Friday, September 28, 2007

Technology Annoys Me

At a time when I have postdoc applications to finish writing and get into the mail, a dissertation to finish by spring, and additional unpacking to do so that I will not live in a degree of disorganization beyond my tolerating (I have pretty much given up trying to remember where I have temporarily stowed the long-sleeved shirts), DO I REALLY NEED TECHNOLOGICAL AGGRAVATION?
It is my view that I do not, but apparently the technology gods feel otherwise.
Since there seemed to be no way of getting my laptop to go online again short of reinstalling Windows, the Help Desk people told me to back up my data and bring in the machine.
Fortunately most of my data is on the second hard drive, but I have quite a few programs that keep their data closer to home or in some weird place, and of course then there's the issue of all those personal settings one applies to programs and to Windows. I once lost quite a few fonts by not copying them from an old computer to a new one, too.
I backed up some of my data in two or three places and ways, and dug out one of my external hard drives and backed up the whole C drive onto that. I specifically chose "the whole drive" rather than "files or folders" because I assumed this would be the most thorough and prevent operator error. Unfortunately this later proved to be an operator error because apparently this type of backup is basically a clone and can only be restored in full, which was not what I had in mind (why would I restore the ailing operating system?).
But I went to my appointment feeling well backed up and fairly confident.
I mentioned that my laptop is a tablet PC and uses a special version of Windows. I'm not sure the technician had ever heard of this; he replied confidently that they provide their own copies of Windows and this would be fine. I had not really gotten around to looking up the issue to refresh my memory on how my version of Windows was different than the average XP installation, so I merely pointed out that the tablet version enables me to use the computer as a slate and that regular Windows XP doesn't.
An hour and a half later, I had a spiffy looking new installation of Windows XP with Office 2007 and various other nice things. It went online with ease, so I took it away calmly to install more of my own software, although I thought I should deal with the tablet issue first.
From what I could tell from Microsoft's site, the tablet version of Windows is entirely separate and not something one adds on to regular Windows. I began to long for strong drink.
Forgoing the strong drink, I backed up the new installation just in case I ever wanted it again, and ended up doing what we should have done in the first place, restoring the laptop to its factory default via a secret hidden partition on the hard drive. (This was discovered in the process of some digging around trying to figure out where I had put the things that originally came with the laptop.) I daresay that in a couple of weeks or so I may have the laptop properly configured again and full of the appropriate software and data. This is assuming that I can come up with a stray hard drive to restore the aforementioned backup onto so that I can recover various files, like all of my Czech music and such (although in theory I could copy the music back off the ipod onto the computer). I mean, I'm a grad student on fellowship, I have all the time in the world, don't I? My dissertation will simply write itself while I put my laptop back in working order, because I don't use the laptop for my dissertation, the dissertation just grows there like a fungus on a piece of bread.
So I spent much of today sitting in the Fine Arts Library downloading and installing Windows updates and other exciting stuff using the university wifi since I was hesitant about installing the Verizon DSL software again (the possible cause of my troubles).
Meanwhile, I had called Verizon to get a technician to fix my home phone line because the only time there is not too much static on the line to talk is when telemarketers call, which seems to be several times a day (why did I want this phone line???). Verizon's automated test had indicated that there was indeed a line problem and that I would not have to pay to have it fixed.
The Verizon technician, however, called me this afternoon to say that the line was just dandy all the way to the box in the basement, and therefore the problem is somewhere in my apartment and I have to pay to fix it.
This is a phone line that I have just gotten and had next to no chance to use. The only incoming personal call I have received had to be abandoned because I couldn't hear a word my father said over the static. I resent this static considerably and I resent the idea of paying to have it taken away.
I am unsure what the Verizon technician did to my phone line in his tests, but when I returned home I discovered that my DSL no longer works. The desktop computer is therefore not all that useful to me since the package my mother sent with my LapLink cable seems to be lost in the mail.
Fortunately, one of my neighbors has an unsecured wireless network, so I am not utterly without home internet again, but one can hardly rely on the technological mistakes of other apartment-dwellers.
It is a good thing that rabbits run on vegetarian fare and petting rather than electro-magnetic mysteries. Both rabbits are very unhappy at being denied access to the bedroom of late, but they are very pettable and Ms. Spots makes sure to let me know that she needs to have some of my olives, as well as the last bits of spumoni ice cream. (These are not things Orion will touch.)
On Monday, somehow, the first postdoc proposal will be sent off. My advisor seems mostly happy with it, so it will only have some minor changes at this point...

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Blogger Kristen said...

GAD!! I'm so sorry to hear about all this frustration!!! Now, regarding the phone line problems--they did send you DSL filters, didn't they? You should have recieved a little bit that you plug one end into the phone line and one end into the phone. Keeps the DSL bits and the regular "phone" bits from flowing together. You need one on each phone you have. If they didn't send them, call 'em up and bitch.

September 29, 2007 6:27 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Oh and get yourself on the federal and PA do not call lists pronto. You can do both online.

September 29, 2007 6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Don't easily give up.

The worst of all frustrations when some one loses data. That's why I advise all my friends to backup online. For online backup and storage info, there is an excellent site:

September 29, 2007 9:52 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

Do-not-call list done (but it takes awhile to take effect).

Online backup is wonderful (I use Mozy myself), but only when you can connect to the internet!

October 01, 2007 2:20 AM  

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