Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Monday, September 13, 2004

Even Computers Get Sick

This past week was a mixed-bag. Nice in the sense that it was short, due to Labor Day, but not as great as it should have been in terms of classes.

Of course, being that Monday was a holiday, I would have only one class to attend...or so I thought.

On Wednesday evening, I left work at Dr. Skouge's office, tired but ready to be as best a student I could be. I get to the class location, which is usually buzzing with activity, only to find no one there. A classmate arrives and checks the door to our is locked. No sign of activity whatsoever. Was there a sign announcing any cancellation? None! By this time, it was 2 minutes until the start of class.

I observed classmates, who had an earlier class in an adjacent building, leaving campus! I'm thinking, "Did I miss a memo? Was I not paying attention last week?!" After a brief moment of uncertainty, another classmate comes by and says class had been cancelled due to the room being unbearable to sit it; apparently, the air conditioning went out and the room is such that it can become hot really quickly, because of its size and amount of people in the room.

Earlier that afternoon, one of Jim's colleagues who works in the Educational Technology department, came by and inquired about Jim's portable AC unit. I thought, "Hmm, could that be my class?" That was the extent of my ponderance of that inquiry. Surely, someone from the Counseling & Guidance department or my professor would contact me and the rest of the students should class be cancelled. I checked my e-mail up until it was time for me to head to e-mail announcements to be found!

In any event, at this point, I'm sitting outside the building in utter disbelief at what has transpired. Luckily, my other classmates started heading back to the building, realizing that a couple of their classmates had no clue what was going on. These classmates are my partners for a group project that we need to do for class. An impromptu meeting was adjourned to discuss our plans. During this time, Jim was departing campus for the day and saw me outside. He came to inquire as to whether I was okay, I nodded affirmatively and off he went, to enjoy the comforts of home.

During our group meeting, it was decided that we will focus on Cerebral Palsy as our topic of discussion. During the week, I proposed this topic, being that its something that is as close to home as can be, I live with CP day in and day out...every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year I breathe, eat, sleep, study, and work with this condition. I won't go as far as to claim I'm an expert on this disability, but I'd say I have adequate experience to be helpful to the group in our discussion.

In any case, we met for about 15 minutes. My notetaker then stayed with me, as I waited for my ride home. That was nice of her. We attempted to contact the company that provides my ride home, but those efforts proved fruitless. My mom was SuperMom once again, offering to come pick me up. Judging by the time and weather conditions...I had over an hour left until my scheduled pick-up time and it began raining...I decided to accept my mom's offer. It was nice to arrive home and enjoy dinner before 9pm.

Despite the cancellation of class, I was still exhausted by the time my day ended. My customary routine is to check my e-mail before bed and reply to as many as I can. On this night, I would fall asleep in my chair at my computer desk. By the time I awoke, it was about 1am; my mom had found the couch and had dozed off there, waiting for me to get to bed. I have this odd habit of feeling re-energized after 1am; this is NOT a good habit, as I find myself continuing with e-mail and perusing the news well after 1am, and winding up finally getting to bed around 2am.

Considering I normally need to wake up around 5am, so that I can get into my chair before my parents leave for work, this is not exactly the most healthy of practices. Living on 3 or 4 hours of sleep will and does take its toll on one's body.

Fortunately, my sister, Lynn, is still at home preparing to leave for her final semester as a college undergraduate. So, I was able to sleep in; Lynn would help me into my chair when I awoke. I believe I woke up around 11:30am on Thursday. I felt good and well-rested.

We watched an interesting movie, Pieces of April, later in the day. This was a film about a young woman's attempts to impress her family with a Thanksgiving meal, and the troubles she encounters as everything that could go wrong eventually does. Her family does some reflection on their relationship with their "lost" daughter/sister. Ultimately, this becomes a story about self-discovery and the strong bonds that the concept of family provides, regardless of all the hardships and arguments that might have transpired over one's childhood.

Another major task I dealt with on Thursday was trying to play doctor for my computer. Ironically, after downloading a security update from Microsoft for Windows XP, my computer system became very unstable. Constantly one point, I couldn't even get to my start-up screen! This was extremely frustrating and annoying more than anything. I attempted to repair my installed version of XP by loading my program CD. This helped; I was at least able to get to the opening screen. However, the performance was such that I knew my computer had become infected with a virus...essentially I had a sick computer. "Sick" has become a term used amongst the youth of today to refer to something really cool and great, such as "Wow, that car is sick, dude! You got it looking hella good!" In my case, I use "sick" in a traditional sense. My computer had come down with a bug of sorts, like the flu or a cold.

After a while of analyzing the situation at hand, I decided I had to run some anti-virus programs. This was a challenge in itself, as the computer continued to crash so frequently! Finally, I was able to deduce that the Sasser worm had infected my computer. I found an anti-virus program specifically designed to remove the Sasser worm. It worked, the worm was discarded from my computer! I was happy for the time being. I then proceeded to run additional virus checks.

What a shocker this would provide to me. After a full system scan, one anti-virus program had found 7,000 infected files! Lesser computers would have certain;y been dead on arrival, but my computer has taken after its owner in the sense that it perseveres in the face of adversity! As I compose this entry, I am STILL in the midst of trying to nurse my computer back to full health. It is rather amazing how one realizes how dependent s/he is on a computer only after the computer fails in some capacity; this is a good analogy for making sure you take the time to appreciate and thank those around you who help you succeed each and every day.

I literally spent the majority of the weekend trying to fix my ill computer...very annoying to say the least! This explains, in part, why my entry is a bit late.

On Friday, I spent much of the day working independently at Jim's office. He had another round of meetings to attend, so I continued with my project of preparing a series of television shows to be broken into components so that they could be compressed into media that would fit onto a CD. In addition to this, Jim informed me that his student on Maui would be calling the office in the afternoon to test out the iSight camera. I would be the only person available to help this student...the pressure was on me to be as helpful as I could! The student called the office about 15 minutes after the scheduled time that was provided to me, only to inform me that the Internet connection on her end was not working. I calmly said, "No problem, just give me a call when it's up and running again. I'll be here all afternoon."

About 15 minutes later, we had made a successful connection! iSight had allowed someone on Maui to interact, in real-time, with someone on Oahu. I was definitely relieved and happy that it worked! I would have good news to report back to Jim.

On Saturday, I would go to my usual bowling league. Another horrendous performance...after a while, you begin to question yourself in terms of whether it is time to pack it in and move on. I think I'm nearing that crossroad. I bowled two terrible games and one average game. I was NOT a happy camper after bowling. I knew I had to be mentally strong and remain as positive as I could, since it was a family member's birthday and I wanted to be as cheerful as I could.

We would go out to dinner later that evening to celebrate this family member's birthday. It was a nice night out, not without incident, however. While navigating the parking lot at Ward Warehouse, I nearly got hit by a car as I crossed the road! Getting hit by a car does not scare me for some reason, I keep telling myself, "It'll just be one hit and it'll be over!" I like to think that I'm a conscientious pedestrian.

In any case, I look forward to this week. I'll be able to use the nice, new, powerful computer at work! Very exciting stuff!


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