22 November 2015

My Haunted Computer

Note: There was a demonstration on campus this week in response to racist comments, but since this has already been well covered by my fellow bloggers I’m going to leave it to them and continue blogging about everyday life here.

As October wore on, I noticed that my computer was slowly beginning to act stranger and stranger.  Ghost task engines would mysteriously appear with their contents cloaked in black and vanish almost as suddenly; hardware checks started to fail and return an error the likes of which could not be found in the Dell support database; on one occasion I watched my computer cut its own power while I was 3 feet away.  Then, on the 31st of October, I decided to call tech support. After a mere 40 minutes listening to exactly 1 minute of hold music running on a constant loop, I reached a live human being and, after explaining my situation, I was asked to turn my computer off and on again.  Yes, that is standard advice, but in this case necessary in order to reach the system diagnostics.

Within a few seconds of starting the scan, my computer set off a startlingly loud, repetitive beeping noise to inform me that something was quite wrong.  My hard drive had 8 bad sectors and was slowly failing.  I have only had this computer since May so it was still under warranty and a new hard drive was shipped directly to … my home address in Tennessee.  After getting that cleared up and another 5 business days for the shipping, my hard drive arrived just before the College Outdoors trip I had paid for (Mushroom hunting, blogged about here).  
Required Items: computer, new hard drive, screwdriver,
and reading for class because this is going to take a bit.

Last Wednesday evening I finally had a chance to take my computer apart.  That took hours.  The actual hardware replacement with screwdrivers and trying not to mess up anything critical took only a handful of minutes, but before you ship your hard drive off somewhere you want to make sure your data is off it.  Since the old hard drive had to be shipped back to Dell so that they could decide whether or not it’s my fault it broke, I couldn’t go with the standard method of playing Thor with a mighty hammer.  Instead, I had to wipe the drive using tamer means such as filling every inch of my hard drive with zeros.  Luckily there are programs that do so for you (DBAN, AKA Darik’s Boot and Nuke), but there is so much room on modern hard drives that even the short wipe takes 3 hours.  Once that is finished the hardware swap seemed super simple.  All it took was a new hard drive, a screwdriver, and just couple minutes.

Out with the old (left) and in with the new (right)
I am quite thrilled to no longer be haunted by the ghost of impending hard drive failure.

L&C Everyday Life: The IT Service Desk

After today’s main post, did you really expect a different topic?

Having technology troubles?  The IT Service Desk is located in the bottom of Watzek (L&C’s Library).  Email them, call them, visit them, odds are they’ll either be able to help you with your problem or they will be able to send you to someone that can.  I spent hours down there this last week and watched them deal with things ranging from broken monitors, to equipment checkout, to getting rid of a pesky French keyboard on someone’s phone.

Everyone’s problem will vary, so I can’t cover it all here; but basically, go see them if you have a problem.

Questions?  Feel free to email me at ameliaberle@lclark.edu