February 2nd, 2008

Really, how much technical trouble do I have to put up with in two days? First it’s destroying the bathroom ceiling in the process of changing two ridiculously stupidly hard to remove light bulbs. And then, well, the university supplied big ugly box computer has been giving me trouble…

It started  yesterday. Four times yesterday one window of Firefox froze. See, I usually keep two windows open- one for news, one for blogs. Works for me. Anyway, four times yesterday one of those two windows froze, meaning I couldn’t do anything with any of the tabs open in that window- couldn’t switch between tabs, couldn’t follow any links in the open tab, couldn’t do anything. The weird thing was I could move between windows, and the non-frozen window worked just fine. I could also minimise the frozen window- changing the size of it being about the only thing I could do- and any other programme running was, like the non-frozen window, unaffected. That meant that four times, to follow up on what I was doing in the frozen window, I had to ctrl-alt-del crash Firefox and restart it. The annoying thing about that is you can’t crash only one window, because that will stop Firefox completely. Fortunately Firefox’s cool restore session feature kicks in when you start up again.

Then this morning Firefox crashed soon after I started it up. Grrr… Oh well, get it going again, and then the same one-window-freezing thing happens again. Crash, restart…. I’m sitting there wondering what the problem could be. Two obvious answers: Some kind of malware, or it’s time to defrag again (something I have to do far more often with this computer than any other I’ve ever used- and just for the sake of using some stupid gung-ho term from crappy Hollywood war films- Screw defragging, I should just frag the computer. Solve me a lot of hassle, right up until the university checks the apartment and asks why there are random bits of its computer embedded in the walls and ceiling).

Alright, so AVG does a pretty good job of keeping computers virus free, even the free edition, and the free edition updates and scans automatically once a day. AVG Anti-Spyware free edition, on the other hand, gives you a one month trial period of full service, then reverts to the free edition, which needs you to manually update and scan the computer. So if there’s a malware problem, chances are it’s the kind that AVG Anti-Spyware is supposed to deal with. So I update and start scanning. The whole computer freezes, leaving me with no option but to crash it and restart.

So as the computer is restarting I get out the laptop and see if I can rejig the network settings so I can plug into the university network, and I get that going ok, although I have had the dial-up pop up and pretend I’m not online (if I need to dial-up, why are websites opening fine and MSN messenger working normally?) a few times- minor annoyance, though.

Then, because I haven’t used the laptop for surfing for quite some time, I made sure the AVGs were updated. And of course, I’ve bookmarked a lot more sites since I last got online with the laptop, so once the big ugly box was properly disk-checked and started
up, I got the bookmarks and discovered the hard way that when you import bookmarks into Firefox, they don’t replace the old ones, they add themselves to the bottom of the list. Once again, minor annoyance, especially compared to the trouble the big ugly box is giving me. Alright, got that cleaned up, and the laptop is good to go.

But then I ran an anti-spyware scan on the big ugly box, and nothing beyond the ordinary tracking cookies showed up. Alright, so I’ll defrag. Doing that now. It’s taking forever and making a huge amount of noise. We’ll see if it actually improves the situation. Based on past experience, though, I think I should just use the laptop.

After all, every time I open the laptop, I’m reminded how much more pleasant it is to use my own computer than the big ugly box. If only the screen were as big… or even better, as big as the office computer’s screen…

It’s frustrating because apart from this one big ugly box, all my experiences with Lenovo have been overwhelmingly good. I mean, my laptop and the office computer are simply beautiful to use. The big ugly box, though, is at best useable. Still, I suspect it’s getting a bit old (not that my laptop is young in computer years), and, perhaps more importantly, has taken too much abuse and neglect at the hands of less technologically savvy former occupants of this apartment.

Less technologically savvy than me, now that’s scary…. But then again, apart from being the default translator and relayer of messages between Chinese and foreign staff in our little programme, I’ve also found myself with not-quite-official responsibility for the computers in the foreign teachers’ office. That’s really scary.

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