Friday, April 30, 2010

Hard Drive Dive

The guilt was hiding in the background as I neglected my baby (Willie Boy) for so long but if there are other things going on, what can you do? I might as well list my excuses just to get it all documented. First of all, as it happens with all hard drives, ours died. Of course there were symptoms like; it was getting very slow and you had to key an icon a few times for it to activate but those things happen to all of us as we get on in years. Then one day it wouldn't boot up and even Microsoft/India couldn't get it going. It's odd being without a computer, as if checking your email is so-o-o important, or checking out a few favorite blogs is going to "make your day" or getting the news a half a day earlier than the newspaper is going to affect your ability to deal with the world. Suddenly neglected projects around the house get finished, you read a few more books and for me my second novel FAVORITE SONS gets resurrected.

Like most of DEVON LOCH I have been writing my new book by hand so it's never been something that I would have lost if the hard drive went down. I've been working on the sequel to DEVON LOCH for about  a year with an exciting story to tell involving the novel's original characters who have grown and are facing new challenges. I have a very detailed outline completed covering a terrific story, a few twists relating to the first novel, some cool new characters, challenging situations involving them and loads of very snappy dialogue.

Having the outline completed gives me a great deal of confidence and optimism about completing a  novel because I have a basic blueprint for what is going to happen. But one of the exciting parts about writing a novel is how the actual writing evolves from the basic outline; the characters that pop from nowhere and the situations that surprise me that make perfect sense. Originally I had DEVON LOCH ending and didn't imagine going back to it. But, as I am sure is true like running your first marathon, ideas kept popping up in my head. Is Jack done with competitive running at the ripe old age of 32 or does he realize he is in his prime as a world class distance runner who still has some reachable goals? What kind of running career does Laura have ahead of her with the proper training, desire and love for the sport? Does Teri want to provide emotional support for two runners in the family? What is in store for Billy who may be on the verge of being able to walk again and do he and Anne have a future involving more than just a physical relationship? Plus, are there ghosts from Vietnam lurking in the future?

But writing a novel is one thing and acquiring a new computer is another so Gwynne and I headed off to Costco to check out the inventory. We also planned to go to Frye's but the best laid plans..... Costco displayed six computers that ranged in price from $599 to four figures. Since we mainly just send and receive email, do some blogging, reserve books at the library, read movie reviews and compose an occasional Word document we realized right off we weren't candidates for the Lexus version of the Hewlett-Packard package. However we weren't sure about getting the basic package and missing out on some valuable options or even what printer to get either. A couple of days later our family computer expert Charlotte and I checked things out again at Costco and she cut right through our issues by saying, "Dad you don't need all this fancy stuff with the big screens and all the options. Just get the e-machine for $599 and use the money you save to get this HP printer with the copy/fax/scan option, plus you can do photo stuff on it too." It sounded like a good plan to me so we followed her recommendations and also picked up one of those wireless mouses which it turned out we didn't need. Obviously a mouse with a cord would be included in the computer package and Gwynne said that the wireless mouses are a big PAIN with their quirkiness and always having to change batteries when there are none in the house.

Eventually we got everything set up and it's all running just fine, plus the larger screen is very cool. It's funny because we were using caveman technology that we were very satisfied with; a big boxy Dell monitor that probably still worked off a gerbil on a treadmill, a hard drive that still had a port for a floppy disk and an 8 track tape and a laser quick printer which I have absolutely nothing critical or snide to say about. After a referral from the nice people at Cartridge World we picked it up for $5 at the Inter-Connection re-cycle place near Gasworks Park and we cycled everything at a recycle fair sponsored by the Whole Foods store on Roosevelt Way.

The only downside of the process is that we still have our cheesy little speakers that emit sound in a tone that is just above a whisper. Ya, ya I know about the little icon on the lower right side of the screen and the volume controls on the keyboard (very cool) and, yes Charlotte has checked through the Control Panel Help tutorial but nothing has worked. Her solution is to use the "hot" speakers she has stored in one of her moving boxes in the garage so we'll work on that this weekend. In the mean time I've answered the thirty-seven emails that piled up during our down time, introduced Mr. HP printer to Ms.e-machine hard drive and am sitting here blogging and still confused about the difference between a blog address and a blog name.