Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why my gardening website is stuck in August

Alternate title: "Why I hate Dell"
Alternate title #2: "Why I Heart Apple"

I've been a PC person for years. PCs were inexpensive, you got a lot of bang for your buck (so I thought), and I found Macs to be prohibitively expensive... ok, and a bit elitist in a lower-case "i" sort of way... and software for them was limited. Two years ago, I invested in a screamin' Dell 9100 PC with a terabyte hard drive. That's a whopping 1,024 Gibabytes! Oh, and it had this special RAID configuration that was supposed to be lightning fast... and it was... until the whole thing crapped out on me after about a month.

You know the PC guy in those mac commercials? Not the cute nerdy Mac guy who's dating Drew Barrymore... the cute nerdy PC guy from The Daily Show who is lying on the bottom of the cart in a fetal position because he's suffering from the "blue screen of death"? Well, that's me. That's my computer. The dreaded blue screen of death.

When I called Dell customer service, I patiently endured the very polite but very I-am-going-to-take-up-hours-of-your-life (that you will never get back)-without-really-understanding-or-fixing-your-problem customer service representative in India. His conclusion, despite the fact that all signs pointed to a hardware problem that Dell should fix, was that my new computer suffered from a software problem... a Windows problem... and they were unable to help me. In other words, the buck was passed and I was stuck with a brand new, expensive, broken box. I was SOL.

I was computerless for a couple months and only by the sheer coincidence of being married to a software engineer was I able to get back on that box without taking it to a computer repair place. I lost a lot of data, drives were shuffled, the amazing RAID configuration had to be UNCONFIGURED, and I was left with a slow, grindingly loud, crippled computer. I took all this as a sign from the gods that I should take another look at Apple. There were more signs-- Apple prices were dropping (probably thanks to our insatiable appetite for iPods), I learned that Apple is a blue company and Dell is red (and I am oh, so blue), and I do a lot of photo editing and Macs are great for that.

So I ambled over to our friendly neighborhood Apple Store and fondled the MacBook laptops. The display on the little Macbook was amazing, and the price wasn't bad! I figured I'd have to spec the thing and wait a few weeks for it to show up on my doorstep. No. What? You mean you have them in stock... right now... and I can walk out of the store with my new laptop, thereby experiencing one of my favorite things of all time, immediate gratification? Woo hoo!

Flash forward six months or so to late August. My Dell 9100 desktop's remaining hard drive... you know, the one with all my photos and website files and stuff.. disappeared. Died. The computer is out of warranty, of course, and the futility of another tortured customer service call weighs heavily on me.

At the same time, I started experiencing an intermittent strange clicking noise on my Apple laptop's left-click button. I asked the computer gods, "Does this mean all computers are crap and I just have to deal with it?" They replied, "Go to and make a Genius Bar appointment." When I arrived at my next-day appointment, the Apple store was crazy busy! My name was called and a nice young Genius listened to my complaint. Expecting to have to defend myself against accusations of eating at the keyboard (guilty as charged) or of left-click abuse, instead I am told that he, too, hears the intermittent clicking and that it shouldn't do that.

Can I wait thirty minutes while you replace the whole top of my laptop with a part that is (queue singing angels) in stock? Well, heck yeah, I can! Not only that, I think I will go try on pants while you fix my computer. Two pairs of jeans later, which you girls know makes thirty minutes go by in a flash, I get a call on my cell phone that my laptop is ready. With a "thank you very much" I am on my way. Free of charge. Now that's customer service. If I knew a little Apple dance, I would have done one, right there, in Arden Fair Mall. My next desktop is soooooooo going to be an iMac. Until then, I can only dream of a PC-free life.

I apologize for not updating my gardening website and for not answering my gardening-related e-mails, which can only be read in Outlook, which is on my dead D: drive. Hopefully, I'll be back online soon to help ring in the Fall planting season. In the meantime, I'll continue blogging on my ultra-fabulous, inexpensive MacBook.


  1. Anonymous11:18 AM

    Welcome to the Rebel Fleet ;-) We are completey MIcrosoft-free at my house. My Mac just works. No blue-screen-of-death, no viruses, nothing. It just works.

  2. I totally sympathize with you. I wrote a post about the Apple store at Arden here.

    I just bought a new lap top PC from Hewlett-Packard at Best Buy. Needless to say I now wonder if getting a Mac would have been the way to go. I’ll keep an eye on you and see what you think down the road.

  3. I now wonder if getting a Mac would have been the way to go.

    It probably was the way to go. You know, I thought about getting a Mac desktop two years ago, but the side-by-side specs made Dell look like the better deal. It was only factoring in pain and suffering that I realized the Apple with the smaller hard drive was the better deal. Hindsight. 20/20.

    Trey, I hope you receive better customer service from HP than I did from Dell. Maybe your computer will just work! Sometimes they do! :-)

  4. I just got a laptop--HP--for my birthday. I thought about MAC, but the cost for the same thing was almost twice the PC. Now I have a personal computer tech (known as Spousal Tech Support) at hand 24/7, so he has to spend his time with tech support in India while I whine about not being able to check my email.

    My former office had MACs, though, and I loved them. The only problem was that some computer programs designed for MACs don't work perfectly with the installed components. Our QuickBooks regularly crashed the computer. It required only a restart, but it was still a hassle.

  5. Hope you manage to stay online angela with no more computer crashing, or clicking left buttons.You posted a few times in September though.Loved your Agapanthus, and Coleus..

  6. I'm back online after a harddriveectomy. 500 GB... RIP. :-(

  7. Anonymous2:19 PM

    Congratulatios on getting back on track with the web site, Angela. I must say, whether your computer works or not, your brain sure does. You are one heck of a good writer. No matter the topic, it's always a delight to read your smart, witty, useful pieces. I'll bear your experiences in mind when purchasing my next computer (soon).

    Garden Gran

  8. Thank you, Garden Gran, for your nice comment. I probably couldn't diagram a sentence to save my life, but I do feel compelled to keep on blogging for some reason.

    It's freeing to be able to say pretty much whatever you want about pretty much whatever you want to pretty much whoever wants to read your blog. I try to keep with the gardening theme as much as possible, but for cathartic reasons, I needed to share my computer frustrations. The computer is the portal to blogging, after all.

    Do you have a blog?

    Good luck with your computer purchase. I didn't mention it in my blog entry, but my parents recently bought a brand new Dell desktop that developed problems in the first week of use. I just kept repeating my usual spiel,followed by, "Send it back and get a Mac, send it back and get a Mac, send it back and get a Mac." They ultimately did.

    The new computer is a beautiful 24" iMac. The display is huge and gorgeous and that's all you have to make room for because everything's built in to the display. Disks slide effortlessly into the right side and everything's sleek and jaw-droppingly pretty.

    I definitely got a vicarious thrill from their purchase. Oh, and the HP printer that was hooked up to their old computer that wouldn't work with Vista in the new Dell? They plugged it into the iMac and it just worked. It... just... worked.

    This is something I appreciate because I am often my mom's tech support (regardless of my lack of training). Number of times I've reinstalled her camera software in the last couple months? Four! Number of times I've had to respond to her grumbling with, "Well, when's the last time you ran: Scandisk, Ad-Aware, Spybot, Norton, and Disk Defragmenter?" Infinity times, I think.

  9. Angela, my fabulous daughter--more than a thousand thanks for your tech support. I apologize that I'm challenged in the hyper-weird terminology of cyber space, let alone its applications. Put some of it down to what I call Slippage. I don't remember things as easily as I used to. (I wish wearing of name tags was obligatory in all social gatherings!) Also, sorry for "grumbling," which I take to mean my tone of frustrated panic/helplessness regarding the mysterious matters you list.

    BUT. I have an idea for an exchange! I can help you diagram sentences should the need arise. That's in my OLD memory storage file! And I could diagram the most compound, complex sentences, stretched across the whole blackboard, under Sister Dorothea's beady watch. I loved it! It was like making star charts of language.

    So you just let me know when you have a diagraming crisis...I'll be there in a trice. ;-)

    (At least I know what an emoticon is! Sort of.)

    I'm proud of you, and would like to point out that I have praised your writing skills "many a times, and oft," even before the creation of Bloggerdom.

    Love, Mom

  10. Anonymous3:46 PM

    Angela, I've been trying to get my parents to go get a Mac for years. I, too, am their main tech support, usually after my mom has been on the phone for hours and gotten nowhere with the Dell techs (while paying by the hour). What's your secret in getting them to switch?!

    Just discovered your blog. It's nice to find someone else in our neck of the woods! And also nice to find someone else dealing with technical problems. Ours were internet-related, where I had to find the "Mac" version of internet services. It made a big hole in our own entries that I'm struggling to fill... Ugh.

    Anyway, I'll keep reading!

  11. Melinda,

    You should bring or send your folks to an Apple Store. The computers seem to sell themselves. Once they've drooled over the displays, the lower prices and higher specs, and learned about the free training sessions, their worries about switching should be greatly reduced. If they're still not convinced, remind them about viruses and spyware and all the annoying updates Microsoft needs to keep installing in order to avoid a PC meltdown. Finally, remind them that life is too short for tech support.

  12. Anonymous12:03 PM

    way to go with Mac. I used to have PC. But I've been using Mac for 2 years now, and it just work fine.