Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gateway Gave Me the Gateway

  I originally made this blog out to be for my MST3K style riffs, and then retooled it into my writing blog. This one though, although I’m not deviating from the format again, this one will be a little different. It will also be on target because I use a computer for my writing.
  My old eMachines, a T3624, had a gig and a half of RAM, a 60 GB HDD, a GeForce FX 5500 (clearance at Wal-Mart), Windows XP SP3, a 17” 4:3 monitor and a single core 2.7 gHz processor. Not bad for five years ago.
  Well, the time came when the old thing was not performing well. Oh sure, I kept it in good condition and all, I physically cleaned the inside for dust biannually, but I noticed that more modern software was becoming a hassle to run. Heck, Premier Elements 2.0 wouldn’t run without a huge strain—and thine protests from an 80 decibel cooling fan.
  Although I loved my old bucket, and I still do, I decided that I needed to get a new one.  So, from my paycheck at Majestic Metals, I saved up a bit of cash and nabbed an offer at CostCo (red flag count: 1) that I could not refuse. I found a Gateway (red flag count: 2) DX4320-02e. This was a Windows 7, six gig, quad-core, 640 GB HDD system with a 23” 16:9 monitor all for $749.99 with a $100 automatic rebate. I was sold and so was the computer. I took the box-o-crazy back home, content that I was a few hundred words ahead on schedule in NaNoWriMo, ready to spend the night migrating everything over from my poor 60 gig eMachines.
  This is where my first non-oblivious red flag went up. As soon as I hooked it up next to the eMachine, waited through some startup stuff, and entered my overall password for the thing, it bluescreened on me before I even touched the desktop (red flag count: 3).
  I, being an optimist (but I’m not stupid), was more deeply confused rather than shocked. I wrote down the error, and restarted. It booted twice (?!) (red flag count: 4) after asking if I wanted to boot in safe mode, as if it was trying to tell me that danger (or stupidity) was the only option. I rebooted it, on my toes after two legitimate problems had happened, and updated the drivers. This was after I found no logical connection between an overheating error and a computer that was sitting in 50-degree weather just turning on for the first time. Afterward, everything was great… for about four hours.
  As two AM rolled around, I still sat, well, where I am as I write this, babysitting Windows Easy Transfer in the dark (technically in the basement). Two keyboards, two mice, two monitors, two towers, I looked like I was programming a worthy successor to the sasser worm. I got up to grab a decaffeinated Mountain Dew and take a leak, and Windows decided to go on standby. That wasn’t a big deal; I could just press the spacebar. When I pressed, this happened:

(red flag count: 83,465,783,783,264!!!)
  That’s right, my advanced Windows 7 machine decided to tumble down from the 64-bit lineage to 8-bit hell, deciding to chill with the TI-99/4 and the Apple III to smoke rolled up ARPANET’s for all time.
  “Dude, you gotta try this stuff! I see MISSING NO.!”
  Box-o-crazy indeed.
  Okay, this did not happen exactly, the password screen had some misplaced pixels here and there looking more like a bad JPEG picture of the screen. Oh, and it froze. (red flag count: 5 for real)
  I started to panic. I turned off the machine, which held 90% of my eMachines HDD data, mind you, and restarted it. I could hear the whispers rushing from the screens cold, dead blackness. Actually, I just heard an odd rhythmic click from the tower. The clock was threatening to chime three in the morning, well past the witching hour, and I decided forced myself to sleep on it.
  Saturday morning hit, a time that I used to spend eating Fruity Pebbles and sitting in front of the Nintendo playing Super Mario as I waited for Pokemon to come on. Hold on a sec, I still do that. Well, there was no time for nostalgia to take over my life; I had an expensive brick to mend!
  And that it was…. A brick…. My new Gateway Computer… was a brick. I listened for that odd clicking sound that came from the night before, and found that it was not coming from the HDD, as common sense would lead me to believe, but from the Ethernet port. There is a top green light and a bottom orange light on every port on every computer with an Ethernet cable. The orange was blinking in synchrony with the clicks.
  Finding that I was clueless in this computer related matter, I threw my head back ferociously, and made a Big No so robust that it would make almost anyone in Star Wars proud.
  (red flag count: 6)
  So I went to Costco, and, bitter but hopeful, I swapped that new and improved brick of a DX4320-02e with a different and better DX4320-02e. This was given in the return line with a scathing and bitter note to Gateway about their fluke and that one unit. Actually, it was a request to destroy the hard drive since I had bank account information on it (I can’t delete if I can’t access), and I was vulgar without the use of cusswords, so I hope that my urgent request went through.
  I swapped it and left, the problem here is that the worst had already passed, yet the story is not finished, so please excuse my lack of something thrilling like “The worst has yet to come, true believers!”
  Anyway, know what happened with that new one? The one that I swapped for the old one?
  It did not even power up. Right out of the box with the plastic still on it. It. Did. Not. Turn. On.
  (red flag count: 7)
  I looked at the orange power light of the monitor, and the deadness of this true brick, and I did what any normal person would do before taking an expensive yet faulty item back. I shouted several fragmented sentences pertaining to excrement from bulls, bulls partaking in intercourse, the male offspring of a female dog in heat, more excrement from bulls, and any sort of eternal damnation into the pitch black void from beyond that would fit the context.
  (red flag count: 8)
  After I recovered from my fatal heart attack, I was advised to call Gateway and chew them out politely (“Good sir, would you be so kind as to allow me to rip your head off and pour acid down your neck? I would deeply appreciate it ever so much.”). I recomposed myself exactly eight hundred and one hours later, and called up Gateway. There, I was talked to by a recording of a real lady that had apparently had parts of each word clipped off, so she sounded like some old WWF toy with a voice box.
  I went along with it. It asked if I had a Windows problem, or a power problem, I replied that I had a whole dang computer problem. As I went on, it suddenly interrupted itself, as if a very rude clone had butt-in and totally shut out its first duplicate, all to speak with special old me, and said that the serial number for the tower was needed.
  Odd, but whatever.
  I told the machine on the other end of my iPhone all about the sexy numbers (it gets off on pi really badly, I imagine), all in the exact same robotic way in which it was talking to me. In the middle of my reciting the number, a third clone interrupted and said that I would need to call a separate 900 number to get more assistance. I saw its metallic eyebrows rise and fall with naughty intent in my head when it said assistance.
   (red flag count: 9)
  I was a bit confused as to why some robots at Gateway were so interested in me, so I hung up and went back to CostCo, the second time in four hours, to exchange the same thing for just cash back. Maybe it was the whole situation, maybe I thought that there was a bad batch of Gateway computers there and that the employees and my grandpa agreed with me (red flag count: 10), maybe it was that I was ready to pass out from swearing till I was blue in the face, but I just did not feel like the ‘don’t-take-no-for-an-answer’ Jim Kirk kind of guy then. My art is a delicate subject, and if the computer that I do it on is faulty, than my art suffers, and I get even angrier.
  I gave up, I stopped harping for a gateway computer, I was lost, broken, and torn, lying naked the cold, dark void that I had cursed the other two Gateways to earlier. A crow cawed in the distance, carried and distorted by the sound of wind that was paired happily with television static. What was I to do, my experience with buying a new computer hampered by the two DX4320-02es? My soul hurting from the prospect of going back to my very well loved, but trusty eMachines T3624.
  I reached up to a light, a yellow price ticket. I went to Best Buy; got an HP p6654y and now I’m all better.
  AMD-Athalon II 630 quad-core, 4 gigs of RAM (expandable to 16 GB!!) , 750 GB HDD, a 20” 16:9 monitor, Windows 7, and an ATI Radeon HD 4200.
  I had told some of the team members about my experience that is outlined above, and they said that it was odd (yeah, duh), and that the Gateway company, despite being awesome at one time, was bought out by Acer, a computer company known (that’s what they told me) for poor, budget computers. (red flag count: 11) That actually explained a bit.
  I left the best Buy with my new prize, praying to the gods of probability that this HP with the Nightmare Before Christmas font would work. When I got home, I was told by my grandmother that she was talking to her friend about my ordeal. She learned that gateway sells their refurbished computers to CostCo, Wal-mart, and other big box stores that don’t put focus on electronics, but carry them anyway. (red flag count: 12 and 13) That actually explained a bit more than I needed. That actually explains my tweet here too. It was a recent Gateway keyboard obtained from Deseret Industries. I was too worn to note a flag for the keyboard.
  I took my true box-o-crazy down to the basement, where my epochal T3624 welcomed me with it’s 60 decibel fan that goes whenever it starts up, and I begun a HDD migration.
  I finished late Saturday, and this new HP is now fully acclimated. There have been no major errors as far as hardware failure goes, just a little bit of slowdown, but that was my fault. I typed up this whole essay on the new HP while my T3624 lies in a corner, the both of us hoping that with whatever life is left in it will be put to good use before it absolutely needs to be recycled.
  The only thing that bugs me now about this tribulation is a simple question. Why do I keep personifying computers as if they were real people? I really need to spend some time outside…
  Regardless though, now I must leave you, for I am now two and a half bloody days behind schedule for the Pink Lemon story!
  I really should be writing (stories)!

  Total red flag count: Unlucky thirteen
  Pretty bad for computer shopping. I’ll put my character Sarra through the same hell… with a DeLorean Motorcar, perhaps.

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