PC Trials and Tribulations

I’m not even sure you want to hear about my own personal PC trials and tribulations, you probably go through enough of your own. However, I’m going to relate this tale anyway, simply because I want to and can. And, you never know, someone just may learn something along the way.

Disasters always seem to come in threes

It never ceases to amaze me just how often that old adage comes true. We can go through long periods of trouble and care free times, but then, when some kind of mishap strikes, it always seems to be followed in quick succession by even more mishaps. And that can be so true with these infernal machines we commonly refer to as computers.

And so it started:

Mishap #1) The week started off badly, with an older machine I had running Linux Mint finally gasping its last and giving up the ghost. Not entirely unexpected and no great drama really.

Mishap #2) But then, shortly thereafter, my main machine goes rogue on me, with Windows 8.1 flatly refusing to boot and Windows 7 running like molasses with CPU usage off the map.

Long story short, after many hours tinkering, I finally traced all the problems back to a failed (or failing) hard drive associated with the Windows 8.1 installation. Purchasing a new internal hard drive and restoring a full system image to same saw me back up and running again in no time. I mention all this only as a precursor to the ‘three strikes’ theory, plus to emphasize the importance of maintaining regular backups – specifically full system image backups. That’s the thing about disasters, you never know when they’ll strike.

Mishap #3) With everything now working fine again, I go to the computer several days later to find my internet connection not working and the ADSL Sync light on the router glowing red – a sure sign of connection issues. I am not pleased. Bearing in mind that the cable from my phone inlet to the router is direct and not shared, I went through the usual suspects:

  • Power-cycled the router, as in disconnect from the power source for around 2 minutes and then reconnect again – no, that ain’t it.
  • Rang my ISP to see if there were any outages in my area –  to my dismay, there were not.
  • Went through the router configuration settings to make sure everything was as it should be – all good.
  • Rebooted the router – still the same.
  • Connected and setup a different router that I had spare – it could not connect either.
  • Checked the phone line for any static – clear as a bell.
  • Checked the cable connection between the phone outlet and the router – no sign of damage or loose connections.

By this time I am well and truly stumped, so I ring my ISP to book a technician to come out and check the line for any faults. Now, here’s the rub – if the fault ends up being internal, as in inside the house and nothing to do with the exchange or line from the exchange to the house, this is going to cost a pretty penny, I’m talking a couple of hundred dollars.

So, after booking the technician, I decided to completely replace the cable between the phone outlet and router, just to be on the safe side. Now here’s where it gets a tad complicated. Even though the phone outlet and my PC equipment are in close proximity (about 6 feet apart) they are actually in separate rooms. However, the two rooms share a common wall so connection was merely a matter of drilling a couple of holes and passing the cable through the wall.

So, back to replacing the cable – as soon as I pulled the cable through the wall I noticed right away that a section, which had previously been hidden from view within the wall cavity, was damaged – the insulation having been chewed away exposing bare wires. I can only put it down to a small but very hungry rodent. From here on in, I’m going to keep a close eye on that wireless mouse. 🙂

Replacing that 6 feet or so of cable solved the problem, back connected to the net again. I quickly called my ISP to cancel the technician, thanking goodness that I’d made the effort to thoroughly check that cable, saving myself a bundle of money in the process.

There is no real moral to the story, although perhaps a lesson to be learned – make sure to double and triple check all possibilities prior to making that ultimate call for assistance. In my case, not only did it save a me a good deal of hard earned but also the inconvenience of days (possibly up to a week) of down time.


12 thoughts on “PC Trials and Tribulations”

  1. Thanks Jim, for telling the story. A lesson for all of us, to check every aspect of the system, top to bottom. Sometimes it is the least suspected and last thing on the list that solves the problem. But then, if it solves the problem, it is the last thing on the list. LOL

  2. Hi Jim,

    Having been in the same situation in the recent past, it is a frustrating ‘club’ of which to be a temporary member, the ‘What The ………..Hell IS Going Wrong Here’ club.
    Murphy’s Law takes over, “Everything that possibly can go wrong will go wrong”, except for the one thing which wasn’t thought of to check, was broken, which caused everything else which was right, to go wrong.”



  3. Nice story – thanks!
    I had a call from a user who complained that his monitor (CRT-type) went ‘wobbly’ for a minute or two, lots of times during each day, but it was especially bad around midday. When I went to his office to see him, of course it was not showing the problem. A few hours later (lunchtime) he called me to say ‘come quick – it’s doing it again’! Sure enough, he had a wobbly picture which looked like magnetic/radiated interference to me.
    I moved the monitor away from the wall and the symptom disappeared – I pushed it back against the wall and the symptom re-appeared – then the problem went away again (I waited 30 minutes…). It turned out that the Kitchen was on the other side of the wall and the kitchen microwave oven was just 6 inches away from his monitor. I moved the microwave a few feet along the counter – problem solved!

  4. I just turned 76 this past June, so I’m closing in on the gap betwixt Jim Hilary and me. I, too, started out with those old relics: first was the abacus; next the Timex-Sinclair 1000, and Comodore-64 – 128, and the little discussed SX-64 (the 1st laptop?); and then into the 286 -> 386 -> 486 and on up with all the trail of PCs. Learned a couple progressions of Basic, and Pascal, and Turtle graphics (that was fun!)and now, some 30 years later I love my XP, and a nice Win7. I MISS my DOS 3.1, Win-95, Win-98. Still have a couple of early software programs (including a terrific Chess Master 4000 turbo pgm. that I haven’t seen bettered since those days.) SOMEBODY OUT THERE WITH THE SMARTS AND WHEREWITHALL PLEASE COME FORWARD WITH A PNP (ala USB)FOR A ADD-ON ‘DOS BOX®’THAT ALL ONE SIMPLY HAS TO DO IS PLUG-IN (usb) AND THEN SLIP YOUR 3½ OR 5¼ INTO THE SLOT AND AWAY WEEE GO!
    OH, maybe I’ve slipped off the intended thread here; sorry, so I’ll close on-thread by saying that ME TOO… after all these years fiddling with these gadgets they still act like teenagers, doing their own thing, at critical times. LoL Thanks for reading and empathizing. ~ Dane

  5. Allow me a quick additional lament. While all the younger breed may find the DosBox quite simple to configure, this old grey top doesn’t enjoy that level of simplicity. To ‘moi’ it is a real chore in trying to invoke all those required steps in setting the program up to accept a dos pgm, and to insult me personally, with my two educational degrees past high school is really damaging to my ego. LoL

  6. A quick attemt to correct a ‘typo’ (yeah, right… a ‘typo’… yeah right!

    Forgive the misspelling of Jim’s surname. Should have read: Jim Hillier. (lo siento!)

    1. Funny story connected with that name slip Dane. My brother’s name is Ed (short for Edwin). He was making some inquiry at a bank when a young female teller asked him for his name. When He replied Ed Hillier, she responded with… “Oh, weren’t you the bloke who climbed Everest?” 🙂

  7. I had a similar experience except my wonderful repair man came inside and fixed my problem for free. Unfortunately for me, I have another person living in my house who loves to fix unbroken things. I love your websites thank you for all of the great and valuable information you share with everyone. You have helped me a lot.

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