The labyrinth of frustration

There’s a man I don’t know who lives somewhere in Florida. Well, when I say I don’t know him, I’ve never met him, but through a mutual struggle with a particular piece of software, we connected on a forum, and have for a couple of months been exchanging emails on a variety of subjects. Mainly photography with a dash of philosophy thrown in, and a soupçon of literature. He’s a very funny man who has a great way with words, and his emails always make me smile. But this one beats the lot, and made me cry real tears of laughter.
He had recommended Vonnegut to me, and I returned the favour by suggesting David Sedaris, whose book “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” is currently producing snorts and chuckles in our household.
Here’s what Mr Florida wrote last night, and it will resonate with anybody who has ever needed to install a piece of software and found themselves lured into a labyrinth of frustration.
“I just had a really crummy two hours and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!
See, when I read your comment about Sedaris, I thought: “Hmm… I’ve heard that name before and I’ve gotta check that out.”
So I google Sedaris and realize that he’s not who I was thinking of–the Confederacy of Dunces guy–but he sounds really good and he is on NPR and they’re always good, let me just download this segment and give him a listen.
So–right from the taxpayer sponsored NPR website, the one George Romney hates so much it must be good–I click to download one of the Sedaris bits. And thus from such simple, trusting, naive beginnings starts my tale of woe. The Sedaris segment was a .ram file and I don’t have a player for .ram files. So, simple, trusting, naive fool that I am, I click on the “Search the internet for a .ram file-player” button.
Up pops Real Now, I’ve had Real Player before and remember ditching it because it was full of malware and ads. But that was a while ago…  a long while ago. I better check it out. And off I go, like Diogenes, searching for an honest review of Real Player. I finally find some stuff that doesn’t seem like it was planted by the Real Player folks to trick me into getting their malware-ridden program. And I was right, it hijacks your homepage and is the very devil to uninstall and just mucks things up in general. I remember now, I had to join a forum to learn how to get rid of the damn thing. And then got kicked off the forum for being insufficiently respectful of the forum-maven watchdogs.
So now I have to find some alternative for this damnable Real Player because I am bound and determined to listen to this Sedaris guy just out of spite! And lookee here, on the CNET site, an alternative to Real Player called, of all things, Real Player Alternative. Ha, problem solved. I’ll just download this and bob’s your uncle. I can listen to Sedaris and not have all the ads and malware infecting my browser and  be the wiser for it.
Wrong again. CNET directs me to another spot to download the alternative and when I do, because I did not scrutinize every damn button click carefully enough, being a simple, trusting, naive sort and never suspecting that CNET, that paragon of probity and honest dealing, would direct me to an adware shill, I end up with something called AVG Secure Search or somesuch. Which is apparently designed to foil any attempts to bypass the real Real Player.
AVG now infects my browser or downloader or some damn thing so that whenever I try to run Real Player Alternative .exe, I get a warning message about corrupted files and do I want to purchase something from AVG Secure Search to de-corrupt them? What a clever scam! Under the pretext of protecting people from scams, you scam them. Why didn’t I think of that.
Well, I finally get rid of the AVG thing and get Real Player Alternative running, but by then I’d forgotten what the hell I went through all this for and had to go back through my history to figure why I wanted this in the first place. Oh, yeah, Sedaris! And you’re right he is good. I listen to a segment about Americans trying to speak French and the gender of French nouns and how he avoids the whole problem by ordering more than two of everything because it’s only the singular article that has to be in gender agreement…  or something.
Well, you’re right, he is funny and it was worth all the effort. And besides, it’s raining now, I couldn’t go out and play anyway and I’ve given my file-management muscles a good workout.”

10 thoughts on “The labyrinth of frustration

  1. Lots of hollow laughter. I’ve been there – but haven’t been able to extract myself. Much threatening to smash laptop then finally think of summoning a daughter to sort it all out. (There’s got to be some point in having them, hasn’t there?)

    • Yes, it all sounds so exasperatingly familiar. My desktop is littered with obscure programmes I’ve downloaded to make other programmes run. I can’t remember any more why or what for, but this one thing I know: if I delete them, I will need them one day and never be able to find them again.

  2. No!
    Blood pressure rising.
    I think I may give it to the man in the local prosecutor’s office who kindly revived our Lazarus of a PC with a pirated copy of Windows whatever it is which tells us it is pirated every time we turn it on but otherwise behaves itself…he might be able to tame it.

    The fact that I can’t download from Amazon at the moment is not the fault of the man in the prosecutor’s office…it is the fault of the interstellar genius of a husband who has completely burned up Amazon’s wires by messing up
    A. Delivery addresses
    B Billing addresses
    C Bank cards
    D Passwords

    in combinations you’d need a professor of mathematics to untangle.

    Unfortunately he is unaffected as he buys his socks, watches, seeds, etc… online from other providers!

    Blood pressure on the fast burner….

  3. I worked as a repair technician in PC World for 7 years but even so I can remember being a naive computer newbe.
    My stepson gave us a computer in 1998 saying “you just have to buy a mouse and a monitor for it”. The computer sat under a chair in the living room for 3 months before I plucked up courage to try it.
    Once up and running I realised it had no sound card which was annoying as doing things with sound files was the one thing I thought it might be useful for. Went to Maplin and bought a cheap soundcard not realising it was of the old fashioned ISA slot type….. it took me a whole weekend to get the sound working but by then it was too late – I was hooked and in a couple of years on the way to the final stage of my varied career as a “PC Guru”.
    After about 18 months I bit the bullet and bought a modem to connect to the internet, set up a Hotmail account and began to get a trickle of emails. One day I was excited to see that I’d got an email from a young lady in California – no not really, it was a spam message signed by the lady who was big boss at RealPlayer!

    • Thank you for your comment, Robin. I know you are fairly close to us geographically, and have mentioned you to a couple of friends.

      We can probably all look back and laugh at our early forays into the world of computers. I bought my husband a Video Genie when they first came out in the 1980s. It was a Christmas present. When he unwrapped it, all there was was a keyboard with a built in tape player. Nothing else. Zilch. We had to hook it up to the TV, and then of course it did nothing because it had no memory and no tapes. It led to the most frustrating Christmas ever as we struggled, called on friends who were computer programmers, all to no avail. It just didn’t do anything. And the shops were closed until after New Year, so we couldn’t go and buy any of the “programmes” on tape. And once we did, finally, they didn’t work, because the machine was faulty.

      And let us not even discuss Linux! 😀

  4. Reblogged this on Susie Kelly – Writer and commented:

    Four years after I first posted this, we still correspond regularly and he never fails to make me laugh. Having just emerged victorious from a day-long battle with Three Long Beeps and Four Short Bips I was reminded of how a well-meant remark from me led him into the labyrinth of frustration. 🙂

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