A Tale of Two New Computers

I wrote in January 2013 about having to replace two computers and an e-reader within a few short months. Four-and-a-half years later, I’m in a similar situation. After replacing my husband’s and my cell phones last December and our printer in February, I am now in the middle of upgrading our two computers.

The keyboard and a USB port on my old laptop—the sweet little laptop that produced my two novels—were going bad. The computer worked fine with an external keyboard, but it wasn’t reliable as a true laptop any longer. And I worried that if the one remaining USB port stopped working, I wouldn’t be able to back up my data to the external hard drive.

Meanwhile, the desktop my husband uses has become painfully slow, despite a full overhaul last summer. Booting up takes forever. I click on the Quicken icon and can go downstairs for a Diet Coke before the program loads. My husband has tolerated this glacial speed, but I can no longer stand it.

The time has come. These machines have done yeoman’s work. They deserve a rest. They deserve another home with someone who will appreciate them the way I no longer can. So in March I ordered two computers.

My new laptop arrived—a 13-inch convertible HP Spectre with a touchscreen, tons of RAM, and a solid-state hard drive. It’s essentially a souped-up version of the little laptop that has been my partner for the past several years.

New laptop

I love the device, but I hate the set-up. I’ve had the new laptop almost two weeks now, and it still doesn’t operate the way I want. I can do most things, but finding files I moved to its hard drive takes a little work (mostly because I’m trying to organize my data more rationally than on the old laptop). Even programs aren’t always where I expect them to be.

I’ve switched to Microsoft Office 365. I don’t like subscription plans for software, but Microsoft sets their prices so that the 365 plan makes the most sense financially if you have more than one device you want to load Office on. Plus you get tons of cloud storage. Thankfully, this version of Office looks enough like the old that I can type. But I had to install the custom fonts I used on my novels again, and I’m not sure I have them all yet. I’ll need to inspect everything before I can format my new novel to look like the others in the series (though that is months down the road).

I’ve downloaded Scrivener and Evernote and my backup software. I’ve loaded the Kindle and Nook apps and made Chrome my default browser. But I found out that my photo editing preference—Picasa—is no longer available. So that was a huge disappointment, until I moved it from my old computer to the new one (it’s working at this point).

The backup software I’ve used with my external hard drive to back up continuously doesn’t work on this laptop. The software that backs up hourly seems to work fine, but not the continuous backup. Western Digital can’t explain why, though they have offered telephone assistance, which I have yet to take advantage of.

Recently I had to use the laptop without the external keyboard and mouse, and I realized I’m going to have to make some changes in the trackpad.

Every day I find a new issue.

But even more frustrating than my set-up issues on the laptop is that HP lost the new desktop I ordered for over three weeks. I ordered it on March 17, and it was supposed to ship on March 20 and be delivered on March 24.

When there was no update to my order status page by March 25, I filed a complaint. I was told the computer had shipped on March 24. When several days later my order status page still said it would ship on March 20, I emailed HP again. I was told it would be shipped by April 6.

No change.

On April 7, I called HP’s customer service line. I was not given a firm ship date, but I was given a discount off the purchase price. Then finally, on April 8, I had an email from HP stating that the desktop had shipped. I now have a FedEx tracking number, and my order status page says the computer should arrive on April 11.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that I’ll have to go through the whole set-up process again. With my husband breathing down my neck (like he did the last time), wondering why it doesn’t work exactly like the old one. In addition to all the issues I described with the laptop, it will have Windows 10 instead of Windows 7, so it will look very different to him. But I bet he’ll be happier with its speed.

We are so reliant on technology these days. And yet, have things changed that much from when the horseless carriage replaced the wagon? We still have to fight our new devices and we lose productivity while we figure them out. We have the entire knowledge-base of the world at our fingertips, and yet a mechanically malfunctioning key can keep us from entering the password that allows us to access this knowledge. That was never a problem with the encyclopedia on the bookshelf.

What do you hate most about replacing a computer?

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8 Comments

  1. It’s always a pain to upgrade computers and two at once??? Kudos! Theresa.

    Have you ever considered Dropbox? I have it on my phone, the PC, and the laptop and can access documents from anywhere. And feel confident they are saved wherever the “cloud’ drifts… so to speak although I’m also aware of the cloud problems, so save copies of the important writing files to my desktop. I’ve had Dropbox now for several years and have never had a problem.

  2. USB failing? What, you never heard of backing up over WiFi? I do all my backups to a 4 TB RAID array over WiFi. I also backup to the cloud, but I prefer my duplicated disk RAID array. One goes out and it’s fully redundant on the other. Of course if the president ever decided to send bombs to Vermont because of Bernie I could have a problem.

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