The Casual Computer User’s Greatest Fear
I encountered something today that made me really start to think that I need to upgrade my laptop. It did not want to access the internet.
I am a casual computer user. I use my laptop for games and writing mostly. When I got it in 2007/2008 (it was Christmas time), it was probably the best laptop I could get at Best Buy. It was a gamer’s laptop with its own graphics card. Not one of those built-in laptop cards, but a legitimate Nvidia graphics card. I could play Bioshock on it, which I did. But like most, okay all, computers from 2007, it has become functionally obsolete as a gamer’s laptop. It can still handle World of Warcraft and City of Heroes, but the last game I bought for it was Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. I had toyed with the idea of replacing it. Toyed really the right word for it. In my mind, it still functioned, so there was not much need to replace it. Besides, I have a Sony Vaio desktop that is even older than the laptop and I’m still using it… for iTunes and the occasional surfing of the internet.
Then today happened. I could not access the internet. From what I could tell, everything seemed to be working for networking. But it really was not. Even scarier when I thought it was working just the night before. I tried all the usual attempts to revive the connection, none of which worked. I even scoured the internet (on the archaic desktop that still was connected to the internet) to find an answer. Most of the answers I saw I understood enough to know that I understood them enough to make things worse.
Naturally, I did what any person who knew just enough to break something further would do: I asked someone who knew more than me. That would be my dad. He was the reason why I grew up around computers because he has worked with them as long as I’ve been alive. He is the reason why I know what a TRS-80 Model 1 is, and that Osborne made the first portable computer… which weighed a ton.
Together, we tried just about everything just short of physically dismantling the computer. Yet, no internet connection. Heck, as near as I could tell, I did not even really have a network connection. Nearly admitting defeat, I resigned myself to trying one last thing.
I always saw system restores as the ICBM of computer resolutions. When all else fails, you try one last-ditch effort to revive your computer my reverting it to an earlier time. Usually, this point is the last time there was any major software changes. In my case, that was August 17, 2012. In my last-ditch effort, I would make the compute think that it was starting up as it did on that day in the past… or something to that effect. I had no idea if that would even work. For all I knew, there was something physically wrong with my computer, that the summer heat damaged the network cards, both wired and wireless. Heck, for all I knew, there really was just one card for the two, and it was shot to Hell.
I did the restore and waited. The laptop restarted and completed the necessary processes to make it think it was August 12, 2012. And then it continued to the login screen. I logged in cautiously and watched as the network icon in the tray displayed the double computer, first with the yellow triangle exclamation point. And then, with the little globe. The restore had worked, and my laptop was once more connected to the internet.
I am still not even sure what happened between last night when I shut down and today when I turned my laptop back on. I am not even sure that this will not happen again. It may, it may not. I don’t know. But it made me think real seriously about the possibility that I need to get a new laptop, just in case something like this happens again.
Which I hope it doesn’t.