By Tee Schneider
When I buy stuff, I almost never buy the extended warranty because they’re such a ripoff. I think this is especially true when it comes to PC’s because there’s not a lot you can’t figure out yourself if you’re willing to put a little work in.
I have this old Dell PC. It’s a bit of a beast but I used to run a headshot photography business and I needed something with guts to handle the processing I was doing at the time. Nowadays I do more blogging and am taking some online courses so I’ve moved my operation onto a laptop but all of my images still reside on the old desktop. Truth be known, despite having some pretty hearty specs, the desktop has always had issues and I’ve been wanting to get my stuff off of it for awhile. Best laid plans and all that which brings me to…
Step #1: Back up your stuff. Even if you’re a new Mom. Scratch that. Especially if you’re a new Mom.
Funny story about that Dell PC. It died. Yup. Dead. Won’t boot up, black screen, amber light, dead as a door nail. Oh and did I mention that my PC contained every single image I had taken of my daughter since the day she was born? Two-and-a-half years ago? Yeah. Did I mention that right about the time she was born, I stopped finding time to back up my photos? Yeah, that was me . 🙁
When it crashed, I did a bunch of troubleshooting and eventually boiled it down to a motherboard or CPU issue. Obviously, I didn’t have extras lying about so couldn’t test to figure out which one had actually conked out. Much to my aggravation I had to pay someone to take a look. Two weeks later I get a call from the shop. The guy says to me:
So we did the diagnostic on your machine and it’s either the motherboard or the CPU.
And i’m like:.
I know. I told you that when I brought it in.
And he’s like:
Yeah, well we don’t have the parts on hand to confirm which it is and the bad news is you have what’s called a RAID 0 system which basically means that no matter what we do for you it’s gonna cost a lot. Several hundred dollars at least. We can try to recover your info, no guarantee, or replace whatever’s broken but it’s gonna cost ya either way.
Now I’m chapped. I didn’t buy the extended warranty AND I have no clue what a RAID 0 system is. So he explains to me that it’s basically a dual hard drive setup. He explains that the danger is that if you replace the motherboard, and for some reason it doesn’t recognize the RAID 0 setup properly it could just start writing new data to the drives thereby ERASING ALL MY CRAP! Awesome.
Step #2: Whether you’ve bought the warranty or not, make sure you’re getting whatever service you paid for.
Then it dawns on me:
Wait just a minute here, I paid you guys to do a diagnostic, and you’re telling me the same thing I told you when I brought it in AND you’re telling me that my ONLY options are going to be expensive. How about you guys order the parts you need to actually COMPLETE the diagnostic and I’ll make my decision from there. Don’t make me go Hulk on you.
Long story short, he does and they do and another two weeks goes by but they eventually confirm it’s the motherboard. They want to charge me $99 labour plus a couple-hundred for the new board but unfortunately the one they got in was defective so I’d have to wait another two to three weeks to get my system back.
Step #3: Don’t just take people at their word. Get a second opinion or better yet research it yourself. There’s almost always an alternative to this kind of extortion.
Um? No. Hello ebay. Oh look, there’s a refurb, exact model, for $80 plus $15 in shipping. Sold. I’ll do it myself #thankyouverymuch.
Step #4: Know when to shut up and listen.
And this is where I have to give the shop guy his due. He says ok, just make sure that you have the exact model and that the bios recognizes the RAID 0 setup before you plug in the drives. (Translation: Swap the board, plug everything back in EXCEPT for the dual hard drives, check the BIOS to make sure the configuration is set to RAID 0 and then plug my drives in). Got it.
So, last Wednesday morning looked like this:
And the afternoon looked a little more like this:
I won’t keep you in suspense.
The first is a picture of my gluten free, dairy free, egg free soft flour tortillas. (My kid has a lot of allergies).
The second is a picture of motherboard swappage in progress. (By the way, its also a good shot of the dual or RAID 0 setup).
Here’s the thing. I make these tortillas on a regular basis, like weekly because we love fish tacos. Care to hazard a guess as to which task was more challenging? Let me give you a hint: NOT THE MOTHERBOARD. Those soft flour tortillas looking all innocent on the plate are one of the most difficult things I’ve ever made. If you’ve checked me out on Google +, you will see that my bragging rights clearly state that I can cook- and I can. Nonetheless, these soft flour tortillas will kill you if you do not know what you’re doing.
Think of gluten as the glue that holds your bread items together. Without the glue, you have the equivalent of pastry crumble or Paper Mache depending oh how much liquid you need. Try rolling that out. The chemistry just doesn’t work without some sort of binding ingredient. There are alternatives. I use one for my tortillas but its just not the same as that gooey, gluten-filled wheat flour. And then there’s the flour texture for rolling. Anyway, you get the picture. Watch any cooking competition show and you know it’s the baking that sends the good ones home every time.
Step #5. Learn about the technology you use at every opportunity to save your butt when you do something as stupid as I did.
I’m not saying swapping the motherboard was nothing. But it was nothing compared to figuring out how to make good gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free soft flour tortillas, I’ll tell you that. I’m not saying that if your motherboard fails you should go willy-nilly buying a new one on ebay and swapping it out for yourself but I am saying you could if you wanted to. I won’t pretend that this is the first time I’ve cracked open a PC. It’s not. I’ve tinkered over the years swapping out power sources, video cards, upgrading RAM things like that but I am not a technician or an engineer.
Step #6. Believe you are capable of doing this no matter what your background is.
Why am I telling you all this? Because. I went to acting school. For six years. If that doesn’t convince you can do this too, I don’t know what will.
And there she is all up and running.
Ok, one more thing.
Step #7. Know when you’re in over your head and buy the warranty.
The laptop I mentioned briefly at the beginning? Well, because it’s a laptop I went against my rule and forked out for the extended warranty. They had a sale: $99. I’ve never cracked one open and because I do so much photo editing, I tend to be a little hard on graphics cards so I figured if I blew one, I’d be in over my head. Guess what? I had a little problem with it and as it turns out, in this case, the warranty was a good purchase. It was the motherboard. They swapped it out. So I’ve already got my $99 back.
There you have it PC, seven steps to freedom from being an extended warranty sucker. So… MAC…What do you have to say for yourself? To AppleCare or not to AppleCare, that is the question…
PS. If tacos are your thing, you gotta check out Noah Kagan at Okdork. You’ll also get killer insight into the world of e-marketing and digital business from the guy who was #30 at Facebook, #4 at Mint and is currently Chief Sumo at AppSumo.com.
PPS. If gluten-free is your thing, you gotta check out my friend Ashley Gibson at Dancing Through Life. She’ll serve you up a wealth insight into a vegan, gluten-free lifestyle laced with dash of singing, dancing and a healthy helping of sparkle on the side.
PPPS. If you want to know where I go when computers get the best of me, head on over to Major Geeks. They are my secret weapon.
Hey by the way, If you haven’t joined my site yet, you really, really should. It’s the best way to make sure you never miss a post. Come on, hang out with me, I’m fun. 🙂