Friday, December 22, 2006

Installing RAM: From Arrogance To Humility In One Hour!

I manage a website for my church which grows by about five pages a week. We've been up since last may and the site is now over one-hundred-forty pages. Because I am not a REAL geek, I use iWeb and cheat on website development. IWeb is a lovely program by Apple which is NOT designed for a business application. But, being users don't read things like Application Documentation, I use iWeb to build and update this website.

Since iWeb was never designed to be Dream Weaver Lite, there are a lot of things one CANNOT do in iWeb. Mainly, you can't break up your site. You re-create all code generated for the entire site every time you "publish to a folder". So, I had a problem.

Just to "open" iWeb takes about five minutes. To "Save" the raw file in iWeb took a half-hour, or more. To "publish" also took a half-hour or more AND to actually upload it to the Server was another half-hour or more.

I began to loathe updating this site because when iWeb is running, I can't run other things, unless I want to take even more time to process the site. I was driven to seek out a way to make my eMac work faster. I did some nosing around and discovered something called RAM: Random Access Memory. This is the temporary memory area for your computer. I had a tinsy 256 MB! When friends were informed of this, I got lots of encouragement and sympathy! So, I called my Apple Representative. She recommended an add-on to my machine of a 1 GB RAM chip. She assured me, that even with my crumby vision, I could install it myself.

She emailed me the customer documentation from Apple and I sent in $135. After several panicked readings of the customer documentation, I called my Apple Rep., introducing her to levels of patience, she hadn't had to explore before. I couldn't keep my voice from going up in pitch with the whine of a cat in pain. It was dreadful. I was petrified!

"Why do you ground yourself before unplugging the cord from the computer?"

"Cybe, listen to me. That is geek speak. Just disconnect the cables, unplug the electrical cord, both ends, ground yourself and you are good to go" My Apple Rep. was starting to sound frustrated.

"But... in the documentation..."

"Cybe. That was written by Engineers. They don't know what they're doing. Just do what I said. You can wear rubber shoes if you are really nervous, but you'll do fine." Her voice was showing the strain of emotional control. I decided to stop hassling her.

I was going to involve a neighbor to move the computer, but I really didn't want a stranger telling me I didn't know what I was doing. So, I began my Odyssey alone at 9:45 PM.

I had to pad my desk with a soft towel, put my computer on its monitor, with the "user access door" facing me. So far so good! Thank God, I have enough sense to do this all myself. Why pay some idiot a $100 for something I can do. This will be done in twenty-minutes, just like the documentation says (Starting time 9:45 PM, Ego, inflated and cocky).

Got the door off, and found the latches for the empty "slot" for my new chip. But, where was the chip that was already in here? I wasn't supposed to touch anything, so I'm using various magnifying glasses to attempt to divine what was happening. Oh, well, as long as I know where the new chip is supposed to go, who cares about the other one? (9:50 Ego, slight deflation, less cocky).

I carefully open up the chip, ground myself several times and attempt to "slide" it into its "slot". I figured it would slide in like a drawer, disappearing into the computer. Yeah, that's why I can't find the other chip. Well, that can't be right, because I feel its latches...

So, I begin to try and figure out where the "top" of the new chip is. I'm not supposed to touch it. I figure if I touch it, I'll ruin it. I'm now feeling a bit scared. This ain't going so easy as I thought it would. So, I placed, pushed (ever so gently), flipped the chip and placed and pushed... Now, there are only four positions possible for this chip. After NONE of them worked, I made a decision. I am almost blind, I can't tell what is supposed to happen. Its time to grope this puppy, so I can learn what's going on. If I screw my equipment, I screw my equipment, ($1,135.00 down the shoot.) Well, if the memory refuses to work, Apple Care just might cover it. Until they ask questions as to how I managed to mess up my RAM!

"Well, I thought any idiot could do this... but I'm not just any idiot. I got in there and groped every little thing trying to figure this out, so I could put my computer right-side-up and go to bed!" Apple Care would read this as user incompetence and refuse to fix it for free. (10:20 Ego descending fast, a sense of futility rising to the challenge).

Well, everyone should grope the guts of their computer. I found the first, already installed chip. It was at the very top of the opening, and it was ninety percent hanging out of the machine! The hinges were holding it at its midpoint! Well, I'm amazed! (10:30 Slight hope replacing futility, but body is covered in sweat).

Now, to shove it in the "slot". Wait, there are two slots. A large gap and a little slit-slot. By now I'm beginning to feel genuine mental fatigue and a sense that I'm in so far over my head as to be standing in the need of prayer. (10:35 Labored breathing and sweating)

I figured out that the larger gap was not a slot, but a space between the two slots. I again tried to line it up, in the hing guides and make it "snap" into place. It didn't "snap" into place in any of the four possible positions. (10:45 Abject despair and life-confession prayer)

"God, you know, sitting here, thinking about my life. I admit that I took on something I shouldn't have. I realize that I've been a jerk, like this my entire life" In total fatigue, with my hands still on the chip, I leaned on it, to rest my weary body and..."SNAP"!

"Holy God! It went in. Oh thank you God. Now, to put it all back together. Geez, I feel like sobbing in relief!"

Put it all back together and it WORKED. All 1.25 GB of RAM registered and had an OK status!
I now notice I'm shaking all over. No longer paying attention to the time. Oops, I have lost my external disc with all my backup and "extra non-backed-up stuff". Oh man, not all my photos!

Yes, I got it all working. The power cord for the external disc drive had worked loose. Funny, no power, no disc drive! So, now, it is all up and running. Booted REALLY fast! I must write my friend. But I don't feel like boasting. I feel like I've survived a trauma and am not sure I even want to talk about it at all. Hmmm, that's a curious reaction.

Friends and my Apple Rep., were elated at my accomplishment and I got good strokes all around. I also had a friend plead for me to document this struggle, so he could have a good laugh. (He's a real geek and my first waltz with electronics brought back memories for him).

He even said he'd READ my blog - at least this post. So, Merry Christmas, Adorable! You know my email address and I've earned that gift certificate from I told you I want.

1 comment:

databat said...

I am impressed by your experience. In the past, I've ran into people who never read the documentation, and just sat there either mashing buttons, or randomly attempting to put parts where they don't belong. These people usually make it into the GPF section of my e-zine. (That's where we poke fun of people that do that sort of thing)

However, you read the docs, even tried tech support. (I really felt like they should have walked you through the process over the phone.) Most importantly, you didn't give up. That is the best way to learn about computers. Trial and error is only a good teacher when it follows reading the documentation.

I am sorry to hear about your poor vision. I'm blessed enough to still be able to wear contact lenses. (after 2 eye surgeries) I will remember you in my prayers.