October 2007 - I give up. After a fierce week-long fight, let me admit defeat. I lose. Technology wins.

The futility of my situation came into focus following the sudden death of my home computer, which I fully blame on Apple. See, I tried to download an updated version of iTunes + QuickTime. It was taking a really long time, so I tried to cancel. Eventually, a box appeared to tell me that something or other was not responding. I clicked "End Now," but nothing ended. So, I did what any reasonable person would do. I pulled the plug.

When I plugged back in and pressed the "on" button, absolutely nothing happened. The computer didn't even pretend like it wanted to start. I found the owner's manual and found that most of the troubleshooting recommendations required the computer to actually have power.

So, I called tech support. When I explained the problem, the guy on the phone said that he would send me a box so I could send them computer, then they would fix it and send it back. Well, the thing was almost four years old, so I said "No."

Then, they tried to sell me a new one. They offered me some souped up model which, I'm almost certain, contained a warp drive and a button that would convert the monitor into a giant HD TV. OK. Not really, but it sounded like it had a lot of stuff I didn’t really need. The guy quoted me a price and then, right away, he dropped it by $200 because I, he said, am a "loyal customer."

I don't know much about sales, but during the summer that I tried to sell time shares (that's a whole other column), I learned two things: 1) You have to tell the customer a story. It doesn't have to be a true story. All that matters is that the customer gets sucked in; 2) You also don't give a customer the "drop" right away - unless there's going to be a second one later on.

Eventually the first guy, who did not tell me a story, put me on with his supervisor. Not only did I not get a story out of him, either, I also did not get another price reduction. So, when we got to the point where he asked for a credit card number, I said "No." I had to repeat it several more times with increasing volume. I finally hung up as he was still trying to sell me on the super-duper computer.

The following day, I went over to the Big Box stores and checked out the selection. I ended up with a more down-to-earth, less expensive model from the same manufacturer. Of course, then I had to buy software...

Anyway, I'm now back up and running. Most of the bugs have been worked out. But, when it comes to making Windows Vista, Outlook 2007 and a four-year-old Palm Pilot get along, I think that's a battle I'm going to lose.