Monday, November 08, 2004

What a Wreck: My New Orleans travel article is done. Other than that, I can only ask: Could things get any more mangled?

I have a desktop (rarely used) and a laptop. This week I had the hard drive on the desktop crashed. Not exactly sure what went wrong, but I reinstalled the operating system (Win2K) and it seemed to be going well. Then, I stupidly connected to the internet before re-applying all the security/service packs I had installed over the years. Damned if it wasn't about 15 minutes before I had a virus infection (Sasser, I believe). OK, so I download an anti-virus package and run it. And I stupidly (once again) tell the thing to remove all infected files (at this point I think well over 100 files were infected), even the critical ones. Naturally that removes files that are needed for me to access the CD-ROM, which I need to reinstall the operating system again, so I can install the files needed for the CD-ROM, which I can;t use cause of the missing files. Arrgh. So I have to reconfigure the BIOS to boot the CD and do a completely clean install. What a pain in the ass. It's tempting to say the lesson is that you can never drop you guard even for a minute when it comes to Internet security. It's also tempting to say the lesson is that I am an idiot. But the real lesson is that the little snot-gobblers who write viruses should be skinned and salted.

Then, in the course of trying to get some laptop data moved over to the desktop I discover I cannot copy files to my CD-R. I can use software to duplicate entire CDs, but I can’t copy individual files and folders. This laptop is a Dell Inspiron and has been nothing but trouble since I bought it. So I write down the particulars of the problem go into work today with a plan to log into to Dell's technical support chat only to find that after entering my problem in detail and clicking submit, I get a message saying no one is available please try again later. Why couldn’t they have told me that before I typed it up? So I go to Dell email support only to discover you need to enter the "tag" number of your machine so they can route your email properly. I don’t have the tag number, I'm at work, my laptop's at home. KEEE-RIST!

So in the interest of doing something productive, I walk over to the nearest brick wall and pound my head against it for a good solid five minutes.

In an unrelated development, it seems the hotel follies from my last trip to NYC will never end. I get my American Express bill and I find the Hilton in New York has posted a $69.80 charge to my credit card for use of the mini-bar.

First of all, I NEVER EVER use the mini-bar. I have a deep seated philosophical opposition to the mini-bar. I believe it is blatantly exploitive. I generally take a very dim view of the anti-corporate-they-are-all-out-to-rip-us-off-to-line-their-silk-pockets whack jobs who protest WTO meetings and Wal*Mart openings. But I draw the line at the mini-bar. It is an evil attempt to get you to pay exorbitant prices just because there is little alternative. I will pay princely sums for ultra-luxurious hotels, but I refuse to spend three dollars for a bottle of water from the mini-bar. You gotta have some boundaries in this world.

Second, even considering the usurious prices, $69.80 would have to pretty much empty the thing, wouldn't it? Let's see, figure an average of three dollars for a drink or a bag of peanuts means I would have had to down something on the order of 10 warm Seagram's Ginger Ales, 8 Butterfingers, 3 little bags of trail mix, and a couple of Bud Light's for dessert -- or something to that effect. What, did they think I was trolling Manhattan with Cheech and Chong?

Luckily, and to the credit of the Hilton, this was cleared up with a quick phone call. Saved me another trip to the brick wall.