Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Self-Destructing in 3.....2......

I have a love-love relationship with computers. I love them when they are working and I'd love to take a sledgehammer to them when they aren't.  As you might have already guessed, with this kind of relationship my luck with computers has generally been not so wonderful.

That streak continued on the Friday before Thanksgiving when my computer self-destructed.  I got up that morning and pushed the power button to start the computer up.  I saw the blue light blink itself awake and heard the fan start up.  Knowing my computer would take the better part of 30 minutes to completely power up, I stepped back into the kitchen and made myself breakfast.

Yes, I know.  For a computer to take 30 minutes to boot up means my computer was having issues, however, I really didn't want to think about having to purchase a new system.  No, I was quite happy to keep my head firmly implanted deep in the sand and just think of my computer as getting old and a smidge persnickety.  In reality, it was a worn out bucket of bolts so antiquated it was starting to fossilize.

I took the computer in for repairs and they discovered the motherboard, graphics cards, power supply, cooling fan, and external ports, were all toast.  The computer had self-destructed.  The techs looked at me with great sadness and said "Ma'am, we're sorry, but it's gone.  It's not cost-effective to replace every single part of the computer".

It was like losing a pet. I was stunned and sad.  I really thought it just needed a new power supply or graphics card.  They told me they could recycle the computer but the thought of leaving it with strangers to be torn apart was just too difficult of a decision to make right then.  I carried my computer ever so carefully out of the store, gently placed it in my car, and sighed so many times my children stroked my back and told me it would all be ok.

Never having been one to willingly embrace the changes in technology, the thought of having to research and learn what the best processors, graphics cards, memory, and operating systems are was just too daunting, if not flat-out overwhelming.  The computer and tech companies seem to launch some new gadget every week.  How am I, just a normal non-tech saavy person, supposed to learn all of this information, retain it, and be able to converse with the highly tech-saavy salespeople in the computer stores and not look like a moron?

Determined to do right by my old computer, and with the theme from Rocky playing in the background, the first thing I did was do some research online.  There was so much information on the web with so many reviews, it made my brain hurt. With all of this information swirling around in my brain to the point that I didn't know "sick-'em" from "come here", I decided that the best course of action was to go to Sam's Club where there's never a salesperson to wait on you and read the little info cards they have attached with each computer system.  I wanted to see if I could attach all the information swirling around in my head with an affordable computer system.

As I walked around Sam's I was getting so overwhelmed that I was ready to give up.  It was then that I decided it was time to bring in the big guns.  I was going to use my "phone-a-friend" life line.  Thankfully my friend is also a redhead, so he understands my eccentricities and knew to expect a vast array of questions......... and I'm sure I lived up to my redheadedness by driving him nuts with the five million questions I asked.

He quickly (although I'm pretty sure he would say "quickly" is not exactly accurate since it took me the better part of a week to settle on a computer) compartmentalized everything which was wandering aimlessly around in my head.  With great confidence......... and my cell phone in-hand so I could text him instantly ....... I walked into the computer store.  I was approached by the computer salesman and with a condescending smile he asked "So, do we know what we are looking for today?".

*Rant:  Starting off a conversation with a redhead, especially one which involves you making a sale from my tight-fisted little hand, and which begins with a condenscending attitude, will almost always get you a bit of redheaded attitude smacked upside your ignorant head. *End Rant

I replied, "Well.... if you are buying little old me a computer today, then I'd have to defer to what you think is best.  But, if you aren't actually purchasing me a computer and you are actually trying to make a sale and thus are asking me if I know what I am looking for, then yes, I do have an idea as to what I am interested in.  The question now is whether you actually know what I am looking for.".

I had picked up the gauntlet he had thrown down and slapped him across the face with it, signifying I did indeed understand some of today's technology and wouldn't need to be led around by the hand............ my friend had already been generous enough to do that in a very kind and patient manner, thank you very much.  The salesman then asked me what I was looking for specifically.

I smiled inside as I watched the expression change on his face as I said ever so sweetly, "I'm looking for a system which has ......" and spouted off all of the components I needed.  When I got to the end of my list, his eyebrows were raised and his condescending attitude had turned to one of respectfulness.  He immediately started showing me systems which had most of the components I asked for. 

He also tried to talk me into buying a new touch-screen monitor to go with the tower.  I explained to him that while that state-of-the-art technology is really nifty, as a photographer, having fingerprints on a monitor is not conducive to production as it will generally mean I try to clone out dirt spots on a photo for 10 minutes before realizing it's a smudge on the monitor and not the photo. Touchscreen technology and photography just do not mix for me right now.  In the end, the system the store had which would have met my needs was out of stock.

A lot of stores later (and many more text messages to my friend - bless his heart for not going insane with my hundreds of questions), I found a good computer.  Unfortunately, it came with Windows 8, which is a far cry from the Windows Vista operating system that I'd been using for the past 5 1/2 years.  Yes, Vista was a dinosaur but it was easy to learn! It has taken me the better part of 2 weeks to figure out Windows 8 enough to use it more than just to check my Facebook account, and it took me 2 days just to learn how to do that!

Yes, new technology is a beast to understand for those of us who are not quite tech saavy.  But, I now have a new computer (pictured at the top of the post) which is up and running in under a minute, and one I am hoping will last me another 5 years so I don't have to go back through all this mind-numbing tech-speak for quite some time.  But, I do have to admit that while Windows 8 was terrible, my computer just updated to the new Windows 8.1 and I like it.  Yes, it has a learning curve, but it's really, really cool.  I guess new technology isn't all bad.......... it's just the process of understanding it, purchasing it, and learning how to use it that can do you in.

Christie Bielss

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