The Current Issue
Day 374 – July 30, 2012
Welcome back. Glad to be here and glad you’re here also. Sorry for the delay.
After some time away enjoying both coasts of the United States of America, La Familia Humes is back in Peru.
Our return was marred by the fact that our trusty steed of a computer had appeared to have given up its binary ghost. We plugged the machine back in, pressed the power button…and absolutely nothing happened.
Technically, something did happen. The internal fans of the PC started rotating and making their usual noise, but beyond that…nada. No lights from the tower, the monitor did not stir, and there did not appear to be any movement from the hard disk (or “disc” depending on what side of the Mississippi River you live on).
This lack of a working computer was reminiscent of what transpired back in September of 2011 when our Hewlett-Packard machine simply died. One day, pressing the power button elicited no response save for a grinding, whirring noise from the one-terabyte hard disk.
Thankfully, we knew people who knew people who knew of a guy who could fix computers. Henceforth, this guru of all things PC-esque will be referred to as MU, which is short-hand for the “Mad Uruguayan”. By “mad”, I do not mean “angry”. I use this term to denote the fact that our knight in cotton armor is touched (to put it mildly). He talks fast, he rambles, his sentences can be a tad disjointed, time has no meaning for him (read: he was almost always late), but he was a genius when it come to hardware and software…and when your PC is dead, that’s all you care about.
For his first visit to us, MU diagnosed our computer’s problem as not liking our home’s voltage problems. For those who don’t know, the electricity in Peru uses 220 volts. This is different from the voltage used in the States, which is 110 volts. Plugging a 110v machine into a 220v outlet will cause problems. We knew of this issue and had bought a transformer to turn 220v into 110v juice. However, the voltage here tends to fluctuate and our aging power strip had a difficult time keeping up with the changes so it kept sending voltage of differing power to our computer. This, in turn (according to MU) fried the PC’s motherboard and killed the hard drive.
His solution was rather simple as he completely rebuilt our computer. The only thing original about it is the shell. New hard drive, new software, new power surge protector, and a new 220v power supply all for the low low price of S/. 638 (equivalent of $245). Courtesy of a back-up that we had, we didn’t lose a bit (or byte) of data.
Fast forward to today and again our PC was doing a fairly good impression of an expensive paperweight. Another call went out to MU today and he showed up this same night (albeit 30 minutes later than we had agreed upon).
MU looked at how we had configured our flow of electricity to our computer and shook his head. We had the PC plugged into the surge protector which itself was plugged into a power strip which itself was plugged into the 220->110 transformer which itself was plugged into the wall. MU simply unplugged the computer from the surge protector, plugged into directly into the wall, and the machine sprang to life.
Remember four paragraphs ago when I mentioned the “…new power surge protector, and a new 220v power supply”? Well, by plugging the PC (220v) into the protector (220v), which was connected to our power strip, which itself was plugged into the transformer that provides only 110v, we were not giving the PC enough power to do more than simply spin its fans.
(Note to electrical engineers: If anything mentioned above seems out of kilter, I am only parroting what MU told me.)
By plugging the computer directly into the 220v outlet, the PC was given the electrical power it needed.
All is now well, our digital photos are safe, we can access the Internet again, and I can once more blog and ramble about life in the City of Kings.