What would you think if you bought a top-of-the-line piece of equipment, and 19 months later—seven months out of warranty—it completely stopped working?  I wouldn't be happy even if it were a $25 item.

What if it cost over $1000—would you be a bit annoyed?  What if it was a piece of equipment necessary for much of the work you do?

But hey, sometimes things happen.  That's what repair shops are for.

But what if the manufacturer refuses to sell you the part you need to make the repair?

We've been loyal Gateway Computer fans for many long years; I think we've had five of them all told.  Cow boxes = excitement around here!


In January of 2006 we bought our latest Gateway, a lovely high speed machine with lots of bells and whistles.  We did not opt for the extended warranty, since we've never had a bit of trouble with any of our Gateways—we only replaced them when they grew hopelessly out of date.   It was, indeed, a lovely machine, and did everything it promised.

Everything except last.

As I've written, last Monday it entered the machine-equivalent of a Persistent Vegetative State.  After trying several tricks, none of which did any good, we took it to a computer emergency room.  Diagnosis:  a failed motherboard.  If we would get a new Gateway motherboard, they would gladly replace it and get us up and running again.

Good news?  I thought so.  I mean, it was going to cost money, but that's life.  We spent $500 in car repairs over the last two weeks, too.  I was just glad that the diagnosis was not:  Your hard drive crashed and you've lost all your data.

I did think it was a little funny that the repair guy said we had to order the motherboard.  But now I know why.  Gateway doesn't sell them!  If your computer is under warranty, they'll fix it, but otherwise you're on your own.  The tech's recommendation?  "Google it."  Find a motherboard somewhere in cyberspace.  He even kindly provided the specs.

What kind of company won't sell replacement parts for a high-end, critical machine that's less than two years old???

Porter went down to Best Buy to ask them what they do when someone brings in such a machine under their extended warranty.  Um, guess what?  They Google it.  They dig around, looking for someone with the right Gateway motherboard to sell.

Je ne comprends pas!

What I do know is that I need to RETHINK.  How can I take advantage of what computers have to offer—they wouldn't be so important to me if they didn't have a lot of value to add—without being so dependent on them?  Do I go back to paper for critical information?

Should we get two of everything, to have a backup?  We sort of had that—our older Gateway still works, mostly.  But it's a Windows 98 machine with some funny quirks, and it lacks the power to do what I want to do.  So for backup purposes it's not really good enough.

Do I transfer as much as possible of my work to the Internet?  That's not possible with much of what I do, but if I used GMail I'd at least not lose e-mail messages when something like this happens.  That makes me a bit nervous, having all my e-mails stored elsewhere—but having them on my own machine didn't work out too well this time.

Any ideas?

Oh, and if I haven't answered an e-mail you sent me before last Monday, I'm probably not deliberatly ignoring it.  I just can't get to it....

Our friend Chris, the engineer who eschews e-mail and still uses a paper organizer, is fond of saying, "Just call me Ned."  I'm not ready to go that far, but his point of view is currently looking a little more reasonable.
Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, September 2, 2007 at 2:58 pm | Edit
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Well, you *can* transfer to the internet. I'm so glad I use Gmail because I regularly have reason to check past emails, to prove a correspondence or the like. With Google docs and the many other web-based Office "replacements" like Ajax Office, you can store a lot of Word and Excel documents online. A lot of the more advanced Word & Excel features are missing, but if it's a relatively basic document it works.

Posted by Andy Bonner on Wednesday, September 05, 2007 at 1:33 pm

I just discovered Google Docs, to which Andy was referring. (No point in putting in a link -- just go do Google.) It may take a while before I'm comfortable putting my documents on the Internet (I'm still not comfortable with the GMail idea), but I can see ways in which it would be very, very handy!

Posted by SursumCorda on Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 2:15 pm

So you're worried about google's mission statement but would even consider uploading your files to google docs?


I dunno how much you're willing to spend but if I were you, I'd build my own desktop and avoid proprietary form factors or have a friend do it for you. You've got an old box to sort of look at for reference, right?

Posted by Mike on Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 7:24 pm
"It's a Boat Anchor"
Excerpt: For those of you who have been following our computer woes (here and here), this is where we are now.  In limbo.The very good news  A friend lent us his device that turns an internal hard drive into an external, usb device, and we were able t...
Weblog: Lift Up Your Hearts!
Date: September 19, 2007, 11:01 am
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