My War with Inspiron-One

My last post went into some detail about problems with my new computer…my late, lamented computer. Alas, it has been (or soon will be) returned to the dust from which it came.

My two Guardian Angels, Larry and Joe, are likely sorry they ever applied for the job. But they have become so crucial to my safety in the enigmatic world of Computerdom, they are snared. I have even endowed them with names: Guardian Angel Larry, and Guardian Angel Joe. As I am given to abbreviating everything possible, I assigned them acronyms. But that took some work. Larry S initially became GA (for Guardian Angel) L. But as GAL didn’t seem appropriate for such a manly man, I tried GAS. That, of course is even worse. It dawned that these were electronic guardians, so I tried EGAL, and that seemed to suggest egalitarian, an entirely acceptable name.

Now GAJ (or even EGAJ) is virtually unpronounceable, so Joe B became EGAB, which is eminently appropriate as Joe holds a total of five academic degrees, one of which is a PhD, so he tends to explain things in great detail (failing to realize that 90% of it sails right over my head).

Now to the third member of the triumvirate…namely, me. I have traipsed to EGAL’s office so many times, I began to feel like the proverbial bad penny showing up at awkward times. After a month of this, I was the badest of the bad, so that naturally meant I was a zinc penny. I speak of that coin issued during WWII when copper was a vital war material. The government solved the shortage problem by issuing a zinc penny, surely the ugliest and least desired of all coins. So to my mind, that was the badest. (Forget the fact that numismatics seem to covet the thing nowadays.) So, I became the Zinc Penny.

To recount the situation briefly, through EGAL’s and EGAB’s good offices, I purchased an all-in-one computer with all the bells and whistles just over a month ago. It took hours upon hours to set it up, all of us working diligently to install this, update that, and customize the other. By all of us, I mean EGAL and EGAB. I sat nearby barely comprehending where I was, much less what was going on.

Then the problems started. Display Driver failures. Screens jumping, momentary freezing of all activity. Then the attacks became more personal:

Occasionally, when I hit Control+S, my independent-minded machine would reply with a snarky message that I had “insufficient memory or disk space, and Word cannot display the requested font.” Well, buster, you lie! I didn’t request a font, and besides, this is a 1T, 8 Gig system, so no way was it full to the brim.

Well, Inspiron-One (we’ll call him I-One from now on) retaliated by blanking out my weather and time gadget (that’s what they call it, really). Do you have any idea how helpless you are when you know neither the time nor the temperature?

I returned from a dinner break to find the computer frozen. And I mean frozen. Nothing would work. Not even that extreme measure Control+ALT+Delete. I-One didn’t even blink. He just sat there and stared back at me. (By the way, I’m convinced that tiny camera aperture at the top of the machine isn’t for my convenience. It’s to let the blessed thing spy on me). So I just turned the stubborn computer off. Except it wouldn’t turn off. Angered because I was certain I-One was gloating, I pressed the off button and held it down while I uttered a few epitaths. That fixed the sucker. He gave up and died.

Yesterday morning, EGAL called me down to the office. When EGAB and I walked in, I-One sat there smirking at me. Now you have to understand that my background image is a black and white photo of my late mother when she was in her twentiesor thirties. So it’s extremely disconcerting when I-One uses her to do his smirking. I turned away and didn’t cast an eye his way again.

EGAL explained that he had spent two hours working with people in Dell to electronically examine every part of that sassy piece of hardware and concluded it was perfect. Not only that, he was sure the Word program was perfect. Now had it been me on that phone call, I would have folded my hand and accepted a lifetime of adversarial conflict with a machine that hated me.

EGAL is made of sterner stuff. He reminded them of one thing: That perfect piece of hardware wouldn’t interface with that perfect piece of software. Ergo, we wanted our money back.

I am now awaiting the delivery of a newer model of the Del All-in-One computer. I earnestly pray it is a kinder, gentler version.

Thanks for reading.

 

Donald T.

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Computers … The New “Indoor Plumbing”

Computers are the new “indoor plumbing,” at least in the sense they are gadgets that started out as a luxuries and grew into absolute necessities. I am a writer, so I need some method of putting words on paper. My handwriting has become illegible…even to me…so another way had to be found to accomplish this goal. I no longer have my Remington typewriter (and wouldn’t have the patience to erase or white-out errors), so what was a luxury (the computer) has now become an abject necessity. Therefore, as a twentieth-century man trapped in a twenty-first century world, I’ve given in and allowed “indoor plumbing” into my life.

A few weeks ago, my computer began sending signals it was ailing. In fact, it underwent an “out of body experience,” meaning that it died for a short period. It did not share with me the wonder of that happening, so I don’t know whether or not it encountered the electronic equivalent of the “bright, white light,” but it certainly left me fretful and feeling exposed. So I decided to buy another computer and use the ailing machine as a backup. After all, it only costs money, right?

Wrong. My machine was delivered last Tuesday afternoon, and I went over to pick it up Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. to discover it has other costs…time. I haven’t done a lick of writing since Tuesday night until the moment I started this post. And were it not for two angels named Larry and Joe, I’d be more of a puddle of quivering jelly than I am. Neither of these gentlemen look very angelic, but appearances can be deceiving. They volunteered their time and efforts to get my new device (a Dell Inspiron One in all 9 GB, 1T HD, 2305 with a Windows 7 platform and Office 2013) up and running. For you neophytes let me explain those technical terms: It is a computer; it looks pretty sitting on my desk; and it does what it needs to do. That’s as technical as I get.

Reality set in early (and hard) right after I arrived at Larry’s office last Wednesday morning to find Windows was telling us they had 121 updates to install before we (read Larry and Joe) could do anything else. One-hundred-twenty-one updates translates into three and one half hours. Even then I was too obtuse to see what was headed down the pike. Larry and Joe likely began the morning thinking they were dealing with a halfway intelligent individual, but they were rapidly coming to revise that assessment.

“What’s your default driver, Don?”

“Driver?”

“You know, Internet Explorer, Modzilla…that sort of thing.”

“Well, I usually use AOL.”

(A well-hidden sigh of exasperation.) “Yes, but who do you use to drive that.”

“I use that little circle that’s colored red and green and yellow.

“You mean Chrome?”

“Yeah that’s it. Chrome. Or it could be Google.”

“Chrome is Google.” (“You dummy” was inferred).

Next we engaged in a game I call “User Names and Passwords.” I’m sure it’s a game, but I have yet to figure out how you win it. Of course, I was of no help to our team. My passwords were back at home, and who can remember that many secret codes?

“You don’t store them on the Cloud?”

I quelled an urge to ask what the “Cloud” was and shook my head, suspecting that my standing with these guys was slipping fast. This was confirmed when I offered to buy lunch for the three of us.

“Not really a lunch kind of guy,” came the reply. Translation: “I wouldn’t be caught dead in public with you.”

But I’ll give them credit. They suffered through a bunch more “I don’t knows” from me and eventually sent me home with the computer around 5:00 p.m. I don’t believe the expressions on their faces said “Dummy” any longer. They read more like “Dolt” and “Dodo.”

Of course, there were more fiascoes once the thing was plugged in and sitting on my desk, but that’s enough for today. While I have no problem exposing my ignorance and ineptitude when it comes to things electronic (and mechanical, when it comes down to it), I’m not interested in convincing everyone I’m totally useless. After all, we each have a purpose in life…even if it is to serve as a horrible example.

In all seriousness, thanks so much to those two guys for working so hard for me. If it wouldn’t embarrass them to be associated with me, I’d tell the world their last names. As it is, they’ll remain Larry and Joe, two unlikely but genuine angels.

Thanks for reading.

 

Donald T.