Monday, August 29, 2016
VOLUME -23 NUMBER 8
Publication Date: 08/1/2008
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ARCHIVE >  August 2008 Issue >  Tech Watch > 
Does Your Computer Do This?


Opening my daily e-mails involves wading through several dozen of them, including the latest offerings from Amazon.com, MLB.com, the latest digest from SeeYaDP (owner's group for my Diesel Pusher coach), various notices about bills received and paid by my bill paying service, and a number of messages from the office since I work at home in my motor coach.

There are also a few queries about feature articles, an occasional delivery of a feature that had been promised and a lot of press releases that I shouldn't be receiving at all. My finger pauses above the Delete key as I scroll down the various garbage notes forwarded by friends and family, and the occasional get-rich scheme from somebody with a huge check they want to deposit in my bank account, and other scams. Some of the forwarded notes, from trusted friends, I actually take the time to read, and some of them I actually re-read and save. This is one of those that I want to share because it hits so close to home.

"At a recent computer expo, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, `If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.'

"In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

  • For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash...twice a day.
  • Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
  • Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.
  • Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
  • Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive, but would run on only five percent of the roads.
  • The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single `This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation' warning light.
  • The airbag system would ask `Are you sure?' before deploying.
  • Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
  • Every time a new car was introduced, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
  • You'd have to press the `Start' button to turn the engine off."
    Printer Won't Work
    Does any of this sound familiar? It sure does to me, because I just ran afoul of another of Microsoft's wonderful curve balls out of nowhere. For weeks now, my HP printer has refused to print when driven by my HP computer. First I tried a System Restore to a point before the trouble began. Nada. I tried uninstalling the printer drivers and re-installing them. No soap. I tried printing the same documents from my Sony notebook, and they printed just fine. I checked with my computer maven, and he assured me that there was nothing I could do short of reformatting my hard drive. Somehow I was rather expecting this. Just get set to spend an entire weekend re-installing software.
    Upgraded the Phone
    A few days ago, I made it my business to enter the nearest Verizon Wireless store in a large mall in Muskegon. My object was to upgrade my Razr phone to a Palm Trio, which would supposedly accept all of the Palm OS data that now resides in my computer. I fully expected to have to pay about $300 for this serious upgrade, getting tired of carrying two gadgets clipped to my belt when one would do. I was quite surprised to lean that I could walk out with a new Palm Centro for just $70, which would be refunded as a rebate because I was due for an upgrade. A free phone/PDA! I was pumped; I was delighted; I was one happy camper. They nicely transferred all my speed dial numbers from the old phone to the new one. Then I synchronized with my Bluetooth, and I thought I was home.
    Not so fast. I couldn't voice command phone numbers from the headset. I called Tech support for Palm (with an accent that sounded suspiciously like lower New Delhi) and was told that I would have to access the voice prompt from the touch screen on the Centro, then speak at the phone, not my headset. Bummer! There is no earthly technical reason my old Razr phone would do this and the new Centro will not, other than some kind of programming problem — one that I hope will be fixable by phone update very soon, or I will become very upset. But this was only the beginning.
    New Software
    Next, I tried to install the new phone's software on my computer so I could retrieve my calendar data, my several Palm contact files (including data from several thousand business cards), various notes, memos, expense reports, etc. Up came one of those incredibly aggravating messages: "Warning, you must uninstall the existing Palm software before proceeding with this installation". I wasn't quite ready to do that. The instruction manual needs some more perusing, and I need to call a few people at Palm before going ahead. Then today I tried to access my existing Palm database on my (non printing) HP desktop computer. For the first time ever, it would not let me in. Some access data screens came up that I have never seen before. And this has come about since trying to install the new Palm software. This very happy camper is very suddenly unhappy, and I hate to think of the computer projects I am facing now with this new development. I can't return the phone; I already tore the box apart to send in my UPC bar code for the rebate. It's only $70, but it can sure make you do foolish precipitous things because you're afraid of forgetting to send the thing in at all. Yes, there are rebates that I have forgotten to claim, or didn't have all the right pieces to the puzzle by the time I did remember.
    Fortunately, I have copies of the data on my USB dongle and on another computer. And just as soon as we get this issue to press, I am going to have a serious heart-to-heart with my desktop computer. It's really being very very naughty.  
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