Thursday, September 28, 2006

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Hard Drive

OH boy, oh boy oh boy. *Hand wringing* *Squinting and pacing*

It's a good thing that last week I had a legitimate diversion from my normal daily patterns. Since G was knock-down, drag-out sick with strep, I had a serious target for my attention instead of throwing myself under a schoolbus because

my hard drive finally honest to god died. *Rapid strobe flashes of Munch's "Scream"*

While deliberately behaving like an oblivious Scarlett O'Hara and avoiding doing anything about the computer at all, I went to Blockbuster and got a bunch of movies and G and I spent a couple of days watching them. What I love about DVD is that with so many films you now get all the extras. Often I enjoy the extras better than the movie. (My first foray into this intriguing world behind the scenes was "A Series of Unfortunate Events," which has awesome animations and music that we replayed over and over.) Such too was the case with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." There was a full film-length documentary with the writer and [I think a camera guy?] explaining how they did things, how they shot things, what ideas they were after, and additional peeks at how the imagery works and some accidents that were nothing to do with deliberate art direction.

By the end of that, the still feverish G was so impressed he was ready to go out and make a film of his own. He called up his friend and tried to recruit him into a project. Of course this was without a whit of an idea what the story would be--since he has never learned how to plan anything yet in his life, including making models of ancient Rome, I think he believes the Muse will just land on him while he's in mid-process or something.

But even though the documentary was very long, like all good things it had to come to an end and I was left staring into the face of the black screen of death. I whipped my initial horrors and resolved to call Dell. There was, after all, no way around it. But I was really reluctant; after all, this happened before just a month ago, and I had to send my computer back, and they sent it back saying there was nothing wrong, and it betrayed me again. Little worse than having to reinvent the wheel after you've already invested a hundred hours of sweat and phone disconnections and hold and speaking to people who have no sense of humor and whose English is sometimes hard to understand.

There is little I hate more than calling Big Computer Company customer service. About nine or ten months ago we had such a traumatic attempt setting up and making multiple printers compatible with our network that I live in fear of ever calling again in this lifetime. Even if I were hanging by my teeth from a rope swinging from the bottom of a helicopter, I would not be desperate enough to call for help. We have plenty of experience and know how to do these things--we are not your ordinary garden variety non-geeks. And yet as we spent HOURS on the phone and kept getting shifted off to half-a-dozen other "representatives who could help," we watched a pattern of deceit and "sales opportunity" develop that was nothing short of sharklike. We allowed this to unfold, knowing what was happening, simply out of morbid curiosity. It became clear that these people knew nothing about their own products and drivers or how they were/were not compatible with each other. We had simple questions and they kept saying the printers and drivers were compatible with the new computer we had just set up. In truth, they were not. And the driver disk was corrupt and threw errors and did nothing and loaded and then lost all consciousness of its own software and hardware and it was a nightmare. Several "representatives" actually cut off the phone calls (i.e., hung up or put us on perpetual hold) when we asked to speak to someone more knowledgeable or a supervisor. It went on and on and on until they had tried to convince us that what we had to do was buy a whole new printer and new drivers for compatibility and that the only machine that would fit the bill would require over $500.

Reader, we did not do it. We survived, but the whole event was utterly exhausting.

So Scarlett O'Hara dug her heels in and called. And the inevitable happened: the first time through all the stupid automated menus, I wound up in dead air. Not on hold, not speaking to a real human being, nada. Then I tried again and was put into a queue and wound up in dead air again. A third time I got as far as "you will hear a series of clicks and then a list of tips that might help you resolve your problem." I heard the clicks, but the list of tips never came on and I was in dead air again. (Just to let you know, it takes at least ten minutes each time to get to this point in the menu tree.) Between the third and fourth time, it occurred to me that I was being pretty stoic about the whole thing. I congratulated myself. Perhaps if I had not had the printer experience, my expectations would have been much higher and flames would be shooting out my eyes, nose, ears and mouth. As it was I realized it was about par for the course.

The fourth time I called, I actually arrived at the "tips." Okay, maybe I was fairly miffed by this point because I started talking back to the phone. I had steeled myself, knowing what was going to happen next. But I broke down. "Don't tell me to go to any websites for help! My effing machine doesn't boot! Internet schminternet! How am I supposed to get to the web with a dead machine and no operating system, you #$%%^%$&**7#!!!!"

At this point, I just let the tips blather on. And miracle of miracles, a real human being eventually came on the other end of the line. We began the ineffable dance of what went wrong and digging up the history of the recent [non-]"repair." Upon which the representative, Vincent, told me I was not covered under warranty. Wrong! I had more recent information than that--armed with my customer number and order number, I swiftly put his suspicions to rest. See, Vincent, I knew that the machine would certainly double-cross me again so I dutifully renewed my warranty one day before it expired. Ha-ha.

I took the whole machine apart and put it back together again, knowing full well none of this ritual was going to resurrect the thing. Ultimately Vincent pronounced my hard drive dead and said they would replace it but that I would have to send back my faulty hard drive. A mandate with which I am not sure I can comply. For godsakes, that's like trading in my child or something! Not to mention all the information that is on there that someone who knows how might be able to access. I do not like that one bit.

The new hard drive arrived yesterday. I installed it and the setup screen reports that a primary hard drive now exists (yay! before it was saying "None"). But it can't do anything. It's just a knuckleheaded empty hard drive utterly devoid of my data, web design files, writings, letters, photos, Dreamweaver, my favorite fonts . . . ['scuse me while I finally break down and weep. No, not yet. I'm pretty sure everything's fairly recently backed up on my external].

So ironic that while I was watching Jim Carrey have his memory erased in "Eternal Sunshine," I was waiting for a new, empty hard drive. How hungry I am to have the memory restored.


Post a Comment

<< Home