drcpunk (drcpunk) wrote,

Progress and Overheating Computers

Yesterday, jlighton and I went over to crash_mccormick's place and set to work on the new larp we're running at Intercon I. All of neurons were firing sufficiently to get some things gelling that had previously refused to do so. I managed to stay conscious for almost all of the day, despite having done weird things with my sleep schedule over the past week, possibly due to consuming a piece of tiramisu.

Then, jlighton and I went to Columbia University's Games Club meeting, where I did some work on my computer. And, I noticed that the computer was sluggish. Then, I noticed that my desktop icons no longer looked like they usually do. The last time this happened, it was to my old desktop, and some time thereafter, mneme and I reset that to factory condition, after which it worked much better.

So, I decided to close the computer down, turn it back on, and run a virus scan. I used Windows's start menu to do this, and the computer did not shut down. I tried to hit Control-Alt-Delete, and missed, getting some weirder key combo, and I think the wireless started acting oddly. I tried to disconnect and reconnect, but could not actually figure out how to disconnect, and wound up (on purpose) a) turning the wireless on and off, which didn't actually hurt anything and b) setting things up so that Windows was managing the wireless connection, which didn't really change anything.

Eventually, I hit Control-Alt-Delete, selected the Shut Down option, and closed the laptop down.

Then, I turned it back on and ran a virus scan which turned up empty. jlighton noted the my software for this was from a few months ago, and recommended I update it. But, at this point, the computer could not connect to the web. I tried to turn the computer off, and it resisted this. Control-Alt-Delete did not work. I finally held the power button in the correct position, which is not actually "down", since it is a slide button, and, eventually, the computer turned off. At this point, of course, I was bouncing off walls, doing the "My computer hates me!" dance.

mnemex took a preliminary look at it, but was, after all, primarily there to play games. I reclaimed the computer and started backing up files to my various SD cards and flash drives. We left Games Club, and we went with Nunzio to a diner, leaving around 5:30 am. mnemex and I arrived home around 7 am, having made really good subway connections. mnemex took a fresh look at the computer and determined what was going on, as well as why he hadn't been able to figure it out at Games Club, apart from being there to play games.

What was going on was the the computer had overheated. I noted that my computer tends to run rather hot, the touch pad being generally quite warm to the touch. Since the computer had been off for about four hours, it was feeling much better. mnemex had not figured this out because, having been trained by Windows Troubleshooter that he should not bother asking Windows Troubleshooter what was going on, had not thought to ask Intel Wireless Troubleshooter what the problem was. Intel Wireless Troubleshooter actually gave a useful answer.

No longer overheated, the laptop now connected just fine to the network. I set up an external hard drive, told it to back up everything via Windows's backup utility, and went to sleep.

Several hours later, we woke up, and I looked at my computer. It was still quite functional. However, the backup had not been done, because the external hard drive ran out of space.

"Wait a minute," I said. "I can do basic arithmetic. My hard drive had 160 gigs of space left. My laptop had 70 gigs worth of stuff. 160 gigs is more than 70 gigs."

mnemex took a look and said, "Oh! You told it to copy everything. Windows's backup utility assumed that that meant your C drive, which has the 70 gigs; your D drive, which is empty, and your G drive, which is the hard drive itself. So, it was trying to back up 190 gigs in a 160 gig space. This is very silly of it. I will just tell it to back up your C drive."

"Sounds good to me!" I said.

Some time later, this was done, and I said, "Wait. Why is there only one backup file on the hard drive?"

After exploring this question, mnemex said, "Ah. Because you didn't tell me how you named your backups, so when the backup started and told me what the name of the backup was, I assumed that the software supplied its own unchangeable name, since I assumed you'd name your backups in English. You really should call it something like 'February_Backup', not like 'Backup_020709', you know."

"Never mind that," I said. "You're saying I lost the old backup? I suppose it doesn't actually matter, though."

"No, I think it just stuck it onto the old files."

"But... I can't pick and choose what I back up, as far as I could tell --"

"You should be able to."

Some more exploring, and we discovered that Windows's Backup Utility is not a complete moron, and does have advanced options allowing one to pick and choose what to restore. The current backup file on the external hard drive contains:

--One backup of a C drive
--Another backup of a C drive, this one more recent
--One backup of a(n empty) D drive
--One backup of the external hard drive as it existed when it did the January backup

We also hypothesize that the computer's fan is not working. This would explain why the laptop runs so hot when, jlighton assures me, I do not work it that hard. The thing to do is to call Asus, probably on Monday, and arrange to send it back for them to fix the fan, but make sure that mnemex's name address at work is the only contact data on record for this, so that when Asus uses FedEx, as the employees are required to do, a) the Asus folks won't mess up and put my name on a package intended to go to mnemex and b) FedEx won't try to deliver it to the apartment or insist that the name on the package doesn't matter or otherwise fail to deliver the package on schedule.

I tried calling Asus on Saturday, just to see if anyone were in, but I don't think anyone was, despite the automated messages not saying anything about only being open during the week and swearing up and down that someone would be with me shortly. I mean, I guess it's possible that the tech folks do work on the weekends and are simply mobbed, but somehow, I doubt it.
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