PC: Problems Compounded

I am involved in my annual computer meltdown. Every year since 2004–every single year–I’ve had major computer problems sometime between mid-April and mid-May. This is a particularly bad time for me compared to, say, July–and yes, I have PCs. (I hear chuckles from the Mac users. You know who you are.) Over the years I’ve seen Blue Screens of Death (a Windows crash-and-reinstall and hard drive failures on a desktop and laptop), fatal driver incompatibilities, and this year’s endless reboot hang-up. I caused it, apparently, by moving the computer in my home office. I failed to replug all of the USB peripherals into the exact same ports they’d previously enjoyed and, when I turned the computer on again. Windows XP played the role of xenophobic INS agent to a non-resident alien. “This USB connection wants to be part of your computer. I don’t trust it. If you allow it then anything bad that happens is ALL YOUR FAULT.” It warned me thus about 20 times and, when I rebooted, Windows got hung up, the little progress bar cycling endlessly as if it was working overtime to compensate for my irresponsible ownership. Since Sunday I’ve fiddled with registry clean-ups, system restore points–a friend said that if I keep restoring to earlier points soon I’ll be using DOS (students may be too young to remember DOS. It was the earliest Microsoft operating system. One booted up by turning a hand crank)–and have twice installed Windows XP Service Pack 3. Right now I’m reinstalling Windows XP. I’m not optimistic. A sledgehammer might be next.

These problems are less problematic than in the past because I’m obsessive about protecting my data. My redundant backups have redundant backups.

I browsed Macs at the Apple store a few weeks ago. I’m not there. Not yet.

7 thoughts on “PC: Problems Compounded”

  1. Did you know that if you bring in your PC and buy a mac, they will transfer everything for free? I did this in January, after losing my 3rd PC. You’re blog actually looks better on my mac than on my old PC. My dad, who has built our own PCs for years goes through a similar cycle that you are recalling. Being a child of an avid PC struggler, I do remember DOS. I haven’t yet completely convinced him to switch over. However, when he witnessed how long it took my mac to turn on, connect to the internet, and open programs, he was sweating a little. It took maybe 30 seconds. You KNOW you wait a few minutes for that START menu to be available.

    Some day, it will hit you. You will throw that thing in the trash and suddenly find yourself in the apple store. It is a hard journey for all of us. But worth it in the end!

  2. I’ll try my best not to sound like a pretentious Mac user here, but your post here reminded be of something I’ve been thinking about recently. As graduation approaches and I succumb to the natural tendency to reflect on my past four years here, one thing I can’t believe is that I’m still using the same Mac ibook that I brought here as a freshman, and that it still works great. This is after four years of being trudged around in my backpack with my other books, traveling thousands of miles, and being subjected to the type of routine abuse you would expect of anything owned by a college student. My favorite story is about how I once spilled almost an entire bottle of New Castle on my keyboard, and although it sat in a tented position upside down in my room for about a week, it eventually came back to life without any hardware replacements or trips to the Genius Bar. After watching both of my older siblings suffer through horrific experiences with their Dell laptops through college, and watching CORE teammates go through countless reboots and blue-screens (I know of at least 2 people from my team who bought Macs immediately following that semester), the fact that this thing keeps going is like a miracle bestowed at the hands of Steve Jobs himself.

    I understand the tendency to want to remain a PC user, and for some people I do believe they’re better. I’m only a Mac user now because I was driven to this point by problems akin to what you’re experiencing now. I grew up in a PC using house where I was pretty much the only one who knew anything about computers, and believe me – being 10 years old and talking to a technical support operator in India for 6 hours straight can do horrible things to a child. It seems like you’re on your way. You’ll get here eventually.

  3. I too am a happy owner of a mac. I made this switch only last year but I think there might be a few things you might be interested in.

    For example, macs now have a program called time machine, which automatically backs up your hard drive so in case of a crash (rare in macs) you can revert your hard drive to any previous date, so if it crashes tomorrow, I can have all my files that I had today in a few minutes.

    The only downside I can see to Macs are the limited programs that are mac compatible (and video games, but I don’t think thats your cup of tea). Although most programs now are become mac friendly.

    You mention that security is an issue for you. Unlike Pc’s, on a macintosh, you must authorize anything that is downloaded to your computer (no spyware!) and any program installed on your computer.

    One day you’ll be here, where the grass is greener, with Sarajane, MJKenyon, Steve Jobs and myself.

  4. Professor Randall, do you always update Windows XP when the new patches come out? Unless it’s a security update, I usually wait for a while before updating my XP since there are always some issues with the patches.

  5. Sorry for the double post, but I just realized you updated to Service Pack 3. Maybe this might be the root of some of the problems you’ve encountered.

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