Sunday, December 09, 2012

Making Things Work

I missed a couple days here at ThunderTales. The problem was trying to get things to work and facing the incredible incompetence of technical support at a range of computer software companies not the least of which was Microsoft.

About three weeks ago I took a look at Windows 8 and was very complementary in terms of the ease of adaptability for the system. Whenever we are faced with a new operating system we always have a reluctance to 1) read the book and 2) actually do what the instructions tell us to do. I found by taking some time to read Windows 8 guides that in a fairly short interval I could operate within Windows 8 very comfortably and actually liked it.

That experience motivated me to think about how old my existing desktop computer was. When a desktop, even a top-end model, reaches nearly 7 years old it isn't quite the great system it was when it first entered your office. I'm a pretty easy sell when it comes to new toys. So in short order I was discussing with SWMBO the real need for a new computer. Within about four days a Dell all-in-one powered by an i7 processor with 8 GB of RAM and a 1 TB storage drive showed up at my doorstep. Over several cycles of new computers I had learned that lap link PC mover greatly simplified the transition process, moving applications data and system settings to the new machine.

That was then and this is now. If I could personally deliver a B 61 nuclear weapon upon the devil's spawn at lap link I would do it in a heartbeat.

The initial transfer method left most of my critical applications behind. That was because the interface hid those applications from the selection menu unless one checked two dialogue boxes which were not obviously labeled. So, after about an hour of set up and eight hours of transfer I was left with an unsatisfactory move. Lap link technical support seems to be located in some isolated Third World nation where English is unknown. After some unsatisfactory consultation I restored to the pre-move condition and attempted once again starting from scratch. This time the move took 45 hours of transfer time. The suggestion that PC mover would enhance installation of software on your new computer and do it more efficiently than searching through your old installation disks and doing it all manually was clearly false. After the 45 hours and two full days of being inoperative with neither old computer nor new computer accessible I found that although most of the applications seem to have transferred, none of them were functional.

That led to the decision to abandon PC mover and do the job manually. While it is tedious, it is sort of like cleaning out old closets because you are forced to make decisions about junk that you have collected over the years that you will never look at again. My first transfer was one that I considered the most critical to computer operations after an Internet browser and that was the applications that comprise Office 2010. Over the next 14 hours I dealt with at least a dozen Microsoft technical support personnel trying to install Office 2010 using my license installation key.

Strangely enough the license key was denied because there was an existing trial version of Office on the new computer. Opening the trial version indicates that if you have a existing license key you can enter it and Office will be functional. Unfortunately that did not work for me. That began the saga of a day full of technical support calls to Microsoft. Recounts of the problem, transfers from office to office at Microsoft and dropped calls after frustrating waits didn't solve my problem. The logic of a trial version that would not accept an existing Microsoft Office user escaped most of the technical support people.

To make an agonizing and painful story short, after a full day on the phone I finally encountered a supervisor who recognized the fact that Microsoft Office professional academic version is the maximum horsepower version of the software package and is not acceptable for upgrade from the trial version. The simple solution of deleting the trial files and installing from my original Office 2010 disc finally got me operational.

Now with dropbox, iCloud, iTunes, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and Office all installed I am beginning to approach functionality once again. Let me note that none of this is the fault of Windows 8 nor of Dell computers, but really from substandard software such as PC mover and incompetent technical support such as the Microsoft team dealing with issues regarding Office.

What is probably most surprising, is the general lack of training of Microsoft technical support staff on Windows 8 issues.

1 comment:

juvat said...

Ed, I feel your pain! As a Tech guy for the local school district, me and my 4 associates (3000 kids, 400 staff, 1500 client machines, 200 servers, 250 VOIP phones and countless critical programs, but that's another story) have come to the conclusion that the only way to have any confidence in the operations of our machines is to remove all partitions, reformat the hard drive, and then rebuild them from scratch. Of course, we then take an image of that machine and duplicate it on others, but that clean sweep is done on all. Otherwise, you just never know for sure what's on the machine and whether it will play nice with others. I'd be interested in your thoughts on Win 8 though. We've just gone through a long period of "gotta have an iPad because...." followed by "how come it can't access office documents, my windows shared folders.....". We're hoping a Windows tablet might solve those problems while preserving some of the iPad's mobility.