The Great Computer Saga of Thanksgiving 2011
For those of you in the States, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. For me, I’m thankful for a lot of things, like my family, health and roof over my head, but this year, as crazy as it sounds, I’m most thankful for the two pictures in this post. Why you ask? Well let me tell you a little story called the Great Computer Saga of Thanksgiving 2011.
Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, my computer crashed. Again. This was the third time in about five months. The first time, I took it into one of our IT techs on campus, and once I got it there, of course, it worked fine. Daunie ran some diagnostics and copied some files for me. He said the next time it does that to just unplug it and let it sit for a day or two. So the second time it crashed in the same fashion (doing nothing but going “beep beep” when I tried to power it up), I unplugged and let it sit for a day. Magically fixed. Fired right up a day later. Well, the third time I wasn’t so lucky. Given that it was the third time, Benny said, “It’s Black Friday. Just go buy yourself a new computer.”
So after pursuing the sale ads, I first headed to Sam’s, but when I got there I did not see the system I saw in the paper. I came back home and did some research, talked to a computer geek friend about recommended systems, and then headed to Best Buy. I purchased an HP with 8GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive. Mack Daddy compared to the seven-year-old system I had! I also went ahead and got a new monitor to go along with it.
So fast forward to two hours later and me trying to set up this computer. Now mind you, I’m no super tech, but I know how to set up a computer. So when my new monitor would not talk to my new hard drive, I tried everything I knew to do, to no avail, and then called the HP tech support line. I proceeded the tell the HP tech what my issue was, and after she took all my personal information she could possibly ask for short of my social security number and name of my first born child, she proceeded to walk me through a series of steps to diagnose the problem. This included (hold on, this is a long list): hooking the blue VGA cable and the white DVI cable from my new monitor to various points on my new tower; hooking the new VGA cable from my old monitor to my new tower; and hooking the VGA cable from my new monitor to my laptop (this was after she suggested hooking the new monitor to my old computer…which had, um, crashed…which is why I was having this conversation to begin with).
When none of that worked, she said, “Well, now I’m going to need you to get a screw driver and take the back cover off of your tower.” Me: “Um, doesn’t that void the warranty?” Her: “Oh, no! Not since I’m telling you to do it!” Me: “Um, since I just bought this thing three hours ago (by this time we had been on the phone for an hour), wouldn’t it make more sense for me to just take it back to Best Buy?” Her: “Um, hold on, let me ask about that……..[tick tock, tick tock]….okay, yes, if you’d prefer to do that and have the receipt, you can do that.” Me: “Well, since I’ve just spent an hour on the phone with you, can you email me stating that we’ve just gone through this so that I can take that to Best Buy as well?” Her: “Well, why don’t we just keep trying?” Me: “Can I please speak to a manager?” Her: “Now why would you want to do that?” Me: “Why can you not email me documentation of this conversation?” Her: “Can you give me the number to Best Buy and I’ll call them?” Me: “I would need a working computer to do that.” Her: “The number should be on your receipt.”
So completely worn out, I go downstairs to find my receipt to give this totally unhelpful chick the number. She calls and gets the Best Buy Geek Squad on the line. They proceed to have a conversation I am not privy to, and then finally connect me in. She just wanted to make sure I knew Best Buy’s return policy. Best Buy dude: “If this was a Black Friday sale item, we may not have a replacement system in the store.” Me: “This was not a sale item.” Best Buy dude, stalling: “Well you can bring it back in.” Me: “Will you be there? What is your name?” Best Buy dude: “Alfred, and yes, I’ll be here until close.” The totally unhelpful HP online tech: “Will you please stay on the line so that we can finish processing this call?” Me: “Oh sure, I will.” HP tech: “Hold please.” Me: Click.
And so…then I packed up the entire system and went back to Best Buy. I found Alfred, and he said he just wanted to confirm that the HP tech had been giving me the correct information. He proceeded to show me how to correctly hook the monitor to the tower. Do you think it resembled any of the things the HP tech had me do? Nope. Not a one. Alfred: “Did the HP tech ever ask you what type of monitor you had?” Me: “No, she just asked me the serial number on the tower.” He just kind of shook his head and asked me if I still wanted to return it now that he had told me how to do it correctly. I was so incredibly frustrated by that point that I said no; I just wanted to return the whole freakin’ shebang. He continued to shake his head and said he didn’t blame me. I felt like I had just been the subject of an episode of Candid Camera.
But oh, dear friends, the story does not end there! So on Saturday, I went back to Sam’s. After looking around a bit more, I got a Dell with the same power configuration, plus a wireless keyboard and mouse, plus a 24” monitor…all for the same price of the tower and wired keyboard and mouse without the monitor at Best Buy. I got home and hooked that one up. Monitor was beautiful. But….the wireless internet would not connect to my Wi-Fi. I tried everything I could think of. I reset my modem. I reset my router. I unplugged it all and plugged it back in…three times. I moved it to another room, much closer to the computer. Nothing. This was Saturday night and again Sunday morning. With tears of frustration running down my face, I gave up Sunday morning and went for a run. As I was walking out the door, Benny said he was headed up to give it a shot.
When I got back, he hadn’t gotten it working, but he decided it was the router and had gone online to find recommended compatible routers for my new system. So off I headed back to Best Buy with my list of recommended routers. First I went to the Geek Squad counter. Totally unhelpful. See, here was the thing that was unexplainable: my five year old laptop downstairs on the ground floor of my house in my studio picked up my wireless router signal on the third floor of my house just fine, four bars out of five. Yet my Mack Daddy new desktop, sitting 20 feet from the router on the same floor, only registered one measly little bar, not enough to get online. This made no sense to me and pointed to a problem with the tower, not my router. But no, the Geek Squad guy just said to move computer to another location in my house. Gee thanks. I wandered over to look at routers just for the heck of it and had a conversation with Richard in the blue Best Buy shirt. I proceeded to tell Richard the Great Computer Saga of Thanksgiving 2011.
Richard listened patiently. Richard said it might be your router, but it might not. Richard: “Is it a laptop or a desktop?” Desktop, I told him…again. Apparently he tuned out somewhere in the middle of the saga (as you may well have). Richard: “Oh, a desktop, eh? Does it have an antenna?” Me: “An antenna? What would that look like and where would it go?” We walked over to the desktops and he showed me what an antenna looked like and where it would go. “Hallelujah!” I heard the angels sing. Me: “I saw two little funky black things like that in the box, but they were not mentioned anywhere in the set up instructions!” Richard: “Hook them up and that should solve your problem.” Me: “Richard, I love you! You have been the most helpful person I’ve talked to in three days! You deserve a big smackin’ raise!” Richard: “Glad I could help, ma’am. You have a nice day now.”
So back to these two pictures. And a big thanks to my wonderful IT friend on campus. Remember waaaaaay back in this story when I told you my computer first crashed and that IT friend copied a few files for me? Well, I remembered those CDs. And when I looked at them, I saw that he hadn’t just copied a few files; he had copied my entire desktop and all my picture and document files. And that’s where I found these two wonderful pictures. Daunie, I love you! What I’d done since Daunie copied those files, I found either on my external drive or still in my camera. All I’ve lost are my jewelry pics I uploaded last Wednesday. And that, my friends, is the Great Computer Saga of Thanksgiving 2011. If you've made it this far, thanks for sticking with me, and I hope I at least made you laugh. And, oh, remember to ask for Richard at Best Buy.