the thrill is gone

ComputermaintenanceAfter having CPU kernel panic issues earlier in the week I thought my dues to the tech gods were paid. That assumption was before I couldn’t connect to the network with my old (Pismo, for my nerd pals) Powerbook. I know, just reboot and try again.


So, several hours later, I managed a network connection, but not before this laundry list of troubleshooting: utilities, zapped PRAM, tried ethernet, tried wireless, deleted prefs, deleted profiles, changed IP addresses, fiddled with the router LAN and wireless settings, opened up the Powerbook to stare at the Airport card and check it was properly seated, pouted, sneered, waved a dead chicken over it all…
Some combination of methods and remedies worked, though I’m not entirely sure which/what ones. Whatever. It works again.

I’m getting soft in my troubleshooting age; there once was a time I looked after a whole department of Macs and PCs at a 24-hour high-volume direct mail printing company, but now that I’m out of that environment I just want my stuff to work. * sigh *

I know my computing equipment is getting on a bit now (Pismo from 2000 and G4 from 2002) but I still rely on them and see no reason to replace either of them. So many people constantly upgrade perfectly good equipment for the next best thing, but I typically feel an obligation to use a product – especially expensive tech products – until I have a truly substantial reason to upgrade. My Powerbook is slow by most standards (500 MHZ / 384 RAM) but I use it for writing. I don’t really need a processor powerhouse to edit text. What will likely push me to purchase a new (or refurbished) machine is the screen. As laptops age, displays typically become dimmer. This unfortunate sign of an ageing machine can’t be avoided and obviously I won’t be able to edit text without eyestrain for much longer.

I thank my family for instilling in me the instinct to be thrifty. It’s a trait most bigger-better-faster-more minded folks don’t understand. I’ll put up with the increasing quirks of my ageing machines for as long as I can because they still offer 80-90% excellent performance day in and day out. I am not a typical user; my machines are almost never ‘asleep’ or shut off. They have the right to be tired and complain a bit!

Sure the thrill of troubleshooting systems is gone, but I’ve learned there is a measurable thrill in keeping the technology reaper at bay for as long as you can. It’s satisfying and leaves more money in our wallets, even if only for a little while longer.

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4 thoughts on “the thrill is gone”

  1. I‚Äö?Ñ?¥m getting soft in my troubleshooting age; there once was a time I looked after a whole department of Macs and PCs at a 24-hour high-volume direct mail printing company, but now that I‚Äö?Ñ?¥m out of that environment I just want my stuff to work. * sigh *

    Hell frickin’ yes. I’m in the same boat. I’m looking at a g4 rebuild next week, I’m really not looking forward to it 🙁 I used to to do computer troubleshooting standing on my head. How times have changed.

  2. Troubleshooting used to be a perverse pleasure‚Äö?Ñ?Ƭ¨‚Ćlike some kind of S&M computer maintenance ritual that I’d always take a little further than I needed to. Now? I’d rather take a nap and hope all is well when I get up! 😀

    I tell you though, I had to completely open up my Sony Cybershot to resurrect it from the beating it received on the beaches of Portugal and it was such a thrill to have it work again! Compared to my Macs the camera was a relatively cheap project to tinker with, and fixing it was a pleasant bonus. There’s always a bigger sense of dread when a computer goes down though… and I’m getting far to comfortable to want to deal with such things anymore! 😉

    Good luck on your rebuild, Pete! I’ll box up that dead chicken if you need it!

  3. Hey Jen,

    Don’t know it you tried it, but…

    When I get network issues under OS X, and the settings are correct, the first thing I do is switch my location settings to one called “off” that has all the network options unticked in network prefpane. Then switch back to the normal location, usually “Automatic”.

    You’re effectively shuttting down and restarting the network stacks, which seems to clear problems.


  4. Hi Matt!

    Thanks! I think somewhere in my troubleshooting I tried something similar to that, but I can’t be certain. But because of your tip I’ll be creating an OFF just in case.
    (Since we have WEP encryption I usually have a specific location set up instead of using Automatic, but I’d guess the most important bit is to have the OFF location to toggle.)

    Now, if you could divine for me why the ethernet connection wouldn’t work either, I’d send you a pony! 😉

    The weird thing now is that the networking seems to be working better than ever for that little old machine. Something I did made it happy… I just hate it when I don’t know what ultimately worked! 🙂

    The joys of computer maintenance!

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