“…A year ago, I picked up a computer on Boxing Day. Because Windows Vista didn’t come out until a few months later, the computer had the option of a free update to the new Microsoft operating system.
I never got around to doing the upgrade. And now, I’m glad I never did.
This Boxing Day, I once again picked up some bargain basement computers. This time, they were all loaded with Vista. It’s a good thing I don’t get headaches, because now, a week later, I would have run out of Advil, Motrin, Tylenol, Tylenol Extra Strength, Tylenol Quick Release, Aspirin, and maybe even Children’s Tylenol. I might have even raided the first aid kits in the cars.
The first headache was networking. As these computers are all meant to work together for my hockey photography shoots, so it is imperative the networking works.
All of them came with Norton Internet Security preloaded, so I activated it on Michelle’s desktop. Big mistake. Norton made it pretty much impossible to network. That’s great if you are trying to keep bad guys out of your computer, not so good if you need to share a printer and files. Norton got uninstalled, pronto.
This brings us to printers. We bought a clearance HP 1012 laser printer a year or two ago that has been absolutely wonderful. It tremendously cut down on our printing expenses.
But Michelle’s new HP desktop computer won’t recognize it – a printer made by the same company. Indeed, Vista will not recognize it, other than to say it doesn’t work with Vista. HP’s website says a new Vista driver (the software that tells the computer how to use specific hardware) is in the works, but nearly a year since the launch of Vista, I doubt it will ever come out.
A search of online forums says if I install the printer driver from the original disk (not the website download, the highly recommended usual source), it might work. But all indications are that the installation has failed. Yet, strangely enough, the printer registers on the list of printers.
A print job on it works. But then the print spooler crashes, and you need to restart the computer. After that, it works all the time, for a printer that is not supposed to work. I’ve even printed from the network on it, but that again crashed the print spooler.
Next was the “easy settings transfer” that was not in any way easy, and took several attempts before it worked. That only occurred after running it in several, smaller steps.
Then we started installing all the little programs needed to make it all wonderful things on the World Wide Web wonderful, like Flash, Adobe Acrobat and Java.
“Java” should be called “lava” for the meltdown it has caused on the desktop.
First, it would not run. Then the wireless network would not connect to the router. Upon rebooting, bad things started happening. Think blue screen of death, several times over.
A half dozen reboots and several attempts and crashes by built-in windows recovery software, and Windows is up again. But it will not connect with my wireless router. It will connect with the neighbour’s router, but not mine. I unplug the thumbdrive network adapter, and plug it in again. No luck.
I run system restore, which is meant to take the computer back to an earlier, functioning stage. It runs, and crashes. Blue screen of death. Fifteen more minutes to get the Windows screen up again, after several reboots. This is an entire afternoon. It rebooted no less than 25 times during this unmitigated disaster.
When I started to I write this, I still did not have Michelle’s desktop functional. I almost had to reinstall the computer to factory settings, throwing away many, many hours of software installations and transferring settings. Finally, miraculously, I somehow got it all to work again.
I am a dyed-in-the-wool computer geek. I have spent as much as a weekend struggling to get a modem to work on Windows 3.1. I build computers from scratch. If I am having such grief, I pity any mere mortal who has had to contend with similar computer catastrophes. It could make for many very expensive Vista-operated boat anchors.
There was a time I used to go to Apple.ca to watch their TV commercials lampooning Vista. At the time, I just thought they were funny.
Now I see they are real.
Brian Zinchuk is a reporter with the Battlefords News-Optimist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org