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« 49cm. 1st Generation Fuso | Main | Old "Cycling" article from 1976 »

Right before Mothers’ Day my Mother Board died

My usual morning ritual on waking is to turn on the computer and allow it to warm up while I make coffee. Then while the coffee is brewing I check my emails, the weather, and see what is going on in the world.

Last Tuesday I awoke, stumbled into my office, pushed the start button on my PC, and…. Nothing happened, no friendly blue light, not a sound. I had to sit around until 9 am. That’s when my local computer fix-it guy opens up for business. He told me he was swamped with work, and couldn’t even look at my machine until the end of the week.

That’s okay, I thought. There is plenty of other things need doing around the house, and the weather is nice, I might even ride my bike. You see I didn’t want to rush out and buy a new computer, if it was going to be a simple fix like a new switch, or something.

No such luck. Friday afternoon the fix-it guy called to say my Mother Board had died. I’m not even sure what a Mother Board is, but I had to take the expert’s word that nothing will compute without it, and it would cost more than a whole new machine to replace this Mother.

So now it was computer shopping time, this was going to be fun. The first thing I noticed was where there was once rows and rows of PCs, now there is just one little shelf in a corner. It’s all lap tops, and tablets now, but I just bought a beautiful large screen monitor a couple of months ago, (Great for watching bike races.) so I just needed the “Tower” part.

Then came the realization that all the new computers come with Windows 8. I had heard a lot about Windows 8, most of it not good.

“Can’t I just use, Windows 7? It does everything I need to do.”

I was told no. “Okay, can you show me what it does?” Where upon the salesman started to make all these different things happen with lightning speed.

“Wait… I’m never going to remember all this by the time I get home. Does it come with instructions?”

“No, there are no instructions, but I can sell you a tutorial disc for twenty dollars.”

Here’s a tip. Don’t buy the tutorial, it gives you stupid little tasks to perform, and if you don’t perform then you can’t continue to the next stage. The tutorial is almost as hard to operate as Window 8 itself.

Where there used to be buttons that I would click on to do something, now I have to then play “Hunt the button.” These magically appear when I hover the curser in the corners of the screen.

When I turn on the PC, I see a page with the time in large letters; I have a number of clocks in my home I don't need the time. I discovered, quite by accident, that I click anywhere on this page for it to disappear and reveal the "Log-in" box. The opening Clock screen is completely superfluous.

One of the first things I did was try to download the software that I use to build and maintain my web sites. I placed the disc in the tray and nothing happened. So I got on the phone to Microsoft tech support to ask how to download this program I needed.

After a long session with an automated voice system, I finally got a real person who passed me on to another person who then passed me on to yet another person. Then I was told that a tech person would call me back, probably on Monday. (This was Saturday.) Then came the kicker… This would cost me $250 to speak to their tech person. I refused their offer of service at this outrageous price.

Instead I Googled. “How do you open a disc in Windows 8?” I got my answer. When you put the disc in and close the tray, a tiny, almost transparent, box appears in the top right corner of the screen. It only stays in view for a few seconds, then disappears. If you are not looking for it you don’t even see it.

You click on this box and another box appears and asks what you want to do, one of the options being “Run.” I ran the software and the program was up and running in about five minutes. A lot less time than I had spent on the phone with Microsoft.

The problem as I see it, the people who design these programs have become way too clever for their own good. And just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. The people who designed Windows 8 lost sight of the fact that for most people the computer is a tool to get work done, it is not a fucking video game.

There was nothing wrong with the old system when you put a disc in the tray, a window opened in the middle of your screen that said “Run” or “Play.” What ever happened to the old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Microsoft’s motto seems to be, “If it ain’t broke, work on it until it is.”

Please excuse the rant, but I needed to get this out of my system before I can settle down to serious writing. This couldn’t have come at a worse time. I have just been hired by Answers.com as an “Expert” writer on Cycling. (See the badge in the right hand column.) They want a minimum of 10 articles a month, and I have just lost a week because of this problem, and it could take me another week just to find my way around Windows 8.



Reader Comments (17)

I hate to be facetious, but maybe you should have considered a Mac? They really are simpler to use and easy to learn. I hope you work it out because I really enjoy your blog.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Yes I know I have been told that many times, but right now I do not have the money for a whole new system, plus all the extra software for the programs I run. And I don't have the time to learn a new system.

May 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

And we wonder why B Gates is the wealthiest man on planet Earth? Better than cheap oil is overly-complicated, unreliable tech connections requiring way too much time, energy and patience.

And now "Biking" responsibilities? 10 articles/month? All on Windows 8?

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack

If Microsoft made bicycles, they'd have square wheels and very complicated suspension.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohann Rissik

"allow it to warm up"? Dave, are you still using a tube based computer? ;)
Windows 8 is indeed difficult at first because it so different from all previous recent versions of Windows, but don't worry, you'll get used to it before too long!

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTimJ

@Dave: "And just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should."
Amen to that. What happened to simplicity in today's software and web design?

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

Dave, as I think i commented in your previous blog, which seems to have disappeared, Microsoft has now come to the realization that Windows 8 is a dud (at least for conventional desktop computers) and will come out with a fix to at least bring back the Start button. Meanwhile, just Google "Classic Shell" and download it. I even had to install it for Windows 7, which was a bit screwy with its virtual directory structure.

Whatever you do, don't fall for the Mac stuff. You don't strike me as being a wealthy Luddite. ;)

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Motherboard is like a bicycle frame - it joins all other components. Replacing it is tedious, but not complicated. Your computer ran windows 7, this means it was not old, so finding another motherboard should have been easy and cheap(definitely cheaper). My guess is that fix-it guy did not want a time consuming job on his hands.
Your new "tower" might be able run windows 7, googling the model number(if there is one) should give you an answer.


May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

"And I don't have the time to learn a new system."

Heh! Dave, that's what everyone says WRT Mac, Linux, you name it. But here you are, learning Windows 8 :-) Somehow everyone always makes time to learn the new windows OS.

BTW the reason you "can't" have windows 7 on a new PC? Microsoft's deal with manufacturers which ensures they will ship their computers with the latest offering from Redmond.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlemmiwinks

I can sympathise with your experience of Windows 8, Dave. You can download an inexpensive utility called Start 8 to restore the start menu and run Windows 8 like older versions. I think the Windows 8 interface works well for smartphones and tablets not for desktops.
I enjoy your blog, by the way!

May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulian Greaves

The people who designed Windows 8 lost sight of the fact that for most people the computer is a tool to get work done, it is not a fucking video game.

Best software review ever.

May 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdb

My old computer expired just before taxes were due. I didn't want to learn Windows 8 in the middle of filing taxes and found a new computer with Windows 7.

I understand there is a free download you can get that makes the Windows 8 interface look and operate like Windows 7.

Good luck!

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterleroy

ANSWER: Apple iMac. So easy, so simple, no viruses, a beautiful piece of equipment. The Camp Super Record of computers in my opinion.

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJW

Programmed obsolescence: a problem encountered with computers, bicycles, and almost any other consumer item at this time. Windows 8 was created so that everyone would eventually have to upgrade even though the previous version was fine. It doens't matter if it works well or not- the crux for Microsoft is selling you something, not designing a superior product.
I guess its the same thing with 11 speed cassettes?

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConrad

Dave, get someone to help you with the PC and get him (or her) to install Windows 7 for you.

I'd also recommend that you shop somewhere where they give you what you want, not what MS is paying them to push onto unsuspecting "customers."

May 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

ayup MS at it's finest! I found Linux to be the answer for me, my bride went to a Mac. I have a 12 year old laptop that I converted from MS to Linux several years ago, the motherboard finally crapped out on it a few months ago. That's okay, I have a whole pile of "obsolete" Windoze laptops that friends have given me. Time to clean one up and put it to work.

I would have considered getting a decent laptop with a docking station versus finding a new tower. We ditched the desktop computer a year or so ago and have been better off for it.


May 24, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter2whls3spds

I've worked in IT since '84 with plenty of desktop and server type support over the years - with PC and Mac experience combined.

Been running Macs at home since '99. For home use, honestly a much nicer setup. Yes, more expensive then a PC - but worth it. Better user feel, they last longer, and actually still worth something used. Plus no real virus and other nonsense to worry about.

Get a refurbished unit off the Apple site with Apple Care coverage, and live happy for a few years...

June 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan O
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