Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Weeble Tech Support

“Oh, could you come a little earlier before mother’s appointment?” asked Dad

“Sure, what’s up?”

“I’m having trouble with the computer.”

“What’s the problem?” I expected to hear ‘They don’t give me my email.’

“I don’t get anything.”

That’s an understatement.

“I turn it on, and I don’t even get a welcome.”

The computer must be on Ma’s side.

“Ok, I’ll come early to see what I can do.”

Dad greeted me at the door and we scurried like mice upstairs to his office. I booted the machine up and sat back in his office chair to watch the screen. There was the happy little Microsoft chime and the Welcome. I was wondering what kind of welcome Dad wanted. ‘Welcome, I’m so glad you’re here. Welcome, we couldn’t get through the day without you. ‘Welcome, you’re gonna pay.’

When last I played computer tech support, Dad’s trial subscription to the antivirus program had run out. I pay enough for him to not turn the computer on much, so didn’t want to pay for a subscription. There are plenty of good, free, antivirus programs out there. I had deleted his antivirus program and had tried to download one of the free programs to get slammed with the ever delightful Windows has encountered a problem and needs to shut down.

The computer went through it’s bootstrap routine. All the little doodahs appeared in the tool tray, but no icons appeared on the desktop. What the…? I revered to the old programmer’s standby. I shut down and rebooted the system. Again, no smiling icons on the desktop.

“See?” he said smugly with his arms folded across his chest.

“What did you do?”

“I didn’t do nothing!”

Standard reply. These things don’t just happen like magic. IE was pinned to his start menu and I could access the Internet. I went into the program list to try to make a desktop icon. It didn’t appear. I seemed to recall this happening once before, but nothing was ringing a bell for me. Well, first things first, let’s try to get that antivirus program. Crash! I went into my Gmail account and fired off an email to Himself for ideas. A Google search for missing icons gave me the simple solution that somehow Dad had executed a right click and chosen hide desktop icons. Well that was easy enough to fix. Right click. Arrange icons by name. Show Icons. Ta Dah! The laying on of hands worked.

Fingers flying across the keyboard, I accessed my Yahoo Briefcase to see if I could download a file. No problem there. So, the machine had a problem with .exe files. I went into System Control and checked to make sure all the updates had been done. Dad’s eyes were beginning to spin in his head. I was told all updates had been done, but I was skeptical. I have a free virus program in my downloads folder at home. I’d have to transfer that to my thumbdrive and see if it could be executed from there.

Ma was getting antsy downstairs. Yelling at us that we were going to make her late for her appointment. We had a clean 45 minutes and it only takes five minutes to get to the medical building. She doesn’t like it when I play with Dad, and not her. Another quick email to Himself stating I had solved one problem but was still stuck with a solution to the download problem. Asked if he could talk to the IT guy at his school.

One last check to see if somehow, Dad had removed the administrative protocols from his account or added a second account that didn’t wear the admin hat. Nope, one account and it had admin privileges.

“I’ve sent a request to Himself to talk to the fellas in his computer department to see if they have any answers.”

“Ok. Get me my email.”

We went through his email deleting stuff from November.

“Hey! You were going to get me a glob.”

Que? “Oh, you mean a blog.”

“Yeah, I want one.”

I’ve done this twice before. I had set him up on Blogger and for reasons which should be quite obvious, I don’t want him there now. Blogger had been in the beta phase and had been too confusing to him, so I set him up on 360Yahoo. A nice, easy, social network for boomers and oldsters. Even made him a cartoon avatar that looked like him when he was younger. Nope, he couldn’t negotiate that. Turns out Yahoo is abandoning the 360 site.

“There is a site called Eons,” I called up the site. “You can read about it and sign up here.” We stared at their homepage screen. I don’t know much about this site as I don’t use it. I do know it is for older folks so you won't have to deal with teens.”

“Well, when you find out about it you can…”

“No, Dad. I don’t want to find out about it. I don’t have time to write your blogs for you. If you want to do this, you need to get in there and play around.”

He frowned.

“Fine. I punched the sign me up button. Filled out the form. Asked him what he wanted for a screen name, gave him a password, and noted all this on a piece of paper that will surely find its way to the bottom of a pile or the wastebasket.

“Where do I blog?”

“See the button that says ‘Create blog’? Push that and follow the bouncing ball."

By this time Ma was hollering that we were going to be late, so I shut the computer down.

“You know what?” Dad said in frustration. “Just get rid of this. I don’t use it. Don’t need it.”

“Hate to break this to you, pal, but you're stuck with this for two years.”

His eyes went round and glassy.

“You wanted FIOS. You wanted to bundle with your phone for a flatrate. You signed a 2 yr contract with the phone company. You opt out of this and you breach the contract. I don’t know what penalties are involved.”

Another sigh.

“I just wish I could type,” he whined. He was wishing for his old Olivetti.

“You can.


“You go into Word.”

“But they don’t give me an 8 ½ x 11,” he wailed.

I’ve used computers in my work my entire adult life. I started working on them when machines were the size of a Buick. I learned to program on IBM cards. I ran a teletype machine and thought paper tape was the wave of the future. I forgot what it’s like to be a beginner. How much is second nature. All of this is like Buck Rogers to Dad.

“You know, I wish we could find you an old typewriter. The real problem would be finding ribbons, because they just don’t make typewriters and ribbons anymore.”

Deep sigh. Forlorn look.

When Himself got home that night, he gave me a rundown from the IT fellas.

“See if he created an account without admin privs.”

“Did that. He just has the one account, and that says he’s an admin.”

“Make sure all the updates are done.”

“Yup, did that.”

“There’s probably spyware.”

“Yeah, I thought of that too, but until I can download the antivirus program, I won’t be able to find out.”

“See if you can download the antivirus to your thumbdrive and run it from there.”

“Yeah, I thought of that too.”

“The only other thing they said was to upgrade to IE7”

I was pleased that for a dinosaur of a computer programmer, I was on the right track. I still had it. I just wish I could upgrade Dad.


Erica Vetsch said...

I was laughing so hard at his understatement, I could hardly read the rest of the post! LOLOLOL I have two words for you, girl. Pub. Lish.

Alesia said...

I can relate to your dad, I feel like that about texting. I now have clients who text me on my regular ol' cell phone and it takes me 1 hour to text back 5 words. I need one of those groovy phones with the keyboard on it. BTW, I just heard that young people now turn on light switches with their thumbs, that's how prevalent texting is these days.