Last week I heard a gifted teacher talk about what success feels like -- to a schoolchild, or to anyone. She pointed out that there's this bath of pleasant hormones that we enjoy when we learn how to make sense of something, or to make it work.
I really needed an endorphin shower at that point. The recent loss of my home computer had knocked me for a loop, and it's taken a couple of weeks to recover. I had some great assistance in buying a new computer, but setting the darn thing up the way I had the old one has been a challenge.
To start off with, the new one came loaded with the much-criticized Windows Vista operating system, which takes some getting used to. For what I do on the computer, it isn't any better or worse than Windows XP, the version I'd been on for many years. But it's different, and the changes take some getting used to. Most noticeably, it's much more uptight about security than ever. Tasks that XP performed routinely won't even get started on Vista until you've sworn that you're really you and yes, you realy want to do what you've commanded.
Then comes hooking up the many gadgets that hang from my computer these days. Oh, they physically plug in fine (with the help of a USB hub), but most of them need drivers, and the ones that they came with don't work with Vista. And so off we have gone, hither and yon throughout the WWW, trying to find and install updated drivers. It's been time-consuming, to say the least.
Next comes the software. Rooting around for the installation disks for all the programs on which we rely, then praying that they'll work in Vista. Amazingly, they all do. But of course, there are going to be a few "gotcha" moments. Like when we tried to install WordPerfect 12 off its original CD, and it haugtily demanded, "Give us your serial number." Serial number? Where is that? Maybe on the box, or the user manual.
The box that we no longer have. The user manual that we can no longer find. Hmmm, looks like the b*stards at Corel get another hundred bucks or two out me. I downloaded a free trial version, but it will run out 30 days after it was received.
There was lots of freeware to install, too -- nothing out of pocket there, but time, plenty of time.
Then there's anti-virus protection. In the past, I've used Norton by Symantec, but on every computer I've ever installed that stuff on, it eventually wound up becoming so intrusive and slowing things down so badly that the computer ran poorly. I wasn't going to make that mistake again, and so this time I decided to try AVG. So far, so good, but getting it to recognize the many programs on the computer, and teaching it what should be left alone, was a bit of a chore.
Two big challenges remained on my checklist the longest. One was getting my neat-o Sound Blaster/Creative Media audio stuff installed and set up. This toy lets me record anything, analog or digital, onto the computer, and edit it in all sorts of ways. Comes in quite handy for bringing those old vinyl record albums into the new millennium, among other things. But hey, a new computer doesn't just up and recognize it -- there's an installation process, and of course, it had to be reworked for Vista. That took a long time, but after all sorts of trial and error, we got it back and running better than ever.
The last task didn't get resolved until the wee small hours of this morning. Our Palm PDA, a trusty old m515 model, wouldn't sync up with our new computer at all. There's a little cradle that the handheld organizer sits in to charge, and it's connected to the computer via a USB cord. There's a program that sits on the computer, and it holds all the same data that the PDA does. Every once in a while, you push a "hot sync" button on the cradle, and the PDA and the computer update each other with your latest additions and subtractions.
I couldn't get the cradle and the new computer onto the same page to save my life. I downloaded new drivers for Vista from the Palm website -- that was obvious enough -- and I was careful to make sure I had the program on the computer configured to be expecting to hear from the cradle via a USB port. But every time I hit the "hot sync" button, the computer would tell me that the PDA was trying to communicate with it on the port "COM1," "COM1" wasn't available right now, and they'd let me know when it was.
This frustrating turn of events led me to various web postings, several of which instructed me to find "COM1" in the Windows Device Manager, and see what Windows said about it. Well, as it turns out, the new computer doesn't even have a port called "COM1," and so it seemed like my PDA syncing days were over.
This was a real shame, because what if I lost the PDA? All the data on it would be gone forever -- address book, date book, list of all sorts of important information -- yuck.