Katherine Hayton | Laptop troubles
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15 Nov / Laptop troubles

I’m not entirely certain of what’s happening but it appears my laptop is trying to kill me.

It may be slow, taking its time, gradually dialling up the blood pressure and the pulse rate to wear out my tiny, overworked heart, but it’s still doing it. Stealthy, like all malfunctioning machines. You can’t trust ’em even when you think you’re friends.

It used to be that all my laptop asked for was a power supply and an occasional complete battery discharge when it was feeling frisky. Soon after purchase it became my favourite laptop; unexpected due to the lack of a touch screen which was all the rage at the time I brought it (Windows 8 had just come out) but with the addition of a dual graphics card which allowed me to play PC games with only a slight lag.

Back in the day I was amazed at the speed with which it started up. After Windows 7, where the computer loved telling you messages about how long it still had to go before it opened but reassuring you that it was going to get there eventually, Windows 8 was a dream. You pushed a button, waited for two seconds, entered your password and you were at the desktop. Or whatever they call that screen it ends up on.

Never an appreciator of the apps screen, I eschewed it in favour of clicking on Desktop and using things the way I’d always done. Our beautiful, untroubled relationship continued for a year until I installed Goat Simulator (mainly due to the spoof trailer) and instead of having a new game I had a blue screen with a big sad face on it.

It was our first big break up. I attempted to rekindle interest by taking its back off and poking about inside it, but I didn’t really know where all the bits special to it were, or how to touch them, so we remained estranged.

Thinking it was over I started up a relationship with a younger model. It was properly flashy with a screen that released from the keyboard to turn from a laptop into a tablet.

So cool.

It also had the touchscreen that I’d pretended I didn’t need but secretly longed for. When I touched my new laptop it was fully responsive. It was exciting. It was new.

It was also a piece of junk. The lag was appalling and it was no use trying to play a PC game on it. I’d had more responsive gameplay from our old Spectrum than my shiny new toy could offer.

Ah, shiny, shiny thing. You were so pretty and so slow. My rebound bimbo.

With renewed passion, and having expended any chance of buying a proper replacement laptop by purchasing my weak hybrid, I poured my time and energy into getting to know the insides of my old laptop with true intimacy. With time and patience I finally worked out what made it tick, and ended with the grand result of a laptop restored to its full glory. Not to mention upgraded to Windows 8.1 (still don’t know what the difference is, but I’m not complaining)

So that was out first falling out. We both recovered and moved on; a bit older, a bit wiser.

Lately, there’s been a bit of a sea change in our lifestyles. We’re both getting on in years. I now struggle to bend my knee in the morning and my laptop struggles to turn on immediately. Not Windows 7 (or God forgive Windows Vista) slow but not like it’s spring chicken self.

There’s also been a few changes in our relationships. I try not to hang around with any people and my laptop has stopped communicating with some of the programs that used to be its favourites. I try to understand but whereas the people I’ve stopped seeing don’t matter to my laptop, the software it’s had a falling out with do matter to me.

Take Outlook (or as the old joke goes take Outlook, please). We’ve always maintained a working relationship. Now my laptop is trying to cut off ties between us just because it’s having a bit of trouble. The same with Word. And Excel.

Personally, I think it’s because the programs have been spruced up with a facelift and some new nonsense that is very exciting to read about but which I’ll never use. Yes. Microsoft Office 2016 has arrived.

My laptop doesn’t understand this younger generation. The quicker they want to do things and the more they want to do, the more my laptop digs in its heels and goes slow. Sometimes it’ll just stop responding altogether. Apart, that is, from the sign at the top of the screen saying “Not Responding.” Some of those times are when it should be doing things that are vitally important to me, such as saving all those words that I’ve been sweating to type out.

Yelling doesn’t do any good. Once, in the long distant past, I encountered a similar situation with a laptop. I can also attest as a result of that experience that slamming it shut and repeatedly hitting it don’t do anything either. Those signs are right. Abuse. IT’S NEVER OKAY. Have you tried to get a laptop screen replaced at Christmas? We had to drive to a house with an actual person in it. They talked to me AND EXPECTED ME TO TALK BACK TO THEM.

So yesterday I did the only thing I could think of. I dug deeply into my internal resources of patience and forbearance and attempted to give my laptop a makeover. Or a tuneup, if you prefer.

Over long hours I responded to messages and waited for long periods of time as little bots crawled over my laptop and exclaimed their findings on screen along with their recommendations. Some ridiculous (delete duplicate items found on my hard drive and my cloud drive – do you not understand backup copies?), some perfectly acceptable.

As a last treat I put aside my own concerns, such as the need to constantly refresh my Amazon KDP Reports page in case I’d missed a sale, and set up for a full disk drive refurbishment.

It may not cost money (I have none to spend) but it does require an investment of some solid time.

I gritted my teeth, made sure that my mobile phone battery was fully charged, and committed myself to this course of action. I closed down everything, said my goodbyes, and rebooted. My laptop reopened in a full disk repair and I sat back to play Scrubby Dubby. Yes, it’s a game for adults, what are you implying?

An hour passed and I congratulated myself on for my patience. Another passed, I calculated that at 11% complete I would be leaving the laptop on all night and got a bit freaked. When a third hour had passed and the screen was still showing 11% I began to feel afraid. For me. For my laptop. Was it all coming to an end?

At the four hour mark I conceded that this was ridiculous and I began to search online for guidance, cursing at the teeny, tiny screen of my mobile phone. I received instructions, followed them, and the wait was over but so too was the repair. The slowness will just have to be accommodated because there is no solution coming. After coming that close to losing my laptop forever, it’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make.

By Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog

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