Tuesday, 20 April 2010

My CPU has accelerated ageing disease

It took me four cigarettes to start up my CPU this morning.

Four years ago I spent a small fortune on an entirely new computer system. My old one, which I’d had by then for about eight years, had suffered so many add-ons, patches, crashes, viruses and the like that it operated more like a tractor than a computer. With much whirring and clanking, it would randomly file files in mysterious places never to be found again, send out emails willy-nilly to everyone in my contact list, and, at times, simply refuse to boot.

So I took what files I needed from it (those I could still find) and asked a friendly computer fellow to set me up completely anew. I got a lovely big CPU with gigatons of memory, a new keyboard, a mouse that had a light instead of a ball (so didn’t get gunged up with animal hair and refuse to move) and a nice big flat screen. Heaven! The first time I fired up my new computer I was astonished by the keenness with which it readied itself for a day’s work: within a minute or so, it was raring to go.

I imagined, in the innards of the CPU, a superbly trained secretary, pert and efficient, perhaps with a pen lodged usefully behind her ear, wearing stern spectacles, a pencil skirt and sensible heels – a veritable Miss Jones. With virtual notebook in hand, she awaited my every bidding, and nothing proved too much for her. She filed with speed and accuracy (and never forgot for a nanosecond where she’d put anything) and never mixed up addressees, and she even did things like automatically archive desktop files that I hadn’t used for a while, back up information without being asked, and update vital programs without the slightest prompt from me.

It seems, however, that my virtual secretary has progeria, a rare genetic disorder that causes accelerated ageing. For, a mere four years on, it takes me the time required to smoke four cigarettes and drink two cups of coffee for her to get everything ready for my day’s work. (For the record: about 20 minutes. At 5 in the morning, which is when I start work, there’s little to do but smoke and drink coffee while waiting for the CPU to boot.)

Yes, that alert and resourceful CPU secretary is now, I imagine, the equivalent of an octogenarian – unwilling to get out of bed in the morning, full of complaints about her physical and mental health, forgetful, easily irritated, prone to frequent 'internal' and sometimes even 'fatal' errors, and so very, verrrry sloooow. I can easily imagine her moving at glacial pace up and down the myriad shelves that hold my documents, sighing and clicking her tongue, misfiling stuff because, you know, she just couldn’t be bothered any more; taking ages to retrieve files because her lumbago is giving her problems; and, occasionally, sitting down for a cup of tea and a good old moan about her relatives and how life hasn’t treated her fair, while I wait, impatiently tapping my fingers and smoking myself into a frenzy, for her to get a bloody move-on.

Thinking to ease her load a bit (something we do for loyal employees), I recently backed up about a gazillion photographs, several dozen manuscripts and endless not-in-use-all-the-time folders onto an external hard drive – the virtual equivalent, I suppose, of getting a temp in to do the hard slog. But it hasn’t really helped that much – Miss Jones, now clearly a somewhat embittered spinster, still takes her own sweet time to get going in the morning.

Not that I really care today, actually – my daughter finally passed her driver’s licence test, so Miss Jones is welcome to snooze untidily in a corner.

But tomorrow...

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Claudine said...

You do realise that the minute, 4 years ago, you walked out of the store clutching your new shiny computer in your sweaty hands that it was out of date and slow? :)

Muriel said...

But (at the risk of sounding like the old Miss Jones), that's so UNFAIR! It's like buying a brand-spanking-new car, and by the time you drive it off the showroom floor, it's already old. But what's the option? Buying a secondhand computer isn't one...?

ali g said...

My mongrel of a computer just HATES being turned off. If I do as soon as its turned back on it blue screens and shuts down telling me that there is a problem and has to restart. keeps restarting and then shutting down again for another three or more times before coming good. I sit there waiting and smoking [I dont smoke cigs...it's coming out of my ears as I fume.]
So now just hibernate the old girl when going to bed. keeps her happy and me less cranky.

Johann said...

Sweetie, do you remember I showed you how to run Scandisk and then Defrag? It's like sending the secretary to a good shrink and then have an efficiency expert organise your filing system. Oh, and you need a new CPU fan. I know you love your keyboard with ALL the letters worn off which very effectively safeguards you computer from anyone helping you, so you'll just have to do this yourself.

Muriel said...

Nice to hear from you, Ali G!

Johann, I've Defragged and Scandisked till I'm blue in the face. Miss Jones is, apparently, just longing for retirement.