Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Computer Heaven and Hell

Ahhhhh life....ain't it grand? Don't you love the way the universe puts little tests in front of us at the worst possible times? My test last week--other then checking my cojones before walking around with that pink beard--was one involving computers. I have an old G3 Mac. It's a stand up tower, large, and is an amazing workhorse. I got it when the fellow who worked the Dallas Morning News computers had to upgrade the newsroom and he was left with about 30 of these things. Well, he dolled it up for me and I've been using it for about 5 years. Any problems, he lived nearby and would stop over and for $65 would fix them. It was the perfect set up.
So maybe a week or so ago my computer dropped from the 10.3 system he'd installed to the 9.1 system the thing was built with and that made the internet impossibly slow. I mean a full minute or two to download a single page. So I decided to upgrade to a new version of firefox, which replaced the version I was using, and then turned out not to work on my old computer. And the Safari it came with never worked.
No problem, just a glitch.
I called my computer guy. He said I could no longer afford him to come over. I asked him why.
Turned out he'd moved to Denver some months ago and a house call to fix my Mac was gonna cost big time.
So I called around to some people he suggested and they all told me just to buy a new computer.
So I did. I went with Madeleina to the Apple store in Fort Worth--which has the strangest assortment of geniuses you've ever seen, very surreal, as the staff--and settled on something called the Mini-Mac. It's about as big as a.....well, I don't know, but it can't be more than 6 inches square and 2 inches tall. It doesn't come with a mouse or keyboard or screen, but since I prefer what I have to the new godawful little toys they're selling now--the Mac keyboard was always based on the old IBM Selectric keyboard, but gradually they've gotten it flatter and flatter till it's now basically a little flat thing that just oozes the word carpel tunnel. You can almost hear those keyboards: "Hey, wanna work with me? My cousin's a surgeon and you're gonna need one if you use me for more than 20 minutes a day...."
Well I use a keyboard maybe 10 hours a day, so I stayed with my own.
Now this thing comes with a million applications I will never use but it does not come with a word processing component. So I bought what was suggested, IWORK or something like that. I got it home, had Italo install it and told him to transfer all my old files to the new computer. But guess what? They were written on microsoft word--the standard in publishing--and so were not readable to the new computer.
But I'm in the middle of a cover story and needed that material. So I made a million frantic calls, was told I needed a different program--OfficeMac, I guess--and that I'd only be out another hundred and a half for that.
Well, I'm two, three days into the process, losing time on a deadline and what can I do? I head over to the Apple store--I checked that they'd be open beforehand--on Easter Sunday afternoon to discover they were not actually open. Didn't matter what the phone message said. There were several of us standing in front of the closed store, all of whom agreed that the message didn't say they would be closed on Easter.
So I lost Sunday.
Then Monday I went and got what I needed.
Of course it didn't work like they said it would so I spent three hours this morning on the phone trying to sort things out until one young man, probably in some far off place in the world, told me that actually, Apple couldn't help with the Microsoft component no matter how many times I called. "We are specifically excluded from knowing anything at all about that. They are our competitors and we are trained to think they simply don't exist."
"But you sold me the product..."
"Well yes, but not with knowing how to use it..."
"Well who does know?"
"You will have to be calling the competitors who don't exist. I have a number here somewhere....oh, I shudder to be sending you to the dark side...."
I took the number, spent another couple of hours on the phone, then spent two hours downloading everything on my old computer to a little stick you plug into the back of the computer, then put the little stick into the new computer and Voila! IT WOULDN"T READ HARDLY ANYTHING!!!!!
Not that someone trained in shamanic arts like myself would ever get faklempt, but I was headed in that direction when I called up "the dark side" again to say that simply following directions did not work.
This time I got a fellow from a different part of the world. In two seconds he asked me those items labeled ".doc" opened and if the ones not labeled ".doc" were the ones that didn't open.
Voila! "Yes. Yes, The ones not .doc'd don't open."
"Then put .doc on every one that doesn't have it and you're done."
"But there are 6,000 documents..."
"Get rid of them."
"It's my life freaking work! I can't just toss my life's work!"
"It's holding you back. Can't you feel the weight?"
"I don't want psychology. I want to open up the story I'm working on and that alone has more than 50 documents. And I want to open up the "Jungle Trips" folder so that I can see the emails for my June guests....."
"You will be doing a lot of .doc'ing in that case. Good luck."
And so I spent three hours adding .doc to hundreds of documents. Okay, I tried to be philosophical and reasoned it would just take an hour a day for a couple of weeks and I'll be up to speed.
And then I tried to open the docs I'd ".doc'd". And a good half of them open. The others? I suppose they were written on an older microsoft format because they're still not recognized.
But now it's 3:01 and time to go get food for dinner. So I'm gonna let it wait. And then I'm gonna call back and ask what can be done with the older documents, and whether there isn't a way to get the computer to do the .doc work.
And you know what? I'm positive they'll tell me that if I just do X or Y or Z that all the documents will open and all will have the right appendage at the end. I'm certain it will turn out that I just didn't ask for that specifically and so wasn't told, probably a little joke by the microsoft people on the mac people.
Ah, well, ain't life grand? Just another little pebble in my shoe...


Gritter said...

Peter, I sent you an email regarding this blog. You should call me.

Gritter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johan said...

ah, bummer, skype me or mail me the next time. I have been working with both dark sides since I was a teen.