It started with Jim's computer this morning. He turned it on and it wouldn't boot up. He said that he thought he had an error, so I came out to see what was happening. He had one of those really pretty blue screens that are really nice to look at but mean nothing but trouble for your computer. I rebooted the beast a couple of times, and each time the blue screen came up. No Windows, no nothing. We called someone who lives here in the building who's read things for us in the past and he came down to read the exact error message so that I could figure out what we needed to do. It came down to two basic options. Pay our computer guy, (who is reasonable but we really didn't want to have to pay money for this thing), or call Dell for free and deal with who knew what. We settled on the Dell option. We purchased these desktop machines three years ago with in-home four-year service contracts. They wouldn't honor mine when I needed a new hard drive put in about a year and a half ago, but I was going to make sure that they were going to honor it in this case. So, I got online from my laptop to look up the customer service number for Dell. After locating the number, I put in the call. I couldn't help but laugh to myself when the automated system picked up, and started taking me through a series of voice activated menus very similar to the fictitious Dell Customer Service call that I created a while back. (For those that didn't download this last time, this link is an MP3 this time and much smaller, so if the size kept you from downloading it last time, go ahead and try it now. It should be a lot better.) When we were asked for the service tag, the guy helping us was crawling around on the ground, trying to get into a position where he could read the stupid thing. He finally found it, and I got placed in the cue. The hold music wasn't all that interesting, and they kept coming up with possible tips for people to follow that were supposed to help solve problems. Of course none of them would have worked for this situation since we couldn't even get into Windows, Safe Mode, or go back to the last known good configuration. This thing was completely dead in the water.
When someone finally answered, we needed to get yet another tag number. The guy was hard to understand, but he was extremely patient with us. At one point I wanted to scream though because he asked if we had the Windows disk that came with the machine. I have no idea where the disks for Jim's machine ended up. I knew where my stuff was, but not his. The guy wanted to send us a completely new disk before he could solve the problem. This was most definitely not an option. We tried my disk, (which is for an identical machine), and it did what we wanted it to do. We basically had to run a repair of Windows after booting from the CD. It took a couple of hours overall I think, and instead of waiting on hold the entire time, the guy offered to call us back. So he did call, and he kept thanking us for being patient. I think it should have been the other way around though. SMILE! I know I've given Dell a lot of crap in the past, and done a lot of complaining about them, but in this situation I was really pleased with the service.
So, one problem was resolved. I figured that I'd be able to pick up where I'd left off earlier in the morning; in bed with my comfy fuzzy sweat suit, a book and at least one cat. Unfortunately, even that didn't happen. Okay, so it did for a while. I was reading a book, and decided that while it was on I was going to play Yahtzee. I brought it up and started playing. For some reason though, the commands for navigating weren't working very well, and my braille display was jumping all over the place. After a little more experimenting, I discovered, (sniffle sniffle), that my PAC Mate, which has worked perfectly for the last three years, has apparently developed a keyboard problem. It's weird because I haven't spilled anything into it, but pressing keys cause other characters to be entered, and in some cases they're being entered multiple times. So on Monday I've got to send my baby in to FS to get it fixed. The good part of this, (if you can call it good), is that at least I'm not completely without a PAC Mate. I have the BX unit that I use for demo purposes. It's not my QX, so I don't have the nice leather case and it's a lot fatter than my QX, but I was able to snap on my 40-cell display so at least I didn't have to compromise that part of things. I got all my data, calendar, contacts, and programs onto the BX easily, and have a complete back-up for when I get my unit back. So, I'm not exactly without, but I honestly prefer the QX units. I like a regular QWERTY keyboard over braille. This is extremely odd considering that I've been using braille since I was three, but I do more typing these days then I do brailing, so I'm really going to miss my baby! At least I'll be in the office for a staff meeting all day on Wednesday so I'll be able to get a UPS pick-up. Oh, and just a reminder to myself, let's not have a repeat of the buy.com incident where I forgot to include the RMA number? SMILE!
So, that's been my day, and here it is almost 6:00 PM. I'm going to make corn dogs and fries tonight for supper because I really have no motivation, and it's easy. I still plan to be lazy tomorrow at least. After all, I have a whole week of The Young and the Restless to catch up on.
Anyway, I'm going to go turn on the oven and get things ready. Later guys!