About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

October 23, 2012

Brittany, Octavius and Ubuntu

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 4:32 am

My wife and I have a friend, Brittany and one day she and my wife were talking.  Brittany said that she had a broken computer.  Well, then my wife proceeded to tell Brittany what I do for a living, hobby, etc.  Now at this point I have to say Brittany does not read the Daily News Record weekly, listen to WSVA monthly, check out or she would know that I “mess” with computers…as my wife puts it.

Brittany asked if I would take a look at her notebook, Octavius.  I have heard of people naming their computers but this was my first, firsthand experience.  I do not do  repair work any longer since I am too busy with other things in life, but for friends I am always happy to see what I can do to help them out.

I asked a few questions and found the reason it stopped was that her cat walked across her keyboard.  Now, unless her cat understands computers very well I do not know how he/she could have done that.  Basically she got a black screen with text when she turned her computer on.  The largest worry about any computer doing that is that the hard drive is kaput. Not a biggie to replace, but it can be costly.

She also said her notebook was in bad shape.  Once I got it, I really got it.  She had dropped it…down the steps…several times.  The screen was hanging by a piece of plastic along with a few wires. Some of the casing was gone, duct tape functionally decorated it, and a key or two may have been missing; however, she liked it and wanted to see if I could make it work again.

Then Brittany uttered some magical words that made me jump for joy – “It wdwas a Linux computer.”  Also, she kept all of her music, videos, documents, etc. on an external drive.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Ninety-nine percent of the time when a non-geek mentions Linux, they mean that in the past someone has removed Microsoft Windows from a computer and installed Ubuntu (  Since all of her data files were on her external drive she had no worries, as long as her hard drive would boot and run.

10-21-2012 8-29-19 PMI wrote several columns last year about Ubuntu, so if you want to find out more visit my site and check them out.  But for now here is a much abbreviated description of Ubuntu.  It is a great operating system. You can perform 99% of everything you can with Windows.  Some of the best news is it is free, although they do ask for donations.

I checked her system and found that her previous Ubuntu operating system was destroyed but the hard drive was in great shape.  In less than two hours I had it up and running; the Internet, word processing, email and all the other operations working to perfection.  I returned it to her the next day. She and Octavius are now happy, I am sure the cat is ready to try again and life is good!

I would caution Brittany about two things.  The screen is going to go one day…be prepared.  Next, just in case it really was the cat, use the key combination of “Ctrl + Alt + L” and lock it down when you walk away, before your cat saunters across it again.

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