I began writing in 1970s on an ancient Remington portable typewriter, usually perched on my knees in the engine room of various ships. When it gave up the ghost and couldn't be repaired, I replaced it with a cheap modern portable typewriter. In the years that followed, I worked my way through the stages until I bought my first computer, a bulky thing with limited memory and barely adequate RAM. By updating components rather than replacing it, I made it last fourteen years and it was my trusted friend because I learned to back up its contents regularly so the occasional hiccup just meant a little donkey work to put things back together.
Two years ago, I succumbed to the lure of a new computer, a wondrous machine with lightning speed and seemingly unlimited memory. It took time to set up as I liked, with all the familiar tools of a writer, but I succeeded and it ran so effortlessly I was tempted to relax my regime of back-ups and constant preventative maintenance that had kept the old one running.
Four weeks ago, an odd intermittent fault appeared during the morning start-up routine, rare enough not to interrupt my work, but annoying in a supposedly perfect machine. It grew worse, so I fell back on my time-tested fault-finding routine and disconnected everything except the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and modem with little effect on the frequency of the fault. I ran diagnostics on the computer, changed keyboards and mouse without effect. My ISP ran remote diagnostics on the modem and could find no fault.
I sometimes experiment with new programs to see if they offer any tools that I can use in my writing, so I deleted any that were not essential to my work, cleaned the registry and the local applications folders. All with no improvement of the fault or its frequency.
The next stage was to validate all my backups and reformat the hard drive, reloading everything from scratch and bring the programs up to date with downloads, but the fault reappeared when I had finished.
A long discussion with the technical department of the computer manufacturer followed and the technician suggested I change the network cable between the computer and the modem. Logic confirmed this as a possibility because of the checks Windows 7 performs during start up, so I disconnected the cable at the back of the computer and ran a repeated series of tests with no fault appearing.
Relieved that the fault appeared to be in a $3.00 cable, I went out and bought a replacement, only to have the fault reappear when I reconnected the modem with the new cable.
Back to the ISP, who supplied the modem when I changed over to cable INTERNET and they ran their remote diagnostics again, this time noting a minor corruption in the signal. Line checks were good, so they're sending me a new modem. In the meantime I disconnect the modem for each start-up and the computer works perfectly.
It is hard to imagine writing without a computer connected to the INTERNET. I use it constantly to check my research and my memory of events, but there are times when the relationship gets a little difficult, and like all love affairs, it requires constant attention to keep its magic.