Saturday, June 16, 2007

More Computer Woes

Ugh... computers are supposed to make life easier, right?


Okay, I'll admit, I'd rather work on a computer than have to type - simply because I tend to type fast, which leads to plenty of typos. I used to use a typewriter, and I spent a small fortune on white out ribbon and liquid. It was always the same - no problem until the last line on the page. Then... ooops!

So, like most other writers out there, I bought a computer. A desktop dinosaur that lasted three years before it died. Then, I was getting serious about pursuing publication, so my next purchase was a Sony Vaio laptop. It was a good machine, but the hard drive was only 15 gig. At the time, that must have been big, because I don't know why else I'd have bought that particular machine.

However, a 15 gig hard drive is now laughably tiny. I started getting low disk space messages. I went in and removed every program that I absolutely did not need. No difference. It had two separate hard drives, and the D drive was laughably empty - it's where I stored all of my WIPs, notes, etc. And it ws four-fifths empty. Only trouble was, I couldn't get programs to run from it. Nope. C Drive only, baby. And no way to bridge them. I did ask my computer guy about three months ago, still waiting for his answer. I'm on the prowl for a new computer guy.

So, I came to the realization that the Vaio was now also a dinosaur. Damn shame, as it still works wonderfully, aside from having about 2mb of space left on the C Drive. I sucked it up, and bought a Toshiba laptop. A wireless laptop. With a camera and microphone. Woo hoo! I'm movin' up in the computer world.

I bought the new machine in May. I had a certain squad from a certain big-box electronics place optimize it. I bought a top-of-the-line antivirus package. Bought Microsoft Office. Got everything set up, tranferred files, all oh-so-smoothly.

That should've been my first clue.

Within about two days, I got this error message. Screen turned blue. Couldn't get out of the error message except to pull the battery and power cord out (go ahead and wince, I know that's not the best way to shut down, but there was no other choice. I tried escape, I tried Control-Alt-Delete. I tried the I-win button - which is the power button for those you lucky enough to avoid any and all computer problems.).

You'd think I'd have taken the machine right back. Nope. Not me. Figured maybe it was just a kink in the system that needed to be worked out.

Ah, if only.

Over the course of three weeks, the same message popped up no less than 6 times. On the last one, I got mad (oy) and called the certain squad from a certain big-box electronics place. The guy was very polite and thought I had gotten a virus (how the #%!! does that happen, when I have the anit-virus packagae that they recommended???). When I asked, he couldn't tell me. But he did assure me that I could not fix it myself. Uh-huh. I could if he walked me through it.

Turns out that's not an option.

He proceeds to tell me that he can send a squad-dude to my house to diagnose the problem. For $150.


Yes- I would have to pay to fix a problem on a machine that was 3 weeks old.

I don't think so.

I told him that was insane. If I buy a car, and the engine seizes, I'm sure as hell not paying them to fix it. He understood, he assured me, but that's what it would be. Didn't matter that the computer was 3 weeks old. I was getting the luxury of an at-home visit.

I don't think so.

I told him, flat-out, it was unacceptable, especially when they were the ones who supposedly optimized the system. Now, if that's optimization, I'll take a pass. I can screw it up on my own, thank you very much.

Nope. Not paying to fix something that shouldn't have broken in the first place. Did I mention the machine was 3 weeks old? I told the guy I wasn't doing that. I would go up to the squad in the certain big-box electronics place. Fine, he said, but it'll still cost you.

We'll see about that.

So, I pack up the Boy and the Girl, and the machine (grrr) and off we go. I stand in line, while the Girl amuses the Boy by spinning his stroller in circles. When it's my turn, I go to squad guy (who, as luck would have it, was the squad supervisor. Aha! Something working in my favor. The last time I had to fight with this store, I left the salesguy in tears. And returned gift cards, which they claim they don't do. They do if you're angry enough and loud enough. Trust me.)

Anyhoo, I explain my problem and tell him what squad-guy-on-phone said. Without batting an eye, supervisio-guy tells me that the machine is damaged and they'll swap it out. Apparently, when it was optimized, they didn't remove the already-installed antivirus program. When the new one was installed, they battled each other and damaged the system. Now, I'll admit that's not a technical description, but it's close enough.

I take broken machine home to remove all my stuff (sigh, I had it just right, too!), and I take it back yesterday to exchange it. Get it home, spend forever getting it up to snuff. I had to get a credit from Microsoft to replace the Office package I lost. I had to reload the antivirus (after taking off the old one). Had to transfer bookmarks, change the desktop, redownload Office.

It took me until two o'clock this morning.

If anything goes wrong now, it won't matter where you are - you will see the mushroom cloud and hear the sonic boom.

In short - how did that make my life easier? Yes, I don't have to retype entire pages, but I'd rather do that, than lose them altogether.

No - not entirely true. At least not yet. If anything goes wrong with this machine, though, I might just explode.

Wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed.

1:28pm update- just finished fighting with the anti-virus. Tried loading my already purchased copy on the new machine. Nope. Can't do it. Already in use. Grrr... turns out I had to put in a different You think they'd tell you that you're using the wrong one. NOPE.

So, I think we're ok now. Please, keep your fingers crossed for me. I'm ready to set my hair on fire...

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