite I could send to you.

  4. Comrade X
    Comrade X October 15, 2019 6:56 pm

    Apple-apricot chutney sounds ummmmmmm good!!!

  5. Claire
    Claire October 15, 2019 7:02 pm

    Bear — Thank you for the diagnosis. I’ve managed to copy a lot of the files off the dying HD, though was stymied in many cases by the familiar old Linux “you don’t have permissions” problem.

    Deb — You’re right; I got complacent about full backups. Thanks for the SpinRite recommendation.

    MP —- Thanks for the lifesaving offer. I’ll “see” you at the forums tomorrow when I go to the library.

  6. Claire
    Claire October 15, 2019 7:06 pm

    It IS good, Comrade X. It’s my own recipe, too (I’m so proud 😉 ). I’ll PM you when I go to the forum tomorrow.

  7. Claire
    Claire October 16, 2019 10:27 am

    Sigh. MP, I’m sorry, but I can’t get on the forums to take you up on your offer. I thought I knew my password, but apparently not. Then I thought I’d get smart and use my ClairesCabal admin access to give myself a new forum password … but it turned out I didn’t remember that password, either (though I’d have sworn I knew it well) and I can’t use the “lost password” function because no email..

    I have a password file, but it’s encrypted and I have no access to the encryption.

    I do have one possible saving grace here. I have one email account I can access on my phone. I’ll try to reach you that way and see what we can arrange.

    Oh, and I’ll email Bear to see if he can restore both my ClairesCabal admin access and my forum login.

    This is gonna be a long slog …

  8. Claire
    Claire October 16, 2019 11:03 am

    Oh my lord. This is a colossal EFF-up that just keeps getting worse. I’ve tried to email both MP and Bear for help, but the phone I must send from keeps giving me the notorious “iPhone relay” error.

    I knew about this error and fixed it weeks ago by adding new SMTP servers to the phone’s accounts — but then I accepted Apple’s offer to update the OS. And I didn’t realize until just now that they “improved” my phone by wiping out all my email accounts. I can’t recreate them because the passwords and server information to do the job are inaccessible. So other than being able to comment here, I am out of communication.

    Rather than stick around here and whine, I’ll try one last thing — resurrecting one of my old laptops and seeing how much useful information I can plumb from that. Wish me luck.

  9. jed
    jed October 16, 2019 3:49 pm

    Oh, uh… PHOOOEY!

    I don’t know who I know that might have your phone number. I guess I’ll try hitting the cabal … anyone there can PM me. I have a spare laptop. I’ll have to get the details a bit later, as I’m pressed for time at the moment. Anyways, it’s yours for the asking.

  10. Claire
    Claire October 17, 2019 2:14 pm

    John Woods — I apologize for not finding your comment until this afternoon. (I was locked out of the site for a while and your comment went to the spam filter.) Thank you for your offer to help me recover data! I already have help on the way courtesy of MP, but if that doesn’t do the job, I’ll be in touch.

    jed — Thank you and I will email you, my friend (now that I’ve got a small bit of mail connectivity again).

    To all — As HWFIW posted yesterday, I was among the missing for a while. I couldn’t access the blog admin site while some other problems were being fixed. But I’m here now and have already set up and scheduled a post for tomorrow. It’s not the particular blogosaurus I’d been hoping to write, but it’s a blogosaurus about how NOT to care for a computer. Yeah, I’ve learned a lot about what NOT to do in the last few days …

  11. John Wilder
    John Wilder October 17, 2019 8:44 pm

    The Boy saved me from not one, but two crashed drives in the last 18 months. I’d suggest having a seventeen year old boy around, but they cost a LOT more in just pizza rolls than a good backup hard drive . . .

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