Computer returns to mothership

posted in: Creativity, Publishing, Web/Tech | 1

There are no pictures today. I don’t know when there will be pictures again, although the camera is fine.

The primary business computer has just been boxed up and sent back to the manufacturer. I have learned what on-site tech support means: if the problem can be diagnosed from a distance and requires that an "expert" wield the screwdriver (e.g., replacement of motherboard), then an "expert" with a screwdriver will come here with the part and do that piece of work. If the problem cannot be diagnosed from a distance through the phone support system, the computer has to be shipped across the country for diagnostics. It travels ground and will likely be gone between 10 and 14 days.

I am not exactly sure how to run a business in the interim. I do have the old computer still hooked up—it regularly handles mail and web access—but it cannot manage the business-specific software. That’s why I bought the other computer.

The problem at this point may be with:

  1. video card
  2. processor
  3. motherboard
  4. voltage issue

Today, working with two different phone support people, Harold and Nancy, I ran it through Stress Prime 2004 (again). It’s called a "torture test" for the CPU. It can also test RAM, although we didn’t use that version. Harold also had me download a program from Microsoft’s web site and burn it to CD, and said when I called back we’d do something with it, but Nancy didn’t know about that. I think that was supposed to test the RAM, but we’ve swapped RAM in and out since October, with no change in the erratic behavior.

The computer did come up with a few new tricks today. I still can’t package a document in InDesign. However, in setting up to attempt to do that again I re-installed the font management software and prepared a set of fonts pertinent to the book I’m working on. Font management software is for people who keep many, many fonts on their machines. It lets us activate and deactivate fonts as we need them, so they’re not using up system resources.

Anyway, there were 21 fonts in this set, which is a working set, not a final (it also doesn’t include fonts that I keep activated because I use them very frequently). The fonts were things like:

    Arrows: Right, Left, Up, Down   
    Dingbats
    FFDingbests
    Gill Sans Standard: Regular, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic
    LTC Goudy Sans: Hairline, Regular, Italic, Bold, Light, Light Italic
    LTC Vine Leaves
    Okey Dokey NF
    P22 Chai Tea Pro
    P22 Tulda OT
    TF Neue Neuland Ornaments

When I opened the InDesign file, the system found the fonts it needed but could not locate the links (the images). So I spent about an hour fixing the link problems. I tried to package; the program failed. This forces it to close.

Next time I opened the document, it couldn’t find the fonts OR the links. I fixed the links (not the fonts) and tried to package. Nope.

I forget exactly when in here I took a look at the font management software to do something other than just check that my set was activated. I went and looked at the fonts in the set. They were now things like:

    Bauhaus Light
    Bauhaus Bold
    Adobe Janson: Regular, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic
    . . . .

They were still fonts, but they had no relationship to what I’d selected. It was a random collection, and none of the fonts is used in any of my current projects (although yes, they are loaded on the computer in case I want to use them). And none of them was a font that was used in the document I was testing.

At this point, the malfunctioning software on this system included:

  •     Adobe InDesign
  •     Adobe Illustrator
  •     Microsoft Word
  •     ACT! 2008
  •     Windows Updater
  •     Bounceback Professional
  •     FontAgent Pro

And the tech support person came back on the line after consulting someone elsewhere (several consultations today with someone elsewhere) and said, "We have other customers who have problems with InDesign and Microsoft Vista. Have you contacted Adobe about this issue?"

Me:"I’m not running Vista. I’m running XP Pro. The problem is not only with InDesign. I am using InDesign to test the system because it’s the most important of my tools. All of this software has worked in the past. There is something seriously wrong here and the problem is not with the application software."

(Even though they have been performing a "torture test" on the owner and operator for five full days, I did not raise my voice. I think that’s rather remarkable. The CPU didn’t overheat and shut down while undergoing Stress Prime 2004, and I didn’t overheat and explode while undergoing Stress Subprime 2008.)

After consulting again, they decided they needed to look at the computer. In Miami.

Good things:

  1. The manufacturer is paying the shipping both ways. (It’s not paying for packing, and of course I don’t have the enormous original box any more.)
  2. When I almost dropped the machine as I transported it to FedEx Kinko’s for packing and shipment and the wind whipped the prepaid label out of my hand and toward six lanes of traffic, a woman coming out of Kinko’s stabilized the computer while I chased the label. (Not working = their problem. Broken = my problem.)
  3. When Kinko’s didn’t have the appropriate box (which they had described to me when I called ahead), one of the staffers helped me carry the computer back out to the car so I could take it to another Kinko’s that they had called to be sure the right box was there. (The wind tried to remove the prepaid label AGAIN and take it out into the same six lanes of traffic . . . there has been a lot of gusty wind today.)
  4. Although the other Kinko’s is in a construction zone that has limited most access routes, it was possible to get there.
  5. At the other Kinko’s, another customer offered to hold the door for me when I carried the machine inside, so I didn’t have to hit the handicapped access button with my foot as the staff suggested, and even closed the back of my car for me.
  6. The computer is no longer in my office and I trust that I will not be spending the next five days either on the phone with tech support or doing things to the computer so we can test the next thing during the next call.

These are all very good things.

Now. Can I get done what I need to get done in the next almost-two-weeks with a seven-year-old computer onto which I can’t load my most important software? Or can I figure out how to get a substitute computer in here and properly configured?

Things I will have to do without until I answer those questions:

  •     Adobe InDesign CS2
  •     Adobe Photoshop CS2
  •     Adobe Illustrator CS2
  •     Adobe Acrobat CS2
  •     Quickbooks Pro
  •     AnyBook (publishing order- and inventory-management software)

I can probably install on the old computer:

  •     Remote-access software and security keys for checking distributor’s inventory
  •     Sweater Wizard
  •     Knit Visualizer
  •     Old version of Photoshop (ah! there’s a cheerful thought! I still have the old version . . . maybe I can do pictures! . . . I have GIMP, but I don’t find it easy to use for my routine tasks)

The old machine already runs Microsoft Office 2003, so I haven’t lost that. I’ll need to move the laser printer back onto to the old system, though.

Anybody who has an IT department that does its job well, this is what those folks are saving you from. You might want to bring them flowers or chocolate or something.

I look forward to being able to talk about knitting and publishing and fun things again.

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