Back in October I had a terrible dream, from which I awakened at dawn, shaking hard enough to rattle the bed. It took much of the day to recover,
in fact. In it I was walking around in open desert with unseen people. Someone was saying that “When El Capitan pops up, if you see him and he’s spinning his eyes at you, you will die!”
Wouldn’t you know it — El Capitan, in the form of a stick dressed in black, kept popping out of the ground with his face pointed straight at me, eyes like pinwheels spinning away.
I have to admit that this was the first truly frightening dream I ever remember having.
All of which makes it the more perplexing that when I took it into my head to update my iMac to Apple’s OS X.11, known to the world as El Capitan, I did no more than shake my head about the name.
For no sooner had the final adjustments fluttered themselves into position with the new operating system than my iMac ceased to want to type. On starting to enter a URL I was presented with the familiar beachball, spinning away. Like a colored version of my nightmare’s pinwheel black-and-white eyes. That started to wake me up to the true nature of my awful dream.
Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, the computer would spend long periods of time presenting me with a list of diacritical marks to be put above vowels. Such as é and ñ. More beachball, and after twenty seconds or so it would produce one of the letters I had earlier started to type. Alas, by then I would have started hitting the backspace, not remembering how far I had typed. wanting to start over. For its next trick the computer would rattle my teeth with the sound of fast firing stuck keys. I jumped the first time, thinking Al Capone was paying a digital visit.
The only solution was to reboot. Peace and tranquility would then reign for several hours.
Over the next six weeks I talked to seven or eight Apple techs, the last two being senior techs. Every sweet one of them ran me through lengthy fixes, and every one of those stopped the problem in its tracks long enough for me to not only thank them in person, but also to give them high marks on the customer surveys that would follow.
Then, like magic, after several days there popped up and stuck with me that beachball, the diacritical choices, the machine gun sound…
This computer had joined me a little over a year ago, long enough to be out of warranty by a couple of months. Who on a fixed income gets those long term warranties? Not me! Rarely felt the lack, either. Except with washing machines and dryers — but that’s another tale.
Senior tech #1 sent me a replacement wireless keyboard. For ten days the ears of my dogs were never blasted by my unrepeatable howls. Till: “NOT AGAIN YOU BLOODY STINKING IDIOT OF A MISBEGOTTEN COMPUTER!!!!!” And the ever effective: “DON’T YOU DARE, YOU BAD MACHINE!!!” Finally, “I HAVE A SLEDGE HAMMER AND I KNOW HOW TO USE IT!!!”
Senior Tech #2 talked to some committee Apple has, that decides what to do about misbehaving out-of-warranty-but-not-by-much computers. They determined that “We have good news, we’re going to send you a wired keyboard. You don’t have to send anything back.”
The new, extended model arrived by FedEx yesterday morning. Upon unboxing it I decided that it would do well as a piano keyboard — it looked and felt that large after the standard smaller model of the past few years.
But what the heck, I plugged it in, fiddled with the feng shui of computer beauty and atmosphere with this white cord snaking around my antique pine table…
And it works!
I’m giving it a full month to prove it knows how to behave itself, though. I do love it when Things.Just.Work! …
… The good news is — and I am feeling regretful about typing this on my dear old iMac — that if somebody has to die, better the computer than me, eh?