Monday, November 21, 2011

November Blog #20: "Experiencing Some Technical Difficulties"

It’s funny that in the 21st century we are so reliant on computers.  Well, I suppose it’s not really funny per se, it makes sense, look around, the world is nuts.  But it is funny how accustomed we have become to having computers, so much so that when they go down, it is like our power has actually gone out or something. 

On Sunday night I decided to take the bull by the horns in a manner of speaking and take charge of my computer maintenance.  I have been frustrated with its poor performance and my internet service provider for years.  The ISP I can really do nothing about right now, but my computer, I thought, I can control this, can’t I?  At least somewhat?  I am woman.  Stay-at-home or not I’m a feminist; I decided I needed to be the one to figure this out because having someone else in charge of “maintaining” my computer just did not make sense to me. 

I suppose this all started from me monitoring my computer’s CPU usage.  It has been spiking for no apparent reason probably for a few years now and I decided I wanted to get the bottom of it.  I had never really understood what these CPU spikes came from, but just learned to exist with them, even though their presence was somewhat of an annoyance, as they were usually accompanied by sub par computer performance, though in the grand scheme of problems my computer wasn’t THAT bad.  I suppose this is the reason it remains tolerable. 

I started tracking my CPU usage with a gadget and then decided that perhaps my registry needed cleaned and that would help or something was running in the background perhaps I wasn’t aware of.  I, not being a technical computer geek, only the sister of, know nothing of registry lingo and code; I could end up starting the self destruct sequence for all I know!   I decided to find a program that could clean my registry and what not and perhaps do a little bit more.  I found FixCleaner and did some soul searching beforehand then just bit the bullet and paid for a download of the full version, capable supposedly of many more maintenance options.  I was so frustrated with being frustrated that I decided I had nothing to lose other than the cost if it didn’t work, so I bought it. 

Upon installation, it found all sorts of errors which I corrected and of course it needed to restart after doing this.  I chose to do so and then after my computer shut down it became apparent to me again why I seldom shut down or restart.  It had done this before.   My computer refused to come back on.  It wouldn’t boot, just simply beeped at me six times over and over and over again.  I tried numerous times, but after a long sigh decided to let it sit over night to see if that helped, because it is what corrected the problem before.  Maybe it needed to cool down.  It was working fine before restarting and the cleaner seemed to improve the speed even!  Oiy!  What did I do?  All I wanted to do was improve my computer’s performance. 

The next morning I tried again, hoping it would just come on, and it didn’t.  Still the beeping.  Annoyed.  Why can’t anything ever work like it’s supposed to?  What is more discouraging is I’m still paying the last bit of this computer off!  I mean, come on!  I post a status to Facebook via my grade-school educated phone in hopes that one of my more technologically advanced friends could help me with the issue.  I could tell you what some of the parts in a computer are, but other than that, I’m lost.  I know more about mechanic work and the workings of cars than I do computers, and I’m no mechanic, let’s just put it that way. 

My one friend ended up responding right away and said about thinking it was a problem with the video card.  He suggested I pop the tower open and see if the card is loose and/or reinstall it.  I decided this was a great idea if he was willing to walk me through it.  I wasn’t exactly sure where it was and I have always been so terrified of the innards of computers.  Everything always seemed so delicate like a brain and if I touched it everything would be lost forever or I would mess something up some how!  I am far from a brain surgeon! 

Regardless, I was able to take the computer apart because I am familiar with this, as I clean it out occasionally, but after getting it open, it was apparently not enough.  It desperately needed cleaning, so I decided to do this first with my can of 3M Dust Remover.  I located the video card as described and found all of the fans, as well as the fan on the video card insanely clumped with chunks of dust rabbits (not bunnies, big rabbits).  I started into the cough-inducing task of blowing out the machine.  

After I got the computer all cleaned out, I was walked through the process of removing the card via text delivered Facebook comments.  (Thankfully for technology there is technology).  It is a little freaky handling static sensitive parts and I jokingly asked if I required a Hazmat suit or something to proceed, but luckily didn’t as mine was in the cleaners. Haah.  Anyway, I got the card out and reinstalled and everything.  I thought that perhaps simply cleaning it would help because the fan was SO clumped on the card that I could see if it wasn’t even working at all.  I hooked it all back up and plugged it in and…nothing.  Nothing to excite me accept the beep beep beep beep beep beep!  Rats. My “power” was out.  What am I going to do now?? It’s NaBloPoMo! 

Anyway, hanging out with my two friends and talking to others on Facebook while doing all of this we were able to come to the conclusion that it is my video card, because we had remembered that I have an on-board video card also on this computer, and I plugged the monitor into that and took the video card completely out and voila!  It worked.  Puzzle solved.  It was the video card. 

So then I ran the FixCleaner program again and finished up what I was doing on my PC.  I have been monitoring my CPU usage again after uninstalling some programs and things now and my computer seems to be running smoother because of the cleaning.  The spikes don’t seem as bad, but are still occurring occasionally.  I have at least added something to my bucket list with this whole ordeal.  I am a work(ish)-at-home-mom and my husband works takes him away all week.  Most of the duties of this household fall on me; I pride myself on being fairly self-reliant because I have to.  I do, though, require help from time to time.  Who doesn’t?  Super Mom, Wonder Woman, maybe?  Ch.  The lucky ones know those women aren’t real and help in some form is usually necessary. 

Thank Goodness I have knowledgeable friends that were able to help me get to the bottom of my problem this time, but the stay-at-home feminist in me was inspired to know my way around my computer better in order to be able to fix smaller problems such as this without assistance.  I’ve decided to add “Build My Own Computer” to my Bucket List.  There would be no better way to understand something than to build it from scratch.  I don’t know when I will do this, it might be next month or it might (and is more inclined to) be years from now, but I am going to do it, dammit.  I am building a computer for myself.  I am a capable woman.  I will take charge of my power.  I will empower myself with the sufficient amount of geektastic knowledge…and I will build.  It can be done.

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