It started to go wrong shortly before we left for San Diego.

In a last-minute attempt to de-install two Adobe suites and install a third on my work machine, I felt the icy chill of impending tech doom run down my neck when the suite I had spent hours attempting to install suddenly balked, giving me a cryptic “Code 2” error. With no time to spare before we loaded up the equipment for Comic-Con, I didn’t have time to investigate, but I suspected the whole thing wasn’t going to end well. And it didn’t.

Starting on Wednesday of last week, I tried repeatedly to run the seven hour-long install of Adobe Creative Suite Master Edition on my machine, always to no avail. Having run through all the other troubleshooting procedures, I decided to spend Saturday and simply reformat my machine before trying the install again. Starting at Saturday noon, I backed up, reformatted, reinstalled Windows, and began the long process of putting my machine back together. Then I began the hours-long process of installing Creative Suite Master Edition again. Having spent the hours that followed catching up on all of my old mail and magazines, as well as reading the entire first Artemis Fowl book, I was well into the install process for Creative Suite Master Edition when I decided to call it a night at 2am and head home.

…but when I returned on Sunday, the install had failed again.  In exactly the same place.

“Right.” I said, and, although I could sometimes summon the patience of a Buddhist monk, I nevertheless decided that if I had to try the whole thing again, I was going to do it in the comfort of my own home. So I bundled my machine, along with a spare mouse and keyboard and moved the install party to Casa Bickford. Additional backups were made of critical data, the existing partial install was deleted (itself a 40-minute process!), and I settled down with another good book to read.

And as one final precaution, just to try to improve my luck this go-round, I decided to update my Shuttle PC with the latest BIOS. Normally this is a “Probably won’t help, but can’t hurt” sort of step, and I needed all the voodoo I could muster to get this bloody thing to work this time. With that, I closed all my open apps, kicked off the BIOS flashing utility…and  sat agape with horror when it hung the computer 29% of the way into flashing the BIOS.

Now, having something go wrong when you’re flashing a BIOS or other EEPROM-type device is one of the only ways that software can render hardware utterly unusable. I prayed that nothing too serious would happen as a result of the mysterious hang, but when I attempted to reboot the machine, it turned out I was about as lucky as your average red-shirted crew member on the old Star Trek series. In short, I’d turned my desktop computer into a useless metal brick.

Sure, the RAM, processor, and hard drives were fine, but the machine no longer acted as a computer. It merely gave a feeble “BIOS Error” message, and didn’t even attempt to find the keyboard, mouse, or floppy drive–without which there was no hope for re-flashing the drive and retrying to turn it into a computer again. Resetting the CMOS, pulling the battery, and all the other tricks were to no avail. My machine was well and truly bricked.

So now, it’s Sunday night at 11:30 and I’m busily trying to scavenge the contents of the bricked computer’s hard drives onto a different machine. Let me tell you, 300 GB takes a long time to copy. I expect I’ll be finishing another novel before it’s over. Then it’s a call to Shuttle tech support in the morning, most likely to be followed by me mailing them the old BIOS chip to reflash, to be followed a week or so later by more novel reading as I try to get that machine rebuilt.

And then I get to try installing Creative Suite Master Edition again.

Hope my library card is still active. I may need it.

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