Friday, January 27, 2012

Umm, I think your computer's dead...

As a bit of a break from my series of posts on work lessons, I must whine a bit about computers.

Today (and for the last week), I've been working on a Dell Inspiron Mini, one we bought a few years ago to keep in the kitchen. Much of it's life has been spent looking up recipes, or performing targeted web searches. An easy existence, as computer's lives go. This last week, I've discovered it is NOT a machine suitable for writing novels. The screen is quite small, the keyboard is very tight, and it uses our (sometimes working) WiFi connection for access to the web.

I pine away for a replacement....
....which I already purchased. From Best Buy on Monday. I stayed with a laptop, but added a huge screen, a CD drive, lots of memory and a full sized keyboard (and a lot of additional weight, but I'm usually only carrying the thing around the house). I'm excited to get to work on the new machine.

So why am I still using the mini?

Because I foolishly asked Best Buy to transfer my data to the new computer. It seemed like a great idea at the time -- spend a few dollars (eighty), and then I don't have to waste my hours doing it. That was five days ago. So why isn't it done? I don't know.

The guy who "checked in" my new computer estimated twenty four hours. So I'm dropping in today, and not leaving without the new computer -- even if I have to do the data transfer myself.

Which brings me to another question -- what is wrong with the old computer? Not the Mini, the one that booted me onto the Mini in the first place.

Admittedly, that Dell Laptop is six years old now, and was never purchased with writing novels in mind. It was my old work computer from two jobs ago, selected to be a reasonable compromise between performance and travel portability. Over time it's performance has gotten worse and worse until it was taking fifteen seconds between clicks and half an hour to restart. Sounds like a virus, right? That's what I thought, but repeated scans have come up blank. Not enough memory? Maybe....

Anyway, I also asked Best Buy to look at this machine as well. And guess what -- it's not done either! I'll be asking about that as well. Hopefully, they will have already diagnosed it, found something easily fixable, and I can keep it as a back-up. Hopefully.

But wait, there's one more insult to add to these injuries.

For the past ten years I've been doing my taxes on one of two computers that we refer to as "the dinosaurs". I do this because the taxes can tie up a computer for a time, and once the tax software is loaded, I can live with the relatively slow response times.

So I had a need to get a pdf copy of last year's return on Monday. I went upstairs to start dino #2 (where last year's taxes were done) and...nothing. Deader than a doornail. Wouldn't start ever after I checked the GFI button, traced the power cables, and made sure the surge protector was on.

I was afraid to even look at Dino #1 (which must be a good fifteen years old now).

So I'll be crossing my fingers a second time that the IRS doesn't send me a letter with "questions" about any old returns. They can only do that for what, seven years?


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