Sunday, September 11, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

Did you ever read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland? Alice's adventures began when she fell down a rabbit hole, ever so slowly, so that she could take an item from a shelf, examine it, and put it back onto a shelf a little lower down. Once she landed softly in a pile of leaves and twigs, her adventures became "curioser and curioser."
Paintings by Leif Hatlestad. More about him in a later post!
Sometimes we feel that our life is being lived at the bottom of that rabbit hole, growing curioser and curiouser.

Back in early April, each of us got a message on our laptops that they had been infected with an Evil Empire virus, so please enter your name and credit card number here. Rather than do that, we took the laptops, one by one to Tucson, about 45 miles away, to Best Buy for service. Of course, it was necessary to put a bunchabucks into a Protection Plan so that future services would be free.

Turns out the alleged virus didn't actually exist; the whole thing was phishing to get us to give out our credit card number. At least we didn't fall for that.

Three weeks ago I purchased a 4-position hub to connect several devices to my laptop at once.

Shortly thereafter, things started to happen, or to be more precise, started to not happen. For example, my laptop would not boot up. Simply refused. Wondering if it were the hub's fault (I'm really a detective, and I notice clues!) I unplugged EVERYTHING including the power cord. Computer started up fine.

That worked for a while, then I started getting strange messages, requiring that I hit F8 while whistling a cheery tune so that the computer would start. That worked a few times, and then came the ominous blue box message that said something was seriously wrong and Windows couldn't fix it. It said something like "If you see this message again, you are totally screwed." I got it again. And again. And again, and never saw the Windows emblem again.

This time, Best Buy was about a mile away in Carson City. And thank goodness, we have the contract that gives us free service.

However, Dom, our personal Geek in the Geek Squad, pointed out that it would be a good idea to back up what's on the computer "just in case." We could do a serious backup or a "User Only" which would cover just our data files, photographs, documents, etc. The backup could be copied onto DVDs or onto an external drive. We opted for DVDs, and gave Dom some money (the backup is not one of the free services).

Next morning we received a phone call from Dom. There's a problem (isn't there always?). To do a User Only back up, he explained, usually involves about 10 gigs of data, and if it goes to about 11 gigs, that's OK too, but we have 97 gigs of data which would require about 20 DVDs, and they can't do that. If we want the backup, we'll have to have it put onto an external hard drive, which will cost a bunchabucks more. But wait, by paying that bunchabucks more, we actually receive the external hard drive for free! While we have to pay a bunchabucks, we get something free. Like Ginsu Knives, maybe?

Paying the bunchabucks more involved two phone conversations with Customer Service later that day. And oh yes, we have a memory problem. I explained that for several years I have been developing a memory problem, but I couldn't remember what it was. Unimpressed, Dom went on to say that my laptop sports two internal memory sticks. Maybe only one is bad, maybe both. So, I needed, please, to purchase two new memory sticks. If both were needed, they'd both be paid for already. If only one was needed, why they'd refund the cost of the second one. More bunchabucks changed pockets.

This morning there was a message on our phone: Dom wanted to talk to us. Called back, Dom wasn't there, but Geek Joshua told us that that the two memory sticks Dom had picked out and charged me for weren't the right memory sticks at all. They would refund the cost of them. That's the good news? The other good news is that only one memory stick needed to be replaced, not both. The bad news was that this Best Buy Store doesn't have any of the memory sticks they need to fix my computer. Neither do any of the other Best Buys in the northern part of Nevada. They are on back order, and will take a week or two to come in.

We checked, found the same thing, except that the memory sticks are quite a bit cheaper there than at the store. Oh, and they come in 2GB and 4GB. That is, they would if they had any. I called Joshua, asked him whether, if I were to buy a new stick, could they put it in as part of their free service. Sure. I then explained that there were two sizes. He was impressed, checked to see if my laptop could use the larger size. Why yes, but I shouldn't have unmatched sticks. They should both be 2GBs, in which case I would only need to buy one, or both 4GBs, in which case I would need to buy two.

Suzy got into shopping mode, went to (the memory sticks are made by or for Samsung); there was a listing where in Central California we could buy them. We're in Nevada. has them, in stock, shippable today. We ordered two, and will have them early this week. By the way, two 4GB sticks, including shipping, will cost just a tad more than one 2GB stick would cost at Best Buy, if Best Buy had any.

Time will tell whether the Geek Squad will have any more surprises to make our Rabbit Hole "curioser and curiouser" for... Our Life on Wheels?


  1. So I take it nothing has actually been fixed yet, and that you are just trying to back things up first? Always a good idea to back things up, especially before you get the "blue screen of death", as Dave (my own personal Geek Squad) calls it. I use a product called "BounceBack" for backups, which I do weekly.

  2. It doesn't matter if you are mobile..or in a stix and brix...those nasty viruses can get you...

  3. Okay, you kind of lost me on this one. Other than the big bucks thing. I understand that part real well. We back up our computers to a click free about every week. So I can't lose too much stuff if the computer decides to crash on me. But I don't know what memory sticks are so have no idea what size I've got. Maybe I need to know that.

  4. I can soooo totally realte to that series of transactions. I like Best Buy but sometimes it's just too complicated.

  5. Aren't computer wonderful? I have worked in the computer industry since 1959 and still get tired of all the problems that come up. I take care of our two computers along with about 5 others in the family. It can sure keep me busy.

    I use external hard drives to back up all my data on a weekly basis or if there is a lot of activity on a daily basis. All it takes is a fatal hard drive crash to wipe out everything you have. I also keep duplicate files on Gerry's computer as an additional backup. You can never have too many backups of your important data.

    Good luck with the memory upgrade.

  6. Sometimes I have to wonder if they try to make things so difficult that you'll chuck it all and just buy new :-( . Hope your computer woes are resolved soon.

  7. Isn't it just amazing haw one thing almost always leads to another and another...Curious indeed!
    Have fun & Travel safe

  8. Ain't it great? Mass confusion and curiouser and curiouser solutions!

    You were smart not to click on that message saying you have a virus - they are a scam. Most virus programs will handle a virus automatically and will definitely try not to scare you to death!

    Your Geeks are right about the memory modules having to be 'matched'! I trust they have checked to make sure your laptop is capable of addressing 2 x 4GB memory modules. That's a lot of RAM (which is always good) but a lot of laptops max out at 4GB.

    Hope it all gets fixed to your satisfaction and is back from 'Wonderland' soon!

  9. I don't want to start anything here, but I think the folks at Best Buy know next to nothing. Every time I've gone into one of their stores, I haven't found anyone (including their geeks) that have given me the correct info.

    Just my opinion.

  10. And this is why most people I talk to who have dealings with Best Buy and the Geek Squad would rather not have any more dealings with them.

    I've resurrected a lot of computers and the whole thing would be a lot simpler if people would just keep their files backed up so it wouldn't matter if the drive got wiped and the operating system reinstalled or a new hard drive installed if necessary.

  11. I think Best Buy might even take advantage of their customers who aren't terribly computer savy.


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