Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Life in the fast lane

Well I just want to go on record to say that way back when computers first came out I said they would be the root of all evil. I said it over and over again as my husband and 5 teenagers tried convincing me otherwise. In our family the rule had always been majority wins when things came to a family vote (unless it was something I wanted then I overruled everyone..hey I'm the mom it's in the mom rule book I can do that)and I was outvoted. So we got a computer. It was used for mostly word documents and for the kids to use for typing papers. Then our typewriter (remember those?) broke down and I had to do some typing so one of the boys taught me how to turn the computer on. Don't laugh!! This was serious business. Now this was back in the days before you even used a mouse and had to use the F keys to do things with.

But over time I got the hang of it and actually got to the point where I could whip my way around it. At one point I became a property manager and managed an apartment building among other things and wanted to use the computer to do spreadsheets etc to make my life easier. So I took a correspondence course and part of the course was putting a computer together from scratch. I passed the course with flying colours.

Then the Internet came around and now the roles were reversed. Keith kept saying no no no we are not getting it, it's not going to be good etc etc.. but one of our sons and daughter in law had moved to Alberta and all our family were across country and I needed to be able to contact them without waiting for snail mail to get around to me. So I overrode him and got it. Then slowly he got the hang of it and away we went.

Part of my job as a hotel controller was keeping track of everything financial and my days of learning spreadsheets came in handy and I whizzed my way around everyone. I loved it. (Yes Kim, I actually knew how to do them before you hehehe). My life revolved around my computer. Not very often did I need to have someone come and fix something and most of the time people came to me to help them with their computers.

I learned how to scan pictures which now made my life as a grandmother so much easier and fun. I could make videos and my scrapbooking took off. I have always been a fan of family history and my file holds probably close to 5000 names and tons of information. I backed things up with regularity knowing I never wanted to lose any of this precious cargo.

Then Fibromyalgia kicked in and remembering how to do things became a chore. Things that had been once so easy for me became a struggle. I mean how do you go from being able to make up formulas for millions of dollars to not being able to remember how to use the calculator on the computer? Hardly a week can go by without a message to our son Kim that begins with "Kim are you busy? I ned help."

Another nice thing about the Internet. You never see your kids roll their eyes at you and your requests hehehe. A couple of years ago I decided to write a history book for my dad's side of the family including pictures etc. I sent out numerous emails to my aunts and uncles asking for updates of pertinent information and current pictures of their families. This all got stored on my hard drive.

Then I got the job as Director of a family history centre and started to work on new programs etc. I finally got new flash drives and started sorting through my massive amounts of information that was on my computer. My plan was to have one flash drive for my work, one for just pictures, one for my personal things, one for my family history and one for my book I was writing.

Then the cancer came and the multiple surgeries with recuperation. It took all my energies just to keep up with the basics. At the back of my mind I kept thinking I have to start transferring all this onto my new flash drives but I was always ending those thoughts with "as soon as I am done this". The FM took care of the short term memory losses and when I did have the time to do it I just never remembered to do it.

The last couple of months my main computer started getting slower and slower. I tried doing everything I knew to do to try and locate the problem but nothing ever showed up as the cause. I asked Keith to take a look at it but he would get so frustrated every time he went near it as I would sit beside him asking "why are you doing that, why is that necessary, what does that mean, how is it coming along" etc etc:. He would ask me what I had done and why did I have so many programs and I didn't need this or that and I let the kids on the computer too much instead of making them use their computer (which was an old one and too slow for them they liked mine way better). It just became a bone of contention between us. I kept explaining to him that he needed to explain to me why he did what he did and how he did what he did so if it went down again I could fix it on my own as he was always at work etc. But he kept taking it as I didn't trust him to fix it.

I hated asking him to check on it as he was always so tired by the end of the day with his own work to do. But eventually it just got slower and slower. And then the big day came last week when I decided ok this is it, I am NOT doing another thing till I transfer all this information onto my new drives. I went to pop a cd in the drive to listen to some music while I worked and noticed it never came on. I pulled the cd out and put it back in thinking I hadn't inserted it properly. But same result. So I checked the properties and it didn't even show that drive at all... groannnnn now what.

I called Keith and asked him what to do and he said just turn it off it might just need to be rebooted. So I did. Except that when it went to turn back on it now said it would not reboot and I needed the start up cd to boot it. GREAT. When Keith came home he took a look at it and said he had no idea what had happened and that he didn't have a start up cd for it as it had come already installed when he bought it for me 3 years go. He could tell from the look on my face this was not what I wanted to hear. To say I was feeling stressed was to say the least.

All I could think of was that I was in the middle of writing a book and everything was on that computer. Everything. Many many hours worth of writing and drafting. Hundreds of hours of putting pictures in proper order never mind having scanned so many of them. All my contact information was on there. The only thing that wasn't on there was all my files for my work. That was on one of my flash drives but only cause I had to be able to take it to work without hauling the computer with me so thank goodness I had the sense of transferring my files for that. But that was not what was on my mind at that moment. All my files for Hawaii was on the laptop so that was fine too. But what I needed the most was my book.

So on Monday I happen to go visit a friend from church and happen to mention what was going on. She said oh by the way her husband is a very skilled computer specialist. That is his job and he does everything from building computers to writing programs to everything in between and would I like him to come take a look at it? What? Are you kidding me? Would I want to? YESSS!!! DUH!!

So last night he showed up with his tools and some other kind of program the he could use to test things without having to use a boot up cd. It didn't take more then a few minutes before he said that my hard drive was just old. OLD? it is like 3 years old. Well apparently in computer lingo that is old. He said it is just like any other commodity. At times you can buy a new thing even a new car and drive it for years with no problems. Other times you buy a new car and you have nothing but problems almost since day one.

He did a little of this and a little of that and every now and then would come out into the living room to ask me a question. I was a very good girl and stayed out of my office the whole time to give him some room. It was very difficult though. This was my baby he was working on.. and Keith was talking up a storm with him all the while I am thinking they are talking about me, they are comparing notes on women and how they know nothing.. which of course they weren't.. only in my overly imaginative brain they were.

After 3 hours he finally delivered the news. My drive was deader then a doorknob. I needed a new one. He said he was going to take it home with him and see if he could get a program that would work at being able to transfer everything over to a new drive. At that point I started to hyperventilate internally. You mean as in take it out of the house? As in my computer now has a hole in it? As in I have no files? What other options do I have? Well.. back to the drawing board for the men.. Keith uses an external hard drive for his work as he stores blueprints and a lot of very large files from his work computer at his office and is able to bring it home to work on his laptop. So they decided that he would try and transfer my files from my computer to this new drive so that if my hard drive was just too dead I at least did not lose my files. Then when we get back from Hawaii I wll have to get a new drive.

Ok that worked for me. So the tech worked on doing that. After he was done he did one more thing before he left and then asked me what my admin code was so that he could reboot it from his place...uh... I have no idea.. I gave him the code I always use when I start my computer up but it wouldn't work. He said I needed the admin code that I had set when I first got the computer.. uhhhh that was 3 years ago... you know I have literally very little short term memory right? You want me to remember what I entered that long ago? So my homework is to try and figure out what I would have used while he works on it.

So to make a very long story short, remember way at the beginning of the post when I said computers were an evil thing? Well see? I was right!!!! This living in the fast lane really sucks. This would never had happened with my albums of pictures and my notebooks of writings for my book. It wouldn't have happened either with my old typewriter.