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The long road home [Jan. 26th, 2013|10:32 pm]
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I am back home at last.

Left New York early on the 24th. On the way to the airport, I had a taxi driver who might have been psychotic. It's hard to say. He was telling me how he wanted to leave New York, but the people here needed him, that he brought some kind of happiness wherever he went, just like a horse (?), and that I should believe in myself to achieve my dreams. He told me that now that I'd met him and absorbed his positive energy, I would be able to achieve all my dreams from now on. If this really ends up happening, I'm going to feel bad about only giving him a 20% tip.

I got on the plane to Salt Lake City, where I was going to connect to Oakland. I woke up to an announcement that the plane was beginning its final descent into Minneapolis. It was later explained to me that the flight was diverted because of bad weather. I sat in Minneapolis for about five hours before they found a plane to San Francisco to put me on.

Upon reaching San Francisco I was told my luggage would arrive the next night, into Oakland. I decided to log on the luggage-progress-site they gave me, only to find out that sometime during the flight the water bottle I had bought past the security checkpoint had leaked into my backpack and everything was moist, including my laptop.

I learned exactly twenty-four hours too late that if you take a moistened laptop to the computer repair store before turning it on, they can usually save it, but if you take it after turning it on it fries itself and there is no help for you. Exactly twenty-four hours before learning this, I turned on my laptop and it self-fried.

I tried to get a new laptop at the Staples in Berkeley, but they had such loud annoying music that I couldn't hear myself think and so couldn't trust myself to make a good choice. I went home intending to buy it on Amazon, but then I realized that would mean I would literally be up to three days without a laptop and this sent me into an existential panic. So instead I went to the inauspiciously named Fry's Electronics in Concord, read every single laptop review I could find on my phone, and picked the one with the highest rating and no obvious defects.

This might be a good point at which to mention that all laptops have names like "Sony Excita E4R3G1Q3-Q21V53" and that if you search "Sony Excita" it will be hopelessly vague and there will be 200 completely different models of laptop in the Excita series. But if you search "Sony Excita E4R3G1Q3-Q21V53" it will be so hopelessly specific that no one else has ever thought about that exact model of laptop before. To get the review you have to randomly try different string lengths until you find that "Sony Excita E4R3G" brings up reviews for the "Sony Excita E4R3G series of laptops". Did I mention that my phone requires you to switch modes when switching between typing letters and numbers?

After a long series of string-shortenings and mode-switchings I finally found a laptop with no obvious reported defects. Attempting to buy it triggered a long argument with my credit card company. This credit card company had found it totally okay that just a week earlier, I had bought expensive things in New York City, Salt Lake City, Boise, Seattle, and Boston literally on five consecutive days. But suddenly it is deeply suspicious that I was trying to buy a laptop from an electronics store twenty miles from my house. After giving them my previous few addresses and letting them call my mother, they grudgingly admitted that purchasing goods and services was not technically an illegal use of a credit card, and I was allowed to buy a brand new No-Obvious-Reported-Defects-According-To-The-Internet computer.

I brought it home and it immediately started making clicking sounds. Those of you who know me know that unexpected small sounds drive me nuts to the point where I have switched residences just to decrease them slightly and I force everyone around me to mute their computers. So I look this up on the Lenovo Solution Center site and thank goodness, I immediately get a page about Hard Drive Clicking Sound.

And I give the link to that page to prove that I am totally not joking when I list Lenovo's helpful troubleshooting advice:
Solution: None. This is not a problem.

DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE.

So now I'm either going to have to return it (with nothing to go on except an Officially Confirmed Non-Problem) or learn to live with it. Since the former option once again runs the very real risk of having to be without a computer for several days, I'm trying to live with it, which if it works might helpfully falsify my implausible hypothesis that I was somehow born without a noise habituation response.

I've been spending the last day trying to make Windows 8 look like anything except Windows 8. I found a cute program called Classic Shell which does most of the work for me, and beyond that I just have to get rid of all their "apps" (DEAR MICROSOFT: A COMPUTER IS NOT A CELL PHONE).

On Monday I go to the Data Recovery place to see if they have managed to recover my data. I was pretty good about backups and the only thing I risk losing besides a few lists and downloads is the new Dungeons and Discourse. I'm hoping even if I lose that enough of the thinking-work has been done that reconstructing the writing work won't be too painful.

But beyond that, I think I have solved the immediate crisis. My luggage made it safely to Oakland. The mighty civilization of cardboard boxes that takes over large portions of my house whenever I am gone has had its power broken and been consigned to the recycling bin of history (also to the literal recycling bin). My earplugs block out the clicking. And if I squint really hard at my computer I can pretend it is Windows 7. I think I can start to relax now.

And so at long last and after much yearning I am back in Berkeley. Everyone whom I said I couldn't do things for because I was traveling, ask me again and this time I will give you a different excuse.
linkReply

Comments:
From: (Anonymous)
2013-01-27 03:12 pm (UTC)

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It seems you may have *over*tipped the cab driver.
[User Picture]From: marycatelli
2013-01-27 03:29 pm (UTC)

(Link)

On a tangent: do you follow Doc Rat?
From: (Anonymous)
2013-01-27 04:06 pm (UTC)

welp

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Time to upgrade to a SSD.
[User Picture]From: oscredwin
2013-01-27 04:14 pm (UTC)

Re: welp

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That may just be better than getting a different laptop.

Or you could just get a mac. (One of us, one of us, one of us)
[User Picture]From: miffy_sees
2013-01-27 05:14 pm (UTC)

Re: welp

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2nding the mac idea :D Hee hee.
From: michaelvassar
2013-01-27 07:08 pm (UTC)

Re: welp

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Yeah, this is one of those places where majoritarianism with the right reference class majority seems to me like the obviously correct idea. Unless one is personally an expert, buy brand-name products, in this case, a macbook air.
[User Picture]From: squid314
2013-01-27 08:24 pm (UTC)

Re: welp

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I didn't and still don't want to turn this into an Apple vs. PC thread, but I hate Apple and will go to great lengths to avoid ever buying anything from them.
From: michaelvassar
2013-01-27 08:35 pm (UTC)

Re: welp

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OK.
I don't have similarly strong feelings.
I do have an old PC laptop that you could have. I'd like to get some of the software and documents off of it into some format that I'd still have access to, but other than that, there's no reason for me to keep it.
[User Picture]From: oscredwin
2013-01-27 10:31 pm (UTC)

Re: welp

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What sort of MP3 player do you have (I assume from this that it's not an iPod)?
[User Picture]From: squid314
2013-01-27 06:54 pm (UTC)

Re: welp

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This laptop has an SSD. I'm confused too.
[User Picture]From: little_ribbit
2013-01-28 05:18 am (UTC)

Re: welp

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Is it an SSD for its main drive, or a small supplemental SSD for caching? I seriously considered buying a small SSD for just that reason when I rebuilt my desktop, because my new motherboard supported it.

If the SSD is specifically just caching part of your normal hard drive to increase the effective speed, it might be the hard drive itself that's making the clicking noise.
From: (Anonymous)
2013-01-27 06:15 pm (UTC)

SSDs are amazing

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And feel free to return the laptop for literally *any* reason. If it's within the return policy and they don't like it, it's their fault for allowing the return.

Also, you want a solid state drive.

Also also, building your own desktop out of components is fairly straightforward (but overkill unless you want to do a lot of video gaming). Building your own laptop is trickier because of space concerns.
From: deiseach
2013-01-27 07:12 pm (UTC)

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Glad you at least made it back in one piece, and ignore the old dinosaur laughing at the notion of the young'un panicking about being without a laptop ;-)

Windows 8? Why? Up to now, I've bought every Windows new release (yes, I regretted it with Vista) but I'm not rushing to switch from 7 to 8 because I don't have any of those fancy swipy-touch appliances (no, not even a mobile phone) and I am blessed if I'm going to rush out and buy a tablet purely for the pleasure of running Windows 8.

I'm waiting for the next version, whether they call it Windows 9 or Windows 8 for PC, when they produce the debugged (relatively) version that will run on PCs and is not so obviously intended for the swipe-your-finger market.

Interesting to know that, if one decides to become a credit card thief, the way to avoid suspicion is to go on a spending spree in five different cities but do not attempt to buy anything near to the place where you robbed the card :-)
From: (Anonymous)
2013-01-28 06:35 am (UTC)

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You might be able to stop the clicking by disabling the drive's power management.
[User Picture]From: mair_aw
2013-01-28 09:58 pm (UTC)

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my lenovo thinkpad x61s clicks on battery power and squeals when plugged in. some of the time. I found some indication on the internet of bios updates to reduce the squeal, but it was all a bit vague. I put ear defenders on.
[User Picture]From: arundelo
2013-01-31 02:04 am (UTC)

Pangram

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I went to the typewriter store near Zendo and was thinking of you!

[User Picture]From: squid314
2013-01-31 03:15 pm (UTC)

Re: Pangram

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:)
[User Picture]From: sniffnoy
2013-01-31 05:38 pm (UTC)

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I hope I'm not being obnoxious, but since zero other people have brought it up, I have to ask why you don't install, say, some form of Linux (let's say perhaps Linux Mint for concreteness).
From: (Anonymous)
2013-04-08 12:59 am (UTC)

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2014-05-21 04:40 pm (UTC)

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