Category: Alienware

Grandma vs. the Alien: Chapter 3

The Alien

[To begin this story at the beginning, click here.]

A few of you may have been following my misadventures — those involving the acquisition of my first new desktop computer in five years. I refer to the Alienware computer I originally ordered in late August to replace my dying, outdated Dell.

As Chapter 2 of this saga drew to a close, the Alien was on its way back to the factory for a little R&R (repair and rehab). Meantime, I assumed I would use my Dell. Wrong. The next day, it refused to start. For months it had been unreliable about starting, but for it to quit on me the day after the Alien left was particularly frustrating. And in support of the conspiracy theory that readers have suggested, it refused to start up again until — surprise — the day before the Alien got back from the factory.

Thoroughly rested and checked out by no less than the aliens themselves, and with several new parts, the Alien got back to me on October 1. I’m sure by now you can guess what happened next. DOA. It started up, immediately asked permission to restart because of some newly installed something-or-other. The new installs were not identified in any way, but my choices were “restart now” or “restart later,” and I chose the former. Big mistake. It screwed up on the restart and stayed screwed up through two hours on the phone with tech support.

I thought I was being incredibly patient up to that point, given what had transpired in the preceding weeks, but when the tech had me pull the plug and told me to get a screwdriver in preparation for opening the case, I blew my top — sort of. I told him no way, no how, I’d get back to him — CLICK!!

This time my son, who probably knows more about computers than 90% of the aliens, agreed to come over, check things out, and initiate whatever calls and conversations might be necessary if he failed to fix the problem. He was finally able to get over here Friday night. Result: Son failed. Calls made Friday night, Monday morning, and this morning.

Long story short, the Alien left this afternoon on a final, one-way trip to its mother ship. A totally new machine is being built and will be shipped ASAP (a couple of weeks, probably). No, I’m not happy, but for the moment the Dell is still running and I don’t plan to turn it off until the new machine arrives.

Stay tuned.

[continues with Grandma vs. the Alien: The Final Chapter]

Grandma vs. the Alien: Chapter 2

The Alien

[To begin at the beginning, click here.]

About a week ago I wrote about my not-so-great experience with my new computer. As it turned out then, the Alienware computer, when it finally arrived, chose not to run properly. The upshot of the ensuing chaos was a new video card being shipped to me by the Aliens. It arrived last Thursday, the 18th. (To put all this in context, the Alien was originally ordered Aug. 23.)

As it turned out, my daughter-in-law, who does have a life of her own, could not get over here until Saturday to install the new card for me. (Beggars can’t be choosers, after all, so how could I complain?) She popped open the shiny, dead Alien box and installed the card. Then she had to unplug the old computer and move it out of the way so she could put the Alien in its place and plug everything back in.

By now, of course, you’ve already guessed that the new card didn’t work either. What followed was a display of how my DIL deals with customer service dudes who aren’t providing satisfactory customer service. In the course of the conversation those guys were painted in various ways as “taking advantage of a little old lady on a fixed income.” It was, of course, quite true that on my own I’d have been utterly unwilling and incapable of wrestling the Alien to the floor, popping its case open, and applying a screwdriver to the appropriate parts in order to extract and then reinstall a video card. Yes, I’ve done it before in years past, but I’m no longer as fearless as I once was. It was all I could do to watch my DIL tearing open a brand new computer and ripping it apart. (Actually, I couldn’t watch; I left the room.)

Anyway, the best deal she could get from the Aliens was they’d have FedEx pick up the computer and take it back to the mother ship for repairs. Then before she left, of course, she pulled the dead Alien out from under the desk, helped me get it all packed up again in its white cloth bag, black molded styrofoam, and black box, and slid the old computer back in place. (That old Dell has been laughing its RAM off throughout this entire misadventure.)

The Alien lifted off about 10:00 hours this morning. It better come back with a whole new attitude and a ton of Reese’s Pieces.

[continues with Grandma vs. the Alien: Chapter 2.2]

Grandma vs. the Alien: Chapter 1

[Previously titled “Grandma got run over by a … computer”]

[To begin this story at the beginning, click here.]

Grandma vs. the Alien

The plan was to start around noon getting the new computer unpacked and set up — a couple of frustrating hours at most — and then into the first day of Warhammer. Well, computers have a habit, or at least mine do, of being at their most contrary right when you most need and expect them to perform flawlessly.

The Alien

I got my beautiful new splendiferous shiny black Alienware computer out of its black box, the one with the black-on-black alien head printed on the side and all the black molded styrofoam packing inside, and the white fabric bag protecting the case from scratches. Nearly killed myself crawling around under the computer desk getting everything unplugged and replugged. Took several breaks just to sit and huff ‘n’ puff for a bit. (Hello, 9-1-1? Help, I’m on the floor and I can’t get up!)

The next three or four hours were spent trying start-ups and watching crashes, blue screens and red screens and no screens. If it didn’t crash, it froze. Just about the time I was ready to put my fist through the screen (which we all know is not the source of the problem), slit my wrists, and retire to the living room with a screaming headache, my daughter-in-law arrived unexpectedly and went to work. (She’d brought me an external hard drive housing, so she could just pull the old drive out of the old machine and plug it into the new one, giving me all that added storage on the new machine and totally eliminating the aggravation of saving files from one computer to another. Cool! I’d never heard of such a thing.)

The Intervention

She then spent at least 3 hours working on the new computer while talking to the Aliens (Alienware support personnel). My new baby was in pieces, bleeding innards all over the desk and floor. (Didn’t a goodly chunk of my purchase price cover having those pieces properly assembled?)

At some point I ranted to the DIL about apparently having just paid $3000 for a frickin’ baseball cap (included with purchase). Oops! The phone on the desk was still on speaker with the support dude listening on the other end. Oh well, he needed to hear it. Besides, she’d probably already filled him in on how she’s the DIL trying to fix the computer for her eccentric MIL who is spontaneously combusting because she’s missing the first day of her game (the game she paid extra for so she could get a two-day head start on other players)!

The Ninja

Grandson had come with mom, so while DIL worked, I divided my time watching her and playing games with him, including soccer in the backyard. Eventually dad shows up with granddaughter (having just spent an hour of his time on the phone with my out-of state brother who was also having computer problems). So me and my headache are playing various games with two kids while both their parents are huddled in the back room over my brand new big black Alienware computer system which is still in pieces all over the room.

Several hours later, I still had a splitting headache (surprise!) and the 3 people in the back room (counting the Alien on the phone) have concluded it’s the video card, so a new one will be sent and should arrive Wednesday. I pray they got the problem diagnosed properly. My son said about 20% of video cards in new systems are likely to fail, and the blame falls on the card maker, not the computer company. (Take that, Nvidia!) He said in a situation like this, Alienware is likely to turn around and ream Nvidia, since they, the Aliens, have had to take the heat.

The video “card” looked something like a giant black video tape cartridge. My son held it admiringly, very carefully, with both hands. Neither he nor DIL had seen anything like it before, nor had I. “Don’t touch it right there,” he cautioned, as he set it very carefully into a box for safekeeping. (Geek that he is, he’d only come over because he was curious to see how the Alien was put together inside, the airflow, etc.) The last vid card I ever handled was, literally, a green card with a bunch of circuits and a cute little fan on one side. This was decidedly not a card; it was an impregnable black box (why does that not surprise me?).

Anyway, a new video card is being sent and is supposed to arrive Wednesday. The shiny new partially disassembled computer is in the corner and the old one is back in place so that I can get into my game, sort of. (You can almost hear the old Dell giving the new guy a Bronx cheer.)

My personal Geek Squad pulled a full court press for me and my brother yesterday, and I can’t tell them how appreciative I am. Nothing I can do will recover the hours they’d planned to use for their own paying jobs at home. And I’ll still need one of them back on Wednesday. And, no, I was told, running their own Geek Squad business wouldn’t pay a fraction of what they earn as developers.

Grandma vs. the Ninja

After they left, and after a very late dinner, I went back to the old computer (which they’d reinstalled) to roll up some new characters in my game. My cat, scared into hiding with all the people in the house, reappeared, and tried, as he always does, to come between me and my monitor. Sitting on the desk in front of the monitor. Guaranteed attention-getting. I pushed him aside. He came back and knocked over my beloved old passive-aggressive mug (emblazoned “The greatest oak was once a little nut that held its ground”) full of pens and markers. Another guaranteed attention-getter. Not to mention burrowing into piles of paper (my filing system) to push them onto the floor. While this was going on, I realized my speakers weren’t working. Probably something still unplugged. I was not going to crawl behind that desk again! My back, my knees, my pounding head all said NO WAY.

About that time the cat pulled a ninja out of left field and sent more papers and both speakers flying onto the floor behind the desk.

I don’t know how to spell the sound I uttered at that moment, but it is indeed fortunate that the ninja’s finishing move was to vanish.

[continues with Grandma vs. the Alien: Chapter 2]