Monday, July 02, 2007

Modern Life

I've just spent the past seven-plus hours on the phone trying to get a clean copy of Windows XP onto my little IBM ThinkPad 240X. I have three operating systems sitting in parallel on my computer, the bootleg XP Professional that came with it, the genuine XP Professional I paid a fortune for last year, and a vestigal version of the Windows 98 OS that was on it when the computer was new.
I want one system. Period.

I've been everywhere by phone or computer since 2:30 or so-- MicroSoft, the IBM/Lenovo website, IBM support in Atlanta (three or four times), and an auxiliary group called Experts Live. I've got a charge against my credit card for a service I didn't ask for and isn't looking to do me any good. And still, nobody can tell me what I didn't already know from the last time I tried this marathon in March.


a) this computer can't boot from an external USB CD-ROM (which is all I have to get stuff onto it, unless you include the thumbdrive, which plugs into the same USB port), because

b) the BIOS doesn't support booting from a USB device, and

c) This is a hardware limitation. I have to use the Boot Disks for clean installing Windows XP.

I knew all that before I even picked up the phone! All I wanted today was to find out, where do I get the boot disks that weren't included when I bought the little laptop off eBay over a year ago? And how do I use them to get a clean, genuine, non-parallel version of XP onto the thing once I do have them?

But seven hours later . . .

The problem is, everyone wants to be helpful. Everyone wants to be the one who Finds the Solution. So all these techies take me through all the steps with the BIOS Setup, etc., etc., etc., that I've been through before. And I humor them, because hey, they might just magically find something the last guy didn't. And they never want to give up! They always want to try One More Thing! There's always One More Patch to download and run through the system!

In fact, I'm even trying installing a Data Killer program, to see if maybe that'll get rid of the redundant systems and let me start over.

But I'm probably whistling in the dark. The fact remains that for some silly reason, this laptop with no integral A:\ or C:\ drive will NOT allow one to boot via the USB port.

And what all these enthusiastic, well-meaning, but ultimately not very effective people should have told me in the beginning is

a) I can't get a boot disk from IBM. They just don't provide them anymore;

b) I might be able to get one from some website or via eBay. Maybe;

c) If I do find one, I should Google for some other website to tell me how to install it; and

d) It's sure as shootin' that I won't be able to install it without purchasing or borrowing an external A:/ drive that runs off the serial port. Or I can try some local computer geek who has one and can do it for me.

The hilarious thing is I was trying this now because that I wanted to take the laptop with me when I go away tomorrow. I'm assembling with the rest of the North American Welsh Choir to sing a concert in my hometown this coming Saturday. I'm bunking at a friend's, and I really don't want to have to borrow her computer all week. Or to shlep my bigger, heavier Toshiba Satellite along.

But it looks like I'll have to, one or the other, if I want to keep up on my email, blogs, accounts, and so on.

But think of it-- twenty years ago, this would not have been a problem. Computer? Why does anyone want a computer with her on vacation?

But I've travelled with a laptop since 1995, and how can you expect me to stop now?

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