“Looks like this laptop was dropped,” the geek at Best Buy said. “This whole edge has gone all wonky.”
I feigned ignorance. “Possibly. I wouldn’t know. But can you fix it?”
“Maybe. The power supply port is out of alignment. That’s why you can’t plug it in. For $100 I can send it to the repair depot. Then they’ll give you an estimate. That will take two or three weeks.”
“I cannot be dead in the water for two or three weeks. I’ll just buy a new one,” I said. And of course, Best Buy gladly sold me one. I took my new lifeline home. And that’s when the fun began.
My new computer was a blank slate. (Or at least that’s how it seemed. In reality, it hid a cesspool’s worth of perils. More on that shortly.) My old laptop had about ten minutes of juice left before it would be irredeemably dead. Luckily, I had backed up all my files to a thumb drive. Unluckily, I had told all the websites that require logins to remember my login name and password. Thus began my journey to rebuild the world as I knew it.
Find Wi-Fi password. Type in Wi-Fi password. Retype Wi-Fi password to correct typos. Re-retype Wi-Fi password with new typos. Give up and have lunch. Get cat to type in Wi-Fi password with more success. Load backup folders and files. Delete duplicate backup folders and files. Reload folders that should not have been deleted. Disable stupid One Drive so it does not store files to the cloud by default. Remove all the useless real estate hogs that Microsoft deems essential, except for the ones that Microsoft deems so essential it will not let me uninstall them. Like Xbox. Download my Microsoft Office license. The one I’m supposed to own until at least aliens take over the world and maybe after. The one that now Microsoft disavows any knowledge of and furthermore accuses me of not being a valid human. I will not use Office 365 because I refuse to be held hostage to a subscription. Just use Google Docs you say? There are two things wrong with that. First, I am in an internet desert for half the year. Second, the cloud.
Okay. I admit. In the interest of getting myself up and running, and because my new laptop came with a free year of Office 365 (try this heroin for free for twelve months! You can quit then if you want!), I shelved my quest to unlock my downloadable version and moved on to the next hurdle. What the heck are my logins and passwords?
All I needed to do was try a few times to get the right login, then say I forgot my password. Then enter the verification code sent to my phone. Then choose a new password. Then choose another new password because it was the same the password I had already used and forgotten I had used. Then write the password down. In a notebook that is now dedicated to passwords. Yes, I have turned into that type of person. In my own defense, the reason I need to do this is because I do not use the same password for every website. Also, next time I need to replace my computer, I will have all the passwords at my fingertips. If I can find the notebook.
But I wasn’t done yet. To be able to download eBooks to my Kobo, I needed Adobe Digital Editions 3.0. This is despite the fact that Adobe is now on version 4.11. Version 4.11 does not work with the Kobo, a known “feature” that Rakuten does not seem interested in addressing. Anyhow, I remembered where to find the obscure place on the Adobe website where ADE 3.0 lives and clicked on the download button. Nothing. I tried again. Nothing. Then I noticed a pop-up from the Microsoft store. “This app is not in the Microsoft store and might harm your computer,” it said. In other words, no download for you.
I Googled “Remove Microsoft Store.” I’m pretty sure the internet laughed at me. Way out loud. I tried another angle. I have an older Dell that limps along when needed for purposes such as this, which has ADE 3.0 installed. I waited for the fifteen minutes it took to boot up, plugged in my thumb drive, copied the executable file, sneaker-netted to the fresh-faced laptop, and transferred the illicit morsel to the Program Files folder. So far so good. I clicked on the file to load it. The evil Microsoft Store intervened again, with an emphatic “told you so!” Back to my friend Google.
Deep in the nether regions of the WWW, a solution emerged. There is a thing called “S” mode. When you change to “S” mode, it either circumvents the Microsoft approved apps edict, or it allows Bill Gates to install a chip in your brain that will assimilate you to the Borg. Possibly both.
All told, molding my laptop to my cyber-image only took five days. Five days I will never get back and at my age this is not immaterial. Bill, please bring back the days of hexadecimal and machine code. Everybody will thank you. Or maybe that’s just the chip talking.