We recently had some very bad weather, the lightning was striking everywhere and there were a lot of power outages. Even when the power was on, it seemed to periodically go high for a few moments (the lights shine brighter) and then drop. Needless to say, these were not the ideal conditions for my PC and it eventually decided that the best course of action was complete, unconditional capitulation, so it just shut down and let of a bit of white smoke as a clear sign of surrender.
The Thunder God was obviously pleased with this little sacrifice, since it was sunny and quite pleasant the next day. When I took the computer to the shop a very handy and polite young man took it apart, had a quick look inside and told me that my graphics card was pretty much fried. He took a RAM module out to demonstrate to me, a little bit too dramatically I thought, the extend of damage that had been done. The thing looked like something my five year old would make out of silly putty, you could still tell what it was, but a good part of it had melted into a weird shape.
Now, I’m neither psychic nor a MIT graduate, but somehow I had a feeling that this computer was going to cost me an arm and a leg if another storm hits. I explained my predicament to the young fellow and he was happy to suggest that I get an UPS, and that he just happened to have a very nice APC, with a little display and everything. For a moment there he seemed quite disappointed that I wasn’t confused by all this “science talk”. I might live in the open country, but I’m not a caveman, I know a thing or two about technology. He seemed so eager to explain things to me and make suggestions, he also seemed to be having a boring day, probably even had a nice little speech prepared in his head, so I decided to let him tell me all about this particular model.
I said: “UPS, that’s like a car battery, but for your computer, right?”. Boy, did his little face light up. “Not quite”, he said, “ it has many uses, it will help power your computer when the power goes out, but it can also help stabilize the power in case of voltage spikes…” I just nodded quietly and let him finish his little monologue.
When he was done, I agreed to buy the little device, it was basically a battery in a box with a bunch of outlets in the back and a display in the front, and we went through a list of things that needed to be replaced on the PC. A few days later I went back and picked everything up, I really missed the old computer, reading books on candle light was becoming annoying, but the power problem seemed to be pretty much fixed by then, a few occasional bursts of high voltage here and there and a 5 minute blackout from time to time.
I have to say that that UPS was a life saver in the next couple of weeks – the power would go out for 6-7 minutes and my computer would keep running on the UPS battery until the power came back, and I would just pat the little box and say: ”Good job, little buddy”. My wife would laugh every time and call me crazy, but one day she came into my little “office”, a room where I did some of my work on the computer, to do some vacuuming and there wasn’t a free outlet where she could plug in the vacuum cleaner, so I just yanked the computer cable out of an outlet and told her to use that one. She let out a little scream. She thought I turned off the computer because I was angry at her for disturbing me. I just laughed and showed her that everything was working just fine. We laughed together a little, after she yelled at me for scaring her, she vacuumed, and I just plugged the computer back in when she was finished.
I guess that kid at the shop was right, the UPS did have a lot of uses, especially if you like practical jokes. I might stop by the shop again some time, just to see what else they’ve got that will scare my wife.