I am male, and I have a cold. This basically means I act like I’m tired (I am) and the world’s ending (sure feels like it) and [grunting noises] (how I communicate when I’m too lazy to speak).
Bear with me here.
My job involves fixing PCs. I can diagnose faulty hardware in seconds (and take some weird pleasure in it). I’ve just spent two days fighting with what I believe was some mutant f$@!ing rootkit that half the internet thinks is smitfraud and the other half thinks is vundo. I also have lungs and thus a need to breathe, even when blowing dust out of your computer, so please think again before you smoke next to your computer.
Or cook bacon next to it. Computers that smell like bacon are awesome, but they tend to die young.
Anyhow, my point is I know this stuff.
Computers have drives or cards, cards have electrical components, and all the separate little parts combine to make a system with finite parts.
If you don’t have sound anymore, you might need to reinstall your soundcard driver. If your computer bluescreens frequently, get windiag or memtest86 and test your RAM overnight. If you get weird messages about CMOS settings or your drive letters switch around, replace your CMOS battery. If you get random reboots and your hard drives sometimes turn off while you’re working, test the power supply. If the motherboard doesn’t beep at all with no drives, expansion cards or RAM plugged in, replace the PSU or the board.
Coolest one ever? “There’s some noise in the speakers I can’t get rid of.” (3 second pause) “Mute line in.”
Finite parts can only fail in finite ways. If you have no life, you can train yourself to look at a machine that’s beeping, or blinking, or rebooting, and point at it and say “replug the keyboard in, and jumper the hard drives properly this time”.
The system’s scope is usually that of a single computer, but frequently fun little things like fujacks can involve your entire network. Which, if your network is a lab of random computers from people’s houses, can be excruciating. Stop sharing your C:\ drives with full write permissions, you gits.
(Yes, we could’ve avoided that by isolating clients with some kind of expensive managed switch, but that’s only happened once, and one afternoon isn’t worth the cost.)
It’s just barely manageable though. I watch House, and nod sagely, and realise I do pretty much the same thing – down to the pacing around with fiddletoys – and wonder how the hell medical doctors even exist.
Me? I know to take ibuprofen when it hurts, penicillin when it’s green, antihistamines when I want to sleep *and* breathe at night, and apply coldness when I’ve just burned myself on something or rolled an ankle strolling down a mountain.
That, and strap my belt around my leg and not move much if I’ve been bitten by a snake, so the venom doesn’t rush around my bloodstream as quickly. That’s never happened, so I still have no idea if I’m going to run like hell anyway.
I suck at the normal stuff too. It’s only just recently, at 21 and a bit years of age, that I’ve realised TV is lying to me, and that I need to eat less, not better, to lose a bit of weight. Home-cooked meals mean you eat alright, and I get enough exercise at work, so all I had to do was eat breakfast at brunchtime, dinner at dinnertime, and go to bed before second dinner starts to sound good. I lost 5 kilos in a month because I realised what I was doing wrong, went “oh yeah!”, and fixed it.
With a computer, you can swap out some RAM, or unplug excess drives, or try a different keyboard, or stop using nVidia’s freaking nForce4 IDE driver that kills Windows installs in weeks, and you get instant results. You instantly know that the very last change you made did something good.
I barely remember to shave unless I rub my chin and my fingers start hurting. The two morals in this rantfest are as follows:
- If the three following phrases are present on a box of medicine – “Cold relief”, “Maximum Strength” and “Day & Night” (my god, those phrases speak to my male brain) – buy it. You’ll feel weird later on when someone says “ah, you’re into the natural stuff?”, but Valerian is awesome, and you’ll never sleep as well as you will taking it.
- You have absolutely no excuse to not be as well-informed as you can make yourself. Forget paying for extra TV channels – you’ll be told some facts about the great wall of China, and gain respect for the ice truckers of northern Canada, but the internet gives you so much more.
Got 15 spare minutes? Learn why you can’t roll-start automatic transmissions, or why advertising should be irrelevant to your life. Or google some lyrics you remember from years ago to find out what the song was called, or a phone number before you ring it back in case it’s bogus. Read about drugs, or how to buy used cars (look for a site localised to your country/state), or which antivirus is best (don’t rely on that friend of a friend who said AVG is all you’ll ever need), or how to get smells out of carpets (baking soda is the golden path), or circumcision (google it yourself).
Go to a geeky channel on IRC and ask them what shaving kit they use. Base your purchases off what they say, because it’ll be excellent advice. Do the same thing with food or cars if you’re on a budget.
Inform yourself, because once you’re out of school the world is an open-ended sandbox where you’re free to up and move to Melbourne if your savings allow it.
Okay, back to coughing. G’night.
Update: I only bought the herbal stuff by accident. The box had all the right words, but a few nights later I took a couple of phenergen and scrounged some antibiotics and today I’ve completely bounced back. Let’s all just forget I ever tried a natural alternative.