On Communications Woes

My computer has been mostly dead all day, and a little headshake won’t make it happy.

Four years ago, a lightning strike while I was at work fried the motherboard’s comm bus. The onboard modem was a total loss, and I’m pretty sure the network port was a goner, too. I installed a PCI modem which worked.


There were difficulties in configuring it, like the computer’s decision to insist that the PCI modem needed to go on COM1, whereupon it would vanish completely. Eventually, I was able to clear the hardware conflicts, and force the computer to put the modem on COM3. And even then it was touchy as hell.

(And I went through the entire process a year later when I had to nuke my hard drive and reinstall everything from scratch, after my sister put a virus on my computer.)

Over the past month or so, the modem has grown increasingly finnicky.

Last night, the modem was dead. The computer tried. The diagnostics said it was there and working perfectly. I checked the phone lines. I tried a different phone line. I tried a different cable. For whatever reason, the modem didn’t work.

I opened the computer up and tried a different PCI slot. This time, the computer didn’t even see it.

Iocane powder, I’d bet my life on it!

I had a spare modem. (After an accident involving Beamish Stout and my Microsoft Natural Keyboard, I’ve learned to keep spares of certain parts handy.) I installed that and gave it a try.

Still nothing.

I’ve known for four years that the computer was living, like the Challengers of the Unknown, on borrowed time. Time’s up.

The computer is still functional. It’s just blind to the world. And I suppose that this weekend I’ll look into replacing it.

I may turn the computer into a Linux machine. (I have a Linux Mint live-CD handy. There are good reasons to keep Linux live-CDs handy, especially if you ever need to circumvent Windows’ file permissions.) I’ll probably pull out my current hard drive and turn it into a slave drive on the new machine (it’s the easiest way to move my documents), then put a new hard drive into the current machine.

Suffice it to say, I am not going to have fun storming the castle.

And what’s with all the Princess Bride references?

I reread “Spindle” when Re:Collections arrived, and the reference to the Doctor’s meeting with Vizzini cracks me up every time. (For reference, it’s on midway down on page 239 of The Quality of Leadership and at the top of page 412 in Re:Collections.)

Of course, that raises the question. Which Doctor, exactly, met Vizzini?

I have no idea. But if I had to take a guess, I would humbly suggest that the Dread Pirate Wesley is, in actually, a pre-Hartnell Doctor.

Or is that inconceivable? 🙂

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