Simplifying Our Lives With Technology

or...How I Spent Two Months And More Than $3,000 Dollars Buying My Wife A Palm Pilot

By Dave Kreimer, Principal of Next Step Consulting

It all began with the decision to buy my wife a Palm Pilot. For less than $200 dollars, you can purchase the low-end model and coordinate your contacts, tasks and schedule with the software of your choice on your computer. ($198)

But…The software I was using was getting old. I had been planning to upgrade to Office 2000 for a while, and thought I would transition to Outlook at the same time. I purchased the Office Suite and prepared to install it. ($450)

But…It turns out that the performance and full features of the Suite really work best with Windows ’98. One of the computers in my office already had it, but the other two needed the upgrade.

But…My trusty old laptop, a 100 megahertz Pentium, was really too slow to run Windows ’98. I needed something faster, so I purchased a used IBM Thinkpad. It even came with the newest version of Windows ’98 SE. A steal at: ($2,000)

But…Reformatting the hard drives and installing new operating systems on two computers, including flashing the BIOS on one, is a bit beyond my abilities. One day of time from my local computer guru did the trick. ($300)

And it only took me about three additional days to have it all up and running, including my wife’s Palm Pilot.

"The economic and technological triumphs of the past few years have not solved as many problems as we thought they would, and, in fact, have brought us new problems we did not foresee." Henry Ford II

Maybe my biggest problem is the compulsion to have every new gadget, service and “cool new thing.” Before I had time to really enjoy my new system, I received a postcard telling me that cable Internet access was now available to my office. I signed up immediately (of course), and the tech guys showed up at the office within days. They installed the necessary equipment and left me with lightning-fast access, allowing me to waste my time browsing the Internet far more efficiently than I ever imagined. No immediate cost either- just the first 25% of my income for the rest of my life, after the free, one-month trial.

But…I could not enjoy this service on my own. No, all the computers on my network had to be hooked up so everyone could waste their time as efficiently as me. Another call to my computer guru quickly brought him to the office with a helper. They installed some firewall software for security. ($60)

And then, instead of connecting all the office computers to the Internet service, they actually irretrievably "blew up" the entire network, so none of the machines could connect to each other. My “gurus” left things disabled and, mumbling about TCP/IP incompatibilities, they suggested that we leave things alone for a while and see what happens. The cost for this service is yet to be negotiated. ($??)

Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse. Murphy's Seventh Law

After things have gone from bad to worse, the cycle will repeat itself. Farnsdick's Corollary

After several days, little had changed. The agreed-upon next step was to switch from a USB to a network card connection to the high-speed modem. Essentially, this put the problem back into the hands of the cable company. The next cable company technician capably removed the offending USB connection, installed the network card, and then failed to establish high-speed access, or reconnect the network. Also, in the process he “lost” my CD-ROM. Unable to fix any of the problems, he left with the promise to send Mike, “the guy who really knew what he was doing.” Mike was going to be a few days so, figuring that I could not make things any worse, I tried a few things on my own.

"I usually find "alt" + "ctrl" + "clawhammer" to work in those situations. I hope to buy an abacus soon, though." Panther Wyvern

I tried a lot of different things, some of them almost seemed to work, at least momentarily, sort of…I spent a lot of time looking hard, really hard, at the monitor.

"Your mouse has moved. Please wait while Windows restarts for the change to take effect."

God Bless Mike! He knew what he was doing. It took him less than an hour to get things up and running. He came back on his day off and rebuilt the network so that everything works, and the high-speed Internet access is everywhere. ($200)

So, the story has a happy ending. Everything is working. Everyone in the office can surf at high speed, to his or her heart's content. And, we still have two weeks before the month of free service expires and we have to eat rice and beans for every meal so I can pay the bill. My wife loves her Palm Pilot. The whole thing only cost me about two weeks of labor and $3,200 dollars. Don’t you just love the way technology has simplified our lives?

"We'll have fun fun fun 'till my daddy takes the T1 away"

© Next Step Consulting