I’m not what you would call an operating system fanboy. Sure, I grew up on good old MS-DOS back in the early reaches of the personal computing era with the IBM PCJr, I taught myself Unix when I went to college so I could telnet in to check my school email address, and I did my time configuring Windows 95 through XP before going to Vista with the new computer I built in 2009. Hell, I even spent a few years using Apple OS X on my Mac Mini, so I’m not going to sit here and go all self-righteous about OS superiority – but I just have to say I’m so tired of Windows Vista.
I’ve finally made the jump to Windows 7. The tipping point came this weekend when I was using my parents’ little stripped down Core 2 Duo that my mother uses for checking their email and playing Words with Friends on Facebook, and it ran better than the Core i7 my fiancée and I share at home. I was so surprised that I actually had to double-check the system properties to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but there it was, big as life and twice as ugly: this little computer, with its minuscule 2 gigs of RAM and its adorable little integrated graphics chip, was shitting all over a Core i7 with 3 times the memory and an NVIDIA 9800 GTX.
I wasn’t about to lose the obsolescence race to my goddamn parents. These are the same people who didn’t realize their new plush leather recliner couch had a flip-down console with dual cup holders and massage controls integrated into it for the first three months they had it. In fact, if I hadn’t discovered it in the first 15 minutes of being there this weekend, I don’t think they ever would have stumbled across it.
Anyway, I knew my brother had built that computer for them, so I asked him if he had a spare copy of Windows 7. Lucky for me, he’d bought a distributor version with something like 10 available CD keys, so he hooked me up. He didn’t have a physical DVD handy, so I just downloaded one and burned a copy to DVD in order to install it.
This is where the fun began. Look, I’m reasonably technically-minded. I do my own computer upgrades and maintenance, I can set up a home network with a minimum of cursing and gnashing of teeth, and I know the difference between a molex connector and a SATA power cable (even if I leave off the 4 pin connector sometimes), yet installing and configuring Windows 7 was a fucking nightmare last night.
Honestly it was mostly my fault. I’d forgotten on of the little idiosyncrasies of my particular motherboard – though a better description might be “the fucking failure of the manufacturer to include a driver CD” – which I originally encountered upon installing it in the first place. For some reason, the BIOS did not come pre-loaded with the drivers for the network adapter integrated into the motherboard, so I had to scramble to find a way to get the drivers off another computer and onto this one.
The first time I had to do it, it was relatively easy. I borrowed a USB thumb drive and simply downloaded the drivers on my older computer and transferred them that way. Yesterday was a little more complicated, though, especially because it was a little too late to go knocking next door. Not only that, but I had ripped the power supply out of my old computer in order to repair the failed one, so I had to go out to the car at 1 in the morning to bring the laptop in.
Of course, the laptop’s screen cracked about a month ago when one of the cats stepped on it wrong, leaving it with a huge vertical stripe of dead pixels about 2 inches wide across about a third of the screen. I was able to MacGyver the video out port on the laptop to my old beast of a CRT monitor from my old desktop so I could actually see what I was doing, and once I managed to boot up the laptop I was able to download the files I needed without a problem – only to find that I couldn’t get them off the fucking computer.
I didn’t have a USB drive on hand, and while the laptop had a CD burner built into it, all I had was a stack of DVD-Rs (one of which I had already used to burn that copy of Windows 7). This sent me on a scavenger hunt through the entire house for some sort of writeable media I could use. I remembered that I’d brought a bunch of old CDs up with me from my parents’ place in a box of random stuff from their basement, so I began looking through them, finding both my Macross Plus soundtrack and the first Tenacious D album, before coming upon a stack of burned CDs. Of course, they were all CD-R’s, and they were all full.
But wait! At the bottom of the pile I saw a jewel case labelled “Multimedia Files.” Not only that, but it had a big-ass CD-RW printed on the side. I knew if I just kept digging I’d be fine, I thought, as I triumphantly opened the jewel case… to see that it was completely fucking empty. I was tempted to throw the thing out the goddamn window.
After much wailing and rending of garments, I stumbled onto a solution: I decided to use my digital camera’s SD card as an impromptu flash drive to transfer the files. I pulled it down from the shelf, grabbed the USB transfer cable, plugged it into the laptop… and nothing. I pressed the power button again – not even a peep. Finally I opened the battery compartment to find that the four AA batteries that usually power the thing were suspiciously absent.
I couldn’t find any goddamn loose AA batteries in the house to save my life. Finally I pulled the batteries out of both the Xbox 360 controller and the cordless Swiffer jet mop thing and slapped them in. The camera booted up with its characteristic tone, and then began beeping at me, telling me that the batteries I’d just found were almost completely empty.
The next few moments were more tense than a bomb defusal. I could hear the clock ticking in my head as I scrambled to transfer the files and then run over to the other computer. I somehow just barely managed to transfer the last driver to the new computer before my camera completely gave out.
I sprawled on the cold hardwood floor and just hyperventilated for a while before picking myself up and re-installing the drivers. They worked fine, and Windows 7 is so much more incredibly faster and more stable than Vista it’s not even funny, but if I knew what a fucking pain in the ass this was going to be, I would have just stuck my head in an open doorway and just slammed the door a few times instead.