Tuesday, January 22, 2013

PC Lemon

A while back I helped out a neighbor with her computer. She bought mid-range ($700-ish) PC, not ages ago... it came with Windows Vista.

FUCK... brain fart as I type... can't remember the name... had the commercial w/ the cute little black kid... has the word "PC" in the name... My PC... Friendly PC... Smart PC... something like that... they were half a service provider, half a PC mfr.

Anyway, her neighbor had installed MacAfee virus suite before removing Norton AV (or vice versa), and the two were fighting each other, and that neighbor bailed (after taking her money) and wouldn't fix the mess she left.

It was a DUAL CORE Pentium... really, should chew up and spit out any menial tasks this woman was gonna throw at it. Seriously... writing letters, e-mail, web. NOTHING more.

So even after I finally got both malware apps off, and did a clean instal of one, it was quickly clear that this PC was a DOG. It took literally five or six MINTUES to boot to desktop. Took six MINUTES to shut down. Getting updates (which required multiple restarts) drove me insane.

So I got a call yesterday asking if I could install her NEW computer. She told me she was so frustrated after (now about) two or three years on this computer she was ready to throw it out the window... she literally would bang on it out of frustration.

So she purchased a Lenovo from Best Buy. Something in the $700 range. She finally got a bang for her buck. And THAT's what has me fuming. This old PC was NOT that long ago... there was NO EXCUSE for the poor performance that this thing gave her. ANYBODY could slap together a $700 PC that would function satisfactorily. This was a brand that was advertising on TV, and couldn't get it right.

Her son told her he'd set up the new PC in 10 minutes, and just transfer the files over... zip zip... and it would be no problem. Good mom that she is, she knows her son works hard all day and has a family, and said that she'd hire a pro (me) to do it right.

She even bought the EZ Transfer Cable (a simple USB cable) to connect the two PCs together to transfer files.

So here's how it went down...

Wake up old computer, and find the "Shut Down" option on the start menu.
Wait four or five minutes while "shutting down" while talking... then realized, "uh, this is ridiculous"
Hold the hard power button until it shuts down.

Crawl under desk. Unplug everything. Spend a few minutes straightening up the mess under there. Move old gear into the hallway... including the LAST CRT monitor on the planet. (so this was right on the cusp of LCD) It still had a roller ball mouse... USB keyboard, PS2 mouse.

Unpack new monitor as she marveled at the weight and footprint (or lack thereof).
Connect everything.
Power up.
(yup, as per her son's prediction... maybe 10-13 minutes)

Ooooo... Windows 8. A first for me. I'm not a-skeered.

So what does MS do?
1) End User License Agreement... option should say "Agree Without Reading".
2) Sign up for your Microsoft Account. (wasn't clear that this was optional), so I went for it... how hard could it be.

name, rank, serial number... e-mail... choose your password.
No, not enough letters.
No, need capitals and numbers.
OK, finally a weird password that this woman will never remember.

Continue and... Windows has encountered a problem. Installation will restart.
Ugh, seriously?!?

Quickly enough, it reboots, and I "Agree Without Reading", and this time OPT OUT of the MS Account. (Hey, why didn't I do that in the first place.)  Most likely it didn't allow to continue because it couldn't yet find the internet... it couldn't yet find the internet because the OS was not yet installed. Thanks GENIUS BOYS !!!

Soooo, Win 8... what-coo-got ?!?

Name this computer.
Create a User... no, not THAT user, must be different from computer name. OK, fine!
On to user log on screen... uh, why are there TWO users. I really only entered one user. Hmm, next time that 2nd user didn't appear... just the once. (WTF?)

Win 8 starts with a nifty snazzy Startup Screen. Not a traditional desktop, just field of apps organized in some fashion... a MS section, a Lenovo section, and some "other" section. One option is "desktop". Click that and you're "kinda" in familiar territory. No "start" menu of any kind... gotta drag mouse to upper right corner to see it magically appear. OK, fine, it works pretty well.

Now to uninstall some bloat... minimalist, I just uninstalled MacAfee and installed free Avira. Told her "just don't use all that stuff that's installed".

One app she needed to use was her word processor. She had disks for (wait for it) MS Works Suite from her old computer. New PC came with teaser of MS Office 2010. (Uh, it's 2013, right?)

So we'll deal w/ that next. First things first... re-set up her old PC... mouse, keyboard, monitor.
Run EZ File Transfer on new PC, which prompts to install a flash drive (I brought), so I can run same app on OLD PC.
Run on Old PC... did I mention this old PC was a DOG. 13 minutes later, I have app running.
Connect EZ Transfer Cable between two USB ports. Select mostly defaults on both PC.
"Looking for EZ Transfer Cable" says the old PC... for six minutes, then reports "no EZ Transfer Cable Detected".
Just about then there's a pop-up at the bottom... Installing Drivers... EZ Transfer Cable dectected".
Yup... maybe 20 minutes now before two computers see each other.
Click to continue on both comps, using defaults.
Transfer starts and both PC say "Don't Use This PC During Transfer" while new PC shows action bars. (Why TWO action bars... 3.2 Gig for new PC, 650Meg for old PC... uh, is something going from New to Old??? WTF??)
This transfer starts to take about four minutes before a chunk shows up on new PC action bar.
Just about then a message appears on Old PC... "You would have faster transfer if you plugged into newer USB 2.0. Click here to see available USB ports."
Yup, I'm plugged into the USB port on the FRONT of the figgin' computer... and that's USB 1.0. Need to use the BACK of the computer to access the USB 2.0 port. WTF !!!!!!!! Not unplugging anything mid-transfer. Just gotta deal with this auto-negotiation back to 1996 tech.

Maybe 30-40 minutes later, transfer complete. All files are moved to where they should be.

So... disconnect, and shut down old dog for the last time in history. Good f'n riddance !!!

Plug in printer, let it find drivers... all looks good. Small glitch, it wants a manual "ok" on the printer's front panel each time we print, asking if it's OK to use the new paper. I think I fixed that in "printer settings".

Now, double click on one of her old word processor files. Options come up for MS Office...
1) have a license, enter code
2) go online and buy a license
3) use trial version

We try her old code from MS Works Suite... not surprisingly, no way.
She decides to buy online for $107 (discounted from $127).
Please enter MS Account or start a new one. ARGGGGG... I just opted out of that an hour ago !!!
OK new account. Enter all sorts of info... continue... uh, account already exists. Huh, it does??
OK, log in as this account, click "forgot password, send me re-set password link."
Wait... wait... wait... uh, they're not sending re-set password link."
Try again... this time e-mail comes.
Reset password. Buy software. Download software that's already installed (18 minutes?). Finally MS Office (Home and Student) is now installed !!!

A few more pokes and tweeks, trying to get AOL as her home page... but where are the "internet options" that I'm so familiar with... can't find them. Find some sort of way that seems to work... two tabs come up, one of them is AOL... but only if you go to DESKTOP first... don't go right to IE from the nifty startup window... that has a mind of its own.

All said and done, just about 3 hours on this PC to do the "10 minutes" of work.
This system DOES work fine. Starts up fast. Loads apps fast. Is QUIET. (Did I mention, old PC had screaming loud fan that didn't make a sound for minutes at a time while PC sat and did NOTHING... the SCREAMED to life as you saw it decide to do something.)

Anyway, her C-note turned into $125. (I just said, "Whatever you think it's worth to you". Was not gonna haggle... bad karma.) Not bad for 3 hours. Low level consultants get that... and this is cash money.