Thursday, April 09, 2009


The Home Computer

 My parents are not the most tech-savvy folks around.  They're not stupid - not by a long shot.  But somehow they seem to have...issues...when technology is involved.  Take their home computer, for example.  It runs slower than my first 286 processor.  Click on a link and go get a cup of tea before it loads.  And this is their new computer, bought when they got tired of fighting the old, "slow" one.  It's on DSL, and there's nothing wrong with the line, it's just their computer.  I have no idea what's running in the background, how much of their processor is bogged down with random programs.  But I do know that my government-issued computer, with "updates" and "improvements" shoved down the wire to it almost every night runs faster than their brand new brand name computer.

The Phone

Last summer my mother biked across the United States in 50 days (5 rest days).  It was her great adventure, and she wanted to figure out how to record her experience to be able to share it with others.  This was not a spontaneous trip - she had to register months in advance, train on her bike all winter, and generally prepare (including figuring out how to pack everything she was going to need for almost 2 months into two tiny duffle bags weighing less than 30#, combined).  So why was it 48 hours before her plane left that she decided to blog and bought a tiny little phone with a keypad so she could blog on the road?

It took the better part of the next 2 days to get things up and running, and her last days were a panic-frenzy of trying to get her out the door.  The phone didn't connect to the internet properly, she kept breaking her template on the blog (how?!?), and she couldn't email her entries from her phone...until 1 hour before she left.  She still called me every day for the first week or so, and emailed me regularly, to pop in and fix her blog layout, which she somehow managed to mess up every couple of days.

The Netbook

I must be slow to learn when it comes to Mom and technology, because I agreed it would be useful for her to own a netbook for her trips, so she could blog easier.  So she went out and bought one.  A week before she left for her trip to Florida to bike.

The netbook was a bust, and wouldn't get online, even when my brother-in-law, the IT specialist, spent half a day fiddling with it.  (I must not be too low, because I stayed FAR away from her and the new toy!)  She eventually took it back to the store, went elsewhere and bought a different brand.  Bill got it online wirelessly, and on LAN, and off she went to Florida.  (I just noticed a connection between her technology binges!  She buys a new "toy" every time her bike has been shipped off ahead of her travelling!!  Bingo!)  She got down there, and...nothing.  No internet.

Fast forward a few weeks, and the netbook has been in my hands for about 3 days now.  I have devoted 2 evenings to it, flashed the BIOS, installed updated drivers for the wireless card, searched the internet for solutions...and found that there are a LOT of people having problems getting on the internet with their Acer Aspire One netbooks.  (Which leaves me wondering, of course, why make a netbook that can't get on the net??  And why they get such good reviews??)

I've about had it. I can't think of anything else to do to this thing short of wiping it's little brain and reinstalling everything, including the new BIOS, the new drivers, and hurling it out the freaking window.  Unfortunately, it weighs so little I think it would bounce off the glass and come back at me.

I'd been considering getting a netbook for me, so I can write more, but after fiddling with Mom's, I'm not so sure anymore.  I was looking at an Asus eeePC, the company that started making netbooks to begin with, and I'm second-guessing myself, bigtime.

Maybe I should just get Mom a nice pen and notebook (paper) for Mother's Day.  It's less painful, cheaper, and requires fewer service calls.


Julie said...

My mother-in-law has a similar problem. (And if you say I told you this in front of her I will call you a liar.) In her case, she THINKS she's on top of the tech wave, and really, I dearly love her, but she's clueless.

I feel your pain. Truly. Tell your mom she's not allowed to travel any more. (And that is SO INSANELY COOL that she bicycles so much! It must be so good for her.)

Mel said...

I love my notebook, it is a Mac. And you probably know more about what it can do than I do. But, I feel you on parents and technology. My mom keeps asking me "what do I do?" and I say "mom, I love you, but I'm a performer. What makes you think I have a clue??" =)