Friday, July 24, 2009

A Dead PC and a Happy Ending in Computerland

Before we left on our road trip to Missouri and Minnesota I made one of my weekly backups of my pc. Ever since my pc was stolen several years ago I have been religious about creating backups. I use the Windows File and Settings Transfer Wizard, so that if my pc dies I can easily use the backup to transfer everything to my new computer. Or so I thought.

Part of the way into our trip I wrote a blog post, but didn’t actually post it, since I wanted to use some pictures I had taken during the trip. I figured I would post it as soon as we got back.

The day after we returned my pc died. The video driver had been failing for some time, but I could always get it to boot up after a failure. I figured that I would live with the inconvienience until it was completely dead. I didn’t want to spend the money on a new pc before I absolutely had to.

But now it had really bit the dust. It wouldn’t boot and Sony couldn’t help me. There were both good and bad things about the timing. Since my last backup had been before the trip I would lose everything I had done since then. That meant that one blog post was gone, plus a couple of other miscellanious items that were only important to my compulsiveness (I lost some entries in the running log, ha). Almost everything was SOMEWHERE though, and with a little effort could be restored. Most of the running entries were still in my GPS watch. The pictures that weren’t already backed up were still on my camera. All I had really lost was that blog entry.

The next step was to figure out what kind of pc to buy. Daniel adores his Lenovo, so I thought, why not? They had a little one (3.5 pounds) with a long-lasting battery and lots of storage and power for less than a $1000 so I ordered it online and proceeded to wait patiently the 5 business days that it would take for it to ship.

After a pc-less weekend (I can read my email on my phone, but its NOT the same!) I woke Monday morning to a message from Lenovo – my order had been cancelled due to “fraud” on my credit card! I called Lenovo, but couldn’t get them to resubmit the order until the fraud flag was removed. I called Citicard and they said there was no record of any fraud AND no record of a charge to Lenovo either! Hmmm. I called Lenovo back and told them basically to stuff it. But I still needed a new computer – asap. What to do?

This is where this story gets JUST a little twisted. I have been drawn to Macs for years. I like Sarah’s; I like our Mac mini that we use with the TV. Why not get a Mac? I took myself down to the Apple Store and met with one of their sales guys. First disapointment was that they don’t really have standard power and storage-capable Macs that are lightweight. Oh well; the basic Macbook would meet my needs, and cost just about the same as the Lenovo pc. However, I had to spring for the Mac version of Office. No biggie. The other problem was that my file and transfer settings backup wouldn’t work if my new computer was a Mac. But I called a couple of computer professionals and found someone that thought he could get the data off of my hard-drive for me.

I brought the Mac home and booted it up. You know…its one thing to use someone’s Mac on a vacation to read your email, its very different to start using it as your main computer, trying to figure out how to reinstall all your software, etc. I was proceeding slowly, but I was proceeding. Then Lee came home. And tried to get on the internet. And tried to print something. My Mac had knocked everything else off of our wireless router.

Long story short…a Linksys wireless router has problems coordinating between pcs and Macs. We could probably have solved the problem by getting another type of router (apparently Netgear routers don’t have this problem). But instead I decided to admit defeat and returned the Mac.

Now what? I was definitely ready to own a computer again. It was getting late, but we decided to go to Best Buy and hopefully end this saga. Which we did. What did I buy? No surprise really – another Sony Vaio. This one is white and really sleek and nice-looking. Lots of hard-drive, memory and speed – your standard pc has become ridiculously powerful. No, its not lightweight and the battery isn’t long-life, alas. But it is quiet, and doesn’t heat up like my old Vaio did.
The biggest drawback is that the operating system is the 64-bit version of Vista. This means that almost none of the drivers for my devices worked. My phone now only syncs to my computer via Bluetooth (which is actually very slick). Garmin (my watch) found the correct driver for me, as did the printer, and itunes. The camera editing software doesn’t seem to care – we’ll see what happens when I plug in the camera and try to upload my pictures. I apparently I have a free upgrade to Windows 7 when it comes out in October.

As for my backup, well it worked, sort of. It was able to transfer my files, but the settings were lost going from XP to Vista. I’ll live.

Well, I owe this blog a bunch of posts – our road trip, Sarah’s house, Houston. This will all get accomplished eventually, I promise! I’m downloading the latest version of the photo editing software right now and will try to upload the pictures from my camera as soon as I can. I better get caught up before we leave for New York!

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