Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Computer and Stitching - January 2010

(Warning, this is a long and miserable tale!)

I seriously doubt anyone reading this has not experienced the ups and downs of being a computer owner.  It can be your best friend, 'Window' to the world (pun intended!), storage of the many small details of your life (bank account, income/expenses, photos, cross stitch patterns, knitting patterns...whatever your passion is), and so much more. 

And I'm sure everyone has experienced that sinking feeling inside when something goes wrong with the computer.  It might be a virus, faulty hardware, software incompatibility....dispair comes in many forms; but it can be gut-retching just the same.

The past few weeks I've had a continually frustrating series of major issues with my home computer.  It all started when I was unable to install Turbo Tax 2009.  I got a message saying it needed 'Windows .NET Framework 3.5' update installed in order to install.  After much research on the Microsoft website, I concluded that it was a problem outside my comfort zone to solve. 

We took it to the computer store at the university where I work, which is also where the computer was purchased.  A couple days later, I got a phone call from the IT tech saying the system had a bunch of viruses and the hard drive needed to be re-formatted and Windows reinstalled.  This was not good news; but wasn't as bad as it could have been, since the majority of my data is kept on a separate, external hard drive and backed up to CD periodically.  It would require reinstalling all my software, which is time consuming but not overwhelming.

After a week in the shop, my computer is ready to come home.  I begin by reinstalling my Microsoft Office 2007 Suite and get my e-mail up and running again.  From that, I moved on to Turbo Tax.  This time I was able to install it without problem.

In the next few days, I work to get the various software reinstalled and things seem to be fine.  UNTIL I try to play a new CD on the computer.  I put the CD in the drive, close it and wait for it to autoplay.  The green light comes on, I can hear the disk spin briefly, then NOTHING.  I try another music  CD, I try a software CD; all with the same result, or should I say NO result?!

I check 'Computer,' yep, the DVD/CD drive shows up.  I check 'Control Panel'.  It has a message that the CD 'failed to start - Error 10.'  It searches for a solution.  'No solution found.'  Great.  Now what?!

After trying numerous things, I can't get it to work.  DH once again unplugs everything and takes it back to the computer shop the next morning.  He calls me and says the check-in person says there are at least 40 computers ahead of mine, and will be at least two weeks before they can even look at it!  That is like telling me I have only one hour left to live!!  I ask, 'can they save my place in line and you can bring it back when they are about ready to be able to look at it?'  No.  The machine must be physically checked-in and kept by them.  Wonderful; just like a terrible toothache! 

So, I suggest he take it to our local Best Buy to see if they can look at it sooner.  While we are talking, the check-in person apparently looked up my computer in their system and tells DH, 'Oh, it's still under warranty.  Tell her to call Dell directlly.  They should be able to help out much sooner than we can.'  OK, maybe there is hope that I won't be a victim of the shakes from computer withdrawal!

When I get off work that day, I race home and call the support number at Dell.  After quite a long wait on hold, I finally get a live person.  I explain the problem and she says, ' Oh, no problem.  We'll send out a new drive and a Dell-certified tech will come to your house and install it.'  That sounds promising..  How long will this take?  'They should call you tomorrow.'  Wow. 

Sure enough, early the next morning, the tech calls and comes over an hour later.  It takes him about 3 minutes to install the new drive.  However, when we try the new drive, same exact error message as before.  (How did I KNOW this was going way too well?!)  He says I need to call Dell again and explain that didn't fix the problem.

I get someone on the phone at Dell and explain the situation.  'Oh, no problem.  We'll send out another new drive, a new motherboard and a new cable.'  Okay.  (in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, I just don't think that is going to fix the problem).  The same tech comes out the next day, removes and replaces all those computer parts.  You guessed it...SAME error message.

Oh man!  This time, the tech calls Dell and after having a discussion with them, asks DH for the OS disk that came with my computer (I'm at work and miss out on all this excitement).  The tech starts reinstalling Windows on my computer, leaves and gives DH a short messsage for me.  I get home, the install was waiting for someone to click 'accept' on one of those install agreement messages that we've all seen and never read.  I 'accept' and it takes over an hour for the OS to reinstall.

Alrighty, that is done.  Problem fixed?  Not quite.  The drive now works (finally), but there is a new issue.  The computer will not connect to the Internet via our old-fashioned home network with router and hub.  After recycling the hub and cable modem downstairs a couple times with no result, I make yet another call to Dell. 

After waiting at least 45 minutes on hold, I get someone who listens to my tale of woe.  She asks if I have another disk that came with the computer.  Yes, I have another one that has never been opened.  She walks me through installing it and then explains I need to unzip, extact and install each of the drivers checked on one of the screens.  She gives me an extension number and says to call the support number and use that extension if I have further difficulty.  Getting all that accomplished takes the rest of my evening.  But, eureka, the computer finally connects to the Internet.

Of course, since I now had the orignal version of Windows VISTA Business that came with my computer, once I was back online, the Windows Update function found a TON of updates it wanted to install to get the OS up-to-date (121 the first time!).  I started those installing and went to bed!

The next morning, there is a message waiting on the screen telling me that 14 of the updates 'failed.'  Wonderful.  And even better, guess what?  You guessed of those that 'failed' is the '.NET Framework 3.5' that started this whole mess!!!  At this point, I'm ready to cry or throw the dang computer out in the snow.

So, once again, when I get home from work, I get on the phone to call Dell.  I enter the extension number the woman had given me.  I get a young man on the phone within a matter of 5 minutes.  After going through the whole tale once again, he informs me, 'Windows is a third-party software to Dell.  Therefore, we cannot assist you with issues related to it.  You will have to speak to Microsoft or speak to one of our fee-based support people.'  At this point I was at the end of my patience!  I informed him that I was not paying a CENT for help with this issue, since one of their Dell-certified techs had seen fit to reinstall Windows on my computer without my knowledge.  He tells me to 'hold on, he'll transfer me.' 

I'm figuring he'll transfer my call to Siberia and will either be on hold for the rest of my life, or I'll soon fine myself with a dial tone in my ear.  Instead, after pressing '1' for this and '3' for that option, I actually get a live person on the phone.  This time, it is a very very nice woman.  After I explain (yet again!) what is going on, she says, 'I understand.  I can help you with that.'  WHAT?  You're kidding?! 

She connects to my desktop remotely, looks at a couple things, goes to Microsoft's website, downloads and installs three items, then is able to install all of the 'failed' Windows updates! After restarting the computer, she asks me to try installing Turbo Tax.  It works!!  The DVD/CD drive is still working.  Could the problems actually be fixed finally?! 

The answer to that question remains to be seen, but at least for now, everything seems to be okay.  I'm still working to get my software installed once again.


The computer fiasco cut into my sewing time this past week, but I did actually accomplish some stitching on my Tuesday UFO/KustomKrafts SAL--'Everyone Needs Their Own Space' by KustomKrafts.  Now that I'm working on this one again, it's one of my favorites to work on.  Here's an updated photo.

No new updates on any of my others SALS, but I did join another one!  Tonia from Oakhaven is hosting a 'Months 2010' sampler SAL on her Yahoo group.  I recently joined the list and all of my stitching time yesterday went to completing January from start to finish.  Here's how this one looks.

   I'll leave you with a photo of my TUSAL as it appears on this, the final day of January 2010.

Happy Stitching!

Vicki in CO


Cindy in MA said...

Your SAL's are beautiful. Sorry to
hear about your computer problems.
I have also joined the TUSAL

Carolyn NC said...

I do understand the frustration of computers - can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em! My DS tells me I have a Death Aura about me. I don't have to touch it, but it just goes haywire!

Tracey said...

Bless your heart! You have been through a lot with that computer- but it sounds like you perservered and everything worked out. Thank goodness it was still under warranty! Your stitching is lovely!

Deb said...

Sorry for all the problems with your computer. I think that they can be a major pain sometimes to try to understand. Glad that everything got worked out. And your SAL's are wonderful!

Franny said...

You poor thing! I understand your frustration with the Dell computer situation. (I used to work for Dell as a techie) I am now retired and only fix my pc when it really really needs it.

I did take the time to view your blog and your stitching is beautiful. So many lovely projects, where do you find the time

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! that is all I can think of to say about your computer problems. I'm glad they seem to be worked out.
Stitching looks great!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry about all the computer problems you are having, have some issues with mine and hope I get it fix soon. I am doing the same SAL for Kustom Krafts, haven't work on it for a while.


Shelley said...

Wow! I feel for you on the computer front...I have a Dell, my second one and will never buy one ever again. We are building our own computer next time. We constantly have problems with ours and Dell never wants to help us out. They always tell us it is a third party issue, call them and pay them to help you.

You a brighter note, love your stitches.

Nancy M said...

Sorry, but I just had to chuckle a few times during your story. It sounds like the crap I have to go to sometimes. I hate being on hold forever and then retelling your story to each person. I have an external hard drive, I really need to backup my stuff to that!!! I know it could happen to me anytime. At least I know all my photos are stored in Multiply and that would be the most precious stuff! Nice stitching too!

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain on the computer woes - I've been there and it's not pretty. Your stitching, on the other and, is. :-)

Rene la Frog said...

I hope your computer problems are all behind you now. When I started having problems with my old one it was just out of warrenty and was going to cost more to fix than a new one would cost. Got lucky and went to the close out sale at Circut City and got one with a savings of over $300.

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

Terri said...

I hope your pc problems are done. And I think your stitching is wonderful.