Sunday, February 06, 2005

Peripheral Intrigue

I am the sentimental sort when it comes to my writing equipment. Romantic writers always are. If I could I would still type stories on those old manual typewriters. My first word processor was my total obsession, I still have though I don't use it. I think it had a built in printer and a three inch preview screen. It did have automatic spell check so that it beeped every time you misspelled a word. You could convert text to a dos format which could be read as a word document. I loved that word processor.

Then I bought my first laptop. I thought the world of my Acer. It was rugged and solid. It still works even though its power is limited.

Finally, I located a newer laptop that was as advanced as I could handle. I cringed the way I always do when I am replacing a machine that has been good to me. Would it have the same dependability? The same mojo to inspire me? Would I have an easy transition?

Yes and no. Getting a new computer is exciting but unlike the first time when everything is running through your mind and you could barely recall how long it took to set it up; by the third or fourth go..one becomes more aware of the hassles.

For one you don't want to upgrade hardware to the point where the software you own is obsolete or the data you have becomes unobtainable or nontransferrable. The anxiety of starting over replaces that once overwhelming exhuberance.

Of course, I had to download winzip again, adobe reader, I found out that the free anti virus I usually use tweaked this new system so I had to uninstall it. I had to learn how to go about replacing the dvd drive with the floppy drive, that was a hoot. With no explicit instructions, I was afraid to pull the lever too far thinking that I would break it and not even had the chance to really enjoy it.

Then there is the browser installation, that wonderful phone call to my dsl service provider to configure my new system for internet access. There's installing my email service and customizing it as my primary email source. An ode to the little things. It took all in all about 3 days to customize my new computer so that it reminded me of the old one.

This one is a definite improvement in many respects; but still like everything else it is short of "perfect" so therefore I find myself constantly comparing the purchase and weighing the worthiness of hardware upgrading esp. when the old one still works.

The trouble really began when I needed to print. I could not find my installation disk anywhere. I thought that I could just go with the standard included drivers that come with the windows operating system. You know click on add printer, scroll to brand name ( its always listed) then scroll down to model type and badda bing badda boom there I would be.

Not so, for the selection had similar numbered models I didn't realize that an imperfect selection option will give you some kind of print out but the page will be distorted the font incorrect, the color won't work, and worst of all the actual print quality is reduced by half.

I was quite disturbed. What would I do? Would I have to buy a new printer? Would I have to buy a new installation disk? Worse would they manufacturer even offer the sale of an installation disk only?

I thought about it, and realized this must have happened to thousands of other people before me and by now there had to be a solution out there somewhere on the web.

I searched by printer brand and located several websites that offered potential solutions. But then I had another anxiety moment. What if I install this and its not it, what if it screws up the system all together? What if? I went to drivers.com and decided to bite the bullet then stopped myself again. After deliberating for an hour and tearing through the house not once but three times; I took a friends advice (after insulting him for his apathy) and contacted the manufacturer's tech support line before the live option went home for the weekend.

Of course during the walk through aspect of the answering service where you choose the language, then you go through another series of questions to determine what your specific problem could possibly be, then you get reminded that there could be a fee to get the help you need. In that 2 minutes I had at least 7 reasons to hang up and go crazy, but I didn't.

I waited got a live person who immediately wanted my serial number ( why do they need this) when its not about ordering a part. Sure I understand, if I am attempting to order or replace a component the serial number would be relevant to insure that I am purchasing the correct one.

Well my yoga came in handy because I was able to twist around my open laptop, hold my cell phone, and turn my printer upside down long enough to read off the 10 digit alpha numeric id above the bar code (also upsidedown) without losing my connection to a LIVE tech support person. In the back of my mind while reading the serial number off to her I wondered " If I get charged for this will they tell me? Will they send a bill or charge it to my cell phone?" That would totally suck I thought to get an added 50.00 fee on my cell phone bill..

I let it go, she was able to confirm that the installation disk data was generically dubbed "driver". The driver for this specific printer was available for free download all over the web including the manufacturer's web site. So all I had to do was click on the appropriate links and walk through the download process. Once the Driver was installed, all I had to do was open it to complete the installation process. After that everything should be peachy keen.

I was quite delighted to find out that my instincts were correct and the driver that I kept considering installing was in fact the right one. I did however, still manage to download spyware in the course of my adventure but in the end, the correct printer driver was installed, my printer worked as good as ever, and I did find that malicious spyware and delete it from my computer for all eternity.

The story was so compelling I just had to share; how I survived yet another round of hardware replacement and peripheral intrigue..

By the way, I was not charged for the call.

Got any stories about your hardware/software upgrade or replacement adventures?
Let me know..

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