Sunday, 6 April 2008

Computers Hate Me

It's true, they do. Possibly something of a disadvantage in my chosen career, but I get by, carefully. Don't believe me? Hear my tales of woe, come cry with poor, poor me.

April, 1997 - Still at University, just started my second year of a computer science degree. I save up the cash and buy the first computer of my very own: a Performa 6360. I get it home; I set it up, including copying all my work off the family computer: there must have been 80 megs of data! I'm about to go downstairs and delete everything off that shared computer, whe I stop. Nah, I'll do that tomorrow. I shut my brand new Mac down, I go to sleep. I wake up in the morning and one of the first things I do is turn my new Mac on. To be confronted with the dreaded flashing disk icon. My Mac couldn't find a disk to start from. Uh oh... Even booting from a system CD showed nothing. In the end this wasn't even a disk crash, there was a bug in the disk driver. It completely lost everything meaningful off the disk. Nice. Good thing I hadn't deleted my backup. Words to live by.

July, 1998 - For our third year project we decided to write a TCP peer-to-peer IM system for Apple's up coming new OS: Rhapsody. The beta didn't run on my 6360, so I sold that and bought a Power Mac G3, one of the original (or so I thought) beige ones. Turns out it wasn't quite 'original' enough: I scored a motherboard rev that wouldn't boot the developer seed of Rhapsody that I had access to. Argh! We still got our IM system working: we wrote it using the cross-platform environment Apple released for Windows NT. Everyone else in the class wrote Access databases.

March, 2004 - Time to finally upgrade the now ancient G3, so I order an iLamp G4. It arrives, complete with a nice line of purple pixels all the way down the screen. Fortunately, it was declared DOA and a complete replacement was sent.

Hmmm... all Macs so far. Why do I keep buying these?

July, 2005 - We've now started a startup. We know .NET, so that's what we're writing it in. I buy my first Windows PC - a Compaq Presario. It came with XP Home, so I buy an upgrade to XP Pro at the same time. At home that night, running the upgrade - and it just stops. No upgrade for me. And even better, it deleted the old XP Home installation, leaving me with an unbootable PC. Sound familiar? I got my computer back with a clean installation of XP Pro. Except that didn't include any hardware drivers at all. Instead of just using VGA 640x480 resolution on my 19in LCD monitor, I spent the evening finding, downloading and installing all the right drivers. That is also my only experience of trying to convince someone I had willingly bought software from that I was not a criminal. Thanks, Microsoft Software Activation. This computer lasted barely two years before a very fatal disk crashed, ended that incarnation.

So, it's not the computers, it really seems to be me. Those are the only computers that I've bought. Seriously, no other computers were hidden away in there. I've also had zip drives inexplicably and suddenly give the click of death, lamps leave scorch marks on my desk, monitors catch fire (really! there was smoke), printers refuse to power on and USB devices make my machine reboot right now. Maybe I just have a special relationship with hardware? I've definitely got a reputation for it... But, I'm a software guy, and there are uncountable software disasters tucked away in there.

Now, it's that time again: I need to replace my four year old iMac. I'm planning on getting a laptop, hopefully a MacBook Pro. Doesn't sound dangerous to me, what could possibly go wrong?

1 comment:

Kev said...

This applies to any electronic device though really.

Printers hated me for years.
Currently telephones seem to be killed by mthe slightest touch, not mobiles but home phones, my '7, 8 & 9' keys have stopped working on my phone recently.

On the plus side, I've genuinely noticed Apple's quality control and customer service getting better in recent years, especially the customer service, that seems to make all the difference. When I buy an Apple product I know if it goes wrong it'll be a minor inconvenience but not a major hassle to get it repaired or replaced.