Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Surreal Life...

Yesterday was a very frustrating day. More bizarre computer problems. And in trying to fix them, I made them worse. This ongoing techno-hell has become surreal. (see previous Bonbons)

It actually started Tuesday night. I decided to get the kid's Sony's wireless connection back up and running. WOO-HOO! SUCCESS! At last!! But their printer's color ink cartridge isn't working and I didn't have a replacement around so I decided to be nice and connect them wirelessly to my office network printer. Well, I screwed something up because then my HP 7410 would no longer work from my office PCs. Yet more proof that no good deed goes unpunished.

Yesterday morning defined techno-hell frustration. Right off I couldn't get an internet connection. Cable TV was working but the cable light on my modem kept blinking on and off. So I put in a call to the cable company and left a call-back request. Within a few minutes, the cable light had become steady so I tried to get online. But my Sony was still giving me the "Connection not available" message. I turned on the Dell and was able to get right on. I went to the kid's Sony and, again, I was able to get on. In the meantime, the cable company called me back and I told them what was happening. She said she'd connect me to the Road-Runner tech center and put me on hold... and on hold... and on hold. After about 10 minutes I decided that there wasn't much reason for me to wait since cable was working again and I hung up. Now, you KNOW what's coming next, don't you? Wait for it... two minutes later, the cable light on the modem started blinking on and off again. Internet connection lost. Naturally.

Yesterday was also the first day the HP tx1000 convertible laptop was available for ordering and I REALLY needed to be online, dammit! So throughout the day, I would periodically get a solid cable light and I'd jump back online (my Sony, however, STILL wouldn't connect) and head over to HP's site to start picking options. I pretty much had the important ones memorized (memory, disk size, processor speed, etc) but all those other options where you need to click "Help me decide" or "More info" were only sometimes displaying. And, as I said, the cable connection kept disappearing on me. Well I FINALLY worked my way through the order. I checked, rechecked, then checked a few more times that I had everything just how I wanted it. They were running a free 5-7 day shipping special, but since they aren't even going to ship the tx1000's until 03/13, I actually decided the $93.99 for two-day shipping was worth it. I just hope my Sony lasts long enough for the HP to get here.

Okay, I decided I had everything just right, my cable connection was finally holding steady, I took a deep breath, and hit "Submit Order". My credit card declined the order. Let me repeat that... MY FUCKING CREDIT CARD, which is paid on time and is no where near it's limit, REFUSED TO PAY FOR THE PURCHASE!!!! I call the credit card company and go through their endless voice prompts until it finally comes up and has me verify my last few purchases which were flagged as suspicious (a florist in Phoenix for my SIL who's in the hospital, and two trips to Circuit City for the kid's Sony's USB wireless adapter and for my external hard drive... ok-a-a-a-a-y) then asks if I had a recently declined order. Once I verified all that, it said that the account was now unblocked. Using the instructions and order number on the HP site, I call HP, go through voice prompt hell because NONE of the options really applied, pressed an option that kinda sorta sounded like it would work and was placed on hold... and on hold... and on hold... and on hold... After about 15 minutes, I get someone who asks how she can direct my call. I tell her I need to resubmit an online order that was declined by my CC company. She's not quite sure which department, "But let's try this one" then proceeds to describe all the tones I will hear and to not hang up. So there I am on hold again... and on hold... and on hold. FINALLY someone answers and we get it taken care of. YEAH!!! My HP tx1000 convertible laptop has now been officially ordered!!!

I need to change the subject for a minute. I am aware that most tech call centers are now in India. I won't get into whether I agree or disagree with all the political and economic arguments about that. But I DO need to say this... ATTENTION ALL CALL CENTER EMPLOYEES: when speaking to someone NOT apparently of Indian descent... SLOW.THE.FUCK.DOWN. I try to be polite. I really, really, do. But, by the time I've said "I'm sorry?" or "Could you repeat that, please?" a few times, do you really need to be hit upside the head with a clue-by-4 before you realize that I can barely understand every 3rd word you say??!! Let me repeat: SLOW.THE.FUCK.DOWN. Hell, treat me like a "special" customer, I don't care. I just want to stop guessing at what you might be saying to me, okay?

While all that was going on, I also needed to deal with my Sony no longer able to find an internet connection, my network printer no longer working for the Sony or Dell in my office, and that damn cable light and it's intermittent blink-out problem. My biggest fear was that the modem was going bad. Time Warner no longer offers a modem/router combo so if this one goes bad, they'll only supply the modem and I have to go buy and install my own router. Any other time, I problem wouldn't have minded so much since this one is still 802.11b and I could upgrade to a faster 802.11g. But with all this other techno-hell going on, I figured my head would explode if I had to deal with one more techno-PIA.

I decide I'm going to go back to the last restore checkpoint on my Sony because I don't have a clue what else to do. HOT DAMN!!! It actually worked!! And, as a bonus, the Sony is talking to the printer again so I don't have to re-install it!! Finally, a break!! But, uh-oh... now AOL is screwed up so I had to uninstall then reinstall it. Okay, cool. We're good to go except for those nasty error messages and no sound that started popping up before (again, see previous Bonbons).

But the Dell? My good old reliable Dell? I totally fucked it up. Since restoring to last checkpoint on the Sony worked so well, I figured, "Why not?" and proceeded to do the same for the Dell. Hey, it was faster than reinstalling that damn printer!! Well, now AOL won't work, AND McAfee won't work on the Dell. I tried undoing my system checkpoint restore. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling McAfee and AOL. McAfee is now working again. But AOL? I don't know WTF is wrong with it!! I can't even get AOL Explorer to work. It keeps asking me if I want to install the additional files needed to run correctly. If I tell it "yes". Nothing happens. If I tell it "no". Nothing happens. I have uninstalled and reinstalled AOL and AOL Explorer at least a half a dozen times and it STILL kept saying that!! I haven't turned that little Dell Judas on yet today. If I can't count on my Dell, there is no hope for the future.

Which brings us to today. I turned my Sony on this morning and McAfee had disappeared. No icon, and when I go to programs and call it, I get a flash of the first screen then... nothing happens. So that has to be reinstalled AGAIN. Which will mean AOL will probably have to be reinstalled AGAIN. But, believe it or not, I now have sound again. Or at least SOME sounds. And so far (knock wood) the modem hasn't blinked out on me today.

See what I mean? This has become surreal. And my DH just told me that his Dell in his office which is connected through ATT DSL, has been having connection problems the past few days. Nope... uh-uh... I am not going out there to fix his, too. Dammit!!! And did I mention that my DH is a technophobe, so his idea of "fixing" a PC problem is to get mad and turn it off? I love the big guy, but right now my give-a-damn is busted.

*sigh* Maybe someday I can get back to discussing books again. *sigh*

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