Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wrestling with Electronics

Confession: Following directions nowadays or operating new electronics is like hands in sticky biscuit dough. You have to flour your hands and start over again.

Recently I ordered an external DVD driver (with ability to burn CD's). I had this feeling that I'd be able to sit at my computer and watch movies and "how-to" DVD's with no more than a plug and play situation. With help from the Family Computer Guru, software installed, I sat down to watch "Songcatcher" about a musicologist who discovers early Scots-Irish ballads still sung in Applachia. The characters began to act strangely, almost robot like, and their words garbled five minutes into play.

On the phone with Dell. An electronic voice asks me questions and misunderstands my answers.I repeat them several times until "she" says "I understand you said 'yes', am I correct?Let me turn you over to someone who can help you". Finally a real voice answers and after a few questions, she puts me on hold. I give up after 20 minutes of recorded suggestions by Dell as to how to use the internet for technical problems. Several days of phoning results in same routine of waiting. I resort to Dell's NEW internet chat with a technical adviser. State my problem, given a solution, uninstall the software and boom! Microsoft says I have trouble. The computer now is frozen in "safe mode," something I know only as a security. But how to recover my material? In comes Family Guru with his magic touch plunks on keys and restores my machine to normal with a verbal warining: "Mom, never assume you can do anything with software without calling me." I argue that I want to act on my own. How else can I learn this inane area of computers? "You don't," he adds,"No one makes software easy for moms-turned-computer fiends to understand."

Now I have a DVD drive that's not performing. One more try and I'll exchange it for a Sony DVD Player! That'll show Dell!

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