Hacking, Family Style

Hacking, Family Style

I have one older relative left on my dad’s side, my Aunt PHD. She’s eighty-five and still pretty chipper. Considering that her mother died at 103, she’s just hitting her stride. PHD lives by herself in Minot and in all likelihood will continue to for at least another ten years. She was a college professor and one of the first people I knew that had a personal computer. It was one of those Radio Shack hulks and the memory was a little cassette recorder. I remember looking upon its tawny plastic shell in utter awe. We’ve all come a long way since then.

PHD had been complaining the last couple years that her current PC was having troubles connecting with the Internet but details were always scant. I guess I assumed that someone in the family that lived in Minot would pick up the ball and investigate but no one did. Everyone in my generation lives somewhat busy lives and taking care of PHD’s computer just didn’t take a priority. This fall I thought I would get it looked into but things got in the way and then the weather went to hell. PHD went to warmer climes a couple times this winter but last week we had a brief window of her being home and for once the road to Minot wasn’t crusted with snow. Another storm was coming for the weekend so I knew we had to get it done on Thursday.

Now PHD had a look at Windows 8 and did not like what she saw. And really, who can blame her. That system is fine for a tablet/phone but not acceptable for someone that wants to sit down and work on Word. Hell, it’s not acceptable for anyone that wants to get any work done on a PC. My experiences with Windows 8 are chronicled elsewhere on this blog but I do know now how to tame it. It was time to gird my nerd loins and engage the enemy.

So we went to Minot last Thursday. I had a medical exam for a new life insurance policy and after that, our day was open. Little did I know how much time we would need.

We took PHD to the local Best Buy. It seemed to be the best combination of price and after-sale service I could hope for in Minot. Their Geek Squad folks are pretty competent and the price would be consistent with Amazon. We found a chipper sales woman young enough to be PHD’s great-granddaughter and ended up with a Samsung 15″. She won points with me by agreeing Windows 8 was ridiculous on a PC and suggesting Webroot instead of McAffee.

The Geek Squad were enlisted to run the updates, install the new Office software, and Webroot. That should have taken a couple hours but as it is with all service desks, they get a little overwhelmed. It wasn’t ready until about 5 hours later and I had to keep biting back my ADHD-driven impatience.

Back at PHD’s condo, I set up her new printer that we had ordered off of Amazon. I was a little worried because the network signal on my phone suggested the network in the condo was weak. PHD’s old computer was Windows 98 and the screen should have come with a trigger warning for technophiles. This thing couldn’t have found its own USB port with two hands and a flashlight, let alone grab a wireless signal. I didn’t even bother hooking the new printer to it.

Despite all the Geek Squad’s work I had a fair amount to do. There was no disc drive on the laptop so I couldn’t add the printer by disc. But I managed to find the printer’s signal and got the laptop to default to it. My aunt had lost the password to her old email account and had to call in to get it reset. I set up a desktop link for that and half a dozen other things. Using Stardock’s Start 8 and Modern Mix, I tamed Windows 8 into behaving like Windows 7. Then I gave my aunt a tutorial on how to manage the laptop’s quirks and functions. We didn’t get out of there until about 8:00.

But it’s done and it’s a load off my mind. I feel guilty that I didn’t get this all done before. That generation of my family has been decimated the past several years and we tend to forget about them as life surges around us. This is my reminder to push back against the flood and remember what’s important.

Now we’re under another winter storm and the visibility is steadily decreasing. The dog is not enthused with peeing outside, I can feel the wind pushing in at the walls, and the cats are seeking the warmest spots in the house. Tonight I’ll have another Amber Ale while watching Game of Thrones. Their winter is coming but our long winter just marches on.

About jeroljohnson

I guess I'm the crying on the inside kind of clown
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One Response to Hacking, Family Style

  1. suevee says:

    Lots of great lines in this post! Love your writing. Am listening to Game of Thrones on CD during my work commutes. Makes me actually wish the drive was longer! 33 discs so it should last a good while. Think I’ll have to do the rest of the series via audio. It reads really well!

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