#ThursThreads Week 446 : We Will Bring Him Up To Speed

I stared at the list of programs on my Mother’s computer. It was awful. “How much did she install?” I read names for programs, and companies, “And does she even know?” Even though I knew she didn’t know. Most people didn’t. They simply clicked on stuff that got in the way, so they could get to what they wanted to do.

“Can you fix it?”

“Yes, Mom. We will bring him up to speed.”

It’s what I did. I fixed computers owned by bean dips, who had no business owning a computer. “Should tell them to swallow their pride, and buy a fucking Chromebook. Screw that up, and fix it with a simple power wash.”

But, Chromebooks didn’t run Microsoft Word. It was that simple. The Word application on the WEB that was totally free, and did everything damn near everyone ever did in Word, was the perfect replacement. But no one used it. “I want the real Word! ‘Cause, it’s what everyone uses!”

Hell, even Chromebooks were a pain to be honest. They had Chrome on them. Do you know how many stupid extensions people install in Chrome? Even the ones that Chrome and Google flag as malicious, and they install them anyway?

“It will take time, Mom. But we will bring him up to speed.”

It was going to be a long night. I was going to need more than one Sprite. “Go to bed, Mom. I got this.”

241 Words

It’s Week 446 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Trying to break the ice that’s encased my writing. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who show up every week.


F Is For Fun, Fun, Fun…

There I was, sitting in my chair, in the Family Room, watching Agents of Shield, preparing to write something for the letter F. I was ready to write, so I picked up my Chromebook, and turned it on.

And stared at it for a minute or two, as it didn’t do a thing. Not one damn thing.

Being the curious me that I am, I turned it off. You have to understand. It’s a cheap Chromebook. I can’t count the number of times it’s done that very thing. Turned on, it’s little blue power light shining in the dark, and never displayed anything on its screen. I know what to do when a computer does that. Start at the beginning. Turn it off, and try again.

And within 10 seconds, it responded. But… It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Instead of a white screen with a Chrome Logo, and the word Chrome under it, the machine displayed a two inch tall exclamation mark, and two sentences. “Chrome OS is missing or damaged. Insert a USB Recovery Stick to restore.”

I rolled my eyes. Sometimes I swear I can see my brain. “Step 2. Duplicate the problem.” Off goes the power. On it comes again. And less than ten seconds later, there’s that same message, with that same exclamation mark.

I sighed. I hadn’t planned on reinstalling Chrome OS on the Chromebook tonight. It meant I had to stop watching my TV program. I’m not happy about that, but it’s not a big deal. I can watch it On Demand on Thursday. I picked up the Chromebook, and hauled it upstairs, to my desktop computer. Another of the computers my kids would call a Frankenstein, since I’ve raised it from the dead with various parts as needed.

I learned something new as I tried to download the recovery image to a flash drive I keep specifically for the purpose of repairing the Chromebook. Google changed how you get the recovery image. Oh, joy. Now my desktop PC has Google Chrome on it, just so I can run the Chromebook Recovery Utility, which only runs in the Chrome WEB browser.

I started the download. And watched it reach ⅔ complete. Then it died, and posted a red message, “Download interrupted. Please try again.” I did. And promptly duplicated the problem. So, I changed the desktop from the wireless connection to the network to the wired connection. And… Duplicated the problem once again.

That meant it was time to walk down the hallway, to the loft, and cycle the power on the Verizon FiOS router, ‘cause it’d lost its mind. After I’d done that, I tried the download one more time. And duplicated the problem once again.

“I’ll try this one more time!” And I kicked off the download one last time. It’s still running. It’s taken over 40 minutes. I don’t want to touch the desktop computer, in case that causes the download to fail again.

Geek that I am, I decided, “What the hell. I’ve got time to kill.” So I pulled the battery from the Chromebook, pulled the bottom plate off it, and stared at its guts. The hard disk drive was obvious. It’s ⅓ of the guts. I couldn’t resist. I knew the machine was rated for a 160 GB HDD. So, I grabbed one of my toolkits, and pulled the screws holding the HDD in place.

Then I looked at the HDD.

It’s a 320 GB Seagate Momentus slim line hard disk drive. 320 GB. Not 160. That said, do the math. 160 X 2 IS 320. So, it’s probably got its own backup. I considered hooking it to the BlacX on the desktop, and taking a look at it. But decided not to, since the download was still inching along.

I took a look at the RAM. A single 2 GB SODIMM. And a slow one at that. By some company I’d never heard of. I enjoyed peeking and poking around. But decided it was time to put it back together. The RAM clicked into its slot. And that’s when I noticed the cables connecting the HDD and the touchpad to the system board were… There’s no polite way to say it… Cheap. Among the worst I’ve ever seen.

So, I reseated the cables.

Then, I put the HDD back in the machine, and sealed the whole thing back up.

“I need to write for the letter F. But I don’t want to touch the Desktop. And the Chromebook’s a brick. That leaves… The iPad Mini.”

I loaded Google Drive, and then opened a new Doc. And started to peck away at the touch screen on the iPad. The iPad’s OK, but not something I’d used to type anything. From that perspective. It sucks.

So, I decided to look at the error screen on the Chromebook one more time. I turned it on. And the bitch booted Chrome OS.

Turns out the problem was the HDD cable had come loose, and the Chromebook couldn’t find the HDD to load the OS.

And I just killed a frickin’ hour and a half figuring that little detail out. Sigh. Hence the title of this little story I’ve written tonight. A true tale, written on my Chromebook, waiting for the Chrome OS Recovery to finish downloading and setting itself up on the USB Flash Drive. And I’m OK with that. Because I learned something new tonight.

The hard way. But still… I learned something new.

And as always, I had fun, fun, fun.

Hey, stuff like this is what I do. Every day at work.

And I’ll have fun, fun, fun, to the brain cells in my noggin’ burn out. (With apologies to the Beach Boys). So. This will have to be what I write for the letter F. This little story of me having fun, fun, fun.

Yeah. I know. I have a strange definition of fun. But then, I have strange definitions of damn near everything. And yes. This is a true story. It really happened. Just now. Trust me on this. I can’t make this stuff up.

It’s April 7th, the sixth day of the 2015 A to Z Challenge. This is the sixth of 26 pieces I’m writing in April. Today, the letter F. Tomorrow, who the heck knows? That’s the mystery of life. We take it as it happens.

Van Hook Glade, Saturday, 13 September 2014

I’m sitting in the Scion xB (A 2006 model, so it’s 8 years old) parked at the Western Carolina Farmers Market in Asheville, North Carolina. She’s out there, somewhere, in the chaos. Cars and trucks all over the place, going in all kinds of directions, people milling about.

Did I mention pure chaos and I don’t mix well? I tend to hide in the car when I can. It’s like how I love the beach, but the only beaches I can actually go to at home are the ones at Back Bay NWR, and False Cape State Park. The rest? HUMANS! AIEEE!

Humans are, and I know it, social beings. Even I have some social requirements. I may not really know what they are, but dealing with the chaos of the Farmers Market on a Saturday afternoon is not one of them. If it was, say, Tuesday morning, during a work week, when everyone was at work, and school was in session, and there were much fewer people here, I’d do better.

I’m looking forward to the 7 hour drive home. The math says we’ll get there, and all will be fine. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to getting there.

I wonder how much stuff she’ll come back with? I wonder if she’ll find stuff to buy, and then drive the car around to the different places, park at them, and put a case of stuff in the car. How many eggplant does a married couple with kids all grown and out of the house need? An entire case? One of the shipping boxes they ship eggplant to the stores in?

And in 12 minutes, the Chromebook will turn itself off. And I’ll be sitting in the car. With nothing to do. Maybe I’ll bend the rules, turn on the motor, and plug-in the charger, so I can let my fingers and mind wander, and distract myself from the chaos I’m staring into. Maybe I’ll lean back and take a nap.

I don’t hate the place. Really. I don’t. It’s just too much for me to handle. I get overloaded, and end up like a little boy, holding on to mommy’s hand, going, “Don’t leave me alone in this! AIEEE!” I won’t say that, but she knows. It’s a case of I don’t know anyone around me, so I don’t know how they will react to anything. Sort of like a normal person walking into a new job for the first time. Except with me, it happens endlessly, every day, over, and over, and over, forever.

Honestly, if I could, I’d find a cave and move into it, and never come out and deal with the world. Of course, that wouldn’t work, so I keep hanging in there, trying. Look, There’s a blue Nissan Altiima to my right. A gray Toyota Forerunner to my left. Give it a minute, and things will change. A red Jeep Grand Cherokee’s next to the Nissan. It’s loading up. The mom’s cute. She’d make a daughter someone would be proud of. The dad is, well, a guy. Looks like a typical lazy bum. The daughter’s cute as a button. Aren’t they all?

AIEEE! There’s a line of vehicles coming in! AIEEE!

Please let her finish soon, so we can go home.

Van Hook Glade, Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Well. It’s 2116 hours as I start this little missive. It’s pitch dark here. No. I mean, WOW is it ever dark here. As in, my feet are in white socks, and I can’t see them. Yep. It’s that dark.

We are at Van Hook Glade Campground, in Highlands, North Carolina. We drove here today. Her alarm went off at 0345 hours this morning, and at 0430 hours, we were in the Scion xB, and heading out. We stopped at Caesars Head State Park, South Carolina, and made the 2+ mile hike to Raven Cliff Falls overlook. The trails are somewhat washed out now, so the only safe viewing area is from the overlook. And that’s like a mile from the falls. But, we got reasonably good pictures. I’m happy with them.

I took a bunch of experimental pictures. Playing with light and tree leaves. It was dark enough in the woods I had to push the camera to 3200 ISO. Never had to do that before.

We’re in the tent. I’m thinking I’ll turn the Chromebook off in a few minutes, and pass out for the night. She takes me camping, or to a mountain lodge somewhere, and I revert to pre-historic state, and go to sleep when it gets dark, and wake up when it gets light.

Coming down 85, through North Carolina, I think every county sherrif’s car was on patrol. Along with all the state troopers. We saw one every few miles. Hint. Don’t drive stupid in North Carolina.

Dinner? Yes, we had dinner. We each had half a Subway sub. She washed hers down with a coffee mug of Sangria. I washed mine down with an 8 oz. Mike’s Hard Smashed Apple Cider. Now, I shall turn off the Chromebook, and see how long it takes for the crickets, frogs, birds, and all the other wildlife to serenade me to sleep.

And tomorrow, we try to get pictures of waterfalls. 🙂