Well, it seems that I was not imagining things when I thought my computer had been switching itself on in my absence, as reported way back on 20th October, because on 29th October the phenomenon recurred.
This technological equivalent of spontaneous combustion happened while I was sitting in front of the screen . . . wondering why the computer had just switched itself off. I had been quite happily working on something, so Word was open, as was Outlook Express and my internet browser. Without warning, the computer flashed up a ‘programme not responding’ screen but gave me no time to do anything. Within seconds, Word, Outlook Express and the internet had shut down. Ten seconds later, the computer shut down too, and all this without any intervention from me.
I wasn’t all that worried, because I have often seen the ‘programme not responding’ screen. We are as old friends. I was, however, a little puzzled by the fact that the computer had shut down as if there had been a power cut. A head-scratching moment indeed. No time to ponder, though. Halfway through the head-scratch, the computer burst into action again.
“Oh well,” I thought, “At least I can get back to work.”
I thought wrong. Opening up Word and trying to pick up the thread of what I had been writing, the computer decided against being cooperative in this endeavour. Within seconds, it switched off and on again, but not for long enough to let me open any programmes. This on/off procedure happened about another four or five times in quick succession. To put me, if not the computer, out of obvious anxiety, I yanked a couple of leads from their sockets – and called the IT Centre.
Let me tell you, Friday is not a good day for something like this to go wrong, especially when the diagnosis is, “Unfortunately, your hard drive has failed and is obviously corrupted.” Is the data retrievable, I wondered? This elicited an ambivalent response from the Tech Team. Not good then. And no news at close of play either, when I phoned them to see how their testing was going. So I had a whole weekend ahead of me to worry about whether my last few months of work had vanished (and, no, I hadn’t run the back-up, because the programme kept aborting – all part of the same problem, no doubt).
The computer was not safely back on my desk until nearly a week later. As the weekend progressed, the damned thing began tripping lightly through its on/off routine again. On Sunday, things were particularly bad, and I fell into a toy-chucking paddy. Reluctant to take this irritating piece of technology back to the surgery, I have since been working between shutdowns and waiting for the next crash.
Today’s bulletin is that all appears to be well, but instinct tells me a shutdown might occur any minute. Another typical technological snafu moment. As I mentally hover in anticipation of being curtly informed that my programmes are not responding, I wonder to myself how we ever became the slaves of machines that were supposed to be our slaves. But answer came there none.