Stream of Controversy
You might not want to hear it, but it really needs to be said.

NES + MBP = Kernel Panic

Are you ready for this? I got my laptop back. But I don’t have it now—it’s gone again. I only had it for a day. And to make matters worse, I don’t even have my G5 to fall back on. I’m on Windows right now. It’s quite sad, really. But the story in between is interesting, so read on.

Alright, it all started on Friday, about 12 hours after my last entry. As you may recall, that was also the same time period I referred to when I said that I had to catch a bus to the airport. Maybe you can see where this story is going already?

First off, have you noticed the weather across the country recently? If not, let me inform you: it’s quite cold. Even in Florida. Except this story starts in Vermont, where it’s always cold. So imagine what happens when the rest of the country gets cold, too. That’s right, it gets really cold in Vermont. I mean single digits Fahrenheit, plus wind chill. And there was certainly wind! Not to mention that a weekend-long blizzard was beginning. The funny thing is, this is just the background to the story.

To actually begin the story, I left my room with my suitcase a few h0urs after it began snowing, so there was already a couple of inches of snow on the ground. And I had to drag my suitcase through this snow, with more of it blowing through the air and into my face. And I had to walk the distance to the bus stop (which, normally, isn’t that far). So, as I’m standing there, waiting for the bus that is 15 minutes late on sunny days, I get a call from Small Dog telling me my computer is ready to be picked up. At first I thought it was my parents telling me that my flight was canceled. (It remained on time up until the point I left my room, despite my girlfriend’s and many other flights being canceled or seriously delayed.) But it wasn’t. It was Small Dog. It was kind of funny, actually, because, after he told me my computer was ready, I replied sarcastically with, “Of course it is.” And then there was silence on the other line, as if he didn’t know how to respond, until I thanked him for the call and allowed him to hang up.

So as we’re standing there, literally freezing our hands off, waiting for the bus, my girlfriend announces that she’s going to walk to the store—which is on the way of the bus route—and pick up my computer for me, and then meet me at the airport. So, I told her she was crazy, and then proceeded to call Small Dog back and set it up for her to have the permission to get my computer. And she ran. She ran through the blizzard, as I nearly got frostbite just standing there, just to get my computer for me. And the bus was so late, with the traffic so slow, that we barely got past the campus grounds by the time she called me enthusiastically to tell me she got it. But I told her that she better find someplace warm to go, because we were going to be awhile. So she was able to get into the mall and all the way through it, to where the bus stopped, before we even turned into the parking lot. Which meant she was able to get on the same bus she left me waiting for about a half hour previous—with my laptop.

When we finally got to the airport—15 minutes after the supposed cutoff to get on the plane—we found out it was delayed. I walked up to the Delta ticket counter and the guy simply asked me, “Are you only going to JFK?” (As opposed to requiring a connection flight.) He then asked for my last name and printed my boarding pass. He told me to not even bother going through security just yet, and he didn’t ask for ID. So we waited, ate dinner, and waited some more. But we also, thanks to her, used my computer. It functioned great. We watched movies, read comics, and did a bunch of other stuff. No problems. And then, around 10 PM or so, the ticket guy announced that the plane was finally in the air and on its way to BTV. So I walked her to a taxi, which she’d have to take back to the dorms to be a late stay, waiting for her Continental flight the next day. Then I went to security.

Despite there being that announcement, there was no one on line. And there wasn’t even a TSA agent at the podium. I was baffled for a second before one waved me down to the metal detector and conveyor belt and informed me that they’re understaffed at night, so they group together to avoid being lonely. (I swear to you, the city of Burlington and the surrounding area completely shuts down at 10 PM, and the only reason there’s an “International” in the name of the airport is because it flies to Canada.) But whatever. I got to the gate, and took out my laptop to begin editing that video that I’d meant to a little over a week before. I got through a bit of it before I had to board the plane.

Now, this plane was so small. And I mean it: Three seats per row—one on one side of the aisle, and two on the other side—and a six-foot ceiling, tops. I was in the single seat and, despite there being enough seats to fit 60–80 people, the flight attendant counted only 33 onboard. After a bit of deicing, we headed to the runway. But after the flight attendant turned off the cabin lights, it was pitch black, and I fell asleep before takeoff. When I woke up, we were above the clouds and I could see the stars. (Well, sort of. My window wasn’t the cleanest, inside or out, so things were distorted and blurry.) It was an interesting sight, and I may have seen a shooting star (or a satellite), but then I went back to sleep for a little. During our descent, we had to go through some thick clouds. There was a decent amount of turbulence, plus a change in (ear) pressure, and the clouds were so dense that the light from the wing was reflecting off of everything and then back into the plane.

The flight was still the normal 50 minutes or so, and we landed at 12:40 AM. I know because I looked at my watch. We taxied to just outside the gate, but then we sat there as we waited for the plane to be deiced—four or five times. Apparently, the planes in New York had been sitting there for a couple of hours. Then, to make matters worse, once the plane was finally ready to leave, the tug that was supposed to get it going couldn’t gain traction on ice and slush! So we waited some more. And then, once we got to the gate, they rolled the stairs up to the door, and we all stood up (under the 6-foot ceiling), we still couldn’t get off because “it was too icy”. We stood there for probably 15 minutes, until the finally opened the door and let us out. And when my sneaker-covered feet hit the pavement, preparing to slip and fall, they were greeted by asphalt. Not ice, not slush—asphalt. We stood for 15 minutes in fear of slippery ice that didn’t exist. In fact, I slipped more walking in the enclosed walkway between the airplane and the airport than I did while on the actual tarmac. I finally got home at around 2:30 AM.

At which point, I set my laptop up on the desk and finshed editing that video. It took a number of hours to render and upload to YouTube, but here it is, in all its edited glory (however much that is): It may or may not have audio/video sync problems. I know the “HD” version does (it wasn’t actually filmed with an HD camera), but that’s because YouTube is working through some bugs in its transcoding process.

Later in the day on Saturday, right as I was going to get started working on stuff for the UVM Web Team (which I get paid for) that I had already had to put off for a week, my screen goes glitchy. And I mean, GAH-I-JUST-BUMPED-MY-NES glitchy. And, like the NES, things still worked for a little while, but then I got a (glitchy) message telling me to restart my computer. I did that, but it continued being glitchy, and again told me to start over. Things never got better, so I called Small Dog to find out what to do. He said he thought that I had gotten a bad board from NVIDIA, because apparently these problems are widespread and they’re scrambling to replace them all, and he told me to bring it in to an Apple Store near me. So I called the Apple Store and made an appointment for this past Sunday, at 7:20 PM. That’s another day without my precious computer.

When I finally got to the store, and went through the whole “official” (political) process, I got to talk to a Genius. Woo-hoo. He told me that it was more likely to be a connection issue than a bad board, but they’d have to send it out to Apple to get it fixed. (Huh? An Apple Specialist can replace a logic board, but an Apple Genius can’t reconnect cables?) And, since Apple is notorious for ditching your old hard drive if they so much as think it clicked, the Genius got me to sign for a $50 charge for backing up my data—a charge that will have to be paid whether or not Apple even looks at my data. (By the way, as the Apple Genius informed me, that “restart your computer” message is actually a kernel panic. In case there are any Linux-to-Mac converts out there that didn’t know.)

So here I am, chugging along on this stupid Windows computer, where I had to upgrade all the software from their 2005 versions. And this CRT monitor is hurting my eyes. Plus, I have a bit of video I want to edit from the night when my computer had a panic attack, but this doesn’t have any good importing and editing programs (especially for dealing with my pseudo-widescreen DV footage), so that may have to wait until I get my computer back—which, thanks to the holiday season, may take up to a week and a half.

One final complaint before I end this: Why bother giving me a repair number if it’s just to track you running in-store diagnostics on the computer before creating another repair number—without telling me—which tracks the actual sending of the computer to Apple? Could someone please explain why these people are called Geniuses?

Thanks for getting through the past 1800+ words, and I hope that I’ll have good news to report the next time I come here (while, hopefully, using my laptop to do so).


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