There were three of them and one of me. It was fearful. Were they really inanimate and incapable of producing fear? I don’t think so! Webster’s words for inanimate are “unfeeling, lifeless, and insensate.” Listed also was “mechanical” and under that, “programmed and power-driven.”
Webster didn’t have a computer but he had vision! These babies were definitely programmed and power driven. And they were after me! Finally, something was after me. Call me crazy, but I don’t get turned on by little black boxes with screen parrots professing, “I love you, Charlie.”
In the beginning, one innocuous-looking laptop computer lounged in front of the scenic window. Our relationship went from bad to worse.
According to statistics, extended warranties are worth zero, with the exception of technical equipment. My extended service contract declared, “Performance Next Business Day, Flex Service BSC/Premier TPM from 2003 through 2007.” The salesman explained that they would come to me if anything went wrong. I expected to deal with a telephone technician for little stuff, but I thought that anything big like “crashing” would send a technician bounding to my office door with tech tools intact. Then I read the small print!
The SOB (Shamefully OBstinate) computer crashed December 24. The week before I had cleverly burned all the important stuff onto CDs (or so I thought), but with a new Power Point seminar scheduled for mid-January that wasn’t completed, I ran through my options.
Option one: I could resurrect the old 1998 desktop that had bumped and bruised its way along North America’s worst roads with me. It had a Power Point program on it.
Option two: Panic! I ordered a new desktop. I forgot they had to build it. It was due on my doorstep January 11, six days before the seminar.
Option three: I wasn’t too far from the Grand Canyon. I could do a Thelma and Louise off the cliffs and not have to deal with any of it.
Option four: Ditch all this computer stuff, take the motorhome back to beach life in Baja and return to the simple life of chipping my message on a rock!
The old desktop worked beautifully except it wouldn’t talk to the printer and rejected all my back-up CDs. It may have mentally picked up on the fact that I had recently considered putting it on the White Elephant table. The good news was that it did e-mail. Oh yes, Outlook Express. I suddenly realized that neither the business nor the important personal e-mail, along with the Quicken financial entries, had been backed up.
The holiday passed and I contacted the technical department. The lady determined that the problem was an expired hard drive. She said, “When you receive it, I will call and help you install it.” Moiré? Install a hard drive? Surely you jest. She assured me I could do it. She obviously did not know my history.
It arrived and she called as promised. Apropos for New Year’s Day, with one screw and a Phillips screwdriver, it was out with the old and in with the new.
Everything worked fine as long as she was on the line. When I later tried to load the back-up CDs, it was no go! I only briefly contemplated the Thelma and Louise option again! North Ranch computer guru Alan Moline couldn’t get the laptop to load the CDs either. He did, however, with his equipment, resurrect the missing Outlook Express and Quicken files from the old hard drive.
A family situation took precedence and when I finally phoned Tech Support again, I started at the beginning. This time I was on the phone for several hours and at 11:30 p.m., I finally said “Enough.” I have no problem with technicians in India or the Philippines getting whatever job they can get but I have this profound need to understand the person with whom I am working. I am already technically challenged so combining a cultural language barrier with a computer language barrier creates an exasperating situation. These people were very knowledgeable and infinitely patient but when I asked them to slow their speaking so I could understand them, they spoke louder!
I was in denial for several days. The shiny new desktop arrived earlier than expected. Now three computers and three mice inhabited my office. Is it any wonder I felt trapped? I loaded the necessities and finished my Reno seminar.
But, back to the laptop. This time when I finally reached a human being, however accented, I explained I no longer had the time nor patience to spend hours with a telephone technician. I wanted someone to physically come, as per the warranty, and make the laptop work. This brought a Tennessee technician online who explained they would not send anyone until the computer proved unfixable via telephone. Option 3…
She determined the continuing problem was “probably” the CD drive. This time with great confidence and my trusty Phillips, I had the CD drive replaced as soon as it arrived. The laptop loaded and cooperated.
Now it is a matter of personalities. The same manufacturer produced them, but Laptop sneers at youthful New Desktop. New Desktop sneers at Laptop knowing it will be the one going “on the road” in the spring. Old Desktop sneers at both of them from his cozy black and white box, marked “Security.” He’s out to pasture until the next crisis. And you never know what will happen with three mice in close quarters.
As Laptop and New Desktop and I finally settle into 2005, we merrily hum, “Hi Ho the Derry-o, the Farmer in the…”
For information about six RV-related books written by Sharlene Minshall, see www.full-time-rver.com. Send questions or comments to email@example.com.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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