Sunday, October 25, 2009

Google Good, HPQ... not so much

"The good news is, I'm writing you a ticket," the Hewlett Packard Technical Specialist told me last night, at the conclusion of my fourth marathon, multi-hour session in just over a month.

I bought a new Pavilion Elite on September 16th 2009, and I've had nothing but trouble with it. Two technicians have remotely taken control of it, (which is rather impressive) and pronounced it fine. But it wasn't.

Last night, another technician talked me through disassembling a tower computer to get to the motherboard. Apparently, it is routine for little old ladies like myself to have to get out the screwdriver, roll up their sleeves, take off the backs and the sides (actually, I believe it was the front, and the left side), unplug multiple plugs inside the box, remove a "cage", remove RAM, reattach plugs and wires that remind one of a bomb disposal movie, and put it all back together.

There's not a lot of room inside the box for a fist, even a feminine one, and there are some sharp bits of metal inside. I do not recommend anyone messes with this stuff, and be sure to wait for the green light at the back of your tower to go out... it takes a surprising amount of time after the pc has been unplugged from its surge protector.

It seems, the Pavilion Elite was shipped to me with a bad motherboard, which has just gotten worse within a month. It lasted long enough that they won't give me my money back, but they will let me ship it back to them for repair for a couple of weeks. I wonder why they don't simply ship me a new one?

Ah, well. I do still have my MAC.

In fairness, I do have a Hewlett Packard notebook, and it is an excellent machine which I enjoy very much when I travel. Also, apparently, if I'd purchased an extended warranty on the Pavilion (and they tried to sell me a warranty while informing me that I'd been shipped a lemon!) they would have sent a technician to my home.... (also pretty impressive) but not on the factory warranty within a month of the initial purchase from the HP website.

So, that's the bad news. The good news is that I have Google Earth 5 for Mac on my Mac. (Where else?)

When I wrote my first draft of Forced Mate, a local researcher in Great Britain told me that the most plausible place for a spaceship (a smallish shuttle) to land in the UK would be on Salisbury Ridge, close to Salisbury Plain (and Stonehenge). I've lost touch with that researcher, unfortunately, and I didn't have Google Earth in 1993.

So, now I'm on my own, trying to find Salisbury Ridge. I took a spin on Google Earth, and I recommend that you do, too. My first destination was Ridge, Chilmark, which does look possible for hiding and losing a star fighter, but is a bit far from Stonehenge. I can zoom and bank to view the terrain with a hawk's eye view or with the perspective of a galloping sauropod... one with poor eyesight.

Seriously, I can see hills, trees, fields, crop circles, overgrown gun emplacements, drone launch pads (circular). If I wish to, I can see churches, pharmacies, ATMs, Holiday Inns, roads, fire hydrants... and more. I can also view photographs taken by tourists.

While virtually scouring the surroundings, looking for places to hide a star-fighter, and enjoying images of stormclouds over Stonehenge --and very useful photos of forks in minor British roads-- I found a fitting backstory for my latest hero. Now to check it out.

There's a Google Earth Community with forums and chats and groups, not to mention a Search function that is everything you'd expect from Google. It's possible to meet a potential source in whatever part of the world interests you. This is too cool!

Google Earth doesn't stop there. You can look at Mars. It's a separate download. I haven't done that. I doubt I'd find men there, anyway. You can look at the stars, which is a great way to finally get a handle on astronomy and the placement and shapes of the constellations. Finally, there's the Moon and it has flags and icons denoting info dumps, and all sorts of good and useful stuff on its surface.

Enjoy it. And buy Apple.

Rowena Cherry
Space Snark TM

1 comment:

Susan Kelley said...

I know it wasn't a laughing matter when you were on the phone with the tech. I've been there, done that, and the worse part was getting disconnected twice. I think they hung up on me and said we got cut off.
I would love to buy MAC. I had one before my current PC, but they are so pricey compared to my cheap laptop. When the kids are out of college, I'm returned to MAC.
Google Earth sounds really cool. Someday...