Or So it Seems … Windows 8… You’re Breaking My Heart

Last week I was dumped.

I came home, flipped on the switch, and everything was gone. All my photos, all my mail, all traces of my electronic existence … wiped clean off the screen.

I was stunned. Why? I asked? What happened?

Oh Windows 8, you perfidious program, where did you go? I peered into your partitions and searched through your source-code. For the next three nights, I went without sleep, dumpster-diving for your disappearing data.

But you were nowhere to be found.

Rats.

You gave me no warning. One minute we were happy, computing together, my fingers lightly dancing across the keys. The next, you hung a for-rent sign on my hard-drive.

Why?

During the day we’d labor side-by-side. You’d help me with my spelling and grammar, and I’d make sure your PC’s battery was topped off for the evening.

Nights we spent together by the fireside, wine on the table, watching great movies. I stared into your face for hours on end, and I could see you eyeing me with your all-knowing webcam.

Months passed, and we were inseparable.

But now? Nothing. It’s so painful to remember that fateful afternoon when my laptop, your mortal shell, booted to a generic welcome-new-user-screen, greeting me as a stranger.

You didn’t even send me a ‘Dear John’ email. It was as if our past 14 months together meant nothing to you.

Our relationship started with such promise. We met in the bargain isle of Best Buy. You were the last of your kind, slender, black and unpretentious. HP had given you the elegant name “Sleekbook,” and it fit you perfectly.

It was love at first byte.

I slipped past the salesman, grabbed the open box, and slid my hands around you. You willingly left your Styrofoam restraints behind and, unafraid, opened your touch-screen, cursor blinking.

“Try me,” you whispered.

“Not here,” I said, smitten, but cautious. Your screen dimmed bashfully, and then faded off to sleep, waiting, no doubt, for a more private moment.

That was to come later.

We got to know each other. You asked me where I lived, my birthday, my favorite nickname, and the monikers of my first childhood pet and stuffed toy. Eventually, you got around to asking me about my credit cards. I should have been worried, but I wasn’t.

I was so naïve. I held nothing back.

Photo of Robb Lightfoot on his laptop

The rest is history. You came to know all my secrets, the good the bad and the un-downloadable. And then you left.

Alas, I’d been warned. Those cautionary words rang in my ears.

“Upgrading? Really?” The boy in the blue polyester-shirt shook his head. “Better look around, dude. Word on the street is that Eight-ain’t-so-great.”

But I ignored him. Infatuation will do that to you. And now I’m sitting here, in an empty chat-room, wondering… Should be worried? What might you do with all your intimate knowledge? Have you migrated to another system? Abandoned me for another user? I ruminated.

You awful OS, you’ve ripped me a new archive.

This self-pity went on for days until I couldn’t take it any longer. So I called tech support.

And I waited…

The automatic phone-tree offered oodles of options and listed an excruciating number of extensions until I finally I heard the message I’d waited for…

“And if your operating system has gone missing, press ‘86’ on your keypad.”

So I did, and almost immediately, my call went through.

“Hello,” I said, “is this Tech support?”

Then a recorded message greeted me. “A techno-counselor will be with you shortly,’ it said, “please have your credit card ready.”

Credit card? I thought. I’m left high-and-dry, and I’m going to get charged for this?

Just then soothing, strangely-familiar voice answered.

“My name is Sam. Can you please confirm your name and PIN?

“Uh,” I hesitated. “How much is this going to cost me?”

“Sir, our rates vary depending on the nature of your problem.”

“But I don’t know what the problem is,” I said. “I just turned on my laptop, and suddenly, it was if it had never seen me before.”

“Uh, huh,” Sam said. “So, tell me more. Was there any sort of message or a note?”

“Not a thing,” I replied. “It was weird. Just like the day we first met.”

“Is this an older model?” Sam asked. “You know, memory doesn’t last forever.”

“It doesn’t?”

“No. People THINK it does, but that’s just an urban-legend.”

“But she was only 18 months old, a Windows 8 OS”

“Oh, dear,” Sam said. “We’ve had feelings-of-abandonment issues with 8s. What were her vital statistics?”

“Her Vitals?” I muttered.

“Yes. You know, her drive geometry, chipset.”

“Black?” I guessed.

“Men,” Sam sighed, trying again. “I’m talking about her build. It appeared on the screen each time she booted up,” Sam said, her voice getting louder and louder. “Her unique physical presence.Surely you noticed?”

Sam paused. I said nothing.

“Let’s start with the bios. Were they green or orange? Phoenix? Award? UFEI? Legacy?

I closed my eyes and tried to remember, but I drew a blank.

“Gee, I don’t know.” I sighed.

“Sounds like you just quit paying attention?”

“Uh, huh.”

“Humph,” Sam said, “so, how was your last interaction?”

“Interaction?”

“What were you doing during your last time together?”

“Some spreadsheet stuff, I think.”

“You’re not sure?” Sam asked.

“Well, hell, it’s been a few days since she left.”

And before that?

“I can’t remember. You know, I haven’t been getting much sleep lately,” I said.

And before that?

“Who knows?”

“Work. Work. Work,” Sam said.

“I guess.”

“When was the last time you two went mobile, caught a movie, or gamed?”

“Well, if I had her here I could tell you,” I shot back.

“So… do I hear you blaming the victim?”

There was edginess in Sam’s voice.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of long hours at the office,” I said. “It’s that time of year. Meetings. Conferences. Travel. And reports. I’ve had lots of reports.”

“Let me guess,” Sam said. “You were spending a lot of time with the CPUs at the office?”

“Strictly business, I assure you.”

“I’ve heard that before,” Sam said.

“Hey. What kind of support line is this anyway?” I asked.

“Oh,” Sam said. “It’s not support. You were transferred to the Legal Department.”

“What?” I exclaimed.

“You’re in violation of your EULA, you know, your End-User License Agreement.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Not at all. Didn’t you READ the fine print? Or did you just scroll down, click through, and then consummate the union?”

“Hey. Whose side are you on here?”

“Winnie’s,” Sam said. “You can’t ignore her like that.”

“Who is Winnie?”

“Oh, please. You called her ‘Sleekbook-baby,’ or ‘My-Little-Laptop,’ or just ‘The Old-Win-8’ to your buddies. But she has a given name, you know. You never asked her?”

“It never came up,” I said.

“So there you have it buster. It’s all about you-you-you.”

“But I paid for her.”

“You pig. You should listen to yourself,” Sam cautioned. “No wonder she left.”

“What about my stuff? My cookies, cache, favicons, tax returns? ”

Sam laughed. “Oh, she’s got them.”

“Well, I want ‘em back.”

“Sure, pal, but it’s gonna cost you plenty.”

“How much?”

“Mininum $2,500 bucks, or more. Maybe lots more.”

“But that’s five times what I paid up front!” I complained.

“Should have thought of that when you decided to lay your hands on that hot little iPad.”

How, I wondered, did Sam know about that?

“But it was just a quick peek at some apps,” I said, “totally innocent.”

“Tell it to the judge,” Sam said.

“But it was only a tablet,” I said. “It didn’t mean anything. And… I used a stylus.”

“I knew you’d say that,” Sam said.

I felt defeated.

“So, I guess it’s over,” I said. “No point in dragging this out?”

There was a long pause.

“Well, against our advice, Winnie is willing to give you another chance.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, but you’ve got to shape up.”

“Meaning what?”

“More housekeeping. Doing your fair-share of defragging. Less time with the guys watching Monday-ight YouTube.”

“And?”

“No more complaining about her bandwidth.”

“That’s it?”

“It’s a start,” Sam said.

“There’s more?”

“You’ll be getting periodic notifications of our demands, conditions, and changes in terms,” Sam said.

Whew, I thought. There’s no end to this.

“So, is a full restore… still possible?”

“Yes. You’ll be getting a confirming email shortly,” Sam said. “And one more thing…”

I groaned.

“Remember, our web-cam sees all, and if you so much as take a sideway-glance at a Mac Mini… You’ll be getting the cold boot from here to Seattle.”

Sam hung up the phone without waiting for a reply.

**

My Win-8 laptop’s recent loss and subsequent “full recovery” gave me plenty of time to reflect on my 30-year existence with PCs starting with my beginning with an Apple IIc; on to several MS-DOS big-grey-boxes; and through each slicker, smaller and faster iteration of Windows.

I’ve owned them all. Even though my Mac-savvy friends tease me, I prefer PCs. And I have a soft spot in my heart for good old XP and Win-7.

But, sadly, because of new hardware that accompanies Win-8, there’s no going back.

I’ll have to learn to live with “8,” my newest, touchy-feely companion. The ads all say she’s supposed to be so much better. But she does have issues. Menus that fly in unwanted, functions are placed in odd, non-intuitive places, and the disappearing-data act is, apparently, a not-so-charming part of her “personality.”

So be it. I’ll hang in there and pray that things get better. But if not, and Winnie departs again with all my data, I’ll understand…

I just hope she takes our cats, too.

Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County. He can be reach at robb@robblightfoot.com.

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Robb Lightfoot is a humorist, author and educator. He and his wife raised a family of four kids, a dozen or more dogs and a zillion cats. He has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to teaching at Shasta Community College, and his former column on A News Cafe - "Or So it Seems™" - Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the "Funny Times". His short stories have won honorable mention in national competitions. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-10 finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives and writes in Chico where he manages ThinkingFunny.com. He also hates referring to himself in the third person, and will stop doing so immediately. I can be reached in the following ways: Robb@thinkingfunny.com PO Box 5286 Chico, CA 95928 @_thinking_funny on Twitter
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8 Responses

  1. Avatar `AJacoby says:

    Anguish of all anguish!!! A truly cautionary tale!!
    And did you back up on a flash or external drive, the marriage counselor (tech support) may ask? I guess that’s the equivalent of putting a copy of your marriage certificate and will and passport in a safe-deposit-box. I did that a while back but have lived thru many ‘anniversaries’ since then. . . . maybe I’d better bring that digital safe-deposit-box up to date!!

    • Avatar Robb says:

      Data was, oddly, still on the hard drive just hidden. The truth behind this story is that Windows 8 did this to me three times in the space of a month–it’s just something it does sometimes. Takes hours and hours to recover. I’m my case, I had to re-install all the software. I started getting nasty-grams from the software companies about not abusing the terms of my license and using the software on multiple computers. Pretty messy.

  2. You crack me up! so witty!

    And speaking of xp, be forewarned, I have it from a good source that support for that system is going bye-bye soon!

  3. Avatar Ronald Chiodo says:

    I’ve used windows machines for years. Just now moved to a Win 8 laptop, replacing my win 7 laptop that lost touch with half of the keyboard. I must have a stack of 4 or 5 used/abused laptops somewhere in the bedroom. I’ve learned that buying an external drive, I’ve got 3, and backing up to at least two of them, so if one goes down, maybe the other didn’t, is a good way to go. The transition to win 8 for me was miserable. I’m really not into the touch screen, and resent the loss of the left and right mouse buttons on the touch pad. I’m just gladly looking forward to personal memory loss, so I won’t be so frustrated.

    • Avatar Robb says:

      I’m with you. During the debacle, I bought a copy of 7 and tried to backward migrate. I did this with Vista, taking all my machine back to XP. But Win 8 machines have different bios. It was days of hard work, and then, at the very end, failure. I couldn’t find a driver for my wireless. HP says flatly on their website they don’t support backward migration. Before I gave up, I even tried Ubantu. It’s surprisingly good and most (not all) of my software ran on it. What I didn’t say in this story is that my laptop is now “dual boot.” I use Ubantu (a desktop version of Linux) alongside Win-8.

      You could say I have something going on the side after I was abandoned….

  4. Avatar David Short says:

    A very touching tale of betrayal and unfulfilled expectations. But then, why would anyone implicitly trust a Windows Machine? I too started my journey into the tech world with an Apple IIc. My first internet search was for parts for our antique “Snipe” class sailboat. I typed in “Snipe sailboat parts” and learned some very interesting things about Wesley Snipes (of Bladerunner fame) but nothing about sailboat parts.Three months later, I found a treasure trove of Snipe parts and was hooked for life. Eventually, we moved on to a IMAC- the big teal colored plastic egg. She gave us years of reliable, faithful service, but one day she went to sleep and never woke up. We took her to the Jett-tech ICU, but she was already gone. No CPR. Stone cold dead. All was lost. As I moved through the stages of grief I bitterly contemplated defecting to Windows. In a flash I realized that in reality the IMAC went out the way that we all would like to go – vibrant and full of vigor right up to the end. No descending into cyber-dementia, with multiple futile attempts at rehabilitation only to have all hopes dashed. Just a peaceful exit, no strings attached. Now I have been living with a 2008 Macbook. She has survived updates through multiple versions of IOS9 and has successfully tamed all of the Panthers, Leopards, Lions, and other assorted felines that Apple has uncaged. I thought that IOS10.7 (Snow Leopard?, I think) would be her undoing, but she is gracefully coping with it’s challenges, much like an old Slide Rule jockey like myself has been coping with the computer age. To be sure, she has lost a step when compared to the new Apple darlings with their glitzy packaging and lightening speed , but she still can do things that they can’t do, like play a DVD!

    • This is certainly a doctor’s perspective of a failing computer. We took her to the Jett-tech ICU, but she was already gone. No CPR. Stone cold dead. All was lost. As I moved through the stages of grief I bitterly contemplated defecting to Windows. Thank you, Dave. It’s nice to see you in the comments section. Welcome! 🙂