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Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Valuable Lesson Learned.

I have never used a Mac computer, except when I was a little kid and we had these perfectly square little Apple computers whose sole purpose was SimCity and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. Back then, we didn't use computers for learning. That's how old I am. (You can imagine our surprise when Oregon Trail came out [on thirty five gigantic floppy disks] and we started learning how to catch virtual fish on a virtual pond in the middle of a virtual prairie. Damn educational games anyway.)

So when I bought my new laptop, I knew I didn't want a Mac. No sirree bub - it had to be a PC, because my learning curve is pretty much flat and I didn't want to learn how to use a new operating system.

All new computers (PCs, I mean) come with this spiffy little operating system called Windows Vista. Vista had computer geeks in an uproar before it even came out, and since I happen to associate with computer geeks, I heard over and over how terrible Vista was. "But why exactly is it terrible?" I would ask, and I'd invariably get the same two replies: "It asks permission for everything" and "It's very unstable."

Well. I don't care about something asking permission. In fact, I'd prefer that. I am the type to get possessive over Oatmeal Creme Pies - why should my computer files be any exception? And "unstable?" Psh. I might be slightly unstable myself, and I've never blown up or froze up or stopped working entirely just because of a little imbalance. Being unstable is no big deal.

I, however, am not a computer operating system. Turns out, an unstable operating system is a very big deal.

So I got my new computer in November, and right away, I loved Windows Vista. It has the nicest interface, and it's unbelievably user-friendly. "Wow," I thought, "this is great! Those computer geeks don't know anything."

And so it went for months, until last Thursday, when my anti-virus program ran out. There was a trial installed on the computer when I got it, and I knew it was going to expire, so I downloaded a new one - a free trial of an otherwise "highly recommended" program called NOD32 by ESET. All the geeks I talked to said NOD32 was the best program to install on Vista, because it caught a lot of stuff and didn't use a lot of system resources. But before shelling out a bunch of money for a program I had never heard of, I decided to use the 30 day free trial and buy it if I liked it.

It downloaded fine, but then all hell broke loose. My system became, as the computer geeks had warned me, wildly unstable. Unstable is actually kind of an understatement - the whole friggen thing was fried. I couldn't even log on, not even in safe mode. Then it would let me on for a second but immediately break down. When I could log on, it wouldn't do anything - I could click and click till my hand went numb (and it nearly did) but nothing would open, not even the start menu.

I knew I needed professional help, so the first place I called was Dell, since it's under warranty. Forty minutes later and I hadn't talked to anyone, but a voice did reassure me every thirty seconds that if I needed help right away, I could go online to dell dot com forward slash support and use their live chat. Even if my computer was working, I would never use live chat, because all live chat is, is some guy in India with a copy of the FAQ.

Finally I got someone on the line. He wasn't American, but his name was Walter (seriously, guys. When you're picking your fake American name, pick one that makes you sound like you know something about computers, like Ned or Philbert. People named Walter tie flies and have barbecue aprons that say Kiss the Cook. They do not work on computers.)

I told "Walter" the problem. He looked up my "Express Service Code" - the one that's supposed to get me faster tech support - and verified that yes indeedy, I am the owner and sure enough, it's still under warranty. Then he informed me that I needed to talk to tech support (no shit!) and put me on hold again.

Ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes tick by, and finally I hang up the phone. At this point I wish I had a regular phone, not a cordless, so I could slam it down. (But you better believe I pressed the "Off" button really, really hard.)

Then I looked in the phone book for the most legit looking computer place, and I called them, and they said bring it in. So I did, and the guy found out was wrong with it, and it's only going to cost me eighty dollars. But, I get a real antivirus program included in that eighty dollars, so I mean, I guess it's a deal.

The worst part of all of this is, I can't tell anyone. If I tell my nerd friends they will all laugh and say "I told you so!" and "You should be using Linux if you really want to get anything done" and "Why didn't you just buy a Mac?"

Shut up. Just shut up.


iMommy said...

This cracks me up. I would have been one of those geeks.

I have Vista now, and so far so good for nearly a year. When I bought it I used LifeHacker's (and a few other sites) guide to cleaning it up and tweaking it so it isn't as annoying and unstable.

Having a hubby in IT and now being in IT helps, of course.

Hope it's working soon!!

Lisa said...

Sorry Ninja Mom. We have a Mac. Well, we have 3 Macs if I'm being honest. And my hubby is a geek who likes to tinker with computers, so I have never had a problem like this. HOWEVER, my work computer is not a Mac and it's a giant piece of old slow shit. We call IT for that.