I just upgraded to Windows 7, and the way I did it was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done to this computer. What saved me was that the computer is a great brand and the company, Toshiba, can fix my stupidity for $24.95.

It began when my office needed a new program to maintain reimbursements from a major insurance company. Hurricane Katrina washed away valuable paper information needed to complete the processing of claims.

Insurance companies paid claims without the medical records to go with it. If the person was seen three days before the hurricane hit, the claim was sent electronically, but the paperwork was far behind. That’s because even though the bill went out that day, the payment could take anywhere from seven to 90 days for the claim to be processed and be received.

So the feds, under Bush, decided that everyone had to have an electronic medical records (EMR) system verified by some program. If one did not comply, one would lose 25 percent of insurance payments. For those who don’t know, insurances don’t pay everything that is billed. Only cash patients pay the entire amount. They call this “fair.”?We purchased an EMR system, but had one new computer that could read it – thus the need for the upgrade. So I called Microsoft and said, “How much?” They said, “$199.99 per computer.”

We’d just recovered from Katrina. Insurance did not cover the business, but under the Bushes, the feds were more than happy to “loan” us the money to fix it up. We set up business first at the hospital, then a small office and then our office in May 2006. There is not enough room here to tell you how many parties we owe. ?So I bought the program, downloaded it, turned on the computer, and had a blank screen.

Freaked, I called Microsoft and got bounced around like a kindergarten class playing dodge ball. Actually, I started talking to people in India at 9:30 p.m., finished at 1 a.m., began again at 9:30 a.m. and finished at 1:45 p.m. They had names like Pasha, which I thought was cool. I think I got distracted asking questions about their culture and meaning of their names.

Desperate, I called Toshiba. I learned that each computer company has its own version of Microsoft 7. The best way to purchase the program is to go to the company that made your hardware and get the upgrade from them. This way, you will get the correct version for your computer and if you have a problem, they can fix it. They are sending me a fix it disc for $24.95.

DO NOT CALL GEEK SQUAD YET! They charge $50 per hour and it took me that just to recover my books, music and two programs. Since I tried it at home first instead of the office, I saved a lot of headaches. But I think this is the tip of the iceberg. We have a computer with Windows 98!

Susan Murphy Wood Barnes, of Biloxi, Miss., is a writer and former “Kids Corner” editor for the AFRO.