Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wandering in an Annoyed Manner: Tech Support

Disclaimer: the ending of this saga is anticlimactic.

Recently, I got a new computer. That, in and of itself, is wonderful; I have a new communications box, which is presumably better than the last one... YAY!

Of course, I have to get used to the thing first. Like some sort of domesticated (or any) animal getting used to a new territorial feature, I spent an hour or two poking around the thing. It's Vista, and so far the layout is... different. Performance was generally much smoother, the connection to the Internet was more reliable, and the interface was different; I've found that I don't like changing interfaces and associated aesthetic features with respect to most things I do or experience, but I'll usually adjust after a brief period of annoyance and continue as usual. Overall, I'd give this computer a ?/10, because I don't fancy myself as any sort of tech critic, or a critic of anything for that matter... things are different, but usually it has to make me ice cream or kick me in the groin to provoke me to strong emotions about said 'thing'. In a nutshell, the computer's fine, and it's better than the last one.

There was one issue that I found, though. I installed Warcraft III (paraphrasing almost to the word what a guy at sales said when we were looking for a computer: "Every single computer here could run WC III easily."). The other computer ran it fairly well offline, but the speed wasn't good enough to get through much in multiplayer; it would try desperately to maintain connection for a while, go in between moderately slow performance and nearly complete freezes, and then eventually just give up the ghost and disconnect. Sometimes I could get through a game, but that was the exception. In this respect, I was glad to have a new computer; the other one had run well before, it was only really slowing down with regard to intense, net-related content in recent months, and beginning to lose integrity in programs like word processors. It's still usable, but it had lost a lot of vigour, so after I whined about it for a while my parents had mercy and bought me a new one (I think I was really anal about it, but when I was typing and my computer decided it needed to sit down and take a time-out, I was losing faith after several attempts to clean it up).

Right, back to the new one. I installed WCIII, played it offline, and it worked like a dream. For a few minutes. It would proceed to slow down to a crawl. At first, confused, I minimized and checked the background for anything else, and found nothing. I went back, and all was well again. I continued playing, and it worked wonderfully for a few minutes before... slowing down again. This would continue after restarting, following a few basic tips online, etc.

I played for a little while, dealing with these interruptions (I had found that continued minimizing/maximizing could reliably banish the lag for a bit). Eventually, though, I grew tired of getting n00bed every time I played online because I was, essentially, incapacitated every few minutes *WHINES MUCH*. The ol' nerves, as usual, continued to be frayed by the constant inferences that I was a of homosexual orientation or that my online fellows knew my mo--... anonymous insults aren't too bad when no one knows who you really are, but they get annoying when their number's order of magnitude may be greater than can be counted on one hand, and one has to just take it without having the means to enact your sweet, sweet vengeance in an incredible act of nerdraging. I finally turned to tech support, deciding that poking around the system for things that might be the problem wasn't doing much.

I checked around forums for advice, and within them I found advice that was often enough neglected in posts; there are a lot of really simple problems that could be the causes, and it takes a while to sort them out. While figuring out how to deal with those, I went to Blizzard. They probably assumed that I had taken care of all of these basic suggestions when I submitted my problem, because the solutions seemed more temporary (and weren't the issue). Even if they didn't help, I still want to say that the Blizzard tech support system is actually quite good, and that they actually do send helpful advice when directly contacted. On my second reply from Blizzard, I finally heeded one piece of advice from the forums that I didn't think should have been an issue; updating my drivers. I was thinking my computer's new, it should have up-to-date drivers, especially with respect to a game that's several years older than the computer itself. I still decided that, what the hell, I'll check for an update for my graphics card. I'd looked around my system with advice from forums and gone through other processes, so I wasn't terribly optimistic about this, especially because I figured it would be a basic system fallacy; the game worked well, but it seemed as if the game were starved of power as if idle until refreshed. Well, guess what the driver did. It worked.

I like to tell myself that I might know some of the most basic things about computers, but the fact of the matter is: whenever I have a serious problem, I almost never know how to fix it. Machines designed to be used by lay people, computers are complicated enough, and require so much teamwork across organizations and people to complete, that there are bound to be some mistakes. Even if these mistakes are few, they can occur anywhere, and first editions are almost always buggy. From this knowledge I had, reiterated by this event, my lesson is: I should probably pay more attention to my system, considering on how much I rely on it (or, in a general sense, life has once more shown me how much people have come to take for granted from one and other, because of how many people all of human knowledge has to be spread over). I may have philosophized more about this, but I think the post has become rather long. Still, we have come to build for ourselves a way of life that pretty much requires taking a lot of things for granted; how could we, even if we wanted to, thank all the people that have given us services or products from across the world? Could we possibly know all of the people who live that have contributed to our lives, never mind those who died throughout the history of humanity? It may very well be a life's quest to find the former, and I'm fairly certain the latter is impossible; many among them have been lost to memory or record. Though just a little thing, a mole hill relative to the (pointless?) mountain of which I speak, we may as well take our smaller examples of what happens in our stories when we see them; it might just give us something to think about for a blog post.