Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Bad Computers and Good Computers
It's amazing how much computers influence our lives. Today I'm dealing with two very different computer issues.
The first issue (Bad Computer) is one that I fear will send me the last little bit of the way to a babbling, spittle drooling, eye twitching, neurotic foot tapping, simpering, whimpering.....well, you get the idea. This computer issue involves the engine computer in my 1999 Suzuki, Grand Vitara. It's an issue that has been going on for about four months now and may just continue until this vehicle ends up on the scrap pile.
About four months ago after driving to a nearby store, I returned to the car and started it up. The engine started but ran like it was missing one cylinder. The engine shook coughed and had almost no power at all. I had a sinking feeling but thought if I could only get back home I could deal with the problem more easily. I made it home but the whole way the "Service Engine Soon!!!" light flashed in my face and I had visions of the engine either exploding or dropping out of the car onto the highway. After getting home I considered my options and just to be sure I really had a problem I went out to the garage and restarted the car. The "Service Engine Soon !!!" light was still on but the engine ran close to normal so I decided to take it to my local mechanic. The mechanic did a diagnostic check (That will be $60.00 please) and found nothing. When they started the engine prior to the check the service light was NOT on.
To sooth the pain they said if I could get it over to them the next time this happened and the engine was still running like it was missing a cylinder they would do another diagnostic check and not charge me for it.....You know where I'm going with this don't you? The problem repeated itself two more times over a period of about 3 months. Each time I struggled to get the car to my mechanic only to find that the diagnostic test revealed nothing. The local mechanic finally said that I would be best in taking it to the Suzuki dealer (In other words, get lost!) as it was almost certainly an engine computer problem. Since the problem always corrected itself in a relatively short period of time I just lived with it until last week. The Bride was driving the car when it had one of these seizures. By the time she got back home she had the look about her that I described in the second paragraph of this post and suggested, strongly, that I find some way to resolve the problem.
This morning I took the vehicle to the Suzuki dealership and explained the problem hoping they would say, "Oh yeah, we know about that. It's the fritzle fratzle and it will cost you about 5 cents to fix." Instead they told me that if the "Service Engine Soon You Idiot!!) light was not on and the problem wasn't actually occurring when they inspected the engine, they really couldn't do anything. They would be glad to run a $110 diagnostic test (Note to His-self: Thank the local mechanic for not gouging you another $50 for the test) but they could categorically say that it would show nothing and it probably was a engine computer problem of some sort.
So.....I guess I'll have to live with this problem until something breaks so bad that they will be able to figure out what the problem is....Problem is for me, that probably means the engine will have to quit completely somewhere and with my luck it will be in a VERY inconvenient place. BAAAAD Computer.
To balance things off here's a Good Computer issue. I have two computers that I use both of which are pretty important to me. I have a laptop that I use everyday and that I take with me on my trips. I also have a desktop that The Bride uses on a regular basis and that runs our home finance program. I have been living ever so on the edge because I have never backed up either computer. I have backed up the data for the home finance program but that is the only backup I have ever done. I know, I know, that is a very dangerous thing and I have been extremely lucky. Well, today I decided to buy and external hard drive and do the right thing by backing up both computers.
Most of the office supply stores were advertising a 500GB external hard drive this week for $99. That's large enough to back up both of my computers on the same drive and at $99 it's a deal. Everything is plug and play and very easy. So, in the time it has taken me to write this post, I have backed up both computers and now I have eliminated one of those nagging fears I've been carrying around for quite a while........had to make room for the Bad Computer, car blowing up fear.
Thanks for visiting.