Saturday, November 21, 2009

Death brings new life… but at a cost…

I could have called this “We Killed it” or perhaps “Vicky’s early Christmas present” but I felt like being obtuse… again…

As I thought about what I plan to write, I considered writing, “Vicky and I went to look at computers yesterday” but was sure some anonymous bitch would call me names and say I was sponging off my wife or some such nonsense.

Let me start from the beginning.

This is Vicky’s fault. All of it. Well, most of it. No, all of it. Vicky is very hard on a computer. She downloads everything she sees – every addon, every gadget, every app, everything. She fills her computer with crap and then gets some more. I’m guessing because it’s free. Then, her computer slows down… slows down… slows down…

And then, she calls me. “My computer sucks,” she said one day a few weeks ago. “Sucks” wasn’t the word. It was more like “is dying.” Nothing was working right. It would start and stop on its own. Web pages and apps would open by themselves. Most noticeably, however, McAfee (our virus scanner of choice… a very bad choice) would not open. It couldn’t access the Internet. In fact, nobody could access the Internet on Vicky’s computer except when it decided to at random.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you downloaded a virus or a worm,” I said. To which she replied, “Well, then, fix it.” I guess that since I’m out of work, Vicky assumed that meant I was a PC technician… either that or I just had a lot of free time. The later acknowledged, I began researching Vicky’s problem.

McAfee was no good, so I downloaded PC Tools Spyware Doctor, because I was certain she didn’t have a simple virus… and the initial scan was free. The scan completed, over 100 worms and Trojan Horses were found. Vicky agreed to buy the complete version of PC Tools to kill them off. And kill them off, it did. It also killed off every file they were attached to. So, when we were done with that, Vicky’s computer was left seizing like an ebola victim.

“I’m going to have to reinstall Windows,” I said. Fortunately, PC Club had given us our Windows disk when we bought her computer from them. It was a simple matter of using that to install Windows and fix the problems with her computer. “Before I do, though, you should back up your data.”

“Do what now?”

“Back up your data.”

“Come again?”

“Back up your data.”


I was getting the distinct impression Vicky was not in the habit of backing up her data. And this struck me as funny (strange, not ha ha) because Vicky had my external hard-drive, which I used to back up my PC. She had it for over a year… she never let me use it… because she always said, “I’m using it.”

“Do you know how to back up your data?” I asked her.

She batted her eyes.

“Have you been regularly backing it up?”

She smiled and cuddled close.

“Have you ever backed up your data?”

And that’s when the jig was up. And I began to get a bit angry. But lecturing her on why you’re always supposed to back up your data was a moot point… so I did it anyway. And I went on and on... and it was pretty clear I was wasting my breath. Vicky’s a smart girl… just dense at times…

PC Tools had stripped so much out of Windows, Vicky’s problems were just getting worse. Now, the computer wouldn’t so much as recognize any network connection. Her USB ports were dead. When I tried to move her docs to a separate “backup” folder in case her My Docs folder got wiped out, we discovered that Windows wouldn’t even recognize simple copy and paste commands.

I knew that reinstalling Windows might screw up her My Docs folder so I asked her to do the only thing she could do… a manual backup. Yep. That means writing stuff down by hand – she took down all her passwords and typed her Quicken entries in our laptop… which she had not yet destroyed.

But maybe I’m being too hard on Vicky… because this is where I really fucked things up.

Her most essential data backed up, I went to reinstall Windows. First, I chose the repair option, figuring I’d do as little damage as possible. Inserting PC Club’s Windows disk, I selected repair… and it went straight into a full reinstall. As strange as this was, I shrugged and figured, “Oh well.” And I let it continue.

Then, I was prompted, “Insert Disk Two.”

Insert Disk Two?

“Insert Disk Two.”

There is no Disk Two! PC Club only gave us one disk! For anyone out there wondering why PC Club went out of business… here’s your answer.

There was no going back. Reboots just brought us back to that dreaded, “Insert Disk Two” prompt.

Time to go to our options. We could go out and get Windows 7…

The thing is, Vicky’s computer was pretty cheap when we bought it and was getting pretty old. Why throw good money after bad? Anyway, what Vicky needed was as idiot-proof of a machine as we could get her… and besides, she’s been talking about how much she’s wanted a Mac since we met. The time had come… has come… will come today, I think.

And so, Vicky’s getting a new computer and a very early Christmas gift. We can get a Mac Mini for about $800, which should meet all of her needs. I’ll take her old hard drive and strip out the data files for her so she doesn’t lose anything, such as pictures, music, word docs, etc. And I’ll sign her up for a free backup account at Mozy (yes, I have one and it’s pretty nice)… and hope for the best. (Anyway, you can get a complete, three-year warranty on a Mac for $99… which is a cheap price for three years of peace if you ask me…)

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