Technology 1, Me 0.

Every now and again, there is a strong lesson taught my man-made technologies that we still don’t completely understand their potential or destructive nature and that our severe reliance of them, for all its benefits, does come at a cost. Regarding these technologies, there are times when no matter what you try to fix a problem (technical or not), it will not resolve itself in any understandable manner. You can spend as much time on it as you wish and then when all hope seems lost, a solution appears out of something where you did not think possible.

That was my situation for an excruciating 90 minutes yesterday afternoon. I had gone to my khala’s house for a good part of the day since my family has been over visiting and it was a long weekend here in Ontario for Civic Holiday. It’s really a holiday that is as made up as it comes simply because there aren’t any statutory holidays between Independence Day (July 1st) and Labour Day in the first week of September.

Even before arriving, I had heard from an uncle that she required some ‘simple’ computer assistance and that’s always okay with me as long as it doesn’t become a weekly or monthly chore. All I had to do was change the default browser from Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firefox and check the computer for a few minor setting changes. It seemed simple enough. What took place next was one of the most stressful 90 minutes of my life. First I ran a quick scan just to see if there were any bugs or ‘virus’ existent on the computer as they had claimed. Everything seemed okay, so I proceeded with the business of downloading Firefox, installing it and imported the favorites through the regular option. That’s it, I was done.

Now my uncle said, that there was some error that comes up every time he reboots so I restarted. Now a little background on this PC, it is a little bit on the older side with RAM well under 1GB and the processor a notch under 2 GHz. It was understandable that the computer was taking its sweet time rebooting.

First thing that went wrong was an error in DOS saying “Hard Disk Error”. I have no idea where that even came from and there was no where to proceed with my dad and uncle watching me perform a ‘simple’ fix on the computer. Quickly, I did a Ctrl+Alt+Delete hoping that it was some random glitch that would be fixed on a restart but that failed me yesterday. I went into BIOS to review the settings and in the CMOS settings, the SATA Hard Drive would be present but in the Boot Devices, it was no where to be found – I could either boot to a CD/DVD drive or a Floppy Disk. I played around with a couple of settings, even loading the ‘optimal’ default settings in hope that the hard drive would show up in the boot devices but nothing worked.

Next, I went in search for a Windows XP CD that I could just pop in, run a Repair on the OS and it should be back but even that was full of trouble. The complete installation would not load stating that some file was corrupted and that the “Error Code is 7”. A quick Google search on that will tell you a whole range of solutions from either reseating your RAM to your Hard Drive being set a Slave instead of a Master. I had no idea how to proceed now and I think my dad picked up on that, getting my uncle to go downstairs with him to watch the “news” and buy me some extra time – mucho kudos for that move in the clutch.

I decided to give a cousin of mine in New York a call but he’s at work and didn’t pick up. Next on speed dial was my old suitemate Mr. Feraudo who I discussed several options with without arriving to any solutions. Now usually if Brian can’t solve a computer-related problem, it is either ridiculously rare or it can’t be resolved. A couple of the options were to reseat the RAM and check the cables/jumper settings inside the computer but that was so unlikely as everything was working fine just an hour ago.

This is when a little panic mode sets in because a simple Firefox fix has led to a Hard Drive error and nothing loading and I even began preparing on what to say when I went downstairs to explain that their computer was no longer functional. As I turned the computer completely off for the first time since the ordeal began and sat there, I thought about turning it back on again to give one change of some miracle by the grace of God working. It turns out, that was the solution – Windows loaded up normally without any errors, everything on the desktop was as we last left it meaning no hard disk error. I did recommend to them that maybe the Hard Drive is starting to fail and backing up important documents and files is highly recommended as well as upgrading their computer relatively soon.

The entire time (or so it seems), all I had to do was a hard reset. I continuously did a soft reset and never actually turned the system off. Maybe those of you out there who are more technologically-able than me can explain the reasoning for that solution on why forcing it to shutdown and then starting it up again would work instead of what I was doing. Either way, I felt like an idiot for well over an hour and a half and when I was completely put to shame, a solution appears out of nowhere and all is well again – for now.