Mom’s PC

I got that marvel of technology that is my mother’s computer yesterday. It sucks just as bad now as it did like thirty years ago when they first released it. It is not that it is bad, or slow, on its own merits, it is just that it is a dinosaur by todays standards. It works quite properly but it has a problem with a modem being inserted into it. Not like a ‘non-compatible device’ type thing, but just an actual scream like ‘get that damn thing away from me!’

I had never had a problem like that before on any system. I did what I knew was necessary and went online to get the correct modem drivers, they installed just fine. In fact, it connected to the internet just fine, but I was not able to download anything. Not even to load a web page. I was pretty convinced that the reason for that was that the computer was an old office machine, more on that in a bit.

So I called my ISP to see if they could help me troubleshoot the problem. I really should have known that it was a bad idea, considering my last experience with their technical support people. The first thing that I said to the tech was that I thought the problem was because the pc I was trying to configure had previously been running on an intra-office lan. I suggested that there may be a proxy setting somewhere that I was not seeing that would clear the whole thing up. The tech said, “mmm hhh. Okay, did you check your password?”

If I had any common sense I would have just hung up right then, instead I told him that, yes, my password was correct and that I was not having a problem actually connecting, the problem was in downloading. So he promptly suggested that I may not have the correct modem driver. Okay, maybe there is an off chance that I could connect with the wrong modem driver, but honestly, this guy was not listening to a damn word that I said. After a half an hour or so, he concluded that the problem was that my version of Internet Explorer was not up to date.

Now I am always using machines that were in their prime several years in the past. I am always behind on my Internet Explorer updates because, in my opinion, every time they upgrade it it just gets worse. Everything loads slower, there is more crap that you can’t make disappear, it is constantly in your face. I do sometimes get broken images and the such using such an old version, but I am always able to load a page like Yahoo, I was not even able to do that on the machine that I was working on yesterday.

The guy eventually transferred me to another tech, I explained to her what I thought the problem was, and she asked if I was sure I had my password correct (do they even tell them what they have already tried when they transfer the call?). She had me try to ping a couple of websites from a dos prompt, which I was able to do with no problem. In my mind that just reinforced my theory that there was some proxy setting somewhere that needed to be taken care of. Instead of helping me try to find it, the tech told me that I needed to call the pc manufacturer since it was not a problem with their service. That was a bit irritating, but I suppose it wasn’t their fault, their service really wasn’t my problem. I was pretty frustrated at that point so I just went to bed (I had about half of this written at that point) to look at it in the morning with a clear head.

The first thing that I tried in the morning was to go into the BIOS and disable the network password. That had no effect, so I changed it back. Then, with my system’s screen beside the new system’s, I started checking for differences in the dial up networking. They were all good. I started looking through the networking, and I found the first problem. That was that the setting on my machine said to use the windows log on, the new machine said to use the network logon. Once I changed that the computer would connect about twice as fast, but I still didn’t get any information to transfer. I set up a new windows log on, which I am not sure had any effect, but I left it anyway.

Then, just on a whim, I went to find files/folders on the new machine’s start menu and typed “Proxy Client”. It displayed a few help files, but more importantly an executable. Once I opened that folder I saw that it was indeed trying to connect through the proxy client/server thing. It had a button on it whereby I could disable it. Once that was done the internet started to function normally. Though when you first connect it still asks for your network id, password and the domain. It is easy enough just to close that, and I don’t feel like screwing with it any more, so I am calling it fixed.

On a side note. This is a problem that I know would have been fixed if I would just have formatted the hard drive and re-installed the OS. The reason that I didn’t do that is that it already has licensed copies of Word, Excel and Quicken installed. Not a bad bundle of software for 49 bucks, eh?(75 with shipping). I am not sure about the legality of using a program that is licensed to someone else, but whenever I read those agreements it always says that they are for use in one machine, and I have that machine sitting right beside me with the software in it. In my opinion they sold me those licenses when they sold me the system.

Now to talk about this being an office pull. The reason that I bid on this was that I knew that it was an office pull, that much was mentioned in the ad for it. Also mentioned in the ad was the software that was installed. Now I assumed that what this meant was that when they pulled it from the office they had wiped the hard drive and re-installed the programs. Nope. They didn’t delete anything. I mean seriously the had moved some of the desktop icons to the recycle bin, but they were still there.

Some of the stuff that was left on the machine I found a bit amusing, if not disgusting. Such as links to a couple of gay porn sites. An MP3 library that boasted a ton of Bob Marley, Dave Mathews, Sublime and some band called ‘Snot’. Also still installed were AudioGalaxy, Napster and some other file sharing thing that I had never heard of. I deleted everything that I found that was not directly associated with making the machine run. After all I bought this one to replace one that was virus infected, the last thing that I needed was for Mom to happen upon one of those files and open it only to find that the seller had left a trojan in it somewhere and steal all her credit card information, or something even worse.

After browsing the internet for a bit, just to make sure that all was working correctly, I noticed the little computer with antenna pop up in the system tray. Yes, it has Norton antivirus installed on it also. It did a live update, and when the screen saver came on it went ahead and performed a system scan. Now I am pretty sure that you have to pay for that live update thing, so this likely won’t last long, but the fact that it did it once, then scanned for viruses and didn’t find any kind of sets my mind at ease. That has always been my worst fear when thinking of buying a used machine. I am sure that lots of people sell old ones when they upgrade, but I am always thinking that someone is trying to screw me into buying something that is totally screwed and will work only long enough that they can say, “Well, it worked fine when I gave it to you.”

If you didn’t know me you might think that I don’t trust anyone. If you do know me, you know that I don’t trust anyone.

Well that is just about enough about that computer. With a bit of luck I won’t have to speak of it again for at least a couple of years.

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