Last week, I went to the Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM), and this year they were in San Diego. It was a great time!

I had five job interviews (three of which appeared to be semifinalist interviews), got to talk about summer research in contract bridge, and got to see some of my former colleagues from undergraduate and graduate school.

But what’s with the other three letters: SOD? Let’s go back two years.

Two years ago, the JMM were in Seattle, and the meetings were earlier than this year based on the run of the calendar. I had planned, on the flight, to use my computer to look over my presentation, as well as to do some journal transcription.

Well, on that flight, I opened up my computer, and the following appeared:

Black screen of death.jpg

A black “DOS” screen that says “No bootable device — Please restart system.”

Upon restarting the system, it gave me the same error message, which meant that I was a victim of the BLACK  SCREEN OF DEATH (BSOD). Yes, so that’s where the SOD in my title comes from.

What happened, as I found out when taking my computer into a repair shop near the hotel: my hard drive catastrophically failed within the couple of hours that I had last turned on the computer! I was lucky because of the following:

  • I had a safe jump drive that had the source code for my presentation on said drive.
  • I had backed up the contents of my computer before leaving (since back in 2014, I lost a week of progress after my computer’s motherboard overheated and failed)
  • I had a roommate that had TeX on his computer so that I could compile the source code.

I paid a lot to get a hard drive replacement that also did not have an activated version of Windows, which cost me extra money to activate. That was an expensive situation, and maybe I should have just bought a new computer instead.

(I am still using that computer, two years later, but I think it is on its last legs. It’s the computer that this post is being typed on.)

Fast forward to this year. I brought a small Acer laptop that my parents gave me as a hand-me-down from the office. It had no problems on the trip, and so I was not in technological hell. I guess that was also one of the reasons why the talks organizer wanted us to e-mail our talks to him at least a day ahead of time… to prevent another debacle like what I had two years ago. (They’re quite clairvoyant…)

I got home today, and both of my personal computers were working fine. But I go into the office, boot up my work computer, and get now the BLUE screen of death…


So I took THAT computer to the library, and Ed (our technology expert) got my computer running again… evidently it was a complication from a certain update. Go figure… he was able to get the computer running by reverting to a restore point from before I left for the conference. (Additionally, all of the data on that computer is also backed up to a brick.)

Never trust the updates… and evidently I can’t trust computers anymore within a short period of going to math conferences by air!

(I know that twice is merely a coincidence, though…)


Fourth Quarter: 23 days

Lincoln: 47 days (possibly give a day or two)

פסח: ע”ד יום (Passover: 74 days)

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