Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just in time for Halloween: a Ghost in the Machine

I haven't been blogging much lately for a number of reasons, chief among them the sorry state of my computer, to which the picture below testifies.

All that silly Halloween stuff that is supposed to be scary at this time of year -- skeletons and vampires and boogie-men -- they have nothing in the fright department over the dreaded blue screen of death. Fortunately, I keep my data thoroughly backed up. My mama didn't raise no dummy.

If you’re a techie, you’ll note that the above blue screen indicates both an IRQL and an NDIS error. That should be easy to fix – just identify and uninstall the offending driver. Ha.

I repeat: HA.

If only it were that simple. It’s been a week now working on this sisyphusian task and I've seen just about every blue screen message there is. I’m on a first-name basis with everyone in the Dell office in the Philippines (who all seem to have oddly American names like Bob and Ann and Sue. Go figure). I’ve replaced the hard drive and the motherboard. Replaced the memory twice. I’ve reinstalled the system software from scratch three times.

But like some bizarro-world phoenix, this machine dies again and again and again. It’s an undead zombie computer, an inferni doing the bidding of some malevolent power. I can’t kill it, and I can’t revive it either. Its soul is trapped in between the tangible world of the machine and that great electronic ether where all good computers go.

So yesterday I realized that I had to stop the madness. I had to let my little Inspiron go. I politely but insistently told the good folk at Dell that I was done doing free work for their tech department, and that they needed to honor their contract and just send me a new machine. Either that, I told them, or they could send the tech person of their choice to my house to try to figure out the problem -- they'd pay his hourly rate, and I'd supply him with all the Red Bull and Cheetos he wanted.

They opted for the new machine.

It should arrive in two weeks -- at exactly the time when ghosts of all sorts are looking for new haunting grounds. On Halloween.

Go towards the light, little Dell, go towards the light!

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