Saturday, January 20, 2007

Worth It? Too ZUNE to Tell

My wife bought me a Zune media player for Christmas and I have yet to use the cockamamie thing. It's not out of lack of desire, mind you, just one of those "Murphy's Law" things that seems to have a death grip on my life.

I didn't ask for a Zune, wasn't expecting a Zune, was completely surprised when I opened my present and found a Zune, and was totally stoked that I was now a Zune owner. It was a great gift. I spent the rest of Christmas morning fulfilling my fatherly duties by freeing and assembling the girls' toys.

By late morning I had completed my duties, so I retired to my computer to set up my new toy. To say I was excited is an understatement. I couldn't wait to discover the capabilities of the Zune. I loaded the software CD into my computer and waited for it to download and install. A moment later, however, a message appeared on the screen, something to the effect of "Incompatible with operating system". WHAT? There must be something wrong. I reloaded the disc and received the same message.

My computer is less than two years old. It's a MEDIA CENTER EDITION running Windows XP. How could a Microsoft MEDIA PLAYER not be compatible with Windows XP Media Center Edition?

I soon found out. A quick trip to the Zune website showed me that it was only compatible with the 2005 version of XP MCE. I bought my computer in 2005. What's the deal?

Further investigation showed that I was running Windows XP MCE 2002. Why is the computer that I bought in '05 running an '02 version of XP? explode.

The only thing not confusing to me at this point was the fact that I would not be using my new Zune any time soon. I can't handle those wide emotion swings. I went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. OK, maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but not much. Now I had a decision to make: I could return the Zune and get some other electronic device, I could exchange the Zune for an Ipod which most certainly should work with my computer, or I could keep the Zune and upgrade my operating system.

The easy money, the easy solution, was on options A or B. What did I choose? Option C. What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment. I don't know why, but I wasn't thrilled with the first two options. I developed an infatuation with my new Zune, and I wanted to see it work. But I sat on it for a couple of weeks just to be sure.

Last week, after much research on upgrading operating systems and deciding that it was something I could do, I ordered the upgrade software, all the while thinking that even though it sounded fairly simple, that something very very bad was going to happen. Murphy's Law, remember? It rules my life.

The software arrived on Wednesday, and Thursday morning around 8:30 I began the upgrade. Reviews of the product indicated that a full system upgrade would take around two hours. I followed the directions carefully, but my computer had other ideas, as computers often do. Four hours later, as I left for work, the update was still downloading. Something was obviously wrong, but I wasn't prepared to deal with it. I phoned home a couple of times that night to see if the download had progressed, but it hadn't. I am sooooo screwed.

I returned home that night to find the download exactly where I left it...not good. I did the only thing left to do...I held my breath and unplugged the computer. The screen went blank. Now, for the moment of truth. I plugged it back in and turned on the computer to see just how hosed I was. The monitor blinked to life and I was surprised to find that it had returned to the previous screen. A prompt then appeared asking for the first installation disc. Well, this can't be bad. I returned the disc to the tray, and lo and behold, the installation continued. A message popped up indicating that installation would be complete in 22 minutes. WHOO HOO! IT'S ALIVE!

I jumped up, grabbed a beer, and returned to supervise the rest of the installation. It finished without incident as I, in turn, finished the beer...without incident. I rebooted the computer just to see if everything was OK, then turned it off and went to bed. I still had a bunch of updates to install, but decided that I'd had enough excitement for one day.

Friday morning I continued where I left off by installing the updates from the Microsoft website. All was going well until my computer froze right in the middle of one of the installations. Ohhhh...Crap.

I hit Ctrl+Alt+Del.


I hit Esc.


I hit random keys all over the keyboard...I panicked, OK? Nothing I did woke up the computer. This is really, really not good. I unplugged the computer, then tried to restart it.

Disc-read error. Restart. Disc-read error. Restart. Disc-read error. Restart.

I couldn't even get it to the Windows XP startup screen. So I tried System Recovery.

Disc-read error. Restart. Disc-read error. Restart. Disc-read error. Restart.

Totally exasperated, I unplugged the computer and flung the plug against the wall. I was going to have to do a total system reboot requiring me to reformat the hard worst nightmare. I decided to give it one more try. I returned to the stupid frickin' computer and plugged it back in. I turned it on. It worked. Glory Hallelujah. System Recovery ran and restored my computer without deleting any files or programs. Whew! I left well-enough alone and went to work.

This morning I returned to the task at hand: finishing those pesky web updates. They completed without a hitch. My operating system upgrade took three days to complete. I was tired. Why am I doing this again? THE ZUNE, oh, yeah, right. Now for the REAL test and the moment of truth. Will the Zune software load?

It did. No kidding. And it is cool. Unfortunately, I don't know exactly how cool it is yet. I had to go to work while it fully charged. So was it worth all the trouble? I hope so. But for now, it's too zune to tell.

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