Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tech Support

I think that I finally have my home laptop computer back to pretty much where I had it before the hard drive crashed. I was able to dig out most of the back-up that wouldn’t restore by using my work laptop’s search feature; Windows XP’s cute little doggie. Oddly enough, the search mechanism in Vista couldn’t find any of the search items that the pooch could without any problem. Thank Dog for my 4.0gb jump drive.

I also ran headlong into one of Microsoft’s attempts to protect me from the world out there. I had a list of contacts on my office e-mail that I wanted to import to my contacts here at home. I followed the rather convoluted instructions on how to export the list and e-mailed it to myself at home. When I got home, however, I found that Outlook blocked the attachment because it was a .pst file and it would not allow it to be downloaded. No if’s, and’s, or but’s; no dice; Outlook was worried that it might contain a virus. Period. There was no consideration that it was a list of contacts from myself that I had mailed to myself, and that while I appreciate their efforts to protect me from viruses, it was frustrating. I did a little research and found that if I downloaded some freeware called Outlook Tools, I could choose to open the attachment by selecting the type of extension from a list of potentially naughty extensions. I did, and I was able to import the contacts. Perhaps Microsoft should consider letting the people that know what they’re doing — or with good advice — do the simple things like use their own computer.

Then there’s anti-virus software. Oy. I had Norton on the laptop, but after my adventures at Geek Squad, it had mysteriously vanished, leaving only vestiges of Live Update. I contacted Norton via their chat system and was given the code to reload the software, but in the middle of the download, the computer froze up and nothing short of the three-fingered salute could get it going again. So I decided that it might be a good idea to dump Norton and try another program. I uninstalled the remnants of Norton…or thought I had. After consultation with my brother, I chose BitDefender. Halfway through the download of their anti-virus program, it froze up to the point that the computer couldn’t reboot except into Safe Mode. Augh. I called BitDefender tech support and spent about a half-hour on the phone with a very nice guy in Romania. We were able to uninstall BitDefender and then, by downloading Norton’s Uninstall (we Googled it), I got rid of the last vestiges of Norton and got BitDefender up and running. The price is $50 a year. So far so good.

I know there are a lot of people out there who know all of this by second nature, either because it’s what they do for a living or it’s just their talent. But for those of us who are not, it’s a wild ride. And I can only imagine what it’s like for people who don’t have a computer wizard for a brother on speed dial or the intuition to search for solutions outside of the box.