Monday, February 12, 2007

Technical Difficulties.

thYou might have noticed I’ve been silent this week. I didn’t even put up a rerun, which is my usual last resort when I can’t think of a thing to say and the idea of blogging about my hit counter and which search-phrases have driven people here starts to sound like a good idea.

[This was a good idea about three years ago. Now that every single blog writer has covered it, and every entertaining thing has been said about it, the “Hit counter/Search engine” topic needs to be erased from this earth. Now.]

My recent silence was due to a situation beyond my control: we upgraded the computer, ergo the computer rarely works.

I’m no babe in the woods when it comes to these Pentium-infused devils. I knew any attempts to improve its temper would cause the computer to grow sullen and refuse to communicate with us. This is why every time, upon starting the computer and the little window would pop up, offering me upgrades, I would smartly smack it down. No sense borrowing trouble. This Popping-up/Smacking-down dance went on for a while, during which time the computer ran slower. Then slower. Then slower still. By last week it was moving at the same speed as a Rambler station wagon pulling a trailer of cinderblocks up Lombard Street in San Francisco.

We had long before stopped trying to run more than two big programs at once. Now I would unconsciously cross my fingers whenever I opened Quicken. If you rolled your chair the wrong way, the screen would freeze, at which point whoever was working would start swearing and stabbing at keys. The other member of the house would drift in and say unhelpful things like, “…I told you, it doesn’t like it when you open Outlook after it’s been on for over an hour…” Or “…You should have known better than to open a Word file when you were already printing something...”

We had gone beyond identifying with the oppressor. We were building it a church.

Luckily, Consort had another computer coming home for work purposes and with this computer came some tech support in the form of a tall, quiet and competent young woman. It was decided she would take a look at the invalid. Perhaps, I thought, she’d fix it so the computer could get through printing five pages in less than an hour. She sat down, started it up, and up popped my old friend, Mr. Do you want me to install upgrades?. I waited for her to smack it down but instead, she clicked it. A full screen of text came up. She turned in the chair and faced me.

“Have you been installing the upgrades?”

Something in her tone told me she wasn’t about to commend me on my restraint.

“Um,” I gulped. “No. Because, um, I thought they’d cause problems and I couldn’t figure out which upgrades we needed…”

“You need all of them,” she answered shortly, turning back to the screen and tapping a few more keys. She turned back, barely concealing her amazement.

“Is it possible you haven’t upgraded in two years?”

“I’ll be waiting in the kitchen,” I whispered.

When it comes to appliances, electronics and cars, I believe firmly in the theory of benign neglect. I hope someday to find a single instance where it works out.

Eight hours later, our computer was shiny and upgraded to the cyber-teeth. There were fancy new buttons on the screen when I went online which apparently did the same things as my old buttons only…better. Or faster. Or in a more aesthetically soothing way.

I was a little vague on what this humungous upgrade had gotten us besides a computer which could run programs and print things, sometimes even at the same time! I was part of the modern age! Someone get my jet pack!

The first crash came within an hour. I was writing an email when the entire screen went blank. If the earlier incarnation of the computer was gradually sinking into physical decay while keeping its wits about it, this was sudden senescence in a body trained for the Olympics. When things fell apart now, they fell apart at this new marvelous speed. Why, who could have imagined living in such a time where your entire database of email addresses could disappear within three seconds? This was indeed progress.

Tall computer woman was brought back. With only a few voodoo chants and a sacrificed goat she was able to revive our email. I made the mistake of asking her what had happened. Confusing me for someone who understands such things, she gave me a detailed account of her labors until she noticed I had become transfixed by a spider-web in the corner.

“Long story short: your computer stopped recognizing you had an email account.”

It stopped recognizing it? Had the email account suddenly put on a hat? No, it had not, but my upgraded computer is now an Intel-powered Baby Huey, all strength and very little sense. It’s constantly forgetting programs mid-usage, closing them and stomping off to kick Outlook in the drivers.

At least twice a day, it up and forgets what its Internet connection looks like and decides we’re offline. Through trial and error, we’ve determined the only way to get it to recognize how it is online is to unplug the wireless router, wait three minutes, and then plug it back in. If that doesn’t work, we do it again and again until it does or until we give up and actually call the person we’re trying to reach on the phone.

And what did the computer tech suggest? That was her suggestion.

As my friends who have worked the 12 steps tell me: we cannot take care of tomorrow; we can only work on right now. Of course, they’re trying not to drink Johnny Black or snort rails off the belly of a stripper. Me? I’m just trying to put up a blog. But I do take some comfort in staying in the present. Right now I am online. Right now the computer isn’t rejecting something as foreign and eating it.

Right now I am finishing a blog entry.

Wish me luck.


Blogger houseband00 said...

Hi Quinn,

I must commend you for resisting the upgrades for two whole years.

I'm amazed! =)

1:12 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

Oh no... You just had to post that mere days before I commit to brain surgery on my own beige box this weekend, didn't you? Being the eternal optimist, I'll say that maybe your system there is just still in its own recovery, catching up on the last two years of upgrade freedom, and will soon wow you with windows willing to open without locking up...

Would you also like to know the color of the sky on my planet?

Anyway, best of luck to that blog entry thing. Happy Tuesday to you.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Quinn,
Love your blog.
Ever think about getting a nice shiny new computer? Like a new mac?

11:53 AM  
Blogger Bobby D. said...

You know, I'd love to be standing on the sidewalk on Lombard Street when that Rambler inches by, pulling that load of cinderblocks. I really enjoy that sort of thing.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Melodee said...

Oh, I feel your pain. My motherboard died in a power surge a few storms back. That's why I have a bright shiny bottom-of-the-line Dell laptop now.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

computer: 1
Quinn: 0
'nuff said.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn...I thought you were describing a typical night in my acts up...I respond in an all-knowing almighty doesn't ends up being my fault for not updating. Thanks so much for your blog. It gives me a good laugh every single time.

Todd in LA

6:42 PM  
Blogger cathy said...

thanks quinn, i was thinking about clicking on that upgrade thingy but i believe i'll just leave it alone!! all the kids who used to fix my screw-ups have finished high school and gone away to college. i need to wait til summer break to do anything that might cause mine to just forget! i do enough of that all on my own!

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First let me say I love your blog. It's the only one I read on a regular basis that I show other people ("You gotta read this. . .")

Second: next time my Mac freezes--which it does maybe 2-3 times a year (and I haven't upgraded it since I bought it two and a half years ago)--I'll come back and re-read this. Thanks :-)

7:18 AM  
Blogger Jay Six said...

I've gotten to the point where I do everything I can from the work computer and then come home, have a cup of tea, put on some Enya, talk softly to the nice shiny box and see if I can check my Hotmail. Oh, and thanks for the book recommendation - Covering should arrive from Amazon sometime next week! It will no doubt inspire more soapbox posts...

2:11 PM  
Blogger Amanda and SuperAmanda™ said...

Hi Quinn,
Great blog. My disc drive broke by my own hand a few days after I got my Xp dream puter so I never was able to install Norton or Word. Now I wait and wonder what it's digesting and when it's going to dump my great American Novel from my blogger account...

9:41 PM  
Blogger Cheeseslave said...

That was hilarious. I laughed out loud several times. I'm going to add your blog to my Google home page.

Ann Marie

PS: You need to get a Mac.

PS2: Am now lecturing Seth about the importance of wearing a seatbelt at all times, thanks to your gruesome prom story.

3:47 PM  

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