Friday, March 02, 2007

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

Now, sometimes it is true that real life is stranger than fiction! The following is a true story. Yesterday was one of my days off, and as I was driving my wife to work, our van started having trouble changing gears (it's an automatic transmission). This was especially troubling since we'd had the transmission replaced last year.

After I dropped off my wife, I called the transmission shop and asked if they could look at it. The owner said he could see it later in the morning. I had a doctor's appointment and a couple of errands to run anyway, so that was fine. By the time I was done with my appointment and errands, the van was almost undriveable, but I did get it to the shop. While I was waiting for it to be seen, I noticed it was leaking red transmission fluid. I let the owner know and when he took it around the the back, where the bays were, the van was leaking like a water hose! We both agreed it was definitely undriveable at that point.

I asked the owner what it would cost to get it fixed. He quoted me $350 -- then he thought for a second, and he asked me if I did computer graphics. I said I worked with computers, yes. He told me he had a laptop that was giving him error messages and wouldn't let him install an external hard drive. He asked if I could maybe fix it for him. I said I probably could, then he showed me what he had. The laptop was 4 or 5 years old and was running Windows Millennium Edition (ME). It also had a Windows XP Home Edition upgrade CD. He also had a Buffalo 320 GB USB 2 external hard drive.

So we cut a deal: I would upgrade his laptop and get his external hard drive installed and he would fix the transmission. The only catch was that he needed the laptop ready by afternoon (it was about 10:00 am by this point). No problem. He even dropped me and the laptop off at home, where I wired it into my router and went to work.

It was easy enough to upgrade it to XP as a clean install, it just took a little while (the laptop had a 1 Ghz Intel processor and 128mb of RAM with a 15 GB hard drive). Once I got XP installed, I just hooked in the external hard drive through its included USB 2 cable to one of the USB ports on the laptop and XP recognized it and installed drivers immediately. I went ahead and installed the backup software from its CD.

The final steps were a pain, though. I had to defragment the hard drive because with all the upgrades, it was running very slow. Then I had to download and install Windows XP Service Pack 2. That seemed to take forever! But I was able to finish up, repack everything into their boxes and cases and get it to the owner when he arrived. He was happy (he needs it for this weekend) and said the van would be ready on Monday, no charge.

That was just the coolest feeling! And I couldn't help but feel like that was an opportunity that just dropped out of heaven -- so I had to thank the Lord for that. And then, one of my wife's female coworkers offered to pick her up and drop her off over the few days we are van-less -- and since they both work for the same temp agency, she'll take Angel to get her check and cash it today! And as for me, I rode the bus today, and I can do it tomorrow and Monday, if need be. The bus drops me off a couple of blocks from work -- and I have a friend at work who can drop me off in the evenings. And my kids' school is within one block of our apartment...

Really and truly, I feel blessed.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Best Wishes,

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