HAVE YOU BEEN EATING TIDE? – Marilyn Armstrong


I was trying to figure out if I was writing about idiot teenagers eating Tide pods, or the endless tides of the ocean, or how one day is total insanity and by the next, everything has completely calmed down. In tide, out tide.

Whoever said that getting a Mac was the easiest thing in the world meant well and probably, that was their experience. But life is what it is and it can be very easy or ridiculously — and needlessly — complicated.

I was supposed to get a call from Mac to help me set up my Mac. I had a few questions I needed answered because it has been a long time since I used a Mac … 25 years, maybe more. The machines have undergone substantial changes during that period. One of the things with any new computer that runs on a different system is “what do you call that thing that does that other thing?”

Me and a camera, two matching Scottish terriers, and sunshine through the picture window.

Mostly, I needed to set up preferences and for some reason, my preference file wouldn’t open. It would bounce like it should, but no menu. Just the empty bar and “customize” as the single drop-down option.

I wanted to change the security settings so I would not be limited to ONLY buying things from the Apple App store. It’s a big wide world and I do not like being told what to do by a computer. Any computer. Especially not MY computer.

I wanted to get rid of the password. I need these machines to be something Garry can access in case I’m not sitting next to him to help. There’s information on here he might need and even though he has my password, probably stored in many places, he is unlikely to find the most recent one anyway. Passwords, like the tide, keep changing. Sometimes they really want that underscore or hyphen … and sometimes, only the birth caul, blood of a newborn plus a full enchantment might do the job.

“But make sure it’s something you will find easy to remember.”

Right. And if we insist you change it, don’t use the one before the last. You need a spanking brand new one which can’t be your birthday. Oh, and don’t use a repeated number. Today, a hyphen is a no-no, but for that one, you need a capital letter. But NOT as the first letter of the sequence. Also, the numbers can’t be your birthday.

Do make sure you can easily remember it. Otherwise, all those sticky notes with your passwords scrawled on them is insecure.


Also, I wanted to install Chrome because it has everything in it — contacts and saved emails and all that. Not to mention my calendar and bookmarks. Apple does not approve of Chrome, but it actually isn’t because Chrome is a battery hog (it is and we all know it), but because Apple and Google had a decade long court battle over something nerdy and no one actually remembers what it was, but they spent a gazillion dollars fighting over it and to punish users since they can’t do squat to Google, they make it hard for us to use it.

In the newest version of the Macbook Air (and probably all the other Macbooks), anything that doesn’t come from their App store or have their Official Seal of Approval gets rejected out of hand. No matter HOW many times you say “No, really, I want this application,” each time you try to open it, there’s an exhausting list of requirements just to write yourself a note.

The worst installation was Apache OpenOffice (it’s Microsoft Office via open source software). It does everything MS Office does — better — and it has everything you could possibly want. But it’s not on Apple’s approved list and it doesn’t even have a manufacturer’s name on it because — IT’S OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE.

Apple isn’t really “into” open source. They like getting paid and are paranoid about anything you got free from the Internet.

Normally, I can set this stuff up using whatever widget manages preferences. I’ve done this on at least half a dozen different systems. It’s one of the few things that’s usually the same from computer to computer. The icon might change, but basically, the contents are similar enough to figure it out.

I couldn’t get it to open. At all.

They didn’t call me at four and by 4:30, I figured out that they weren’t going to call, so I rebooked for 7:30 and they didn’t call then, either. So finally, I called them. Of course, she had no record of any of my earlier correspondence which was part of setting up the interviews that never happened.

It doesn’t matter who you talk to or whether or not they record it: they never have ANY notes or for that matter, any record that you exist.

I got a lovely woman who after trying 25 different versions of “start-up,” decided I needed a new operating system. Three hours later, I had a newer new operating system, but sadly, no preference file. At which point she moved me to level 2 help.

The guy came on, he said “Hi.”

I said “Hi.”

He asked me to see what happened if I double-clicked the “customize” icon. Lo and behold, a screen opened and each item on it had a click box. And empty click box. He said “Damn, never seen that screen before. Must be new. Hm. Try clicking all the boxes, then click DONE.”

I did it. And voilà. Everything appeared. It took about 30 seconds. Getting rid of my password took another minute. Settling OpenOffice so it would work took another two, maybe three minutes. He said: “I love OpenOffice. It’s great to have a product that lets you do what you want to do.” As opposed to Microsoft which is always sure they know what you want to do before you do it.

He apologized for the entirely unnecessary hours of reinstalling the operating system and I said “Shit happens.”

He said: “Well, you obviously know your way around a computer, so now that you’ve got preferences, I think you’re good to go,” and I was.

The motto of the story is that if you don’t have an answer, there’s no reason to exhaust two people proving that you don’t know the answer. Get someone who does have the answer. I waste almost an entire day and most of an evening on something I could have dealt with in a few minutes.

It wasn’t that it was hard to set up. It was that the person I talked to — and let’s not get into the people who never bothered to call me after sending me copious offers to “help get me set up” — didn’t understand the problem or where to look for the solution.

Meanwhile, I was sure it was something I was doing wrong because I can usually take pretty much any computer and make it work reasonably well in about 15 minutes. I just didn’t find the screen.

Of course, there were no instructions. I’m pretty sure Apple invented the directionless computer. It’s their way of telling you no help will be required. Thanks guys!

So, that was the Apple/Mac part of the story.

There was nothing wrong with the computer. There was nothing wrong with me. There was something wrong with Apple’s communications … and after a brief, yet somehow intense struggle, I got Chrome to run and all is well on the Apple. Or will be soon enough.

Sheesh. What a long, long, long day!

But today was a completely different, yet oddly similar day. In the middle of yesterday’s Apple experience, I got an update from Microsoft that failed. When I ran through the process, they told me I “had to detach my hybrid laptop from its connection to the monitor.”

Uh, no.

So I called them which apparently everyone with a hybrid computer has been doing as this is not personal — it just FEELS personal — but is actually a problem relating to all hybrid dual hard drive laptops. They couldn’t fix it and the people to whom I was speaking weren’t willing to even give it a try. Danger lurks in the dark chambers where the wires and the boards all live … They said they would call me today around 12:30.

By 2:30, I had given up and I wasn’t calling them again. This was their problem, not mine. I went back to writing this post.

I went to take a few pictures of my new computer to add to this post. I processed a few of them and was about to install them in this file when — the phone rang.

Microsoft calling. I had moved all the way up to tech support 3. Whoa! Serious!

They said they might need a while — like maybe half an hour (hah!) — so could they call me back when they finished whatever they were going to do to my computer? I said oh sure, I have another computer.

And – I do. The very same little Mac from which I cannot process photographs. Perhaps this wasn’t the best possible day for me to try to work this out. Possibly, I’m a bit distracted.

Everything about this Mac is, by the way, at least twice as complicated as doing the same thing on a PC. Especially graphics. At least they let me download my Topaz filters — and I only had to do it three times before it “stuck.” Yay me. At the same time, Microsoft is DOING THINGS to my expensive computer including (futilely) reinstalling Windows 10. Again.

Trying to convince Microsoft Edge to work and good luck with that

All I’m trying to do is fix a couple of photographs and export them to Serendipity. On the Mac. Which is not cooperating.

So, while Microsoft was busy installing another new operating system on my PC, I was on the Mac trying to extract one picture without a battle to end time.

It was about three hours before the tester called me back to say the problem was NOT solved, but they are working on it. It might be a few weeks and in the meantime, just ignore everything.

Everything. Does that include supper?

Yesterday was quite a day and today has been a about the same, thanks. At least Microsoft just did the work and I didn’t have to do anything but try to ignore what was happening “over there” on the big computer. A good day for chomping down Tide pods, don’t you think?

I have two expensive computers.

I hate computers.

Categories: Customer Service, Technology

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

36 replies

  1. I have been using a Mac since the SE came out, but I don’t have the level of experience that you have to ‘fix’ one. I google and try, and then I’m off to the Genius bar where they would prefer to sell me a new one, or I go to my local small computer repair store. After that, when all else fails, I buy a new one. 🙂


    • All I wanted was a working computer that didn’t weigh much, which basically meant a Mac. All of that nonsense with the service people was (1) they didn’t call me and (2) they actually didn’t know the answer, but instead of putting me in touch with someone who DID know they answer, they messed with me for HOURS. I really resent that.

      These things are expensive. Buying ONE was a big deal. This really has GOT to work. And keep working. I can’t afford more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ll figure it out Marilyn, I have no doubt of that.


  3. And, I spent my day replacing HDDs on MACs. I believe we may live in parallel universes?!


    • I just got off with Apple again this time because they did a new iOS install last night and wiped out passwords and emails etc. I got it fixed. I SWEAR IF ANYONE MAKES ME TALK TO ANOTHER CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON, I’m going to kill myself and blame it on whoever made me do it.

      Yes. Parallel, but not necessary happy, universes 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can definitely see how one might go bananas and actually eat some Tide pods!!


  5. I spent yesterday bagging up drowned squirrels and chasing a runaway dog. Today, I took a train and two subways to and from work, equaling a four hour round-trip commute. Your two days were worse.


  6. Did you try taking a screen shot of your photo, saving it to your desktop, and then inserting it into your post? Screen shot = Command + Shift + 4. A dotted square will appear. Drag it around your picture until you have the photo surrounded on all four side sides.


    • I actually got the Air’s embedded program to work and I’ll be damned if it isn’t a miniature version of Photoshop. I’d swear it was created by Adobe. It’s got all the same icons in the same order. Anyway, I got it to work . This is the “free” version. I gather if I pay for it, it’ll do more stuff … but I’m not sure I’ll be using that computer very often for photography. I guess I’ll see.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I hate Apple. The end! I wouldn’t have one to save my petuty. I have never seen anyone with anything apple that didn’t break or wear out within a specific time frame. So no apples for me unless they are delicious (my favourites) hehe


    • This one is going to get very light use. In fact, that’s the whole point of it … light use. I have a friend still running 20 year old Macs, but they aren’t laptops. Laptops live a lot less time than desktops — no matter who makes them.


      • I know, I agree wholeheartedly. Lets face it anything old time was better! Netscape for example! I loved it, it worked, wasn’t hackable either. A fella contacted me earlier and said he’s still running it, won’t use anything else. Didn’t know that was even possible…


  8. Whoever said that computers would make our lives easier lied to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They make some things easier, but they make easier what computers actually made harder.

      What made this past 2 days so exhausting was that there were long hours of pure futility involved. Okay, i let Microsoft use my computer to try to figure out the problem. I KNEW it isn’t my problem. It’s their issue and they know it, but if they don’t get enough people willing to let them see how the problem works on real computers used by real people, they won’t solve it and I need them to solve.

      The stuff with Apple was ridiculous. They didn’t call me when they promised and they didn’t let me talk to someone who could solve the problem until both me and the other woman were exhausted. It was a 10 minute problem that took the better part of a day to solve. I didn’t appreciate it at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, there is no excuse for people not calling when you have booked a time and it would have taken less of their resources if they had passed you to the right person sooner.
        My latest email from WordPress informs me that Our Other Blog had somehow been blocked by their spam filters and they had fixed the problem. I checked last night before reading this message and the blog was visible again but it took a long time to get it through their heads that there was an issue.


    • Big time liars. I recall when they made transition from typewriters to computers in tv newsroom. They said it would be “easy as pie”. LIARS. I ultimately needed Marilyn’s help to get through a nightmare scenario.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for reinforcing my decision not to buy a new computer. The old one may be getting a little slow, but it does still work, and I don’t need all that extra grief.


    • The thing that made this so stupid is that there wasn’t anything wrong with either computer. The mac is fine — the person i was talking to didn’t understand the problem. The second one is working fine too. It’s MICROSOFT that has the problem and they need to fix it. I basically let them use my computer as a test site, but it made me twitch.

      i hate setting up new computers. Only do it if you really think you machine is about to die — or you can’t install the updates for your applications anymore.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You’ve been amazing with the (new) computer/s work this week. Above my pay grade. Way above.

        My new I Pad – I’ll get used to it and WILL use it. Takes time with me, just as it did with the other computers. I’m a very slow learner.

        Tide Pods – I’m with GRONK. just say “no”.


        • You will like it better now. They did in iOS upgrade last night which I only know about because when I opened MINE last night, it was installing a new iOS which meant that so was yours. So stuff I’d fixed got UNfixed. And I’ve totally lost my temper with Apple’s “outreach.” They have REALLY pissed me off. Microsoft is much easier to work with. Do you believe i said that? OMG. Microsoft is easier to work with than Apple!


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