Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Computers: the Luddites were right!

Even my mother is a geek!

Mom, who was born in 1918 (do the math), was gifted with a computer a few Christmases ago because AOL offered a computer complete with monitor for about $200. Her children and grandchildren thought it would help her to communicate with far-flung friends and family.

Got the picture? An 80+ year-old great-gramma gets a computer and discovers the thril of email, via AOL.

What's more, she learns more than she wanted to know about computer games.

As time went on, we (her family) realized that she couldn't easily access internet photo-galleries of her grand-chilluns, because the dial-up modem was SO SLOW!

Enter best-intentioned Geek son:

"Hey, Mom! How about I get you Cable Modem access to the Internet? No cost to you. It'll be good, trust me; and Merry Christmas!"

Enter The Cable Guys, who can't complete the installation because as soon as the install the firmware (she already has a cable modem, under the Comcast "Magic Plan", she already has cable TV and cable Phone service) ... the computer won''t work.

Geek again: "Hey Mom! How about I get you a new computer? No cost to you. It'll be good, trust me; and Happy Birthday?

Today the 'new' computer (a refurbished business Dell) was delivered to her home. I drive down to Springfield to set up her new computer.

It doesn't work. Well, the cable guys couldn't get it to work last week, and simply replacing the compute still doesn't give her a screen. We don't know what's wrong.

Drive over to my sister's house to borrow another monitor. No image on the computer.

Working magic with power cables from another electric outlet (to isolate the power supply), hooking up the new computer and the new borrowed monitor, it still doesn't work.

Geek confusion: the monitor and new computer are isolated, plugged into the socket in the bathroom, and ... they ... don't ... work!

Geek is entirely perplexed. New computer, new modem, new power source; what could be more simple?

Hard to define a simpler, more pure test bed, but either two computers are toasted (one recently refurbished by Tiger Direct), or there is some weird mojo working here.

Eventually the Geek goes home without having resolved Mom's computer problems.

The only good news out of this litany of tears is that Mom and Sis give me my Christmas and Birthday presents, which are personally rewarding but embarassing considering that the supposed presents to Mom don't ... work.

Sister vowed to get a Geeks A'knocking dude to make a house call to figure out what's wrong with Mom's computer setup. Geek goes home, defeated and technically embarrassed, to contemplate his sins.

Anybody have any idea what causes this? And no, I know power is delivered to the PC. But no image is transferred to the monitor.

Darn! I hate hardware ... I'm a Software kinda guy!

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