Above and Beyond

The Medal of Honor is awarded to those serving in combat whose actions rise above and beyond the call of duty. My experience over the past several weeks leads me to believe that there should be an addition to this rule. Anyone who buys the PC game Medal of Honor should get the Medal of Honor. Doing so would help limit the growing debris field that must be forming below the windows of former computer owners.

Case in point: This past August I bought a desktop computer. Was this because I had to have the latest and hottest machine available to wanna-be Googlers like me? Nooooo. I bought a new computer because the one I had started acting squirrely. I brought it in to CompUSA, the store I bought it from a couple of years ago, and had them take a look at it. Their diagnosis was that the motherboard fried itself. Fried itself? That’s what the guy said. I had the first recorded case of computer suicide. This should not be confused with, compucide, an act I am now contemplating. Anyway, time to buy a new computer.

As with most computer buyers, I found myself being guided around the store by someone who I like to think of as the Head Geek, or HG for short. HG was hired by CompUSA out of Central Casting – pimples, oily messed up hair, thick glasses – you know what I mean. It is always oddly comforting to have the various merits of their computer offerings pointed out to you, accompanied by a product description that seems to be in English, but simply does not translate when the sounds reach your brain. HG, oblivious to this, happily proceeded from one machine to the next.

“Look, HG, I want to get a computer that will get the internet, isn’t slow as molasses, can run word documents, store pictures and music and run the occasional game. I also don’t want to have to be back here in six months because it’s broken or obsolete.”

So HG shows me the computer I’ve described, which after translating from geek-speak, is equivalent to upper mid range. He also sells me a service contract so I can have HG come over my house and fix it if I ever smell smoke.

Fast forward five and a half months and I buy Medal of Honor Airborne as a present for my son. He’s thrilled when he sees it, so I figure daddy did good and all will be well. This is where the proverbial fun begins. After installing it, my new hot-stuff, Vista-based machine tells me that it and Medal of Honor aren’t getting along. It seems the video card (what’s a video card?), is not hot stuff enough to run the program. I call the Medal of Honor people and they give me a list of every $200+ video card that will work with the program.

Couple that with the fact that there’s no sign on the outside of my computer tower that says “tape new video card here”, so I’m now glad that for the first time in my life, I’ve bought a service contract that will actually come in handy. All I have to do is go to the store, buy the card, and have HG come over and glue it in.

Upon arriving at CompUSA, I find HG, and he tells me that CompUSA is going out of business, and that no, they are not allowed to fix computers now that they are in bankruptcy. However, it’s “easy” to install, and he’ll show me which video card I need. What a guy. We find the right card, and just when I’m about to pay for it, he smacks himself on the forehead, says something about checking the “power source” on my PC, and discovers that I need a new and bigger one to run the card (presumably with a four barrel, supercharged DOHC thingy). Add another one hundred bucks.

Now I have to get all of these things bolted inside the computer, so after bringing everything home, I did what any reasonable person would do, I asked my girlfriend’s 17 year old son to do it for me. Good thing, too, because when he was done, eight out of ten wires weren’t plugged in, and apparently didn’t need to be. Assuming that I would have been able to figure out which ones were supposed to be plugged in, I would have spent the next week trying to figure out where the other ones are supposed to go – which was nowhere. The inside of a computer is something that most people should not even be allowed to look at.

Now the game works, but the movements are occasionally jerky, and as a new trick, sometimes the computer shuts itself off. HG says that the 1gig of memory should probably be two gigs. It seems the computer doesn’t like to work too hard, and needs “space”. Back to the store I go and trade HG two gigs of memory for a $100 bill.

My $600 computer is now a $1000 computer, HG is unemployed, my kid would rather watch South Park reruns on You Tube, and if this computer so much as beeps, I’m gonna pop a cap in it.

I should have gotten him a dog.

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