Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Look for the Upside-Down Pizza Icon"

I kid you not: that's what the "Genius" told me over the phone when I was trying to solve a problem with my old computer. Truthfully now: do you know what he was talking about? Nobody else at Apple that I've talked to can. I still have no clue. And the problem still isn't solved after three days.


A little history: my old (2008) laptop (MacBook) has been having increasingly frequent problems with getting connected with the Wi-Fi. It finally kept failing to connect after many tries last Thursday. After talking to Rich, he thought it was a failing Wi-Fi card.

I did the logical thing and called Apple about a replacement card. Well, logical to me anyway. To Apple, 8 years is too old. No parts. Nobody'd replace it even if I could find one. That's their story and they're sticking to it. Of course, I could buy a new computer....

So-o-o-o not a happy camper. But since the old one was a MacBook, I could call up their "Genius Bar" service and try to establish first for sure that it was in fact a dying/dead Wi-Fi card. After all the usual voicemail crap and holding crap (but hey, at least they give you a choice of what kind of music you want to listen to for your half hour and it includes classical) I connected with a young-sounding chap who tried to work me through to getting the old one to do a self-diagnostic test.

OK, how do I do that?

This is where it all broke down. He heard me repeat several times that I'm a technophobe. Perhaps he thinks we're as real and common as the Tooth Fairy? I got jargon this and jargon that until I had to stop him about 5 times for every piece of instruction and ask where I could find that on my screen. You know, is it in the applications menu? Under the Apple symbol? Because I can actually find those.  But no, too easy. After a series of instructions I finally got to where there were a bunch of symbols on the upper right bar of my screen.

And that's when he told me to find the upside-down pizza.

Are you shitting me? What the hell kind of symbol looks like an upside-down pizza?

I tried to work with him and describe the symbols as they appeared from left to right. I figured a physical description telling a simple shape like a star, or what kind of lines - straight, curved, bent, vertical, horizontal, diagonal, going in which direction - should cover it. You know, like pointing down, or an increasing stack of arcs like they used to draw for noise or volume control. I went through the whole lot of symbols and nothing registered with him. And he had no words to tell me what an  upside down pizza was supposed to look like.

He decided to change tack. "Go to the Bluetooth symbol." Another brick wall. To me a bluetooth is a shiny blue plastic thing that fits around my friends' ear letting her talk on her cell while she's not holding it. It's why she never sees  with bad news.  But I've never had one, used one, and certainly had no clue what its symbol looks like. I asked him to describe it.

Dead silence.

"Are you still there?" He was. But he couldn't describe a Bluetooth symbol. I do, for the record, now know that it is kind of a central vertical line through an X but on the right side of that vertical the lines turn into a pair of stacked triangles. Or a really weird-ass "B". But since there was absolutely no communication happening, the call ended.

 Where do they get these geniuses?

I trusted Rich's call on the diagnosis, and reluctantly went to the local Apple Store. By the way, poor communication seems to be endemic with them. Steve decided to come along. The store is in a huge mall, so I called to find out which entrance is closest to the store so we didn't have a 2-mile hike in store. So to speak. The 1st person I got was in a call center but put me through to the actual store. I was connected to a manager, explained mobility limitations as the reason for my question. (FYI neither scooter has living batteries right now, and Steve just replaced his.)

"It's the entrance by the ______ Theater."

That's fine but I've never heard of nor seen this theater. "Are we talking north, south, east, west, southeast, or where?"

Turns out it's on the north end, very farthest from the road in. Glad I asked. Then it was"Turn to your right and it's about 50 feet." Sounded easy enough. He neglected the part about the fancy landscaping between handicap parking and the front door recessed about a hundred feet on a curved sidewalk. Gotta look nice you know. Or the part about this dumping you into the food court, meaning another hundred feet circling stands and dodging tables. Most especially he missed the bit about your being on the second floor and them being down on one, so you backtrack to the escalators, or the part about the storefront with all the Apple symbols on it being closed and the store having moved "across the aisle", which actually translates to completely on the other side of the escalators, aka down a different hall about as far as you've already come since getting off the escalators. But hey, it was on the other side when you got down that far. No Apple symbols on any of the doors, walls, or signs above the doors. Steve didn't think that was it but the inside just looked like an Apple store.

I bet you can guess our moods by this time. So it was probably a good thing that we got to sit for about 25 minutes after signing in before it was our turn to get the attention of a salesman!

I finally, after going through two different employees, bought a new laptop. We discussed how I was to transfer my data from that day's Time Machine back-up device, set up a call for the next morning so they could assist with any problems or questions, and I went home poorer but reasonably optimistic.

You'd think by now I'd know better.

Oh, the upload went fairly well. And one advancement I really appreciate is that it comes with all the basic operating installed, ready to go. I decided to be brave that night and see how far I could get by myself.  English as primary language? Click on that and then on continue. Whee, easy. Next was American or Canadian English, eh? American of course. Brits can't spell properly so I get the reasoning on that one.

Then it asked if I wanted to input my backed up data now or wait till later. Hmmm, not sure. Better wait, go onto next. How was I going to hook up to the internet? I spotted the home Wi-Fi system in the list of possibles and clicked on that. Fine, what's the password?

Uh oh. It's Steve's system so he should know. He offered me one possibility, but it didn't work. OK, maybe it was _______. It's been so long since needing to log anything into the Wi-Fi.  So where's it written down?

Huh? Where?

Meanwhile I thought maybe I should back up a page so I could try again with the different login, only this time the window options didn't even include the home network. WTF? 5 minutes and I've already broken the system? Time to give up and wait for that morning phone call.

Not ready to trust in my complete failure the next morning. I started it up again. This time it started over: English? American? When it got to the do you want to import part, I told myself what the hell and plugged in Time Machine. Maybe it had my passwords stored in it. Cause I only had about half of all of them memorized. Fingers crossed.

Well, the data mostly transferred. A few of my website passwords took an extra day to connect with where they belonged, which has me head scratching. Still no Wi-Fi right away though. I did some navigating while waiting for help and found a bunch of stuff in the operating system has changed. Firefox bookmarks are currently unmanageable, for example. They used to have "manage bookmarks" where I could go in and move or delete them and that's gone. I finally figured out their newer system on my last computer, but no luck with it on this one. Just one of the building list of frustrations.

My morning call took a mere 100 minutes before I got access to Wi-Fi again. Except... I can't connect to my mail system. And the way the window for mail is formatted now is terrible. I figured out a couple of fixes, simple stuff like paring down each entry from four lines to two, but can't get it down to one. Plus the header lines used to stack across the top of the mail window and now they take the  whole left  half of the window in a vertical column. That means when I open one of the old stored ones ('cause I still can't get or send new ones) I can only view a tiny upper corner of what was sent. I can't move around inside, scroll in any direction to read more than a few words per line or  more than a corner of the first of any pictures sent. And any links in them do not work.

Finding all of that out has thus far taken me two plus days, a dozen lengthy phone calls where Apple has given up on me and hung up on me, blaming my email provider, and the email provider has done the same thing blaming the computer. If you need me desperately, call. My ancient flip phone still works. No texting though.

Tomorrow my new laptop and I are going back to the Apple Store. Steve has already declined the hike. And even if they figure out how I can connect to my email, I still don't expect anybody there can tell me what an upside down pizza looks like.

If I were to draw it, it would look something like a flat fat-legged caterpillar without segments, eyes, or antennae. Those leggy things would represent all the toppings splatted over the floor.

I'd call that about a 20 minute cleanup.

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