Christina (daughter) called me last night. “My computer’s messed up.” (It’s a less-than-two-year-old Dell Inspiron.)
Me: “What’s it doing — or NOT doing?”
Her: “When I boot it up it takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R, and then when it gets to a certain point I get a blue screen that says, ‘Windows has encountered an error, and will now shut down.’ And then it shuts down. I can’t ever get it started up. What should I do?”
Me: “as far as you know, are your Anti-virus definitions up to date?”
Her: “Yes. They are automatically updated once a day.”
Me: “Okay, it’s probably not a virus. Uh... (Long pause, thinking.) Have you tried starting it in ‘safe mode’?”
Her: “What’s that?”
I explain how to start the machine in “safe mode.” She tries it, and while we’re waiting to see if it works, she goes on, “I need this computer! Some of the bills I pay monthly come to me electronically, and I have to have my Outlook Express working to get them!”
I offered to send her the old 1996 desktop Packard Bell machine that she used to use before she got her Dell. That old machine still works, but man, is it slow! And it doesn’t have enough processor or memory to run Windows XP, so she’d be back on Windows 98. That idea did NOT go over well.
We determined that the computer WOULD boot up and run in “safe mode,” and that she could access the internet and her emails that way for a while, so the emergency was over.
Today I asked our I.T. folks at work if they had any suggestions, other than to re-install Windows. Christina really doesn’t want to do that, but she may have no choice. My I.T. guru said that if she had not recently installed something (which might have corrupted a Windows, and which she should immediately UN-install and see if that helped) she would have to re-install Windows.
So, tonight I’ll call her and we’ll discuss options. It’s too bad she lives in Tampa, and I’m in Texas, or I could pop in some Saturday and do all of that for her.
The next issue becomes her data files: those need to be backed up prior to the re-install of the operating system.
My plant I.T. guy (a thirty-something) was telling me tales about helping his dad with dad’s laptop when it developed problems. That seems to be more the stereotype — the oldster turns to his kids for computer help. In my case, sometimes that stereotype is reversed.
How about you — who do you turn to when the darn computer won’t compute? Parent, child, spouse, friend, or The Geek Squad from Best Buy?