Monday, February 10, 2014

My Laptop's Imminent Doom

I was using my laptop, this afternoon, with no hint of a problem. Shut it down as usual, then signed on again earlier this evening and got a message saying:

"SMART Hard Disk Error

The SMART hard disk check has detected an imminent failure. Ton ensure not data loss, please backup the content immediately and run Hard Disk test in System Diagnostics.

Hard Disk 1 (301)

F2 - System Diagnostics

ENTER - Continue Startup. ..."

So, what to do. Since I had just backed up my files, I hit F2 to get to System Diagnostics. I got to a screen saying System Diagnostics Initializing and it froze there. tried a few times to shut it down and start over kept getting the same message, then it froze at the System Diagnostics Initializing screen. After a few tries to get into System Diagnostics, I hit ENTER instead of F2 after turning the laptop off and on again and it turned on just fine. I made sure to be safe and copied the My Documents and My Pictures folders to an external hard drive; then I called HP.

Of course, regardless of having the more expensive warranty option, the HP Premium Care Pack, my call went through to a guy sounding as if he was in Bombay or Karachi - I should have asked but it was not necessary because that was confirmed on a later call hat actually went to the HP center in North America as the first call should have done. Anyway, the guy on the Indian subcontinent was very nice and efficient (even though he apologized for any waits and said thank-you a million times) and told me to run a few checks. The checks did not work, same as I described above He then said he would arrange for a new hard drive to be sent to me and that a techie would be here this coming Saturday. I can live with that - especially since the laptop is still working, I am using it right now. Note it did not say that the hard disk failed but that failure was imminent. I can only hope it is not as imminent as to happen before Saturday!

I wanted to print out the screen giving the imminent failure message but could not get it to do so. Then I remembered I could run a diagnostic test with Norton and I did that. The Norton diagnostics said that the laptop was indicating pending and eventual hard drive failure and to run a back-up and then install a new hard drive. I was able to print that report. I wanted to be sure to have something indicating the imminent hard drive failure warning because with my luck the tech service guy will arrive, turn on my laptop and not have the warning show up and then try o tell me there is nothing wrong with it. At least I have a copy of the Norton report - just in case.

Oh well, if you do not see anything further on my blog over the next few days, or if you email me and I do not reply, you will understand why it may seem as if I have fallen off of the face of the planet. Hopefully they will send the correct replacement hard drive and the tech guy will arrive and fix it as planned. I am also hopeful that the problem was diagnosed correctly. last year I had to send in the laptop to HP for them to do a repair that amounted to them changing the hard drive cable and reinstalling the bios. For some reason they said a tech service guy was not capable of doing so but I think they believed I had dropped the unit and broken it (or something like that because one of them basically accused me of such) and they wanted to screw me out of a repair. It really did not matter because I still had complete damage protection last year (in addition to the HP Premium Care Pack with in home service) - so a drop would have been covered. Anyway, they apparently got it diagnosed and corrected properly, change the cable and bios and it worked for just over a year since that repair. Now this!

All in all I spent about an hour and fifteen minutes on the phone with HP Tech Service. Then I called HP again to make sure I had the correct warranty serial number since I had noticed I had two different ones in my warranty info. I also asked that they check to see if they had my last name spelled correctly since last time they mailed me something it had my last name screwed up. On that second call, I got a customer service guy in Canada. Much easier to understand and he said while my name was correct, the guy in India had just changed my email address to an incorrect version of it. He then corrected it. The guy in Canada also got me through to someone to correct the warranty number and who promised to send me a luggage tag with the correct info on it. I'll attach the tag to my laptop bag, it is handy to have along should I travel with the laptop and need tech assistance. I have since received an email, from the third and last guy to whom I spoke, telling me what he to correct my email and to send me a copy of my warranty info, but have not received the promised confirmation email from the first tech service guy for my hard drive replacement and repair (I guess it got lost in cyberspace since he was the one to screw my email address in HP's records). So, finally, almost all seems to have been straightened out. Time will tell if it all gets done once the hard drive arrives and once the in home tech service guy installs it.

Gonna go now, just got a Windows pop up telling me it has detected that hard disk failure is about to take place. There is one other thing I want to back-up, just in case my auto back-up on Norton did not catch it.

All the best,
Glenn B

Ah, The Benefits of Indoor Plumbing and Gas, Oil or Electric Heat

Living here in the United States, almost everyone has the luxuries of indoor plumbing and of gas, electric or oil heat. Yeah some of us use wood or pellet stoves to heat but mostly they don't have to go out into the wilds to fetch their fuel. In India, it is another story. Many do not have even a single electric bulb to light their homes let alone indoor plumbing or a delivered fuel source for their home heating and cooking. They go out into the tall grass of the fields and into the woods for a little privacy when answering natures call and into the forests to collect wood for cooking or heating and those activities can be quite treacherous for them. In the last 6 weeks alone, ten people living in rural India have been slain by a tigress near the Jim Corbett National Park. The park is named after a British Army officer who relentlessly hunted down tigers and leopards that preyed on people, thus saving an untold number of human lives.

In the current situation, hunters have not had the success that Corbett had while hunting these alpha predators. Despite efforts to bait the tigress with a young calf on Saturday night, the big cat eluded them and attacked its latest victim, a 50 year old man collecting wood, on Sunday night. The tiger killed him and partially devoured him but was then driven off by other villagers.

I still have to hand it to the hunters, even though they have not hit their mark yet, because I imagine it takes nerves of steel to sit on a stand over bait or to trudge through the woods trying to hunt down a man-eater. As the source article notes, only three of six hunters, hired to hunt the beast, even showed up. Those three who showed up have moxie but I hope they have the know-how too, otherwise they may find themselves the prey instead of the predators.

If you would like to learn more about  why big cats become man-eaters, about hunting them down or just read a great adventure book, I suggest reading MAN-EATERS of KUMAON authored by Jim Corbett. It is an excellent and thrilling account about several of his hunts for man-eaters.

All the best,
Glenn B
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