Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Touched by Technology

            Every family is touched by technology.  For some families, technology dominates the home to the point mom calls everyone to dinner with a text.  My family is far from that, but I (and this blog) have recently been given a kick in the gut by my laptop.  Compound that with my being home only one day out of the last 10 days, and I feel both lost and frustrated.  Thankfully, God has revealed an object lesson to me through all of this.
            Over the last few months I have realized that problems with my laptop's DVD player are not just flukes with particular CDs or my complete incompetence.  My first conclusion was that the hardware itself needed to be replaced.  I did not think we could afford to repair that at this time.
            Since we have to spend our money carefully, I try to take good care of my laptop, even though I take it many places with me.  My laptop case is rather big and bulky.  I like to have with me everything I might need for it, and I believe it provides extra protection for my laptop.  Despite these precautions, I know that sometimes equipment just quits working. 
The guilty party
            Accordingly a week ago when I was in a large town, I went to the local Best Buy to get a very rough estimate on replacing my DVD burner.  To my amazement, I learned that my problem sounded like a software filter problem that sometimes occurs if more than one program uses the DVD burner and could be fixed in as little as 30 seconds.  Woo hoo!  But that wasn't my problem.  It was a software problem.  Just not a 30-second problem.
            Apparently my laptop had gotten a virus at some point.  Fortunately, my anti-virus software evidently successfully removed the virus, but in the process it also removed codes from my Windows 7 operating system.  Those "holes" made my computer incapable of locating and/or using my CD/DVD equipment and probably caused other problems that I did not yet realize existed.  The technician said that fixing the problem would endanger all my files, and he recommended the price package that would include his backing up my files and restoring them, which would mean an additional $100 on top of the repair itself. 
            Being the cautious person I try to be, I had backed up my laptop at 5:30 that morning before leaving town.  At home I have an external hard drive just for my laptop.  That morning I watched little numbers race across the screen until the symbol turned green and declared, "Backup Complete."  The program is able to detect all the changes since my last backup and save the changes accordingly.  Then when I need to restore, I just hit the restore button.  Well, it's supposed to be that easy.  So, when the technician gave me a choice, I told him I couldn't do the repair if I had to pay the extra $100, so it was a good thing I had done my own backup.  I only needed to put a couple of things on my thumb drive, which were files I had created after the backup, before I handed it over.  I was disappointed at not having my computer the rest of the day, but it was going to be worth it.  J
            The next day I picked up my laptop, they showed me that the DVD player was working, and they loaded Adobe's free Acrobat Reader, which I was going to need the rest of the day.  However, the rest of my programs were at home, and I would not be anywhere with internet access until I got home.  I was soon glad to get home and get my laptop going before I would be on the road again that night. 
            I began loading programs…well, attempted to load programs.  Apparently since my previous Windows 7 was an upgrade from Vista, it wasn't quite full functioning.  Now it has a full Windows 7 program without pieces of Vista interfering.  As a result, at least two programs got notices of being incompatible.  One would not fully load; the other seemed to load anyway, but I can't try it because I could find upgrade #3 and not #2.  Without #2 I can't fully try it.  I still have to contact customer support.  Of course, I have to redo all my settings for the programs that did load.  I still have at least 3 more programs to put back on my laptop.  
            Then came the moment of truth:  getting all my files back on the computer.  I attached the external hard drive, let the program automatically load, and waited for the restore menu to pop up.  It didn't.  All the other parts were still in the menu, just not restore.  I manually looked in the hard drive.  I could find some files I had manually backed up, but that was all.  The newest "My Documents" folder I could find was July 2011.  Fortunately, the majority of work I had done on my laptop the past few months dealt with Classical Conversations, and I had copied those files to my desktop computer two weeks ago.  I will have to redo some documents—the ones I know I'm missing, but it could be worse.  I am home again and still feel like I'm stuttering with everything I'm trying to do.
            This is going to be a headache one way or another for days (or weeks) to come—just like being part of a family.  In fact, many parts of my computer situation are similar to life with a family.  I thought I had done all the right things to protect my computer and its contents.  I had a sturdy carrying case and had a highly recommended anti-virus software in place. 
            We try to protect our families, too.  We give our children boundaries—sometimes even physical fences—and warn them of potential dangers.  It may look like we are doing everything right, but somehow a bad influence, attitude, or habit stealthily invades and touches our family, just like the computer virus secretly invaded my laptop.  You may not notice the intrusion at first.  Some little things may not make sense, but you brush it off completely or consider an inappropriate comment or a misspoken truth as a fluke, just like I blamed a "scratched or locked" CD as my DVD problem.
            I finally had to face the fact that I truly had a problem with my laptop.  I did not like the big problem it appeared to be.  Eventually, we have to face the fact that a real problem has invaded our family or the lives of our children.  The problem may look too big to handle.  When we seek help, the initial guidance we get may be promising and lead us to believe it's a quick fix, just like I thought I had a 30-second fix to my DVD issue.  The transition through repairing damage done to a family member (or the family as a whole) to a new and a better level of a relationship can be difficult, time consuming, and full of anxiety.  The days I waited for my computer and went without access to any type of functions or information I got with my laptop was mildly difficult and left me a little anxious. 
            That was nothing compared to the healing that needs to happen in a family, but just like I thought everything could quickly go back to normal after I got my laptop home, a family can also wrongly think everything will quickly go back to normal after a big problem has been "corrected."  Rarely does everything go back to the seemingly carefree days before the problem occurred. I have to be patient while I continue to go through the adjustment of trying to get my files and programs the way I want them, but I also have to realize it's not going to be exactly the same as it was before.  In our families, we need to be patient, too, and remember that even though it is not the way it was before, it does not have to be.  We can move on to some new "good."
            Technology never stands still but keeps moving to the next "better" level.  Families can, too.  Families were here before technology, and families will exist even if the world's power grids permanently fail.  Each of us may be touched by technology, but it can never outdo the power of families.

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