Friday, February 5, 2016

Gremlins Playing Havoc (or was it just spilled coffee?)

I have done enough troubleshooting this past week to last me for a decade or so.

The troubles with my email sending spam mail, ongoing fraud on my credit card and navigating my way through the Credit Bureau's maze of complexity as one tries to find their way not only to a "human", but the "correct human in the correct department" was quite enough on its own. Then there was yesterday.

I think, but I am not entirely sure, that maybe my troubles are over. I am not exactly certain why they began ...

Did they begin because I spilled a little bit of coffee on part of the bottom row of keys on my laptop? It didn't appear so. I wiped up my spill, blew a little canned air into the keyboard to "dry" it. One does some stupid things while in panic mode - that most likely blew any coffee that may have landed inside the computer further into the computer's motherboard ...

Anyway, everything was working fine so I quickly wrote up a blog post, opened up about ten tabs on my browser (as I researched the "Fitbit" and to see if my phone &/or iPad were compatible), started an email, opened up a Word document, an Excel document and heaven only knows what else. My computer was cluttered and busy, then my daycare day walked in and I had to walk away.

By the time I got back to the computer, absolutely every program was frozen. I couldn't do a thing. Alt + F4 didn't work, nothing worked. So I shut down the computer and assumed that would fix all that ailed it. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

When "quiet time" finally rolled around, I turned on the computer and went about my merry way with the intent of continuing where I last left off. That didn't happen.

Every time I clicked anywhere on one of the tabs in the browser, the tab closed. If I tried to open up one of my "Favorites", it would open up in a new tab, then close the second I tried to open it. I googled my problem and one of the suggestions said to go to your "Settings" and check the "sync" button. I couldn't open my settings. I thought maybe the problem was isolated to Windows Chrome, so I tried opening Internet Explorer and the computer would not open the program.

I shut down and restarted, then I could get Internet Explorer to work, but not Chrome. Then my email program started asking for passwords, then it said the "Outgoing Mail" settings were wrong.

"Quiet time" was not long enough to solve my problems. By the time the kids were up and about again, I wasn't sure if the computer had a virus or if the coffee spillage had fried some wires or what was going on.

I came back to the computer last night and warriored on.

I rebooted it again. It would work for a while then mysterious things started happening again. I tried a new mouse. No difference. I could navigate my way to where I wanted to go by tabbing around and the act of "tabbing" seemed to wake something up in the computer and things would be okay for a while. Then it would freeze.

Then, big blue screen appeared warning me "Bug code NDIS driver", then the computer restarted itself. It did this twice.

So I thought since this problem started sometime yesterday morning, I would try a "System Restore" and restored the computer's settings to a previous date. I did this and walked away. I knew it would take a while, but I didn't expect it to take an hour. So I googled that problem. The wonderful thing about "googling" is that you discover you are not alone. The terrible thing about google is when it tells you the worst case scenarios: "It has been 48 hours since I did the system restore and it is still not working". Answer: "Shut down your computer and reinstall Windows from your disc" Reply: "I don't have a Windows disc because it came with the computer; Windows 8 discs are impossible to find" and so on and so forth.

Anxiety levels were starting to rise. There was nothing I could do but go to bed and call my Computer Doctor in the morning. Then something caught my eye as I tried to make myself walk away. The computer restarted itself and was working again! Well "working" was a relative term because it was still acting a little bit odd (I could not get my email program to work, then it did, then it didn't) but that was the least of my worries.

My only consolation was that I knew I could still access my files so all was not lost. I hooked up my back up device, set the computer to back up all of its files then went to bed. And slept.

My brain turned off and my eyes remained closed tight until 5:00 this morning. I woke up with the computer on my brain but I laid still and just absorbed the calmness of our cats as they rested within eye's distance from me. Then I got up and started to tackle the rest of my back up solution.

The first thing I did was turn on my email program. All was working just fine! I downloaded all of my "important" files onto a USB stick and copied them onto my trusty little netbook. I thought if my computer ends up in the "doctor's office", I would want access to my files.

I have been skitting from one thing, to the next, to the next, to the next for two and a half hours now and whatever issues the computer was having yesterday seem to have resolved themselves. And I have the added peace of mind of knowing my files have been backed up and all would not be lost if anything new happens today.

There is a common denominator here. All of my "security issues" concerning my email is due to my on-line gadding about. The security breach on my credit card has to be related to an on-line purchase at one time. The source of all my woes this week are coming from this little black box in front of me. Yet I just keep on clicking away at these keys.

It seems to me (now) that yesterday's computer woes are probably related to my coffee spillage and (fortunately) twenty four hours seems to have been all it took to restore things to where they once were.

Or was it the fact that I did restore the computer's settings back to an earlier date? That was the last troubleshooting effort I took at the end of a very long list of everything else I could think or find to do.

Or has the gremlin who is responsible for my email and credit card fraud infiltrated my computer? This is the first thought I had before I remembered that I had spilled some coffee onto the bottom row of keys on my laptop.

All of the above has reminded me of how vulnerable we are in this highly connected world of the internet. When everything works, it is nothing short of miraculous. When things start to fail, it could become catastrophic in the blink of an eye. I am but one person. What if there was a global attack on this thing we call the "internet"? I think I'm going to run for cover, lock the doors and turn out the lights. But you can be sure of one thing ... I'll be bringing my smart phone with me.

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