Thursday, May 29, 2008

Living in a Technical World - My New Computer

Finally, my new PC has arrived. At last, it was here and the Damn Thing could be retired---but, it wasn't about to go quietly. More on that in a moment.

On arrival---six quick days after I ordered it---I looked at the plain cardboard shipping boxes with delight. No more was I a captive of the Damn Thing. My legs tingled almost as if I was meeting B Hussein---no, it was only sciatica. The packing was neat and professional. It looked like the shipped PC and monitor could survive a tornado.

Since this was, oh about my seventh computer, I had no problem setting it up. These things come pretty much assembled these days. But, as usual, most of my time was spent trying to control the various cables so they wouldn't be a dangerous mess, rather like trying to control a Congress. I kept my old printer since I don't use it much. I downloaded a new driver and voila! It worked perfectly.

Connecting to the Internet was simple. I just connected my Comcast modem to the back of the machine and deux voila! It worked perfectly.

Next was the data transfer. Even thought both PCs have floppy drives, I didn't want to spend the rest of my life transferring data. That's why I bought Laplink's PC Mover Essentials. I wasted my money though. As noted above, the Damn Thing wasn't going easily. No matter how I tried, I couldn't get the transfer cable software working on the Damn Thing. So, being a realist, I gave up. Instead of the cable, I started using the CD drive on both machines.

I discovered my CDs were mostly R [no, not R rated; R as in one use only], and I couldn't very well do the transfer with them. Though strangely very difficult to find in most stores, I did have a couple of R/W CDs to use. I had to break up a few folders on the Damn Thing into smaller pieces, even though they were zipped.

I didn't transfer the programs if I could download new ones. For those I bought, I transferred the ownership keys, and for the most part that philosophy worked. I had trouble with a few programs but I finally got them running.

I had to swear some as usual. The Damn Thing was recalcitrant as ever. 'No CD recognized in the Drive.' What!!! There's nothing wrong with the CD. I just succesfully used it in this very drive. After some strong language and threats, a few restarts, and lots of patience [nothing new with the Damn Thing], I got it to recognize its own drive. This happened a few times during the long transfer process, but I did get it finished.

I next began working on the new PC [Vista] getting things in order. Vista is certainly different from XP, but I got the hang of it before too long. And I rather like it. In some ways it's far better than XP. In other ways it isn't. It's really a matter of becoming accustomed to it.

For example, the Control Panel is quite different in appearance, and some things are a little hard to find, as the categories aren't particularly clear. But, you can change the view to the listing or icons you had in XP. I don't see the Vista version so much as being better than as being different. Vista's Windows Explorer operates differently. Again, I don't see it so much as better than as being different. But then, some aspects of the operation of Windows is easier to use, especially in folder management. While 'moving' is sometimes a pain, 'copying' is easier.

My thumb drive operates flawlessly. But Vista won't let me move items from the E drive to the C drive or vice versa. It only allows copying. Thus I have to copy and delete when I am using it. But those tiny little buggers are great. Who needs an encryption program when you move your sensitive data to a key-sized flash drive?

My thumb drives are 4GB. I have two of them. Although Vista has a regular backup program, it only backs up to a reserved portion of the main drive [ten gigs in size.] With my thumbs [called that because they are smaller than my thumbs?] I have eight gigs in total. But these are easier to manipulate. The reserved portion of the drive uses data screens that are about fives in clarity and operation.

As for the PC, I think the drive bays are rather cheesy looking and operating. The CD drawer doesn't slide out free of the bay door. Rather like a plane with a 200' wingspan trying to leave a hangar through 150' doors. [I know. How did it get in there in the first place?] You know, the Liberal way of doing things. And the doors seem to be a chintzy, inexpensive plastic. The company logo is well constructed, though.

After everything was settled, I began to have problems. Several of my programs refused to work at all, and the Internet connection kept going off---impervious to repair attempts. After hours of cursing and swearing and playing around, I had to revert to a previous time. And trois voila! Everything was working again. I contacted the manufacturer through its website.

Service was excellent. The technicians called me [from India, but at least they called me.] We went around circles. I gave the techs operating control of my PC. I couldn't keep up with what they were doing, but they seemed to have a handle on things. I suffered from non-working DHCP and Event Service notification among other things. They got them running each time I spoke with them: Four times over three days.

They finally reloaded Windows, and decided that the modem was the problem. I was to call the cable supplier if it happened again. Sure enough, it happened again. I called Comcast and was connected to a delightful-sounding lass in Texas. It was Monday, Memorial Day. As a veteran, I should have been spending the day drinking beer and watching war movies---isn't that what many people think of us?

She couldn't find anything wrong, and she gave me the number for Microsoft as the next step. I couldn't really see an end to this thing. I didn't want a replacement computer because I had so much data. So, what to do?

I went to the Microsoft site---which is always difficult as all get-out to navigate. Anyway, after a while I found that I should be downloading Service Pack One. So, I downloaded it. I haven't had a problem since then.

So, why didn't all the techs consider that as a solution? It would have been really simple and showed that they knew what they were doing. Ah well!

Now that my new computer is up and running well, my interests are directed elsewhere. I'm working on my e-book collection, listening to music, and beginning to return to my numerous blogs. I need a PC just to keep track of them. Cleaning house, straightening house. Removing cardboard boxes and packing material. All that can wait while I play with my new toy.

My new computer is up and running. The Damn Thing is officially retired. May the force be with us!

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