I am not one of those people that upgrade my computers and electronics at every opportunity. I tend to buy something and then use it until it becomes useless to me, either because it’s just that outdated or it breaks down. Just yesterday, I was using a ten year old computer. I can’t use it for much, but I set it up for my mother-in-law during her visit to check her email and yesterday it happened to be out when I wanted to check Twitter. That it can do.

This creates something of an electronic papal death watch, though, as I wait for certain things to die so that I can replace them. Sometimes I watch with excitement, though usually if it’s that bad it falls into the category of electronics to be replaced. So usually, it’s a pain. But at least when it’s dead, it’s dead. The worst is when a computer or device just lingers. It mostly works, except when it doesn’t, but it fails to work enough that it ceases to be useful in primary duty. So it needs to be demoted, if not replaced. Unless it starts working again.

I’ve had two such instances occur over the last couple of months. The first was my computer, which worked fine most of the time but five or ten seconds every two or three minutes when there would be some issue with hard drive data swapping. Which was not a big deal, except that I couldn’t use it for audio or video. Next to it is another computer that’s fine most of the time, except that it randomly reboots. The third computer at the console is from 2008 and is reaching the end of its lifecycle. This meant that, with the problems of the first machine most recently cropping up, I lost my only primary duty machine downstairs. So it was time to buy a new computer (put randomly reclycling computer on tertiary duty, and retire the oldest).

Kind of a bummer since, but for the aforementioned problem, I was satisfied with what I had.

But I started getting the parts in my online shopping cart. I was starting to get excited about finally having a new computer for the first time in five years. And then… suddenly the stuff started working again. I was doing some diagnostic stuff that I assumed would be fruitless. I don’t even know what fixed it. The diagnostic software couldn’t even find a problem with it. But when it was done, the problem was gone.

Now I feel cheated, almost, out of my new computer.

Then the same thing happened with the smartphone. I’ll spare you most of the details, but basically the battery life just collapsed to 2-3 hours. Worse, the battery monitor stopped working, so any time the battery was at less than 40% I had to worry about it going out at any minute. Further, it was chewing through batteries really quickly. I tried switching to my backup phone, but it kept trying to go into international roaming mode. So I went around shopping and finally decided on a brand and model to buy, was getting excited, and then as I was explaining the problem with the backup phone to my friend (who used to work with Verizon) the international roaming mode mysteriously went away. Meanwhile, the phone with the battery problems was fine as a backup (and as a backup was demonstrating much better battery life.

So no new phone. Meanwhile, every time I see an ad for an LG V20 I think to myself “I should have one of those!”

Dead electronics need to stay dead, in my opinion.


Category: Server Room

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

4 Responses to Non-reproducible Errors

  1. pillsy says:

    You must not upgrade things very often if you’ve got a CRT to smash with your keyboard!

  2. Oscar Gordon says:

    I’ve found that coffee really helps with this. If you pour enough of it into the electronics, they stay dead.

  3. Michael Cain says:

    My experience over decades with aging computers that have intermittent problems was that a surprising number of them could be solved by replacing the memory SIMMs/DIMMs/whatevers, and expanding the amount of memory at the same time. Routine sequential memory tests often failed to find the borderline devices. Back in the days when I did roadshow technology demos, I carried replacement memory for all the boxes involved.

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