Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bogged down in Computer Hell

So here is the story: Last week my IPOD would not sync with my computer. I tried a number of USB hubs and all the diagnostics that I knew. I phoned Apple and spent a couple of hours talking to "Roger" in Bangalore India. We tried everything including uninstalling and installing all the software. The interesting thing is that Itunes worked fine on the computer and the Ipod worked perfectly. The problem was I couldn't get them to talk to each other.

First thing the next morning, the DHL delivery service dropped off a return box for me to send in my ipod to Apple for diagnostics, since it is still under warranty. I read all the fine print which stated that I would be charged a diagnostic fee if there was not anything actually wrong with my unit. Before I sent it in, I wanted to test it on another computer, so I went to the local Apple store with my connection cord and tried it there. Of course, it worked like a charm and talked to THEIR computer.

The next step was to try diagnostics on my computer. My first step was to try my camera on my computer using the cord, since I usually used just the media card directly. It did not work at all this way, so I reasoned out that it was the computer after all and not the Ipod. I phoned the help line for my computer company, but since I was no longer under warranty (it is 3 years old) it would cost me $50 to just talk to a human being. I did discover that the online help for the Help was free, so I started there. This is a very slow process, since I bet each operator (probably also in Bangalore) is chatting online with about a dozen people at one time. It is much like watching my kids on IM with many windows opened. One of the steps she asked me to do was to uninstall the USB ports and then we would reinstall them. When I did this, my modem disconnected since it was hooked up with a USB port that obviously was still working (as was my printer). NOW, none of them worked!!!!! ARGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! I called the computer company again but they still wouldn't talk to me (for free), even though what the tech told me to do made the situation even worse.

Over the next day and a half, it was hours and hours trying lots of options, none of which worked. I hooked up the internet through the ethernet cord and thank goodness, I was able to get back online. So now I had a computer with no printer, no way to hook up anything through the USB ports, so no Ipod interface. I tried the online chat again and tried to download new drivers and to reset the ports. Nothing worked.

I visited a few computer stores and talked to the salespeople and thought it might be time to purchase a new machine, since none of the attempts at solving this problem were working. I ended up buying a new computer at costco which was a nice, but basic machine and not too expensive. get all the photos and documents off the old computer, I couldn't use a flash drive, since no USB, so I had to copy them to disks. That was another few hours of stress since I was not sure I knew what I was doing, but it seemed to be going ok.

The next morning, when Gary started up the old computer, he got the message: Your hard drive is at risk of imminent failure. That is one scary message to receive at any time but especially now. I went through all the folders again and copied what I could to disk and then unplugged it and set up the new computer. This is my first experience with Vista, which I heard is a bit quirky, and my patience for quirky at this point was minimal. Mostly, everything was plug and play, so it did work right away and setting up the basics was pretty easy.

The new machine does not have a serial port and my old PDA synchs through one, so I had to run out and get a connector to allow it to function through a USB port. Fortunately, this was the easiest transfer of all.

Being the creatures of habit that we are, we still use AOL as our primary e-mail accounts, even though we have hi speed internet access. The old installation disk did not work and it took a while for me to figure out that I would have to download it from their site. No problem, thank goodness.

I then downloaded MSN (don't ask) and Itunes. Now, I had subscribed to lots of podcasts, and had loaded over 700 songs into my Itunes library and onto my Nano. Guess what, they are locked into the old computer's library and can't be transferred to the new one easily....since no USB. I had no other option, but to start fresh into the new computer. First the podcasts, then a stack of cd's about 15 inches high, loaded by one.

After doing that, I had the bright idea to try to set up the old computer again and try to copy the individual songs that Alison gave me onto a disk and then adding to the new computer. I set it up, turned it on, and got the same "imminent failure" message again. This time I could not get past it to the windows screen and into my data/music files. Somehow we got to the area of the system recovery and tried that, but what that did was wipe my hard drive clean of ALL my files and programs that had been loaded onto the computer. It thought it was a brand new computer and all the intro screens showed up on the desk top. Everything was Double ARGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

It is now 6 pm on Wed afternoon, and I have mourned my old computer, set up my new one, saved most of my photos (YAY!), installed and refilled my Itunes library, and have posted this blog entry on the new machine. I need a drink.....or three!

This is how I passed much of the time while waiting for loads, downloads, and rebooting. I hope I don't have to do this again for another 10 years.


Iron Needles said...

I felt ALL your pain reading your post.Wonderful Guy has to back up his work stuff (he works from home) everyday, he has an external hard drive. I get a small corner of that hard drive that I back up my computer to every 3 months. Just in case of 'imminent failure', you know. They are generally less than $100, connect with a USB, very compatible with Vista, and easy enough to use that I can remember how using it only every three months.

Just in case my email got lost in the shuffle, I sent your iris yesterday!!

She Knits Socks said...

Oh, what a panic. I'm glad you finally got most of it done.

I have subscribed to an online backup system that backs up everything, photos, family tree, music, for $50/year. I've lost all that twice before when mine crashed.

shelly said...

hmmm i nearly cried when reading your post. my windows crashed 2 months ago and i had to get it reinstalled. i am in the process of learning what to do to prevent it from happening next time. backups...

i am curious about buying ONLINE backups that i saw in another comment..didnt know that was an option. here i am trying to build up a ubcd4windows cd to reboot in case it ever happens again.

i am running a HP laptop XP. need an external hard drive. any suggestions?

Beth said...

I'm crying for you!!! That is definitley computer hell but at least you knew what to do or where to start.....I just throw things.
I think several drinks were in order after that!!!

P.S. When life hands you lemons find the person life handed the vodka to and have a party!

LenaL said...

Oh dear! Congratulations to get it work again!

I know exactely what you felt, it's blood, sweat and tears in huge amounts.

Hope you will be comfortable with your new computer and that it will work on without any problems for a very long time :-)

Oh, by the way, your Odessa is just lovely!