Sunday, November 8, 2020

THE ROGUE COMPUTER

 As the iMac computer I bought in 2013 became, according to Apple, "vintage," and this year transmogrified into "obsolete," it has become slower and more stubborn about following my commands.  To me, it still looks like the sleek, large-screen desktop I bought when I made the switch from a PC to Apple. Our old PC was so riddled with viruses that my son-in-law, who is a computer whiz, told me that it couldn't be saved.  So I made the switch. I signed up for the program that included three years of classes on all the ins and outs of my new computer, as well as some help with my iPhone.

Within a year of getting the computer, it began to duplicate some of my photos, then they appeared in triplicate, and after that in quadruplicate.  In addition, if I had a picture with 6 people in it (for instance, my children), it would make 6 additional photos of each of them. Then it made thumbnails which on the screen of photos looked exactly like full-size photos, until you clicked on it, so there was no way to differentiate between a regular photo and a thumbnail.  I asked one of my instructors at an Apple class if he could help me figure out what was going on. He couldn't and said he had never seen that happen before. Pretty soon every person who worked in the Apple store knew me well and my computer even better. But none of them could explain what had happened, or fix it.

One of the Apple teachers was able to help me delete a big group of pictures. I think he found a tag on pictures I didn't need and we were able to delete them all pretty quickly. But at the end of the class, he told me I should go ahead and empty the trash on the computer, and it took three hours, which is eloquent of how many pictures were in the trash.

Eventually, my three years of classes ended, and I called Apple directly. They sent me to Tier 2 advisors. I lost count of how many different ones I consulted, but none of them was able to explain how it happened or help to resolve it.  After a while, I just gave up and attempted to ignore the multitudinous photographs that were on my computer, only about a fourth of them actually pictures that I wanted. The storage space they required slowed the computer but I just kept plodding on. I think that perhaps the photos were like the furry beings in the original Star Trek episode, "Trouble with Tribbles." When I turned off the computer they multiplied indiscriminately, so that there always seemed to be more than I remembered. In addition, I'd moved the photos from an old laptop onto my new computer, so I now had three iPhoto libraries and 2 Photos libraries, all burgeoning and growing from what I could see, like the fabled kudzu plants in the South which apparently could cover a haphazardly parked car in a day.

As the months passed, the computer gained weight and began to move more slowly every day. Sometimes it took an unconscionably long time to open Mail or Chrome, and it began to freeze at inopportune moments. I'd have to shut it down and turn it back on again several times before it would behave.

I finally realized that it was time to buy a new computer.  While I am far less satisfied with Apple since Steve Jobs departed the planet, the alternatives seemed even worse. I decided just to purchase a new iMac 27.  However, I discovered that I could not just walk into an Apple store and bring home a new computer, as I had done with the original one. There were about 10 different options, from Nano-texture glass instead of the usual screen to what kind of processor you want, how much Turbo Boost, how much memory in two different areas, and how much storage (up to 8 TB). It took me a week to figure out which of all these options was best, with input from my Ninja Mac expert son-in-law and my business partner who designs 3D worlds.  Then I had to place my order, and take out an Apple card so I could pay over 12 months with no interest. Then they started to build my computer, so it was another several weeks before the computer appeared on my doorstep.

I was thrilled, and soon had it out of the box and set up like a twin next to the old computer on my desk.  I called Apple and we started the Migration Assistant.  We tried three different times, but I think the amount of files (i.e. photos) just caused gridlock.  Then I called the company that takes back the old computer to let them know that I couldn't get it back to them in the amount of time they gave me.  I explained the difficulty and the woman to whom I spoke said she had never heard of such a problem and said that she would guarantee my refund no matter how long it takes.  I then asked her if she was sure she wanted it, since it appeared to be a rogue computer and might infect all the other computers in their warehouse. We laughed at that, and it was the first time I had been able to see the absurdity of the whole issue.  My son-in-law thinks that he can resolve it when they are down for Thanksgiving, so I will try to keep it under restraint until then and see what happens.

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