As much as anyone, I enjoy the many benefits of technology: household appliances, travel, word processing, and – of course – the Internet. This despite the whole home-crafty-from-scratch thing. But lately computer technology has been kicking my butt.
First, our Internet connection was really slow. Eventually I found out how slow: 1.5 mbps. You can’t stream video with that. Heck, you can’t even stream sound. Uploads and downloads take forever. And it affected the time I spent on Skype with my writing group, which is halfway across the country.
So first I tried to switch over to Comcast. After three days I tracked down an actual, you know, person in Denver. It took another week for her to get back to me, only to inform me that her company didn’t offer cable to my address. Across the street – yes. But not on my side of the road.
This was not as surprising as you might think. Across the street they have city electricity. We have county. When the power fails there is inevitably a lag time when we get to gaze over at their brightly lit houses from our dark, cold one. So when I say we barely live in the county – I mean barely.
Next, I decided to buck up and pay the bucks for a major DSL upgrade from Quest. Sorry, they said. You have the maximum speed available at your address. You call that speed? I asked. They didn’t appreciate my sarcasm. Nor did they like it when I dropped them like third period French and switched to the one local cable company who actually offers a good, fast connection. In fact, Quest called several times, trying to get us back on board. Baffling.
So we can stream video now. But things were still ridiculously slow on other Internet fronts. I cleaned up the computers, checked the memories, ran systems tools on them – everything I could think of. Still too slow.
Then yesterday K calls me over to see an anti-virus program that had started up on his laptop. It was finding all sorts of really, really evil Trojan horses and viruses and key recorders. Bad stuff. But wait a minute. That wasn’t an anti-virus program that I’d loaded. And the “install” button in the corner that urged you to download the fixes set off all my alarm bells. I instantly flipped off the wireless switch, cutting off the Internet altogether.
Too late. Enough of the virus that looked like anti-virus software had downloaded. It corrupted all the security programs, so I couldn’t use them to get rid of it. I could wipe the computer and reinstall everything from the recovery disks, but then there would still be a lot of work getting the other backup files onto the laptop, and it had been a good month since I’d backed up K’s computer anyway.
Call the Geek Squad at Best Buy? Well, I’ve done that. And they did a good job. But K had just taken a friend’s I-Pod into a local, three-man outfit that fixes phones, gaming systems, mp3 players – and computers. I called them and the laptop tech knew immediately what virus I was talking about – it’s very popular right now (so WATCH OUT FOR IT). And the cost for getting rid of the virus and keeping the data we want on the computer? Less than half what I paid for the same thing at Best Buy ten years ago.
Sometimes it really pays to go local!
The other good news is that I installed Google Chrome as my web browser. Begone Internet Explorer 8! So far Chrome appears to be faster than Firefox or Netscape, too. Our web surfing is now blazing compared to what it was before. (Yay!)
So it’s all good now. Except I wish all you Mac users would stop rolling your eyes and laughing at me.