There was a sharp snap and a sudden odour of plastic burning. I leaned over the counter as if the extra 6 inches wold give me a better look.
"That doesn't sound good," I said. Or smell good, I thought, wondering if that burning aroma was what people mean what they talk about the smell of ozone.
The technician came back to the counter. "Your motherboard just fried."
"Jesus. I'm glad it happened here rather than at home. Any idea what the problem was?"
"Don't know yet. It might have been defective ... Is it under warranty?"
"Yeah, I picked it up 3 or 4 weeks ago."
In fact, my desktop machine died back in October. It happened relatively slowly, giving me enough time (barely!) to install a DVD burner and back up my personal data, (if not my painfully-downloaded Doctor Who episodes) before it simply refused to start again.
Back on the 20th of October, I returned to the store at which I had purchased the machine a few years ago and explained the problem. They sold me a new CPU, along with (they said) the necessary RAM, power-supply and motherboard. (I'm no fan of planned obscelescence, but I won't bitch about it here; at least with computers you're getting something that will in fact be better, faster and stronger than that which it is replacing).
I took the parts home and did my best to follow the instructions. But, even with help, the machine would not do more than spin the new fan.
Since I had my laptop working well (and running Ubuntu Linux 7.10!) it took me three weeks to get myself - and the box, this time - out of the apartment.
Obviously, I left it with them on Monday. On Tuesday they called me. "You didn't take out the old video card."
"That's right," I agreed, "I didn't."
"That's why the new motherboard burned out."
"I see. Well, when I bought the parts you guys looked at the specs - that's why I bought more than just a new CPU."
"Well, you should have. You didn't put it together right."
"I knew that. That's why I brought it in for you guys to take a look at. Remember, it fried on your test bench." I didn't shout, but I got pretty emphatic and - after explaining everything (again) to the manager - they agreed to take responsibility.
And now, I have an (almost) brand new computer, just waiting for me to install Linux on it. Which I will do in tandem with my mother when she calls me - tomorrow, I hope - so that we can do her machine and mine at the same time (she's been running Windows98 which is, to say the least, no longer at all secure when it comes to viruses).
In other news, I continue to work on the new (entirely new!) novel and - gosh! what a surprise! - I am feeling better than I have in months.
And, if you haven't guessed, my life has not been (shall we say) very interesting of late. I'm going to go update my reading list, then maybe reply to a few personals on plentyoffish.