One thing about the personal PC, it fueled my endless thirst for how those things work and has always inspired me to find out how to fix computers myself.
I know my dad had hoped I would have embraced his knowledge of car engines and how they worked. However, at that point in my life, girls and basketball had a higher precedence.
But there came a time in my mid-20s when the personal computer arrived on the scene. I knew I needed one and so I spent upwards of $1800 to get this monstrosity with a mono-chrome screen, a keyboard, a wired mouse and a mighty 20MB of storage. That seems almost unthinkable. I remember buying it at computer store in Bellevue, bringing it home and starting to mess with it. This is long before Windows–we’re talking the land of DOS, with 5-1/4 inch floppy drives and commands that you memorized so you can type them in and make magic happen.
On the very first day I owned my new friend, I played around with commands and in no time at all, I discovered that “format” was a nifty way to erase everything on the computer. Crap. So, I walked around the corner and reached out to a neighbor that knew all about these things. He reinstalled the operating system and got me back up (with a stern warning about the ‘format’ command). There would be many more neighborly visits in the future.
But that first valuable lesson has lasted a lifetime when it comes to dealing with computers: for the most part, it’s hard to seriously mess them up. There’s usually an undo or some kind of action that will save your bacon and data at the same time. Now, it’s not like I haven’t had the famous Blue Screen of Death or forgotten to save a document, only to lose everything I had been working on. Oh, and there are those hard-drives that I thought would be a permanent storage unit solution for valuable family photos, only to have them crash. But, for the most part, I often encourage someone who is afraid of what they might do to a computer to just take a chance.
Years later, when I moved to a new neighborhood, I met a new guru. Neil probably had the biggest impact on advancing my understanding skills when it came to computers. He was quite a busy Microsofter at the time, but he would always be glad to help me undo something I had screwed up, or install a new piece of hardware. Over the last 20 years, I have probably had to reach out to him three times when I felt I needed his expertise, but thanks to him, a lot of times I have been able to figure things out myself. Not sure when the last time was that I called him for a rescue, but I know it was pre-pandemic.
So these days, I’m sitting pretty and feeling in control of my computer world. Well, except…
I had hung on to some old hard drives that had crashed and much like Disney’s head, I was holding on to them with the hope that someday, the technology would exist to rescue the data on those damaged disks. Plus, I went through a stage where I stored things on something called an iOmega Zip Drive, with funny little disks that could retain pictures, documents and such. I had two of the readers and around two dozen disks sitting around in drawers. Apparently, Windows 10 decided not to let you connect to them, so once I depleted my knowledge base, I needed a guru. I looked online and found that there was a local shop called PC Fix just down the road in Ballard.
I went there and found a one-man shop. The guy that runs the place was laid back, had a pony tail and was great to chat with. On that first visit, he gave me advice and told me what I needed to know, no charge.
Finding a good geek that you can trust and that charges a fair price is a real find. We talked about my dead hard drives and Zip drives and he said, “Bring ’em on down and we’ll figure it out.” I’m excited to see how much he can retrieve.
Bottom line is that I’ve found my latest guru. Just thought I would pass it along your way, in case you’re in need of your next computer expert. Parking is tricky after 3pm, so best to stop by there during the day.
I guess one of these days, I should find out his name. But good guy.
PS–I got his name and he retrieved lots of data I thought was lost. Thanks, George! If you need a new guru, keep him in mind.