First of all, Happy Halloween! (and Samhain or New Year or whatever you may celebrate now) This post is mostly me telling a story.
So I have always (count from roughly six months after I started writing, when I started seriously writing) backed up my work fairly regularly. (Sometimes the ‘schedule’ is a bit sketchy, but it’s there.) I didn’t personally need another reminder that it is very important to do so just in case, but here on NaNoWriMo-eve, perhaps someone else will take from it.
At the end of last month, shortly after we (the Ferrets) returned from our writing retreat (what I actually wanted to write about for a blog post this month) I had an Incident.
It was a perfectly fine evening, if you can say that about one o’clock in the morning, and I had just settled down with cinnamon tea and graham crackers to write (a new project I’d started instead of the one with a deadline I should have been doing). Upon fishing out a piece of graham cracker from the depths of tea, I left the spoon balanced across my cup, which meant when the cat divebombed from the back of the couch to the floor, her jostling of the table and/or my elbow knocked the spoon into the full cup of tea.
This splashed out roughly three tablespoons of tea directly onto the trackpad of my laptop, two inches away. This was Not A Good Thing.
Note: I have ‘splashed’ small amounts of liquid there before, and on the wrist-rest parts of my laptop. I eat at my laptop frequently, and while there’s a nearby other shelf where I set other drinks, tea is kept where I can lean over it and appreciate its warmth, smell, drink it steadily, etc. I have never had a problem, just the occasional quick clean-up.
This time there was enough fluid to seep through the very tiny gap between the trackpad and the laptop, and get inside. The laptop didn’t turn off or die horribly, so I didn’t immediately recognise that this was happening, I just hurriedly began cleaning it away.
Then I realised. I turned off the laptop, began quietly freaking out, but squashed it beneath cleaning for the time being as more important. I also realised I needed someone to dismantle my computer and clean the inside. Someone who would be able to visually recognise if something was damaged, as I could not.
(And it was one in the morning. I hate emergencies that require professional assistance that happen in the wee hours. It’s stressful and sickening and one can’t fix it for a very long time.)
So as soon as they opened, I went to see GeekSquad, who helped me when my poor last laptop (my beloved darling) had his final catastrophe. They told me they could fix the problem for $40, in an hour when the guy who did that came in (after checking with him by phone), just leave it with them, and he’d call me to give me details when he got there. Good deal. Can do.
An hour and a half later I called them, and it came out that oh, no they can not fix this in house, they don’t have the right environment back there to open up a laptop (legitimately what they said to me, direct quote) – but for $50 they can ship the laptop out to their ‘special facility’, where in 2-3 weeks they would look at my laptop and determine what needs doing, for another $50-$100, and get it back to me whenever that ‘whatever it needs’ was finished.
No. So I spent another hour contacting local places, hoping to find someone who could open up my laptop and clean it properly today or at the very least soon (note: if your computerised answer system can’t even handle a phone call, it does not make my confidence soar, you should fix that).
I finally found someone local who answered me, sounded fairly confident about the problem, had a not-insane price to quote, and could get to me today. I was so relieved. I was also slightly faint because computer stress makes me do stupid things and it was now past noon and I hadn’t eaten since the graham crackers at one in the morning.
The next day (the local place is only two persons; when a client has an emergency it delays everything) my laptop was safely back in my hands with no apparent damage, and I was delighted. (No, I didn’t even lose any files.)
So, new plan, we order me a replacement keyboard, which they very kindly offer to install for nothing more than a tiny additional fee. Also, I can keep the laptop in the meantime.
There was a small delay, but not too bad, and soon I have a computer with a fully functional keyboard again! (Also I was reminded that the texture of the keys had changed since I bought the laptop two years ago from such heavy use. And I did not realise that my typing had slowly lowered all the keys.)
Unfortunately I quickly found a second small problem. My sound is . . . wonky. It sounds almost like the speakers are in my laptop upside down (which is of course impossible) and eventually I figure out that the right side balance is low. (I checked the software end, and it was unfortunately not just a glitch there.)
I call the local computer repair place once more and they are puzzled by my problem but eventually conclude it sounds like a loose wire. An easy fix, they just need to take it apart and check wires; can do it in a day, no problem.
It is several weeks before this actually happens (delay on their end) while I mostly mute my computer because it bothers me so much. They take it, fix it (one little wire was pinched), bring it back, and it glitches at me in several spots that cause me to have minor panicky incidents and also call them immediately. (Eventually they remote-hooked-in to resolve one of them.)
The sound? It’s still funky. There’s no hardware problem now and the balance is mostly fine (it’s a hard thing to pin down) but the sound is physically louder (in a rather sketchy way) than it ever has been before, proportionally, whatever I set the volume to. This is distressing, but there is nothing I can do at this point except . . . get used to it.
And the few other . . . quirks that it makes no sense for the laptop to have developed from this little incident and yet here they are, stemming from that night. Here’s hoping they stay ‘quirks’ and that I can replace my laptop sometime before they develop into anything more. (Because one of the quirks my last laptop had eventually snowballed into what caused his catastrophic death.)