Thermal Creep

No, that’s not the title of the newest stupid alien invasion/horror movie. It’s what happened to my computer, which I have back now (can I get an Amen? Thank you). I spent two weeks praying to the Computer Gods that my hard drive was still okay because, like the procrastinating fool that I am, I hadn’t backed up my documents. And my friend, who runs the IT department where he works, couldn’t just drop everything and fix my machine. Plus, since he was doing it for free (last I knew, he charges $120 an hour for consulting work), I wasn’t about to press him to hurry up.

So, I fretted and worried, especially since my crime novel Pipeline was taking off so well. My only copy was on that hard drive. The novel I’m in the processing of shopping around is backed up in an older version, so that’s sorta okay. I say sorta because, it being an older version, it would need extensive editing. Again. I’d hate to think how many times I’ve been through that ms in the last few years, editing, polishing, trying to make it better, only to have publishing standards change on me. In fact, I was most of the way through yet another edit when my computer crashed on me.

Anyway, I decided that, since I got my computer back yesterday, I’d post about this thing called thermal creep. I’d never heard of it before, at least not termed that way, but you know computer people: there has to be a term for everything. When I was still taking my IT college courses, I felt overwhelmed with acronyms. Tech people have the government beat on that score. I know definitions of stuff better than I can remember the acronyms for the protocols and such.

But I digress.

I wanted to post about thermal creep in case anyone else out there has a similar problem. I don’t know if it affects laptops, but I know it does desktops, so those of you out there who still use them, like me, listen up: thermal creep is scary, but it’s not the end of the world. Basically, thermal creep is caused by (are you ready?): turning your computer on and off.

Yep, you heard right.

It happens this way: when you turn your computer on, it heats up. Anyone who’s held a laptop on their actual lap can attest to that. Conversely, when you turn it off, it cools down. Elementary, right? Sure. But here’s the thing, and you should remember this from high school science classes: heat causes things to expand, while cold causes it to shrink. I can hear you saying “Duh” loud and clear. Well, what this does inside your computer is this: all those little clips that hold in the chips and cables that are plugged in to various positions around the innards of your machine, expand and shrink with heat and cool-down and, over time, this can pushe those chips and cables out of the clips. It’s not something you can actually see, but it happens. They push out just enough to lose contact, and that means the computer doesn’t work.

Imagine that.

Basically, what happened was, when my friend was finally able to work on my computer, he thought the first thing he would do is the basic test, where you open the computer up and start pushing on every chip and cable you can find. On top of that, manufacturers put LEDs in place that will give the person working on the computer codes he can relate if he has to call tech support. That was my friend’s first thought: just do the basic, see what happens. So, he did, then turned on my machine. It sounded like it was booting up, so he connected it to a monitor and—ta da!—it worked. Booted up, displayed the desktop, all that. So, he called me up, told me about it and, while I made my way to his house to recover my beloved writing machine, he made me a DVD backup of all my documents. I intend to do some other backups as well, since some of those mss will be updated on a regular basis.

So that’s the story on that.

How has PersoNo been going?

Um, can I take the Fifth?

Not so well, actually, and here’s why: like my beloved daughter, I find writing on paper aggravating. Really. Yes, I did a little over two novels like that. Back in the Nineties. Before I’d had the experience of writing on a computer, or even a word processor (yes, I had one for a bit, a Canon Starwriter 80, if I remember correctly. Word processors only piss you off). Now, I’m used to being able to correct my mistakes on the fly and move around blocks of text when I need to without making my page look like something a three-year old would do. And that’s just my handwriting. Doesn’t include all the scribbles where I’ve made mistakes. My daughter and her mother both claim to be able to read my longhand, but if that’s really true they should seek careers in codebreaking or something like that, because I can’t read my own writing half the time.

Long story short, I wrote around 4,000 words on two different occasions over my two weeks. I’m still going to keep track, and still try to do a thirty-day thing (and probably keep it going past that. I am supposed to be a writer, after all. Writers don’t make money playing Grand Theft Auto all day, even aspiring crime writers).

And there you have it: my personal computing odyssey over the past two weeks. And though I have my computer back, I still don’t have internet, so I’m writing this on my own machine in preparations for going to the library where I will post it to my blog (are you confused by the time slip yet?). I feel I’ve gained some computer knowledge, too, and I just wanted to share it with my reader(s) in case something similar happens. So, while I will update the blog when I can, don’t expect it on any kind of regular basis. Just know that it will happen.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Later,

Gil

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