Friday, January 23, 2009

The Great Vista Debacle

I recently bought a new desktop (Dell Inspiron 530, Dual Core, 2 Gig Ram, 250 Gig HD) for my home office primarily for my wife's email and as a back up computer. The old one died unceremoniously before Christmas...Hello, Santa.

I confess that most of my wounds, as far as computers are concerned, are self-inflicted and this past Sunday I decided, in a momentary but serious lack of judgment, to use the disk that came with the computer to upgrade to Vista (Business). I really prefer Vista's layout and even some of the security functions (not the accursed UAC!) and, after all, Dell had included it with the machine so it must be OK! NOT!

After a relatively long (60+ minutes) to install Vista without any error messages, I rebooted the machine and was presented with the friendly log in screen. As soon as I logged on the machine gave me a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) and an error message I had never seen before. It was all downhill after that, nothing would work, not even Safe Mode with Networking (allows you to connect to the Internet while in Safe Mode.) DESPAIR!

I spent the rest of the next three days trying to Google the answer with little result, emailing Tom Diroff and Ed Rudel, our two tech experts from our computer show and spending over an hour on the phone with my own personal help desk, i.e. Ed, all to no avail. After sleeping on the couch a couple of nights (Ginny was not happy with my tinkering) I decided to simply do a complete clean install of Vista and then restore her data which I had saved on an external drive. Even that proved to be full of grief because the new Vista was pretty much without most of the key drivers needed because it was supposed to be an upgrade installation over Win XP. So I had to manually restore many of the drivers from the disks that Dell supplied with the machine, e.g. the drivers for the DVD player so that I could install the other programs like my printer software.

The moral of the story? If it ain't broke, don't fix it! I do have to say that I much prefer the new Vista system, even with its problems and Ginny doesn't seem to notice the difference since she only uses Outlook 2007 which looks exactly the same.

At least I'm off the couch...for the time being.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Multi-tasking Inauguration

I just couldn't help myself, it was too much of a temptation. During Tuesday's inauguration, CNN streamed the ceremonies online in conjunction with Facebook. On my computer screen was a flash video window with the CNN reports and the proceedings while on the right hand side of that same page was a panel that allowed me to see either what my friends were posting about the event or switch to see what everyone was saying. It was a remarkable experience, kind of like standing on the Mall in Washington, DC, waiting for the show to begin and striking up a conversation with the people around you about the event. The only problem was that I eventually got to talking to half a dozen people at one time and began to lose track of the event itself.

Soon the whole multi-tasking thing got way out of hand. I had the TV on in the living room to record the event for my wife Ginny, a TV on in the office with me (because I discovered that CNN/Facebook coverage lagged behind the real event by 30 seconds) to follow the event as it happened, the CNN/Facebook coverage on my computer (muted because it was behind) and in the meantime I was trying to install Vista on my wife's computer! I'm afraid that I probably missed some important parts of the inaugural address but I figured that I would catch it later.

It amazes me that my grandchildren somehow manage to accomplish a lot of things while doing many things at once. I discovered through all this that I am simply not up to multi-tasking more than two things at one time, such as walking and chewing gum while the world around me Twitters itself into a cloud of ADD oblivion.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hail to the Chief

What a remarkable confluence of history: The inauguration of the first African American president of this country following the remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King's valiant struggle for just such a moment. I can imagine Dr. King and St. Peter leaning on one of Heaven's parapets looking down on the events Tuesday morning when suddenly the gatekeeper of glory nudges Dr. King and says, "See, I told you, we shall overcome."

May the "we" truly be all of us as we put aside political divisions, racial mistrust and economic differences to once again stand as "We the People of these United States...", committed to raising one another up and stepping over the threshold of fear and indifference to apply our considerable skills to "bearing one another's burdens."

I invite you to join me and take a moment and pray for our new president and his coworkers for wisdom, courage and decisiveness. Then let us ask God to show us"... not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for it."