Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Accidental free electronic repairs

Yesterday I could not start Photoshop, so I rebooted my HP desktop. I could get into either Windows safe mode, or a black screen with a white cursor, or the Task Manager or the colorful green screen that allows me to change users, but I could not achieve anything useful.

Cynical Cousin Dave, who blames all PC malfunctions on Vista, advised me to just wait a while, and to try various combinations of shut-down and restart. After about ten attempts, I gave up and was willing to pay tech support whatever it would cost me to get back in business. Usually I call Microsoft for help, but since Mr. Gates quit last week, I decided to call HP, instead.

Cynical Cousin Dave used his reliable XP PC to get the phone number for me and I made the call and was given the choice of paying $50 for one support incident, or $100 for a whole year of help, which seemed like a good deal, so I agreed.

Unfortunately, HP was having trouble with their credit card authorization software, and every few minutes, the guy asked me to wait a few more minutes.

While I was waiting, my own PC came back to normal, and I saved the hundred bucks. Cynical Cousin Dave was right. Time heals.

About ten years ago I had a wacky car problem.

All of the lights on my dashboard were out. I couldn't read any of the instruments and even the idiot lights stayed dim.

My dealer's alleged top mechanic recommended replacing all of the relays. I knew that was bullshit, because relays should last somewhere between a million and a billion years. I asked the service manager to make an appointment for my car to be looked at by one the car maker's roving experts when he was in the area, and I was called about a week later.

On my special day, as I entered the dealer's parking lot, I drove over a speed-control hump, and all of my lights turned back on. Apparently one of the relays was just a little loose in its socket. No Detroit expertise was necessary -- just a bump from the hump. Total cost: zero.

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