Sunday, June 29, 2014

A luddite on the rampage

Last Tuesday my computer seized up and died.  The young man at our local computer shop, Streetwise, was confident he’d be able to fix it, just a soft wear problem he said, but as the days passed the story developed first from a soft wear problem to one of irretrievable decay. 

We bought a new computer and the Streetwise fellow offered – for a price – to install my old data, which we had saved onto a backup disk, as all sensible people do.  The Streetwise chap had hoped to be able to save it from the original damaged hard drive but no such luck. 

Then the back up drive only coughed up data to 2011, the rest is not there.  A problem with the way the back up disk was connected to our computer via Time Zone or some such guff.  And so we needed to take the damaged hard drive to a fellow in St Kilda Road who retrieves lost data, again for a price.

He’s confident, this second fellow tells me, that he can retrieve my data.  For $440.00 economy, it will take approximately ten days; for $900 priority, he'll need four to five days, or for emergency, he can retrieve it all in one to two days for $1200.00.  Despite my desire to have my data back now, right now, I opted for economy.  I can wait.

But to wait, when it feels as though half of my life is on ice.  I exaggerate, but this business of losing my data has unhinged me.

Strange dreams in which I move house with two of my children as youngsters and the place, filled with many rooms – a mansion of a place – is chaotic.  No matter how hard I try to tidy, the kids drag toys out from everywhere and I cannot get my house into order. 

A new computer is one thing, a fun thing you might say, but for me it’s cruel the time it has taken to get my new computer running and all of this dependency on the genius of my children, who are au fait with the lingo and all things computers, is debilitating. 

I bought an IMAC but did not realise I needed Microsoft office until I made another visit to Streetwise.  Until then almost nothing would run, and then another visit later, this time to Office Works because Streetwise had closed by then, to get a new separate disc drive because the newest computers are slim and lighter to carry than their predecessors and in line with the view that one day soon DVDs will disappear altogether as Videos did before them, the new computers no longer have the capacity to insert discs.

I sound like a luddite or an ancient person who cannot bear change. 

I had resisted up grading my computer for this reason.  My computer was eight years old, they tell me, a good long life for a hard drive. 

It seems computers do not live as long as pets. Hard drives are destined to fail sooner or later, they tell me.  Human error and the limitations of all things mechanical. 

Inbuilt redundancy, I reckon.  It enrages me and adds to the stockpile of junk, unless we can recycle.    And all this new stuff to learn again. 

But then I tell myself, it’s character building, the re-learning that is, not the accumulation of junk. 


Paul L. Martin said...

This, too, shall pass. Elisabeth. I hate computers even as they make our lives so much easier. I am scared of them because things are just slightly out of my control. With a typewriter, I roll the paper in. I control the process. But computers are a necessity and therefore, we must get used to their quirks and foibles. I do know exactly how you feel and I empathize with you completely. I hope your problems are resolved and you can get back to work. Take care.

Jim Murdoch said...

My wife and I once were experts. At least that’s how our peers saw us. We weren’t but we were computer savvy. I, as you know, taught computing which makes me sound awfully clever but I only taught people up to NVQ Level II and you really don’t need to be that bright to do that. But that was years ago anyway. When I started we were still using 5¼" floppy disks—that’s the big black ones. Now I’m as ignorant as the next man. About the only tweaking I do with a new laptop is change the size of my screen display and set the background to black. I’ve a couple of macros in Word that are helpful but that’s about it. Mostly I can’t remember how to do anything anymore. I had to do my wife’s taxes a few weeks back and that involved me having to teach myself how to do several things in Excel that I used to be able to do without batting an eye. The good thing is that I can teach myself these things quickly but it’s sad how much I’ve lost.

I backup everything. I use Dropbox constantly but I also have several external hard drives with backups and backups of backups. I hate that things don’t last like they used to. Thankfully the only technology I’m reliant on are my computers. My main machine is a Samsung Chronos Series 7. It’s a high performance laptop and was not cheap—about £900 as I recall—but then it’s an important tool. I spend hours on it every day and I need it to work and continue to work for years to come. I will have to replace it someday but I do, seriously, expect eight or nine years out of it; £100 per annum for computing power doesn’t seem like an unreasonable outlay to me. I have an old Dell in the office as a spare. And an Asus netbook which Carrie replaced and runs Linux. Plus my tablet which is an Android device. So I’m never in a panic about losing connectivity or data. What’s not in Dropbox is in Evernote or in some black box.

My dad had a phrase—built in obsolescence—and I see it more and more these days but especially with mobile phones. I don’t even own a Smartphone and cannot see me buying one… ever. If mine dies—and it’s easily eight or nine years old—I’ll use Carrie’s old one (which is the same model) since her brother gave her his old phone but as I rarely leave the house what do I need a mobile for? In fact Carrie’s phone’s locked itself and we’ll have to phone our service provider to let them know the phone’s not been stolen. I had to do that with mine a few months back. THAT’s how often we use our mobiles.

Anthony Duce said...

I feel sorry for your experiences here. On the other hand I’m feeling I not the only victim of a computer death☺ I find myself in this situation every three to four years.

PhilipH said...

Computers: I love 'em and HATE them.
We, and I mean the developed world, are so dependent on these wondrous inventions and all that goes with them.
The software, the hardware, the internet, the smartphones, the tablets and soon wristwatches that can do wonders... it's all non-stop and ever-growing, much worse than topsy!

And the scary bit, the REALLY scary bit is that when these things go BANG we are lost.

If terrorists want to wreck our lives no need to kill people or use bombs. Just cripple the systems that govern our everyday life. Trains, planes, banking, electricity ad infinitum. You name it and you'll find a dependency on a huge computer system.

There is no fallback system. We cannot live life using pen and paper or using books and stuff. We are hopeless without this technology

I hope you can retrieve your files and stuff and that your life is soon back to as normal as possible. Good luck.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

I've been to computer hell and back twice and with no Audie Murphy to save my hard disk's ass. Third time's a charm, as they say.