Even though I live in one of the most undeveloped countries in the world, I have a cell phone and I can surf the net. And I have found that technical difficulties have no limits. Early this week it appeared that we picked up some sort of nasty spyware virus. Not really sure how those things happen, but happen it did. Long story short, we made it much worse by trying to get rid of it. Basically invited everyone and their adware brothers to help themselves to our computer. We are using AVG but apparently it wasn’t up to date. At this point we tried to update it, but that was made impossible by all the junk. We felt that the easiest fix was to save everything off and wipe out our hard drive, reinstall the operating system and start again. Neal did that. It take at least 5 attempts to reload, because the computer kept shutting off. “Poof”, the screen would go black. We’re finally up and running. Now the task of getting stuff protected. First, tried to download the free version of AVG, which is what we used before. For some reason their was an error and it wouldn’t work. Next step, purchase the upgraded version. About $80 for 2 years. Paid for it with Paypal. A few hours later while waiting for our license to download we get an email saying our payment was rejected. Rejection is never fun. Placed a call to the US to find out why. We don’t know and “there’s nothing else we can do” we were told. So we tried to pay with our mastercard direct. Again, rejection. Next step, check mastercard. Now I’m wondering if there was some foul play with our credit card since we invited so many uninvited visitors in. I first checked MC online. Nothing suspicious. Just to be sure, I make another call to the US. (Unfortunately ‘toll-free’ doesn’t apply in Niger!) Not only is there no problem or suspiscious activity, there hasn’t even been an attempt to charge our card, let alone a decline. Huh? Next call is to AVG. Again we are told ‘there’s nothing else we can do”. Up to this point, we’re still not virus protected. Of course we had to reinstall AOL, hoping we effectively saved off our filing cabinet. AOL started up. I start using it. I attempt to write an email by pulling up an address. It won’t appear. Pull up address book. It’s empty. Empty! I try not to panic, knowing that AOL’s address book is kept online. But after following every tutorial, my address book is still empty. In the meantime, we are also working on our non-internet connected desktop. Neal printed something and the colors are not working right. Not good. While in the US, we did much research and made the decision to buy and bring back an HP Color Laser Jet 2600n. Sounds impressive. It’s very nice, makes for great newsletters. And compared to the cheap printers we were using, it worked wonderfully. We could get a newsletter printed front and back in about 2 hours. As opposed to 3 days. I’m not exaggerating. We paid the excess baggage to bring the very heavy printer, and have done 1 newsletter on it since being here (we did 1 in the US). Colors were low, and black was empty, so we decided to replace all 4 toner cartridges. First time we tried to print – no magenta. Whaaaaatttt???? Not to worry – I went against what is natural bent of searching for a bargin, and bought the printer direct from HP, feeling like if there was to be a problem, unlikely as that would be, it would be easier to remedy. I began the troubleshooting process for this, which led me to online live help. After a zillion steps and questions (remember that our connection is quite slow so this is taking considerable time), I’m taken to a page that says my product ‘is not eligible for live help’ (there’s nothing more we can do), but here’s a list of products that are eligible. I scan the list and right there in black and white is my Color Laser Jet 2600n. Next thing is to make another phone call. After a zillion more questions, I get a live person. He begans quizzing me, strangely asking me all the same questions I’ve answered for the recording. Guess they’re wanting to make sure it’s not a prank call. I explain the not eligible thing and he says he’s never heard of it saying that before. This isn’t a good sign. Then he asks me whether I want to email my question, or continue to wait on the phone to get help. I mistakenly told him that I was calling from Africa so he would understand why I wanted to know how long the help ‘que’ was. “Oh, you live in Africa? Let me put you on hold for just a minute.” Was he checking to make sure he was vaccinated or couldn’t catch malaria over the phone? Why does the ‘Africa’ word change things? By golly, I’m an American, with a product purchased in America! Mr. Helpful finally returns. He tells me that to get help I’m going to have to speak to Mr. Helpful in Africa. I kindly (I think) explain that I don’t want to have to call another African country – it will be very expensive. I have a special calling plan to the US that is only about $.30/minute. Do you know what he said? “There’s nothing else I can do – you have to call that number or send your question via email. “Thanks for nothing,” I tell him. (not so kindly, I’m afraid).
Back to my address book – the next day. One of the tutorials tells me to do a ‘quick repair’. Who are they kidding?! I begin the process. Oh, if you don’t have AOL Quick Fix, you have to download it. Not sure what else to do, I sign in to download. It asks for my screen name and password. I enter the info and get a message back that says my screen name and password don’t go together. I keep trying, (yes, correct info) until I get a message that says – Sorry, but you can’t have access to this program right now. I navigate my way – reluctantly – to AOL’s live online help. I am stumped! After another series of questions, I am finally connected with Manny, who says he is looking forward to helping me and hopes my problem will be solved soon. At this point I feel like Manny and I are best friends. He told me to go to AOL online and make sure my contact list was there. As I was doing that, I looked to see if Manny had given any more instructions. All I see on the screen is “Help session expired”. At this point, I’m about to expire someone! Anyone! I’m staring at the screen wondering how one goes about re-creating an address book when an email pops in. It’s from Manny! What a guy! He says he’s sorry , but we got disconnected. Ya think? But he had enough info to see that the version of AOL we installed was 9.0SE, but we needed 9.0VR. Who wouldda thought those 4 letters could cause such havoc! He sent me the link to download which I did. I took 3 hours, but no matter- my address book is back and in tact! Thank you Manny. I emailed him back to let him know all is well. The printer is still an issue. I may call again but this time not let it slip that I live in Africa. I’m sure I’ll get a different operator. And the worst I can be told is “There’s nothing more I can do”.