The Day My Computer Failed Me

I could make a long list of ways I could have prevented today from being what it was. There were things I could have done differently a month ago or even a week ago which would have made today a much more pleasant place to be. Such a list would only serve as a tool for self flagellation and would do nothing to make tomorrow better, so I will skip that list. In the large scheme, everything is fine. The house is fine. The kids are fine. Really what I have is a big pile of technical annoyance during my busiest shipping week of the holiday season. Sadly it is not a problem more hands can solve. Putting items in the packages is easy. The annoying part is having to set up Calcifer, who is supposed to be my writing machine, to instead print postage because my desktop machine is manifestly unfit for use until I can spend some hours troubleshooting. (The thought of actually shooting problems on a gun range to turn them into little fragments of former problems is highly appealing right now.) But at least I have Calcifer to use instead of being in a terrified panic about being able to get the shipping done.

The calendars arrived on Wednesday. This meant I could begin mailing the unsketched orders, and I did, focusing on the international orders first because they have the farthest to travel. The first batch went out on Friday just before my sister and her kids arrived. Visitors in the house meant no room for Howard to set up and sketch. I sorted invoices and did some preparatory work on Saturday, but wore out quickly. This means I hit Monday morning feeling behind with no sketches done. Then I discovered that international orders all needed to be in the mail by 5 pm for guaranteed delivery before Christmas. I hit high gear, Howard hit hight gear. He rocked through over one hundred sketches so they could go into packages. I was supposed to rock through the matching postage and pack the boxes, except kids needed things. I had an appointment at the school. There were phone calls. After each interruption I knew it would be okay. I would make up the time. I could still do it.

Then my postage printing provider had their own technical snafu. It took them 45 minutes to process my payment and refill my postage account. I had to do that multiple times, and my nerves frayed each time. I tried to fill the dead time with tasks which were useful, but useful is not the same as truly efficient. I was printing up list of postage when my desktop computer popped up a window claiming that it couldn’t print unless I freed up some space on the hard drive. I have a 900GB drive. I have about 250GB of files on it. Yet the drive had only 45MB left on it. Some invisible log file or auto save has been chewing through my hard drive space. Using it up. I identified this as a problem about a month ago. Unfortunately it is a familiar problem. This same issue is half of why I had to abandon my mini laptop and get Calcifer. (The other half being battery issues) I spent hours downloading hard drive analyzing tools, but made little sense of the results. I could not figure it out. None of my tech savvy friends could make sense of it either. I was so glad to leave the trouble behind, but here it was in front of me again. I knew I couldn’t afford to ignore it on my desktop machine. This is the machine I use for book design, accounting, and order processing. Yet I’d hoped I could make it through the holiday shipping first. I was wrong. Within an hour the drive went from 45MB free to 0.

By scrambling to do work from other machines, I was able to get most of the international packages into the mail. I know I’ll solve this issue even if I have to reformat the hard drive and start fresh. Unfortunately the common element between the two machines is me. I don’t know what I did to create the problem in the first place. I don’t know any way to find out. And I still have packages to mail tomorrow. So I despair while simultaneously feeling like everything is fine and will continue to be fine. I don’t want my computers to be fancy. I just want them to be workhorses who keep working without me having to do major overhauls. Is that too much to ask?