A lesson in geeks!

There are two kinds of computer geeks. One is that young’un that you swear isn’t old enough to drive a car. The other is the older guy who started working in computers when it was the old technology. Words like main frame, COBALT and FORTRAN meant something to him. He learned new stuff along the way, but he has a lot of “old tricks” that work today. Really weird stuff but it works sometimes. The young guy knows his stuff too but works inside the box without the creativity of trying weird techniques.

Scenario 1: Several weeks ago, my computer crashed. I had to buy a new one. The question became “can I transfer my files?” The short answer was it depends.

I bought my new computer at a big box computer store. They have prepubescent cherubs that work there. Most of them look like they are 13. They are smart and extremely helpful. I selected a computer. As part of the package, they would transfer my files. They said it would take 24 hours. It took five days.

The guy at the pick-up counter had no details on my computer, like why it took so long. We opened it up. All my documents and photos transferred but none of my contacts or data that was in my email file. The short answer was “it must be corrupted.” It was all gone.

Prior to the purchase, I had contacted a computer guy we use when we hit a computer bump. Some people use their grandchildren, but we have a guy. He’s retired and works on his own. He’s old and wise and “set in his ways” (as my mom would say).

Knowing he had recovery equipment, I contacted him to see if he could transfer the contacts. He said he can do anything (which is what he always says and no he can’t do everything). He stopped by with his portable equipment which he says works 99% of the time. I’m that 1%. He took my hard drive home with him. He talked about putting it in the freezer because it didn’t “spin.” (I know more about computers now than I really want to know!) Freezing makes the metal contract just a tiny bit and that was enough to get it to spin. He gave me a static file that can only be read.  That was good enough. I was able to get my old contacts with email addresses, phone numbers and postal addresses. (Note to self: Keep a paper copy in case this happens again.) He did something the young’uns couldn’t or didn’t know.

Scenario 2: At the same time my laptop wouldn’t recognize our internet signal. I could see the neighbors’ signal but not ours. We had gotten a new router system last August and that was the last time my laptop synced. I had a feeling that something needed to be updated but it wouldn’t connect to the internet to update. A real catch-22. I took it along when I picked up my new computer and had the young’uns look at it. They told me something was wrong with my router as it connected to the store system without problems.

Enter the Alexa guy (he’s the guy who installed Alexa in our house including the new router system). He’s older than the young’uns but younger than the old guy. I called him. He said he’s really not a computer guy but he’d look at it. One look told him what I thought. I needed updates. Our router is new technology or at least newer than my computer. He took the laptop home and ran the updates on one of his old systems and it’s working. I’m not sure why the young’uns didn’t figure that out.

Each group has their pros and cons. Perhaps the moral of the story is don’t give up easily if it’s important to you. Just because one person doesn’t know how to do something doesn’t mean it can’t be done and experience is very valuable.

Another tip: The new computers are solid state. They don’t spin. The old guy was very excited about that so it must be better.

 

64 thoughts on “A lesson in geeks!

  1. I always enjoy your posts Kate and your descriptions always make me laugh! I wish I had an Alexa guy. I once paid a computer nerd to transfer files off a large floppy disk onto a new computer. They said it couldn’t be done, as it was in some weird language, but he did it.

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  2. Our Outlook was corrupt and I lost all my accounting files – not the accounting program, but copies of checks that my boss scans in so I can credit clients and prepare invoices. I had a system – a pretty good system as I never use a printer here at the house, nor take notes … I don’t use paper. But our computer guy didn’t have things backed up correctly, Outlook crashed and we had to go to Office 365. I’ve adjusted to Word, but he has messed up our joint Outlook profiles … my outgoing messages have his contact info – he has nothing. I tried to fix it, but cannot and the computer guy … well, he doesn’t have a clue. I can’t have Alexa … the Windows 10 laptop is still on my stovetop at the present time. Baby steps …. (At least my car clock is only ten minutes slow as opposed to one hour fast and 10 minutes slow).

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    • My new car had a auto setting under the menu. I just had to click on Daylight Savings time and it changed it for me. This isn’t the first time Outlook got corrupted for me. The 365 Office is kind of weird. It’s good for 3 units. I’m primary. When my husband installed it on his, He can see my emails but I can’t see his. Very weird. It’s supposed to be a family package so I don’t understand the lack of privacy for each individual user. It’s only Outlook. He can’t see my word docs.

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      • I don’t like the cloud as to Office 365 and I go to my actual files/directory to get my Word documents as they aren’t current/up to date in the most-recent documents. I don’t like that at all. I go on the Windows 10 laptop every few weeks to do updates. The computer guy never loaded Office 365 onto it (it’s been three years) and I want to have it in case the office internet goes down. So this morning a pop-up said I had no internet, so the updates wouldn’t load … message was “no connection – no internet”. Thought that was odd and I find the notification messages disappear before I get to read the entire pop-up message – was there more info? So it said “no internet at rdaypc.com” – turned on the Windows 7 laptop immediately and had internet – went back to the Windows 10 – same message. I have no clue what he did to this laptop when he configured it. It does not accommodate Windows 11 either (maybe that’s a blessing). I didn’t try it later – don’t need nonsense on the weekend!

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          • I am hoping to go for a walk … 13 degrees windchill and maybe black ice they say. Will go and run the car and check it out before venturing out. In the meantime, I thought I’d upload some pics … Firefox browser updates every time I am on this old computer … it wigged out and I had to shut it down a few times, then it was slow as molasses.. No viruses – I have Malwarebytes Premium and Security Essentials … belt and suspenders. But just before that debacle, my cellphone has apparently died or the battery died. I just got it last Summer as AT&T would no longer support 3G phones as of February 2022. The AT&T store was out of flip phones, so I ordered it from Amazon. And, it had more bells and whistles than I wanted and it was around $135.00 … I only wanted a device for making an emergency call … don’t need internet, camera, etc. I have OnStar in my car for added emergency protection, though I walk more than drive (or used to before climate change). So every other week I call my home number to discharge the cellphone’s battery, then after a half-hour “call” I hang up and charge the battery. This morning I made the call, hung up, went to shut off the phone – blank screen. Choice words from my mouth. Can’t shut it off or on. Plugged it in – doesn’t say charging … nothing. Doing a slow boil and now don’t know whether to order a battery or get a new phone and likely a smartphone at this point, but I don’t want any bells and whistles.

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              • Yes, I’m thinking I should take it there tomorrow … I can’t turn it off, yet I finished my “call” and could see how many minutes I had left then I couldn’t shut it off. It is still on and glows a little in the dark, I called the number to see what it did, but it went to voicemail. I’m mad as I only bought a new cellphone as AT&T would no longer be supporting 3G. I had my original Cingular cellphone for about 10, maybe even 12 years.

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                    • They were great. I revived my phone. It was completely dead this morning and cool to the touch so I opened it. I did not want to do anything last night while it was still warm and still turned on. I took out the battery for a minute, replaced it, plugged it in and it is fully charged and working again. Now I know what to do and I called her to thank her today. I wasn’t ready to get a new phone yet.

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                    • This morning before I went out, I decided to familiarize myself with the phone, besides turning it on and off and so I put in my ICE info and some contacts. A non-QUERTY keyboard so that took a while, then shut it off, went on my walk. When I came home, I decided to charge it to 100% and I put the charger in – nothing happened. It turned on, can’t turn off. So I ordered the same phone from Amazon and hope that wasn’t a mistake, but I’ll swap the SIM card and hope for the best. Even this flip phone is more phone than I need for now – I didn’t know it had half the features it does. Of course, no manual came with it so I had to read the features in the online manual.

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                    • Almost everything comes without a manual these days. I still struggle with taking pictures with my phone because there are too many features. A non-querty keyboard? Yikes! I don’t think that would work for me.

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                    • I get bogged down when there are so many steps to get it back to normal if I hit a wrong key – I have to start over again. Yes, each button represents three … you keep pushing it and then “OK” – painstaking.

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              • Called the AT&T store to see if they had this model in stock in case it bit the dust … she said to take out the battery and it may reset the phone. She said her iPhone just did the same thing – good to know, so I’m sharing with you. I have 546 minutes on my phone – I roll it over every year … I considered $108.00 (you have to buy 100 minutes) versus a monthly plan for a smartphone. Everything is a pain sometimes – now to set the car clock since I don’t have a magic button like you. 🙂

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                • I’m not surprised about the phone. My old phone did that several years ago. I have Consumer Cellular so I could go to Target. The guy just opened up the battery compartment moved it a bit and closed it up. Worked like a charm and never happened again. As long as you know the right time, you really don’t have to change your car! 🙂

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                  • Oh that’s interesting so that’s likely the issue.. I see Consumers Cellular is offered thru AARP at a discounted rate. I didn’t know Target had those phones as a guy at the Park and his wife have them and said they were great phones. I hope that’s all that’s wrong with my phone then. Yes, the clock in the car is just 10 minutes slow since the time change (the 10 minutes they removed/replaced the car battery) – it default to noon like the stove does if the power goes out. My watch I wear on workdays is coincidentally now only 10 minutes slow from the time change too. The KISS method works for me.

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  3. It’s really true that you have to stick to the questions and work through the problems. I have a patient and skilled son-in-law or we’d be in constant trouble. I know at one time or another we all say it, but for all of the advances made by home technology, I’d be okay to give it up and roll back the clock. I do sound like a dinosaur. 🙂

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  4. There are at least 4 types of computer geeks. My dad was an old school computer geek from back in the day that tic tac toe was an amazing game to play with your computer. He knew fortran and basic but he didn’t travel well beyond Windows 3.1. He was, admittedly, getting old and developing some early dementia the last time he bought a newer computer.

    I am a computer geek wannabe. I spent some time learning to make websites from scratch and some basic programming but soon learned the tech was moving too fast for me to keep up (at least not with the other things going on in my life). I enjoy my computer and I know more than the average squirrel but I’ll never be working in the field.

    I’m curious about your contacts, however. I thought about it and figure you must be using live mail or whatever apple has? Something, evidently, that’s tied to your computer. I use gmail and I can access my contacts from anywhere. The things I care about are backed up by google to the cloud, as well, so I’m no longer paying for cloud back up. It did come in handy when my old hard drive turned into a brick but then was not so handy because it insisted on trying to download 32,000 error files and other minutia I did not want. Not saying it’s the best or only way to protect yourself but perhaps something to think about. Very glad you got your router straightened out.

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    • It was Outlook and it was on my computer. I had access to my current emails (webmail) but not my contacts. I have Office 365 now (subscription, not license). We have 3 computers and that backs everything up. The Outlook file was corrupted to some extent. He could get a static copy but not something I could import into the new program. That was fine with me. I only needed a handful of contacts. I didn’t care about old emails. I was much better when I worked because I tried to keep up with it. Now it’s hopeless although I understand more than the average squirrel too but not as much as you. I haven’t done any programming or website creation. I was good with programs. I could make excel sing and if I got stuck I had a friend who was even better.

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      • Sounds like you are all prepared for the future. There are things I like and dislike about google but I like being able to use my contacts and passwords anywhere. I think that MS has upgraded those things with their new browser (many of the techies like it better than chrome). My computers are too old to upgrade to Win 11 and I’m using office 2006 on one and Libre Office on the laptop.

        I never learned to make excel sing. I could make it plod along but I was slow with it. Perhaps if I needed to use it more I’d get better at it.

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  5. Someone installed Alexa in your house? How does that happen? Our Alexa is via these round things that sit around in rooms. I don’t know if that’s how you’re supposed to do it, but that’s what we did. As for “I could see the neighbors’ signal but not ours” been there. It’s incredibly frustrating.

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    • We had to upgrade our router to use Alexa so the place that we bought it from came out to do that. We got Alexa specifically so the beloved husband could listen to his sports news radio station in his basement workshop. Prior to that, it had bad reception down there.

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  6. Hi, Kate – One of my biggest concerns about retirement (and returning to Canada from China) was leaving behind the handy-dandy Computer Support Staff from my work. With extreme kindness from the Universe, one of our Technology Teachers (also Canadian) returned home as well (about a 30 minute drive from our place). My life was spared!! Who knew Canada was so incredibly small? 😀

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  7. What terrific resources you have! It’s maddening when the technology vexes you (whether or not you fully understand it or not and the fact that things don’t work is my bottom line). Here’s hoping you have loads of happy and easy years of things running perfectly.

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    • Supposedly solid state systems should last longer. I found the receipt for my last computer. This one is the same size but with a lot more capability and was considerably cheaper. They are getting less expensive.

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  8. This is so timely for me because I literally finished setting up my wife’s new computer about an hour ago! The transfer of files from old one to new went fine, thankfully. I’m so sorry you experienced such delays! I bought a new one last year, so I’m hoping we’re both good for another five or six years (ignoring the inevitable future snags and hangups, of course!). – Marty

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  9. All of my portable hard drives that I use for extra photo storage are solid state; my husband says that they are more stable and less likely to get damaged if dropped. I’m lucky that he is very computer-savvy and fixes everything. I am good with the software, but much less with the hardware, so it’s good to live with my own tech guy. I’m glad you continued your own problem-solving journey and didn’t accept defeat! I think the young folks are good at using computers, but not as good at fixing them. Experience counts, there! I’m relieved that you are up and running again!

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    • The older guy says he has no idea how to use most programs but he can fix the hardware! I didn’t know there was such a thing as solid state but the older guy had told me to buy that when he said I needed a new one.

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  10. You have real stick-to-it-ness, Kate. I start trying to trouble shoot a piece of technology, get stymied, and then . . . decide that my life would be simpler without the busted up, burned out, not spinning, piece of *#$%^! And so it sits. 😀

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    • I would have given up except that I had some (very few) precious contacts on my computer that I didn’t have in my paper directory or my label Christmas list. I have a friend who recently moved to a different state and my only contact with her was email. I sent a card to her old address hoping that it would get forwarded eventually to her new address but I haven’t heard from her. Except for that I would have given up because most of the contacts were old. Some from my working days that I haven’t used in 10 years.

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  11. Um, I thought things like email and contacts and stuff were on a “cloud” of some kind, which is why I can access that kind of stuff from any computer??? I do a routine back-up to a flash drive of all of the documents I keep on my because I lost some very valuable documents when my last laptop crashed and had to type everything that I had paper copies of back onto the new computer.

    I’m not comfortable around the young technology geeks. I don’t speak their language, and they apparently learned it in a way that means they can’t translate it into language I can understand.

    I definitely have a love/hate relationship with technology!

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    • It depends on what program you use for your email. I had an old Outlook that I installed on my computer so it wasn’t backed up on a cloud. What I use now is so it should be different going forward. I had a hard drive back up system but it went belly up in one of the windows upgrades. I was always meaning to transfer my pics and docs to a cloud but never did. When I’m on the computer I like to write or research. I hate doing “techie” stuff. Fortunately all my posts are on WordPress and that’s good enough for me. It’s not like I would need them again! I think we all have a love-hate relationship with IT. When I worked I suspected a few of the IT folks blew up their value in the organization because most of us were clueless. That has changed.

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  12. The new computers have no spin? I feel like there’s a marketing campaign in there.

    I admire your patience and your perseverance in getting your data files. Good job. (Also, those younguns really should have know about that update!)

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  13. My son is a systems analyst. He is morphing from the young guy into the old guy. He knows a lot about old computers, less about the latest game console. However I have reserves another son who is eight years younger and a six year old grandson.

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  14. Little makes me as crazy as car and computer problems. I feel so helpless in both fields, but not helpless enough, I guess, to learn much about either.

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