Just like buses. On second thought, not very much like buses.

Generally, when I get a phone call about a computer problem it’s something like “Word won’t load”, or “the network icons don’t work any more”, or “the printer won’t do landscape.” Nine times out of ten the problem is software-related, and doesn’t take more than twenty minutes to fix. Not, however, this weekend.

In the last five days I’ve had four computers Just Stop Working. The first went down after a power cut, refusing to boot from a cd, let alone the hard disk. I diagnosed a motherboard b0rked beyond all hope, and put in an order for some replacement hardware. On Sunday my sister’s laptop abruptly stopped booting with “load needed dlls for kernel”, which was a new one on me. With a bit of luck that’s some kind of massive software cockup, and a repair install will fix it up. This morning one of the office PCs didn’t even get so far as booting, simply beeping like a demented droid. To be fair, it’s nearly six years old and is due for death fairly soon, so I ordered a replacement motherboard / cpu / ram for that too. This evening I’ve been told that my uncle’s laptop – only six months old – is stuck in a nearly-get-into-windows-but-conk-out-and-restart-just-before-anything-happens-loop, even in Safe Mode. First thoughts are that it’s a dying hard drive, but I’ll need to take a look.

It’s really not all that common to have such major problems. I must have upset the electron fairy.