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The Kettle Black

What Did You Do With My Computer?

by J Mundok

One of the reasons (certainly not excuses) that this issue is late is my home computer fritzing out last fall. I was surfing around heard a buzz that lasted about 5 seconds, then I lost my connection. When I tried to get back on-line my modem no longer worked at all. I started a journey that would teach me more than I ever wanted to know about computers and those who claim to fix them.

I had been planning to upgrade for a while and since my PC came with a cheap-ass bundled sound card/modem, I figured I’d chuck the whole thing and buy a new modem, sound card and CD burner.

After several failed attempts to properly install a PCI modem, I sent it back and got a different brand, this time with toll free tech support. I decided to set the release date of the zine back until late January so I could enjoy the holidays. Another failed attempt at installing this modem convinced me that I needed a new computer and began shopping around. I figured out how to get the money together and just before placing the order I made one more attempt to get through to the promised toll free tech support. Somehow the psychic Indian guy on the other end sent a spell or something through the phone and the damn thing fired up and plugged and played. I was bummed. There went my dream computer down the tubes. I was stuck with old Bessie and no excuse to spend a small fortune on a brand new suped up monster-computer.

Bummed but relieved I went ahead and ordered the CD burner and soundcard. I thought I was the shit until I installed everything and the real nightmare began: Resource Conflict: Device 11 upon booting up. What was this? After a restart and trip to safe mode everything would be solution...leave it on all the time until I figure this thing out. It worked for a while. I had sessions scheduled, it was already January and I had promised to get the zine out by the end of the month. In the meantime I haggled with books and tech support people and came up short. Nothing made sense. The individual devices worked fine after I managed to get the system up, but windows periodically locked up and then the big one hit...a complete crash. At this point I was well into my second month of computer problems and my frustration had risen to an all time high.

It was time to do the unthinkable...take it in to get fixed. I hated the idea but I knew it was my only choice. I found a a real mom and pop like place here in town that didn’t charge a bench fee and seemed like really nice people. I took the machine in and the next day they said it was fixed. I asked how they fixed it expecting to hear about some burned out part or damaged circuit board. Nope. He did exactly what I did and said it was fixed. I didn’t have a really good feeling about it because there had been times I thought it was fixed but it really wasn’t. When I showed up to get it the tech wasn’t there. His wife ran the place and said she’d fire it up before I left. Sure enough the same error message popped up and it locked. She said she’d have him look at it right away and I told her I needed the machine for some sessions. She said I had to pay for two hours labor anyway (130 bucks) and we proceeded to get into a pretty heated argument. I wasn’t about to pay $130 for my broken computer and I wasn’t about to give it back for more repairs because I knew the first 2 hours weren’t getting erased from the bill. Eventually she broke and gave my computer back. She blamed me for not giving enough information and that’s why it wasn’t fixed...that was that. Oh well. Back to square one.

With nothing left to lose I figured the parts just simply weren’t compatible (like they all say on the box). The final steps...take out the modem and see if it works okay with just the sound card. Presto...problem solved. I spent the whole weekend recording a band with no glitches and no modem. It was time to break down and buy an expensive external modem and use the PCI card as a coaster. The result: no conflicts. Everything’s back up and running smooth and if your reading this zine in print or on the web, you know I was able to get everything done without being too late. I have realized through all of this ordeal that it doesn’t take much to be as knowledgable as the pros when it comes to pretty much anything. That tech’s making $65 an hour and his approach, like mine, came up just as short. Even though it set me back a few weeks, it inspired me to make the effort to learn about things that come up in life and try to fix them myself and if I can’t, at least know how someone else did it...the experience gained will help in all aspects of life and can also be very rewarding.


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