Friday, March 21, 2008

I Complain

Why, I should like to know, does it have to be so insanely troublesome to set up a new computer so that it can be used approximately like the old?
Let's put this in perspective. I have been using computers for a good long time now. While not an expert in their inner workings, I am pretty knowledgeable. On the hardware side, I can take them apart and replace various parts. On the software side, I've used more programs than I care to count and am often in the position of troubleshooting not just the quirky things that go wrong for me, but fixing things on other people's computers and showing other people how to use their software more effectively. In other words, I am not one of those legendary types who mistakes the CD tray for a drink holder, or even the average user who laboriously uses a mouse to do things that are much more efficiently done with keystrokes. (How many times have I watched people at conferences slowly mouse up to the top of the screen to start their PowerPoint slideshow from the menu when all they had to do was hit F5? This alone makes me want to bang my head on a wall in irritation.)
So. When I say it is a massive pain to set up a new computer, I am not speaking as a novice.
I possess a USB cable expressly designed to transfer data from one computer to another. First, for several days I could not get the two computers to admit that they were connected. I had done everything the instructions suggested. Since that wasn't working, I started copying files onto an external hard drive and recopying them onto the new laptop. This does work, but it is time-consuming. Most of the external drive is taken up with things I don't wish to delete.
Suddenly, last night, the two computers deigned to recognize that they were attached. No doubt I did something to facilitate that, but I have no idea what it might have been. In any case, I seized the opportunity to try the LapLink PC Sync software that had come with the cable.
Now, I already owned LapLink Gold, but it is an old version, so I thought I should give PC Sync a try.
PC Sync did not impress me as being as user-friendly as LapLink Gold. It seemed dumbed-down, and usually when software is dumbed-down, it proves harder to use rather than easier. Nonetheless, I got it set up to put some of the folders from My Documents onto the new laptop.
PC Sync has a feature where, if there is some sort of conflict (the file already exists, or something), you choose how it handles this. I set it to alert me so that I could make informed decisions on a case-by-case basis, although I didn't expect to run into much if any conflict. I was startled, however, when it told me there was a conflict with a folder that I was sure I had not copied earlier. And indeed, later on I discovered that there was no reason for conflict.
The next disturbing thing was that PC Sync claimed not to be able to find certain files that I wanted to copy. They all seemed to be files whose names included Czech characters. And I take the view that if Windows allows a character in file names, all Windows programs had better be able to handle that. A regrettable number of programs, including some from Europe, don't like Czech characters.
Still, I proceeded. I spent the evening copying what I thought was many GBs of data.
In the morning, I discovered that most of it apparently hadn't copied at all, even though PC Sync claimed that it had. The files in question were nowhere to be found on the new computer. I also couldn't get PC Sync to run properly again. No matter what I did, it would claim that the other machine had already initiated a connection and that I couldn't have two connections. It would then pretend to do some checking and I would invariably have to get out of it with Ctrl-Alt-Del, which would set off various error messages.
I decided it was time to try Windows EasyLink. EasyLink also proved to be a waste of time. First, it assumes you really want to copy everything from the old computer, or so I gathered when it said this would be 124 GB and told me that there wasn't that much space on the new (250 GB) hard drive. EasyLink doesn't make it very easy to specify just what you really do want to copy. It was easy enough to uncheck My Music, but I had to dig around to find that it wanted to copy all sorts of Toshiba files onto the Lenovo. Then, when it dawned on me that I had newer emails on the new laptop, the only way I could see to exclude Eudora was to go to a whole new list of stuff. Just to be safe, I excluded the whole Program Files directory.
Setting this all up took several restarts of EasyLink, because (horrors) the program has no functioning Back arrow or button. The only way to retrace your steps is to start from scratch. This is very bad.
But, of course, worse was to come. EasyLink apparently goes into some sort of endless loop once you tell it to start copying. It will grind away for 7 hours pretending it's gathering the information it needs to start copying. It will do this even if you only select a very small amount of stuff to copy. And, on the one computer, I couldn't get it to finish exiting either. Ctrl-Alt-Del was the only solution.
I then said, well, what about LapLink Gold? It used to work very well for me. Sure, the version I have is a little antiquated, but I used it successfully on XP machines and these are both running XP.
My Toshiba promptly told me that I would need to reinstall LapLink because it was missing a necessary component. I thought, well, maybe this is why I've never been able to get LapLink working on the Toshiba...
I reinstalled. Same message. I don't know what it wants, but if reinstalling is supposed to provide it, reinstalling is not doing the job.
It's looking like I will, after all, have to do all my copying using the external hard drive.
I am not happy. I do have a journal article to revise in the next few days. Yes, I can do that without doing the rest of the copying, but I would really like to just get at least most of the copying done.



Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

You just need the right tools! I'll lend you my hammer.

(I don't like to transfer data the way you are doing it. That trick never works. Just buy a 2 GB memory stick and haul it over in a few chunks. It's got to be better than what you are presently putting yourself through.)

March 21, 2008 11:32 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Either memory stick or gigantic external hard drive - not perfect options but you know what you're getting and it is faster.

So glad at least you still have XP. Stay away from Vista as long as possible.

March 22, 2008 9:38 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

2GB memory stick was way too much work--I have a lot of image folders that are more than 2GB. The external hard drive is proving to be the best option.

I am intrigued that Julia, who has so much more computer expertise than I will ever have, joins the chorus of "avoid Vista." I had to pay about $15 more to get XP Tablet, which struck me as perverted, but it seemed like the best course of action. If I ever want Vista on the laptop, I can get it at school.

March 22, 2008 1:33 PM  
Blogger Kristen said...

Sorry you are not having a good time with the new laptop. I hope the transition nonesense is over soon.

March 22, 2008 10:55 PM  

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