Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Technology Can Kick You when You're Down

When I shipped my TabletPC to ViewSonic in early May, it seemed I set off a disastrous chain of events.

About two weeks later, I discovered that my main desktop PC had decided that its power supply fan was so much extraneous garbage. I had to shut down the poor, overheated hunk of mismatched components. I halfheartedly shopped for a new power supply, but delayed purchase, since I'd gotten used to staying out of my computer room and lounging about with a portable. I just used my laptop, instead.

So a week after that, my laptop decided to power off and never function again. I'd seen this issue before and done the research, then sent that laptop, an old Dell Latitude, off to be auctioned as surplus. As in the other case, the light on the AC adapter, a steady green before the device was attached, would begin to blink when inserted into the 3800. Even though I knew better, I still tried several adapters. It probably didn't take me a whole hour to hop on eBay and start bidding on slightly better (700-800 MHz, whereas my Inspiron was 600 MHz) machines, not knowing for certain when I would see my dear Tablet again. Besides functionality and portability considerations, the loss of the Dell laptop was and is quite a blow to me aesthetically. You see, I'd gotten one with a green bezel shortly before Dell stopped offering that color. Just days before its demise, someone had complimented me on its unusual look.

I was on call, and the only Windows machine I now had operational was a 100 MHz touchscreen tablet running-–or, rather, crawling-–Windows 98. I wasn’t even sure if it could access our call database and VPN. My pager was going off every doggoned night, too (no easy on-call week for me).

I knew we had a VPN client for the Mac, but I'd been unable to get OSX on the G3 (it's a beige one), and in trying, I'd somehow kludged it up so that it refused to boot from hard drive or cd* (and I'm going to have to start supporting Macs soon... my manager says they will make sure I'm better trained, but I can't help thinking, "God help my users!"). I was rather panicky until I looked without much hope and discovered we had a VPN client for Linux. My second-best desktop is running RedHat, so after some learning and re-learning (and highly pessimistic thinking), I was able to work once again, and I was feeling very pleased with myself.

Given the way technology had been kicking me while I was down, it was only natural that my favorite TabletPC site, TabletPCBuzz, had to suffer catastrophe after I hit upon a plan to borrow a laptop from work. Sure, I had other desktop machines I could rebuild and install Windows on, but by this time, the fight had been beaten out of me. To say that I suffered from performance anxiety would not be much of a stretch; I no longer felt that I had the magical technical touch, and I didn't feel like watching processors cook, hard drives smash onto the floor or motherboard capacitors burst.

27 days and several phone calls after I shipped my baby to ViewSonic, a replacement, breathtakingly flawless in appearance, was in my hands...and it had a shielding issue. I desperately tried to live with it, but the erratic behavior of the cursor simply made operating the device impossible. I obtained another RMA, but (thanks to eBay) at least I had a functioning laptop by then.

The Mage has paid for her crimes against technology?
25 days after I shipped my TPC off for the second time, I received my second replacement. It didn't look as close to mint condition as the 1st replacement, but it looked a lot better than the original. More importantly, it functions properly. I've just installed a new power supply in my desktop PC; a brief test shows all is well in that quarter. The laptop I got from an eBay vendor exceeded my expectations and was a fantastic bargain, and I just received a beautiful Fujitsu Stylistic 2300 from another eBay seller (the Point 510 touchscreen tablet will likely be sold). I'm now bidding on blueberry iBooks, having given up on the idea of running OSX on the beige G3. Life in technology is once again sweet.


*Blogging can be beneficial! In dredging up informative (hopefully) links for this entry, I have found a clue as to what went wrong with the G3; it could very well be that Master/Slave drive issue.

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