Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I've been driving myself nuts with my computer.

The loud noise was, I now think, not the new 40-GB hard drive, but my power supply fan, which has stopped working altogether. My Mac works fine, but it starts to smell like melting plastic. The smell comes from the power supply. Temperature inside the case rises to a toasty 57 degrees C - not in the danger zone, but I worry about losing the power supply completely.

For now, I'm running the computer with the case open and as long as no child or dog or wife steps on it, it should be fine.

I could try to replace just the fan in the power supply, but while I'm comfortable working with computer components, power supplies have potentially lethal lessons to teach, so I'm not going to crack that open. I'm trying to find a replacement for a reasonable price on eBay. I don't feel like spending $150 or so for a new one.

I replaces the 40-GB drive I thought was noisy with a new 80-GB drive. (Never buy used hard drives - they move and they wear out. And new ones aren't that pricey.) I burned back-ups to DVD, then built a new RAID of the two 80-GB drives I have.

It took me a while to put a operating system on there. For some reason, the OS 10.4 DVD I have now chokes on installing the Spanish Language Kit. It worked fine last week. Maybe the heat damaged it. The heat definitely affected the DVD drive, because I got a kernel panic one time I tried to boot from the OS 10.4 DVD. That's when I opened the case for good, and all was fine eventually. The Spanish Language Kit problem preceded this.

In my haste, I copied my user folders to the new RAID overnight. When I rebooted after installing OS X on that RAID, the operating system asked me if I wanted to migrate from another system. I said yes, and it copied over my applications and users.

What a mess. I had two copies of my user folders - Webs and Webs 1, Kids and Kids 1, etc. - and the permissions on them were entirely screwy. I tried to fix things, and sort of did, but "sort of" isn't adequate. I wound up deleting all users and starting fresh.

This has taken two and a half days. I'm not getting any writing done. I have Reader's Digest work that has sat untouched since December (not on deadline, just "do when you want" work). The S-199 book files should be here next week. I'm barely making any money (see bonus note, below), and these computer ordeals are starting to affect me.

All I've done today is sit and search for a proper power supply. I need a shower, I need to brush my teeth, and I need to eat. It's not healthy.

You know, I never meant this to be a screw-around-with-Macs blog. I have other information waiting in queue. I have to get back to the relaxed state of last week.

Bonus "paycheck":

As a favour to my sister-in-law, I signed up with a Web site she's working for. It's meant to be a collection of personal stories - blogs for non-bloggers. I published one of the first personal essays I wrote there, sort of like the post above in that it describes an unpleasant few hours.

With no nepotism involved, I won a prize for my story: a $100 gift card at Starbucks. I hope it works in Canada.

This is the second time my fiction has won me a prize. The first was a love-letter contest run by the Interactive Fantasy Network ( at the time). My love letter won Elvi and I a weekend in Malibu, Calif., where we met with IFNet host Tim Conway, Jr.

We can't find a copy of the winning love letter.

Maybe I should enter a third writing contest. My screenplays aren't grabbing any awards.


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