Enough time has passed since my computer crashed that I am thinking it wasn’t so bad after all. It’s like one of those awful vacations that ten years later is described as “that wonderful trip to Spain when our luggage got diverted to Iceland.”
It was a Thursday evening. I had just installed Google Chrome when suddenly the screen went plaid, then black. I wasn’t too worried because my neighbor Gwen who knows something about just about everything was due home the next day after being out of town for a week.
But Gwen said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” That was an awful moment.
She loaned me a little Think Pad so I could find out I didn’t know any of my passwords, but eventually I was able to access my incoming e-mail and keep on top of bill pay, library holds and Facebook notifications. I spent the weekend feeling like half my body had been sliced away from the other half, and wishing it was 1995 before I even owned a computer.
On Monday morning I was the first customer in the door at Seattle Laptop Repair where Nick told me the motherboard had died. He took out the hard drive, and showed me how to extract my files and install them on Gwen’s Think Pad.
There was a day of rest.
The next step was to buy a new computer. Gwen was more excited than I was about this. She was researching computers on Consumer Reports days before I got the motherboard diagnosis. She had one ready to order, but allowed that knowing me, I would need to see an actual computer.
We drove together to Best Buy. Gwen reminisced about my last computer. “I was all ready for a day of computer shopping,” she said. “And you took less time than you do to get a Christmas tree.”
I have no memory of buying that computer. Apparently it went by so quickly, I wasn’t even there for it.
Just to give you a point of reference, here’s me buying a Christmas tree:
I go to the lot that’s three blocks away. After seasonal felicitations with the boy scouts, I say, “I need one that’s about five feet tall.”
“Well, here’s one.”
“I’ll take it.”
At Best Buy, Gwen and I found our way to the Samsung computers where five or six guys were engrossed in the various demos. Gwen briefly scoped out the display models and found a modest one that wasn’t getting any attention.
“This is the one you want,” she said.
“Why is this better than these others?”
“This one is enough for you because you don’t do anything on the computer.”
Six guy heads snapped up, all of them grinning.”
“What do you mean? I do things. I wrote a book on a computer.”
“No, I mean you don’t play games.”
“I play games. I play Scrabble.”
The guys guffawed.
“You don’t play computer games that need a lot of RAM,” Gwen said kindly. “You don’t get into hunting and killing zombies and dragons.”
More yuk yuk sounds from the guys. I think one of them spit. One was definitely playing air guitar.
“Could you not talk so loud?”
There followed a brief negotiation with a salesperson followed by a period when I went to look at autoharps and Gwen walked around looking like a secret service agent while she checked CR for the exact computer we were considering. Eventually we left without the extended warranty.
OK, now I’ve reached a dead spot in my memory. Let’s see if I can work around events that are still tied up in anxiety. I got the computer all hooked up and got my files moved off the old hard drive. Then I couldn’t get the Internet. The little diddly at the bottom of the screen told me my network was available but I couldn’t access it.
Gwen came over. I think if I had left her alone all would have been well, but I had to participate, the end result being that by the end of the day, neither my new computer or Gwen’s Think Pad could access the Internet. Gwen insisted that paying the network tech geeks for a support package was a waste of money. I’ve never seen her so adamant about something that would have relieved her of work. But she seemed to think it would have compounded the problem and she is usually reliable about these things. On the other hand her back was hurting and she couldn’t get comfortable and I think that was making her stubborn.
“I know what they are going to say, and I’ve already done it twice. We’ve typed in your Wep twice and gotten you a WPA2 and an AES and changed your router password twice because,” she looked at me pointedly, “you wrote it down wrong the first time.”
Then, because Gwen is from Wisconsin and that pointed look counted as the grossest sort of rudeness, she generously invited me to use my new computer at her house on her network until she –not we– figured out what to do. By the next morning, Gwen was over at my house again. She had grown a halo and stigmata were appearing on her hands and feets. She had a CAT-5 cable.
“We’re going to wire you so we can get some things done. Then someday when you’re out of the house for a long time, I’ll come over and figure out your wireless situation.”
So that’s where we’ve left things for now. I know that Gwen knows all my passwords better than I do but after this last episode, I think she made note of all the security codes, weps, webs, jpgs, and category fives. Plus I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s hacked my system and is remotely backing it up once a week. I’d do it for her if she were this much trouble.