When technology bites back

PanicSo there I sat Friday morning, an hour away from an online meeting, surrounded by 5 robust computers, unable to do anything I needed, ready to tear my hair out. Some of the problems I brought on myself, some were beyond my control.

My first mistake was trying to do a shortcut installation of a CD full of fonts the night before. On my MacBook Pro, I was gradually, painstakingly installing them in Fontbook one at a time. But on my desktop Mac I tried to take a shortcut and copy a ton of folders directly into the Font folder. The fonts seemed to work fine in Fireworks and Dreamweaver, but when I tried to open Word, I got a popup window telling me about a corrupt font. I clicked “Ok” (the only option) and up popped another one. When I realized this was going to happen for each of the thousands of fonts I had copied, I forced Word to quit. “Crap, gotta deal with that soon,” I thought, and used a different word processor.

The next morning, an hour before my meeting, I went to open the Powerpoint presentation I’d need to reference in the meeting. The same thing happened — I wasn’t going to be opening the presentation on my iMac. Unfortunately, I don’t have Office on my laptop Mac, so I was going to have to turn to one of the PCs. I booted up the nearest one, and turned back to my iMac to see if I could solve the font problem. After several minutes I realized the PC wasn’t booting. It was trying — over, and over, and over. The reset button was stuck, and it was booting over and over, never quite making it. No time to mess with that — I moved onto the next PC. It booted fine, but the wireless keyboard batteries were apparently dead. I ran downstairs to scrounge for batteries. Couldn’t find any. Did I think to grab a wired keyboard from a different PC and plug it in? No I did not. OK, one computer left, and it’s the old PC laptop.

When I said earlier I was surrounded by 5 robust computers, I lied. I was surrounded by 4 robust computers and one rather slow machine. It’s a decent PC —  a newish X41 Tablet — but it’s only got 256k RAM, so it’s dead slow. I knew it would be 15 minutes or so before the thing booted, updated, and finally downloaded the 11MB file, so I decided to tackle the font problem. I decided to simply delete all the fonts in folders. Bad idea. Suddenly the IM conversation I was having with Susan turned to gibberish. My keyboard was responding to my typing, but not with the correct letters. My email and stickies no longer displayed correctly. I had broken my Mac.

I watched my PC laptop struggle to get the file open. I tried to launch YM on it, but it was too busy struggling with Powerpoint to respond.

So there I sat, with all this technology around me, unable to do a damn thing.

Just my luck: the meeting got moved out an hour.

I was able to fix the font thing. To do so I accessed the Library via the Macintosh HD (as opposed to from my home). The font folder there contains the default set (or the right set, at any rate). I copied them, and pasted them into Home > Library and I was good to go. It was that simple. I loved my Mac again.

The meeting went fine, although there was no speakerphone on the other end, so my “call in” was a cell phone sitting on the table — I had to ping them via IM if I wanted to talk.

We had a good laugh about having bad technology karma for the morning, but man was it frustrating. I’m still not back 100%. My Windows installation on my main Mac is hosed, and I don’t know yet if it’s a Parallels issue, a Windows CD issue, or a CD Drive issue. But I’m up and running again anyway. But I’m really ready for technology to get another order of magnitude simpler and more reliable.

One Response to When technology bites back

  1. Augie April 21, 2007 at 5:46 pm #

    I would never have that problem!

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