Saturday, June 20, 2009

My new computer

I've decided I don't know as much as I used to. I haven't maintained my currency. For several years now, my use of computers has become just that - usage. I haven't been teaching any of the technical stuff, haven't needed to pull a computer apart, diagnose problems or rebuild it. Other people have looked after that aspect at work and I've had the same computer for eight years at home so it's just needed basic maintenance and the occasional upgrade.

Last week that all changed. My old computer had been annoying me for a while. It had become very slow, freezing regularly and shutting down spontaneously. Rather than try to fix the problem I decided it was time for a new computer. So I sat down with Lauren's boyfriend and talked RAM and graphics cards and other things with unintelligible letter/number model numbers. I knew what I wanted the computer to do and I knew enough to decide on the parts I wanted and I could have put it all together if Adam didn't do it for me but I really have no interest in all that any more. I've been happy to hand all that over to him and let him be my 'tech advisor'.

The things I'm struggling with now are the gliches that have been arising all week. My printers, having been bought at the same time as my old computer, were eight years old. While I could find drivers for both of them on the internet I was at an absolute loss as to how to get them to work. Downloading and installing didn't work. I ended up losing patience with it and bought a new printer this morning. It's a colour laser so it's taken the place of both the laser printer and the bubblejet. Even then I had trouble. The driver that came with it wouldn't work - for some reason it was looking for someone with administrator access or the usual user of the computer. Both me, but it still didn't want to work. Of course just plugging the printer in and connecting it worked just fine but the installation instructions that specified several times in big red writing that I wasn't to do that confused me.

I'm also having a weird problem saving things. Word thinks it saves a document but I go back into it the next day and all my changes are gone. I can check a document in a couple of different ways. In the "Open an office document" window, the document won't appear, but in my directory folders it will. Neither place shows a document has saved; at least not consistently. Sometimes the save date changes, sometimes it doesn't. I know enough about computers to know how to save things, and I'm saving my work in as many different places as possible at the moment because I'm not sure my files are going to be there the next day. This problem has defeated me - and it irritates me. I need something I can rely on. I don't want to have to spend nearly an hour every night checking to make sure the document I've been working on has saved somewhere - anywhere, as long as I can find it again - before I can close it and go to bed.

All this is a huge change from my position years ago when I used to build and repair computers on a daily basis, used Linux and C every day and was the person everyone went to when they had a problem. People still come to me when they have a problem but it's differen. The problems are different; user problems with software, not hardware or technical problems. Isn't it amazing how interests and aptitudes change throughout life?

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