Saturday, April 21, 2018
Publication Date: 12/1/2010
Archive >  December 2010 Issue >  Tech-Op-Ed > 

Welcome Back, Mr. Murphy
Walter Salm, Editor
Murphy's Law has been a constant companion for your editorial staff during the preparation of this issue of U.S. Tech. First, we took our RV to Disney's Fort Wilderness campground (Orlando, Florida) to facilitate attending the two-day SMTAI show at Disney's Dolphin Hotel. That worked well, but extricating our very large 40-foot coach from the almost-undersized campsite was fraught with disaster. We spent the next week camped in the parking lot at Camping World in nearby Kissimmee waiting for a serious replacement part to ship from California.

Next stop was Key Largo, plugged in at the Scheu family's home overlooking a delightful lagoon. And your intrepid editor, suffering from a bad case of CRS (can't remember. . . stuff) made a costly error when running out the main slideout. — leading to another delay and inflated repair bill while still in Key Largo.

When we finally arrived at our winter quarters in Moore Haven, everything looked okay. But Murphy has a strange way of sneaking in. First we were notified via Internet about a new recall on our Norcold Refrigerator, which until now had been immune from all dangerous portents {?} up until then, the serial numbers said our unit was still good. Now, there was suddenly the danger of fire in the back-of-the-fridge compartment. I called the toll-free number and was told to immediately turn off the fridge and get it "repaired" at their cost. This would result in ruining hundreds of dollars worth of perfectly good food in the main box and the freezer. Nothing had changed other than the range of "bad" serial numbers arbitrarily decided upon by the company to save themselves from potential lawsuits. So we called in a traveling RV tech and ordered the recall service, and he agreed that the unit was probably safe to operate while he waited for the part to come in — especially since we have a safety net, an emergency fire suppression system that we had installed in the rear of the refrigerator compartment last January.

So far, so good. Then two days before Thanksgiving, our main computer (an aging H-P tower) crashed. The barely 2-year-old hard drive suddenly had no bootable partition. This is the same 500GB hard drive that I had installed as an upgrade while in Arizona. I suppose it was due. Fortunately, I had plenty of backups on all levels. Rather than waste two or three days reformatting and reinstalling software (I was on deadline, after all), I simply unplugged the tower and inserted my still-new 2-pound Asus netbook as my "main" computer, feeding the 17-in. Dell flat panel monitor from the video port. This expedient has worked fairly well, although a lot of software is missing. When I wanted to print out a document, I had to install a printer driver, and I had to update my Adobe Reader so I could read new PDF pages from our office. Adobe had been nagging me to do this for months. Because the netbook has no CD/DVD drive, I had to attach the outboard USB CD/DVD to add the printer driver. Murphy again, but not so noticeable.

I now have two inoperative computers, an aging but updated H-P tower and an equally old H-P notebook which I always loved when it was working, plus three operating notebooks: a Sony that I love to hate, and two Asus netbooks — one with a hard drive (which I am using now) and a tiny, almost pocket-size unit — a real cutie-pie with a too-small 4GB flash drive for Drive "C". The newer of the two netbooks, with its 160GB hard drive can do just about anything I had ever asked of the tower, so this begs the question: why am I keeping that ancient tower? I'm still working on my list of justifications, so keep tuned. And our refrigerator is still percolating along, and has not caught fire. I expect that it will soon have the new fireproofing temperature sensor dictated by the latest recall. Probably lead-free.  

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