In the last four months I have replaced two computers and an e-reader. All with better models, but the process of upgrading still has me in a semi-dysfunctional daze.
I knew last fall that my days were numbered – I had a six-year-old desktop that my husband and I both used daily, and a three-and-a-half-year-old laptop that had traveled from coast to coast with me many times.
Still, I figured we could hold out on replacements until Windows 8 was available, and then assess our options.
My laptop was the first to go in mid-September. I wouldn’t say it died; it was more like a disabling stroke. It didn’t have the Windows Blue Screen of Death – it didn’t even get that far in the re-booting process before seizing. Instead, it took several hours of flashing screen and LED lights to find its way through BIOS and Windows and drivers to arrive at a facsimile of functionality. In other words, it did boot up, but only after hours of agony. At night, we shut the door to my office so the flashing lights of the laptop’s crazed innards wouldn’t keep my husband awake.
I learned not to let the laptop go into sleep mode and turned off all automatic updating features, so I could avoid this lengthy re-boot. The laptop was no longer portable – it had to stay tethered to its power cord to avoid hibernation.
I began researching which laptop to buy. But before I made a decision, we had a power surge at home, and the desktop fan gave up the ghost. It still worked, but groaned and wheezed in such pain that neither my husband nor I could bear to listen. I forced myself to flagellate the poor thing long enough to back up the data on the hard drive.
The desktop was my husband’s primary computer at home, so it had to be replaced immediately. But I am the designated technical expert in our house. That weekend I was at Best Buy.
“Give me that one,” I told the clerk, pointing at something on the shelf, not much caring what it was.
(Actually, I had done some research, and bought a very nice 23-inch touchscreen all-in-one. It has a much bigger screen than the old desktop, yet it takes up less acreage, and has a touchscreen to boot. All ready for Windows 8, though all this happened before Windows 8 launched.)
The new all-in-one came with Windows 7. The desktop it replaced had been running Windows XP, and my laptop Windows Vista. I immediately had to learn a new operating system.
And set up accounts for both my husband and myself on the new PC. And re-load all the software from the old PC. And transfer the data. Etc.
Plus upgrade Microsoft Office from the 2003 version on the old desktop to Microsoft Office 2010. Plus learn the touchscreen features.
I love new technology, but only when I have the luxury of time to play with it. Doing an upgrade with my husband breathing down my neck wanting to check email is no more fun than a forced desert march in August.
I waited until November, when Windows 8 was available, to buy my new laptop. I ordered a customized laptop online, with a solid state hard drive, only to discover it had to be manufactured in China. My delivery date was about two weeks out. I started watching the manufacturer’s website daily to track the progress. Not much different than a foreign adoption.
Finally, my laptop was at FedEx Ground in Shanghai. Four days later it arrived at my front door. I really couldn’t complain about the service.
I turned on the laptop, and two minutes later (90 seconds of which was spent finding my wifi network passcode), I was on the internet reading email.
Then I had to learn Windows 8. If Windows 7 is a change, Windows 8 is a cataclysm. I had only seen Windows 8 once before, when my brother-in-law who works for Microsoft had shown it to me.
Although Windows 8 looks very different, I’ve found that it is mostly intuitive . . . until it comes time to turn the damn thing off. Short of hitting the power button (which didn’t seem like a good way to shut down programs), I had no clue.
Thankfully, I discovered the Windows 8 Cheat Sheet & Tips app that came with the laptop. Of course, “Windows key/I” – I should have known that! There’s the power button icon for shutting down!
For the last few months, I have muddled through Christmas letters and labels for greeting cards, online shopping, Treasurer’s reports for the non-profit board I’m on, and minutes for another committee. I’ve learned how to check my three email programs, download books to my e-reader, reorganize the apps on the Windows 8 home screen, and customize the set-up so it is sort of to my liking.
I’m now semi-functional in both Windows 7 and 8 and on Microsoft Office 2010. I haven’t lost any data that was critical (yet), though both the old desktop and the old laptop sit in corners awaiting a final check of their hard drives before they are taken to the guillotine.
I think I survived the upgrade relatively unscathed.
Then I got a new Nook HD e-reader for Christmas, to replace the NookColor I had used for two years. Another learning curve. I’ll write about that after I recover from the PC systems overload.
And I suspect I’ll be in the market for a new smartphone sometime in 2013.