HAPPY CANADA DAY to my lovely Canadian readers! 150 years! Wow. Congratulations! I hope you all are having lots of fun celebrating. On a side note, that's only 3 times my age... what a young country :)
Ooof, as for here at Nathalie's Casa, what a day! It's 3:30 p.m. as I start writing this post. It really hasn't been a taxing day, but still, it took me that long to get to Blogger today!
I was feeling super tired yesterday at 7 p.m. and, knowing that I was probably in for a long phone call with Microsoft that evening, I brewed a pot of coffee... that I was still drinking at 11:30 p.m. so you'll understand when I say that I didn't get to bed until 2 a.m.!
Warning: LONG STORY ABOUT THE MICROSOFT SAGA LAST NIGHT. Skip ahead if you don't care to the pink "END OF MICROSOFT SAGA" line.
The call went pretty well. They were late calling me, and I'm not a patient person so when 8:15 p.m. rolled around and we hadn't heard from Microsoft, I called the phone number that the previous rep had given me, had to navigate their idiotic phone tree, and asked the rep to verify that the Level 2 people still had me in their queue for that evening. He checked and assured me that they would be calling me soon. Well, OK but I hate it when people set a specific time for a call and then don't even warn you that they're going to be late. Thumbs up on that one, Microsoft.
The person who ended up calling was Indian, like the tech from the previous night. But the Level 1 Tech from the previous night was very easily understood and very zen. He kept on telling me "do not stress yourself, we will take care of you...", which made my daughter and I laugh :) The Level 2 Tech had a much stronger Indian accent and spoke very fast. Neither my daughter nor I could understand what he was saying and I had to ask him to repeat himself non-stop. So the call probably took twice as long as it could have because of that.
He did take a while to be brought up to speed on the situation, what we had done, and what we had encountered so far, but then he said to go ahead and put in the USB drive to which we had downloaded the new Windows 10 installation files the previous night and warned my daughter that she would lose all her programs and files since he was reinstalling Windows. So I questioned that since the previous tech had assured us that there was a way to reinstall Windows without losing any of that. Well, I knew better since Greg and I have been dealing with such issues for many years, but I thought maybe they had a special way to do that since they were from Microsoft. Turns out the first tech gave us the wrong info. But of course. Strike two for Microsoft. We're lucky that my daughter didn't have any files that needed to be backed up and that she has all the information to reinstall all of her software saved in her email. If my laptop had been the problematic one and I had been given wrong information, that would have delayed getting it fixed even longer.
So we gave him remote access to my daughter's laptop. Well, we tried. The first time we did it. we got the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) again, arrgh. So we had to let the laptop reboot itself and then work really fast to get him in. Once he was in, he went to look at the version of Windows 10 that was installed on her laptop and saw that it was build 1703. He highlighted that to us and said "This is the Windows Creator Update. Did you verify if your laptop was compatible with the Windows Creator Update?!". Mind you, we're regular users, right? Nowhere does Windows tell you what update they're about to install, they just tell you "there is an update available, do you want to update now or later?" but then you can only delay so many times before the update is automatically applied to your machine anyway because that's the way they are now. If you look at the information under "Windows Update", you'll see something like "Update KB1234567" (I made it up) but it won't tell you "It's the Windows Creator Update" and even less "not all machines are compatible with it, if yours isn't, this is what you need to do".
So since I told him no, we hadn't made sure and it was pointless since the update would be pushed to the machine eventually anyway, he went to the HP website and looked up her laptop model number and it was NOT on the list of compatible machines. So he determined that the problem was caused by that incompatibility between the machine and the update and said that instead of reinstalling Windows, he could just roll it back to the previous build and that it was fortuitous that we had called them about it the same night as the update because you only have 9 days from an update to roll it back to the previous build. Greg didn't know that either. But you see, I had read all about problematic updates and incompatibilities and rolling back Windows the night before and knew that there was a process to run to block the update from reinstalling itself automatically. But the tech wasn't mentioning that at all so I asked him what he planned to do so that we didn't keep having the same problem, and then he said "Well, I could block the update for you". I had read that it was only a temporary block though, so I questioned him about that, and he assured me that he had ways to make the blockage permanent, and that the next update that would be issued after the Creator Update would not be blocked. Of course, there is no guarantee that her laptop will be compatible with that one either!
Anyhoo, he started the Windows roll-back process and since it was going to take a little while, said that he would call us back in 15 minutes. He called us back a little later than that and by then the roll-back was finished and he proceeded to repeat everything that he had already told us so far. Meanwhile, the laptop didn't give us the BSOD. Phew!
However, the tech remained on the line, questioning me about how many PCs we had in the house and trying to upsell me on something called the Microsoft Assure Plan, which, according to him, covers up to 5 machines in your home and if you pay $149 per year, you can call them anytime with any software issues on your machines and you get put through to Level 2 service right away and can also get help and training for free at the Microsoft Store. I questioned whether my daughter would be able to call them under my account from college and he said yes. So I told him I needed to talk to Greg about it and for him to email me the information. He did (well, there was a snafu with that and I'll discuss that later on in this blog). He also was trying to upsell me on an Office 365 subscription even though I have bought Office 2016 and I said no. After a while, we hung up, and my daughter went to bed. I think it was about 10 pm. at that time. Greg and I discussed the plan and he said that if I wanted to get it, to go ahead.
But the email that the tech sent me was poorly formatted and didn't address all the promises that he had made me on the phone about what the coverage was, and just looked scammy to me. I went online to do research on the plan and could not find any information from Microsoft about it at all. However, several people on the Microsoft.com forums are complaining about it being a scam, not being able to contact the Assure Plan people, etc. A couple of people said they'd been using it and it was great but it was so few compared to all the complaints. So I ended up thinking that I probably wouldn't sign up for it. After all, my daughter will be surrounded by computer geeks so I'm sure she can find someone to help with with whatever and she needs to learn to do that stuff on her own anyway. I did reply to the tech's email and explained what I had found out and asked him to send me official documentation covering everything, not just a promotional email. He emailed me back a website URL, but honestly, even the website doesn't say anything about 5 machines being covered under the plan at all. So that comforted me in my decision.
But at 11:30 p.m. I got another call from Microsoft. I didn't answer it because... hello? It's 11:30 p.m. and I was sure that he was calling me to sell me on the plan, not to make sure the laptop was still working. Later on I checked my email and he had sent me another message telling me that he had scheduled a call with me on July 2 and would call me back then. So I replied that I wouldn't be participating on the call, that I had only provided my cell phone number for the purpose of getting the laptop problems fixed and that I wasn't interested in the Assure Plan and to stop up-selling me stuff. I didn't hear back from him after that.
I'm thinking I'll be contacting Microsoft to share my experience with that. That guy was way too pushy. But hey, this morning the laptop still wasn't giving my daughter any trouble. I did point that out to Greg, who had told me she probably had gotten a virus from some animé website she visits. Ha! And I know that the darn Creator Update is also what bricked her previous laptop! We should sue Microsoft, seriously. Arrgh. His reply was that I shouldn't have "cheapened out" on buying our laptops, that next time I buy one, I should get "a good one", which means I'd have to spend more than $1,000. I don't happen to think that spending more money always equals better quality, especially with computers so we disagree on that but I wish he would have told me this when I was looking at buying a new laptop for my daughter, because certainly the newer models with everything she wanted were closed to the $900 range than the $429 that we paid for hers, but since we've never spent that much for a machine that wasn't a gaming machine, and we were already going to pay for the 1-week post-graduation trip too, I didn't want to spend so much. I guess next time, I'll spend more?
Anyhoo. That's my Microsoft story. Maybe this will help someone who's reading this and having computer problems after a Windows 10 update. Oh and to contact the Support people? Go to this URL first, try their online assistant, and if you keep on telling them it didn't fix your problem, eventually there'll be a link for you to be connected to a live person. When you click on this, you'll need to enter your phone number and they'll call you back. We were very lucky that it took less than a minute for us to call us back that first night, but I've read stories on the forums where it took much longer than that. So I can't promise you that you'll get help as fast as we did. Also, the first Tech told us that since we'd bought the laptop with Windows 10 already pre-loaded on it, we weren't going to be charged for the call, but I suppose that it's not always the case, so YMMV. I'm very grateful that, in the end, they knew what the problem was, knew how to fix it, fixed it for us, and didn't charge us.
END OF MICROSOFT SAGA.
On to other things...
Before Greg went to bed last night, we agreed that we would go out to breakfast at his favorite breakfast place at 9:30 am. (since we had that Amex offer for a $5 statement credit. I had bought lunch out for the kids yesterday so I had told him they wouldn't be coming to breakfast, and they were fine with that). Then we would drive to the Habitat ReStore and pick up the new-to-us $50 couch that I had bought on Thursday.
When I went to bed, I turned off all alarms and notifications so I'd be able to sleep in a little... but of course Explorer did his "Wake up mom!" routine at 6:30 a.m. anyway. It took a while for him to settle down, but he did, on my pillow next to me, and I scratched his chin and pet him for a while, thinking "well now I'm WIDE AWAKE!" and then... fell back asleep! Next thing I knew, Greg was in the door saying "Honey? Are we still going out to breakfast?!" and it was 9:20 a.m. Arrgh! I was really sleepy too!
I took a quick shower and we were on our way. First I asked him to stop at RaceTrac so I could get a Sodapalooza refill for Youngest Son and myself, and he also got one for himself. Then we went to the restaurant, which is less than 5 minutes away from the house, woohoo!
We had the same waitress as the last time, who prided herself on her memory and indeed she remembered (kind of) what Greg had ordered. Well, he had ordered hash browns, extra crispy, at her suggestion, but we ended up getting home fries. As for me, I had ordered their healthy wrap (turkey and egg white, salsa and tomatoes) but without the Swiss cheese, and after I had eaten half of it already, I realized that there was Swiss cheese in my wrap!
|And Greg's! I told him I had to take a picture of his waffle for Bless.|
Then it was on to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which is actually right across the road from the restaurant. They brought the couch to us and they loaded it into the truck bed with Greg's help. They were very pleasant. I asked Greg to wait for me as I ran inside the store to see if perhaps they had gotten a reel for electric cords since Thursday, but they hadn't. They were super busy, though, which was nice to see.
So we drove home. And then the saga of the couch started...
We drove the truck into the backyard because we figured that it'd be easier to get the old couch out of the house through the sliding door rather than trying to negotiate a turn and the front door. No problem, the disgusting old couch was brought into the backyard without any problems. I was able to sweep all the crud and dust and many cat toys that had accumulated under there since the last time I had moved it.
Then, we set upon moving in the new couch into the house. Uh oh. The new couch is slightly larger. And wouldn't fit in the opening! And also it's much heavier. I suggested taking the 3-in spacers that for some reason hold back the sliding door out (one at the top, one at the bottom), and Greg was able to do that without breaking anything. Phew.
Then he also had to dismantle the sliding door's handle because it would be in the way of being able to get the widest opening anyway. So he did that. No problem. Did I mention that it was hot and we were sweaty? And that we had asked Youngest Son to lock up the kittens in the bathroom yet again and keep an eye on the older cats so they wouldn't try to escape? Good thing he was there!
So after all that, we tried to get the couch inside the house. NO GO. The opening was still to small and now there was really nothing we could do to make it larger. Arrrgh! What now?!
Then Greg suggested angling the couch this way and turning it that way and we got 95% of the couch inside the house but for the life of us, we could NOT get that last 5% of the couch inside, no matter what we tried. Some of the fabric was bunched up against the sliding door and that was creating one of the problems. I looked at it and saw that it was at the back of the couch at the bottom and suggested that we cut it off. He looked at me as if I had 2 heads, but I said "Listen, this is a $50 couch, the cut will be in the back and I don't care and that couch is NOT going back to the thrift store!" So he got a cutter and trimmed the fabric a little. But that still wasn't enough to get the couch inside. Arrgh. Then, Youngest Son, who'd been helpful but very quiet and also quietly disapproving (he hates change and didn't want to get rid of the old couch!) quietly suggested "Well, why don't you move it this way?" and lo and behold, IT WORKED! My hero!!!
But then Greg realized we had turned the couch the opposite way of how we wanted it in the room, and the room is already narrow and made narrowed with the book shelves and other stuff so we tried lifting it up on one end, but it was too tall for the ceiling and threatening to damage the new ceiling tiles that Greg had installed a couple of years back... but once again he found a solution and we were able to put the couch in place. Woohoo!
|The mattress behind it stays there until Wednesday morning, when it'll be picked up by the waste collection people.|
I vacuumed the inside of the couch from previous owners' crud, sprayed the couch with some Earth Plus all natural fabric freshener, and collected the cat toys that we had found. I also swept the rest of the Cat Room and part of the kitchen while I was at it.
Meanwhile Greg went to put the door handle back on the sliding door, and had the hardest time with it. He just wasn't able to make it work, until Youngest Son once again commented quietly, and Greg contradicted him but I backed up Youngest Son and then Greg realized that he had been trying to put the handle back on backwards. Doh! After that, it was just a matter of replacing the sliding door spacers. Phew! That took far longer and was far more stressful than we had anticipated, but we didn't snap at one another, and it was truly a team effort, go us! So proud of Youngest Son for all his suggestions and I told him so. He didn't beam because the kid doesn't beam. I wished he beamed once in a while :)
|I'm not dumb, but I'm really glad I had smart men with me today who figured out how to get that couch inside and the handle back on the door!|
The old couch? We covered it with a tarp so it doesn't get waterlogged (good thing because it poured this afternoon) and left it in the backyard. We'll take it down to the curb on Tuesday night for collection on Wednesday.
Up til then, the cats were staying away from their new couch. So I sat down on it, and one by one, Male Cat, and then the kittens, came to explore. By the end of the afternoon, they had made it their own. Yay!
|Male Cat is the first one to brave the new couch...|
|New Kitty is afraid of it and decided to hide in the Donation Box. Not a very good spot to hide, Kitty, unless you plan on leaving us!|
|Princess decides to scale one of the tall arms and comes nose to nose with Male Cat. He just stays put, doesn't hiss or anything. Good boy!|
|She starts sniffing every inch of the couch...|
|Surveys the rest of the room...|
|Gives me a little sniff too (I must stink, I've been sweating!)|
|Now the other kittens approach and start sniffing it as well...|
|Male Cat has given it his seal of approval!|
|And soon... it becomes the new Cat Couch! It kind of looks like The Big Comfy Couch, doesn't it?|
|Remember this show? My daughter looooved it when she was little.|
And then... despite his earlier disapproval, so did Youngest Son. Double yay!
Honestly, it's not as comfortable as the old couch, and it's not as deep either, as far as the seating space is concerned. Also, the arms are too high. But, it makes the room look sooooo much better!
I washed the slipcover and the comforter that we kept on the old one. We'll keep the comforter but the slipcover will go in the donation box. I dried the comforter outside, it was so hot that it dried in no time. I had put the slipcover outside too when it was done washing later on, but the sky had gotten dark so I ended up putting it in the dryer. I had washed other things with it so it all went in the dryer too.
After all that, Greg had to go run some errands in town. He was buying something at Target so I reminded him to use the RedCard Mastercard and gave him the PIN code for it so we could save 5% at the register and he remembered to do just that.
He also got a haircut with his Great Clips prepaid card ($9.99 already prepaid for a hair cut instead of the $15 price when paying in-store) and gave a $2 tip which I provided before he left the house since he only had twenties. A couple of years ago, he didn't have any change so he ended up buying overpriced mousse that he never uses just so he could have $2 to give as a tip. How dumb is that?! So now, I always make sure that he has $2 in cash before he goes to Great Clips :)
As for me, I lit a scented candle in the living room, caught up on emails, and the news, and then decided to sign up for some library programs this summer.
What started it is that I saw an article online in our local newspaper about a workshop at our Extension Office entitled "Grow and Eat Caribbean Style". For $15, you get tips about growing such crops as bananas, cassava, papayas and pineapples (ha!) in your Central Florida backyard and also how to cook those crops. Each attendee gets a hard cover recipe book. I figured that for $15, it sounded pretty good.
Then I checked out the library system calendar and filtered it by selecting only the libraries closest to me and the one in Mount Dora because that one always has tons of interesting activities. There are lots of pretty well off retirees in Mount Dora so they have tons of experienced people who volunteer there. First, I signed my daughter and I for a "Make 2 Greeting Cards" workshop. Oh yes, Susan, I heard your squeal of delight that you just let out! We'll be going to do that in a couple of weeks.
Then, there'll be a workshop entitled "All About Hummingbirds", presented by a local bird lover and supplies business, so I'll also attend that. There's no sign-up for it and it's on a Saturday so I expect that it'll be very crowded.
Lastly, I signed up for a Writers' Expo workshop in August. I wasn't too sure about that one. I've always wondered about being a writer (I like writing but I don't think I'm any good). The description is " Learn how to digitally publish your works for free, including design help, using your library card. Enter our Nanofiction Contest, enjoy a light lunch and end the day with an inspiring look at indie publishing." Free food? I'm there! Also, and more importantly, it'll be on August 12. That's the day when my ex will be moving my daughter into her apartment in Gainesville. It'll be a tough day for me so I figured, I'd need all the distractions that I could get and signed up for the workshop. I'll drive up to Gainesville with Youngest Son the next day to deliver the stuff that she wants from here.
I checked the Nanofiction Contest and one of the option is to write a 100-word romance. So I guess I'll try to do that. The Grand Prize is $50.
While all of this was happening, my daughter had asked if she could go to the local Pottery business with her BFF. They wanted to paint a couple of pieces and fire them too. So I told her I'd pay for hers and then reconsidered and told her I'd pay for her BFF's too since the BFF's family had been feeding my daughter regularly for a couple of weeks! She was excited and thankful.
From there, she texted me and asked if it was OK for them to drive to Chili's afterwards. I said yes, but asked her to use my Chili Rewards account and redeem the offer I had just received this morning for a free salsa and chips and bring it back for Greg, since the BFF had the same offer and was going to redeem hers. However, when my daughter came back, they had decided to use my offer and eat it, and keep the BFF's offer for another day since she was going back with her own family. Hmm, I hadn't meant for that to happen, but OK. It's not like we don't have salsa and chips at home anyway.
Greg had planned to do more work on the front porch today, but it started pouring when he came back from his errands so he sat down to earn his Microsoft Rewards points.
This is where my Microsoft email story comes in. So I use my outlook account for Microsoft. But the main email program that I use is Gmail. All my other email accounts are forwarded to my Gmail account and I rarely access those email accounts directly. Well, when the Microsoft Tech was sending me the first email about the Assure Plan last night, I wasn't getting the email that he had supposedly sent in my Gmail account. It's usually instantaneous so I was puzzled and went into my Outlook account so see what the problem was. While I was there, I found two emails from Microsoft Rewards in my Outlook spam folder.
So this morning I went back to look at those emails, and they're the kind that allow you to earn more Microsoft Rewards than your daily limit by clicking on some links and one of them was to tell me that they were giving me 500 credits (!) for being awesome but I needed to click on the link for it to actually credit to my account. So good thing I checked Outlook after all, because those 2 emails were sent recently and the links still worked. Woohoo! Then I took a closer look at Outlook and saw that they had defaulted my inbox to sort my messages into two filters that I didn't want, and the forwarding command apparently works with only one of the filters. So I don't know when that started, but I've been missing a number of emails getting caught in the other (unwanted) filter! Arrgh. Luckily, I almost never use my outlook address so it wasn't too bad, but still. How annoying. I was able to remove those filters in the Options section.
So I was mentioning all of this to Greg and had him check his Spam folder in his email account because he said he never got emails from Microsoft Rewards anymore. He couldn't find anything anywhere, so we checked his Microsoft account and compared it to mine and sure enough, he's not signed up for any publications, whereas I'm signed up for 4, one of them being the Microsoft Rewards Newsletter. But when we search for such a newsletter, there is none. So I had him email Microsoft Rewards to ask them to sign him up for it, as I had to do many months ago when I realized that he was getting emails but I wasn't. How convoluted. Microsoft really doesn't make it easy to do business with them, let me tell you.
Meanwhile, the kittens had found the myriad of toys that I had recovered from under the couch, most of them being those shiny fluffy pompoms that I had bought at the thrift store and that they absolutely loved when they were younger. Well, they still love them and all three of them have been amusing themselves with the pompoms all afternoon, each of them with one in their mouth and growling at the other kittens, it's been quite amusing. But I didn't get any pictures of that.
Greg had an event to go attend out of town tonight so the kids and I are having leftovers.
My breakfast was so big that I'm counting it as lunch and for actual lunch, I had generic Cheerios with half a cup of milk and a banana cut up in it, and my strawberry shake. I haven't figured out my food intake for the day yet and it's already 5:30 p.m. Also, I didn't exercise but carrying the heavy couch and trying to get it in the door was sweaty work and I'm counting it as my exercise for today!
I did order a reel for the electric cord from Ace Hardware, via Swagbucks. I paid $9.99 plus tax for it, will pick it up for free at the store once they've put it aside for me, charged it to Discover for the 5% in Bonus Rewards for using a Home Improvement store, earned about 100 Ace Rewards points and 2 SB per dollar so I'll be getting 18 SB at some point. More importantly, the darn electric cord won't get tangled anymore and that's worth the money that I spent! Oh and I just noticed the email telling me that the reel is ready so I guess I'm driving to Ace Hardware now.
Youngest Son offered to come with me so I had him drive (the SUV) to Ace Hardware, and since there was a traffic light out on the way back, I decided to drive back. We stopped by RaceTrac first to get a couple of Sodapalooza refills.
At Ace Hardware, I also bought a couple of air filters since I was out of then for one of our furnaces. I had a BOGO coupon that was only good in July so I had been waiting for 7/1 to restock! Mission accomplished, I spent $5.34, earned a few more Ace Rewards points, and charged it to my Discover for another 5% back in bonus rewards.
I've been running Swagbucks videos and I made my 1st goal and hope to reach my 2nd goal. Yay!
My brother from Marseille emailed me today. The previous owners got the message, apparently, and moved out along with their stuff, only leaving the animals and their food behind but apparently transport has been arranged for them by the end of the week. I guess my brother and his GF are taking the week off and will be there to feed the animals. I hope it all works out for them!
Alright, it's now past 7 p.m. and I have to warm up the leftovers. I guess I'll spend the evening catching up on all the blogs.
Have a great rest of your weekend!