Now I’m warning you up front. I’m writing about computers this week, but I’m going to try to make this understandable for those of you, like my husband, who aren’t very knowledgeable. (He’s computer illiterate and proud of it!)

My odyssey started with the very difficult decision to purchase a new computer and network it with my old computer (tie them together). I reasoned that if I go ahead and commit myself to such an expense that I would be sure to get off my duff and start marketing my services and therefore make money at home.

OK, that works in theory. Now for the reality.

I checked out prices at several locations around Athens first. I discussed possible computer components with friends, store clerks and computer professionals. I did some deep soul searching and finally decided to let my friends at Cuby Systems put some components together and I would use parts of the 3 extra outdated computers I already own to complete the setup.

I figured that I could get a faster, larger machine this way for less money than an already assembled computer. Well, I was right on that, but the problems brought me to tears and in the end cost me a lot more money than I expected.

I picked up the computer on a Thursday. It started up so quickly! I installed an old 3 ½” floppy drive (that opening where you put in the little square things) and an old CD-ROM (the opening for the round things). I started the computer. Nope. I restarted the computer. Nope. I checked the connections. Nope. I changed the connections. Nope. I disconnected the connections. It started.

I took it back to Cuby Systems. Tony reports the CD-ROM won’t work without the sound card that came with it (the thing that allows music and sound to be played on a computer). I already knew that sound card wouldn’t fit in the slots provided for it.

I went to Best Buy and chuckled, resignedly, as I bought a brand-new CD-ROM Writer. “Oh, woe is me! I have to buy that great component I really wanted in the first place!) A writer lets you make the disks as well as play them.

I went home and installed the CD-ROM Writer. Oh, rephrase that. I tried to install the thing. I discovered that this particular writer couldn’t be installed unless Windows (that basic operating systems so cleverly marketed by Bill Gates) was already installed. Well, you have to have a CD-ROM to install Windows. I had no CD-ROM installed. I had no Windows installed.

I took it back to Cuby Systems. I purchased a new Windows upgrade and paid Tony and John to “get it running” on the express orders of my husband who didn’t really want me buying this thing in the first place.

I went home and installed the network card on my old computer (this will allow the 2 computers to “talk” to each other). I connected the cable. No network. I spent hours last Saturday trying to get it to work.

Sunday I called Kirk Thomas of Wilderness Kennels in Paoli and a present computer employee of my last employer. He says, “Get a hub. I know it’s supposed to work without one but get a hub.” (hub, a small box to make a computer network work)

I bought a hub. I installed it and turned on the computer. The network worked. But now odd things were happening—something about hardware conflicts, which I knew about but had never experienced. And then all of sudden-ERROR! ERROR! ERROR!

I shut down the computer and started it in “safe mode” which is supposed to let you troubleshoot problems. It wouldn’t start.

First thing Monday morning I called Tony at Cuby Systems to let him know I was coming in again. I told him that I wished I had bought a ready-made system. He tells me that I would still have these problems.

I called another computer-savvy friend to set up lunch. He tells me to bring the computer by his house first and let him look at it.

I go to Athens, computer and all pieces in tow. He reformats the computer (wiped it clean inside). He reinstalls the basic software. He decides that my graphics card is the problem (graphics card does something to make the pretty pictures appear faster and prettier). He installs one of his collection of graphics cards (a much better-and expensive-card). Voila! It works!!!!!!

I go home. It’s now Tuesday and everything is set up and working fine. I’ve installed most of the necessary software. I’ve proven that I can reproduce the work at home that I’ve been traveling to do. I’m marveling at how fast this machine is. I feel professional.

But am I finished? Nope. I have to change out the floppy drive for the square disks and put in a better one. I have to install the new sound card so I can hear my machine talking to me and so that I will soon be able to talk to it instead of typing (anything to cut down on my legendary tendonitis of the wrists and arms). I need to delve into the old computer to adjust some hardware oops that I created but aren’t very important. I have to disconnect stuff and install stuff.

And I am terrified! I must jeopardize the working computer. Do I risk it? Do I let it ride for a while? Tune in next week for the next installment of “Days of Our Lives, Computer-Style”.