In my last post I said that my computer was working well after the reformat. Unfortunately I spoke too soon. The sluggishness and things were still happening and it was getting to the point where even my dinosaur laptop was faster. It was driving me nuts! So, after asking for advice from many different people I took the side of my tower apart last night and used compressed air on my fan. It was definitely dusty in there, and I'm glad I did it, but that didn't solve the problem.
I spent all day on Tuesday working on finishing the digital version of the catalog for the company I work for, and it almost didn't happen. I felt like everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong for me. I finished formatting the main document and then saved it under a different name so that I could change the colors. This was no big deal. Then I went through and started working on the welcome screen. I guess that for whatever reason I didn't realize that when you create web pages in Word that include pictures a folder is created with these pictures. Okay, I did realize that, but what I didn't realize is that if you delete that picture folder, the file goes away too. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, accept that instead of just hitting delete on the folder, I hit Shift-Delete, which bypasses the recycle bin. The file that I spent a couple of hours on was completely gone and I had to start over. After saying several very un-ladylike things to both the computer and the room at large, I started working on the file again. Needless to say, I wasn't pleased, but I was bound and determined that I was going to get this done the way I wanted it done, and nothing was going to stop me. I think in some areas I'm kind of a perfectionist, especially when I want something I'm working on to go well. So, I got the file done for the second time, and didn't delete anything extra. Then it was time to create the autorun.inf file that makes the CD start up automatically. Okay, so I'm lazy and don't want to take the time to create this on my own. I had a program in my downloads folder that I thought I'd used in the past to create these files. I installed it and created the file the way I wanted it. I actually ended up with something really cool, kind of an audio-visual experience thing when the disk comes up and I was really excited because it was better than I originally thought it would be. I went to create the files and got the dreaded message. "This program is a demo, and disks you create will only work on the computer used to create them." I created a disk anyway, hoping that maybe the message was wrong. I was so sure that I'd used it before for another disk and had it work. Well, it didn't work. I had a disk that worked beautifully in my computer but came up with a registration screen on Jim's computer. By this time it was about 8:00 PM and I was getting pretty tired, which only added to my overall frustration level. Let's not even mention the fact that my computer was getting on my nerves because of the problems with it, and that most definitely didn't help me any. I looked around and found the disk I'd created before. It turned out that the autorun program I was using wasn't the one I originally used. I found the program I'd used, but for whatever reason I couldn't figure out how to use it. I was really tired, and I knew I'd figured it out before, but I just wasn't getting it this time around. So, I went back to the original program. I went to their web site and looked it up. The program cost $30 so I figured I'd buy it and submit it as a business expense. The purchase process went very well and I got my registration code right away. I downloaded the latest version, uninstalled the old version and installed the new one. registered it, and it looked like things were going to be fine. Wrong again! This new version was completely graphical and wouldn't work. I figured I still had the original executable so I reinstalled it and tried unlocking it with my code. That didn't work. The code I had was for the newer version. So at this point I had spent $30 on a program that was completely useless to me, and I was not very happy at all. The only contact I had for this company was an email address. In an effort to at least say I tried to fix things, I sent them an email. I said that I was blind and used a screen-reading program to use my computer. I explained the problem that I was having and how the older version of the program was much more accessible. I asked if I could get a code for the older version of the program, and if I couldn't get that, if I could somehow get a refund. Not expecting a response I gave up and went to bed, feeling like a complete loser because I didn't have my project done by the deadline. I knew I wasn't going to get in any trouble or anything, but I really wanted this to happen the right way.
Yesterday morning I had to get up at 5:45 for an inservice. I booted up briefly to see if I had anything major for messages, and was surprised to see a message from the company that makes this program. Expecting the worst I opened the message. Not only did the guy apologize for my inconvenience, but he gave me a code for the older version and gave me my money back! I was thrilled! So I was able to create my CD after all. I started with one because I was going to have it looked at before burning more of them. It turned out that there were a couple of minor things that needed to be fixed, so after the inservice my boss came in and was helping me fix these minor things. While she was here, I had the opportunity to show her what a pain this machine was, and got another major scare. Previously I said that I thought my back-up drive was failing, so I bought the external to use for back-up purposes. Well, I hadn't quite gotten around to backing everything up yet. I attempted to access the drive and got the message that the disk wasn't formatted, and it very politely asked me if I wanted Windows to format it for me. NO!!!!!!!!! I thought the entire disk was dead, and although most things were backed up, there were still some things that I didn't have backed up anywhere. I couldn't burn more disks right away because the logo I was using was too big and I needed a smaller picture before I could finish, so I decided to go get Adobe Acrobat Reader because I was going to be including it on the CD. I went up to the Adobe site and found the program. My downloads folder is/was on my back-up drive, and when I hit the save button, surprise surprise, the drive actually opened! I decided right then and there that I was going to get the files that I could off the drive before it stopped working again. I spent the next two hours or so talking and literally pleading with this stupid drive not to conk out on me completely. There were some files that wouldn't copy, and I had several errors, but all the important stuff backed up successfully. What I couldn't get I can replace, or is backed up in another place. So, I got that working, and decided to shut down the machine in preparation for the compressed air treatment. I had no desire to stick my hands into a hot machine, so wanted to let it cool down for a while. I figured that while I was waiting I'd go sit in my recliner with my PAC Mate and give everyone an update on my situation. I put in my wireless card, and once the light was steady I went to Internet Explorer. I continuously got the message that the page could not be displayed. I knew I was typing in the address correctly, so on a whim I borrowed Jim's card, which is the same brand and model as mine. With his card I connected immediately to the site. So, yet another thing that I needed was apparently dead. I'm not even sure how old this card is. I got it from a friend on a trade since my original wireless card wasn't working with this new router we're using from the cable company. I can survive without many things, but with a computer that is apparently dead in the water, and now a dead wireless card, I was really not very happy. So, back I went to good old Buy.com to get yet another thing since I knew they'd have this particular card that I like. The card has shipped all ready, so I will hopefully have that fairly soon. Once I placed this order using Jim's computer so that I wouldn't have to warm mine up again, I went in and did the compressed air treatment. Some things went better, but I went into Add/Remove Programs, which had been taking at least 3 minutes to populate the programs list, and there was still absolutely no change. I figured then that it must be something else.
I had the new logo picture by this time so I finished the disks, recreated and updated my autorun.inf file, and burned the disks. This went well, fortunately, and by the time 10:00 rolled around I was done and ready for today's conference.
I woke up in the middle of the night, most likely because of Taz, but I'm not quite sure. For whatever reason, in my not-really-awake frame of mind I started thinking about my computer yet again. That's when it hit me. Many people have multiple drives on their computers, and install programs on more than just their main hard drive. I wondered if maybe Add/Remove Programs was trying to search my back-up drive for programs, and if disabling that drive completely would have any effect at all. I didn't get up and try it right then and there, although I was tempted, but I did get up at 5:30 this morning, (again because of the conference) and give it a try. It disappeared from My computer immediately after choosing the disable in this profile option, which is what I hoped would happen. I went into Add/Remove Programs, and the list came up immediately. I did some other experiments, and everything seemed to be working well again. Things are much faster now, and everything is working as expected. I know I said that before, but this time I think it's true. So, at this point, 99 percent of my technology problems appear to be solved. Once I get my new wireless card, I'll be even happier.
The good news though is that my catalog disk was a big hit. Everybody that saw it was impressed with what I'd done, and an employee of Freedom Scientific wanted a copy to show to the FS marketing department so that they could see what I'd done. I'm really glad I didn't settle for a different way of doing the disk, especially since it's apparently turned out so well.
Well, tomorrow is another work day, and I'm going to be out for the majority of the day again. I'm really glad that tomorrow is Friday because I just don't think I could take much more of this week. It's almost over though, and things definitely seem to be looking up. I'm going to proof this and get to bed. I'm definitely tired!