It’s Time For Me to Get a New Computer!

Updated October 3, 2010

Doc Sheldon

I’ve been fighting and cussing my Dell Inspiron laptop all week! I still don’t know what got into it, but after several days of hair-pulling and probably a hundred or more re-boots, I was finally able to get it to act right!

The registry looked like someone tossed a hand grenade in there, and my event logs weren’t in any recognizable language. Aside from that… let’s just say it’s a good thing it has so many cables connected – more than once I picked it up, and was ready to put it through a window!

Late Friday night, I finally managed to get it working, and yesterday morning, I started doing some things that had been piling up, and I learned something important: Don’t play around in your htaccess when you’ve only had an hour and a half of sleep! Especially, inadvertently!

Next thing I knew, my browser was showing me this:

Internal Server Error The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. Please contact the server administrator, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error. More information about this error may be available in the server error log. Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

Talk about cold chills. Hell, I thought I was in my robots.txt file, via the WP backend. Who’d have thought a lack of sleep could an idiot make, eh?

Point is, for not paying attention, I did something stupid, that could have been a lot more serious. To make matters worse, I had already closed my WP admin, and couldn’t get back into it. So I went to my server’s CPanel, and couldn’t find the robots.txt anywhere. Still sure that my screw-up was based in my robots.txt file (yeah, I know… makes no sense), I started to break out in a cold sweat. I didn’t think I had gotten anywhere near my htaccess, so I didn’t even look for a problem there (yeah, I know that too… I should have).

Luckily, I was able to get back into my Skype yesterday without precipitating another crash, and a buddy of mine zeroed in on the problem immediately. While he was in there, he helped me out with a couple of needed tweaks that sped my load up a LOT.

So, I learned a lesson, which brought home a point to me. All my life, I’ve enjoyed taking things apart, to see how they worked. Of course, my intent was always to put them back together, but it didn’t always work out that way. Kind of like that unfortunate incident with my Dad’s Big Ben alarm clock.

I taught myself most of what I know about computers by just jumping in and mucking about. I learned basic and machine language by trial and error, and eventually did the same with fortran and cobol. Only a basic working knowledge, mind you, but still, it gave me some satisfaction, and I was able to accomplish quite a lot with them.

I set out to learn html the same way, and now I’m working on php. Of course, my knowledge of all of these is sometimes only enough to get me in trouble, which sometimes makes my life… let’s call it, interesting.

Now and then, I’ve gotten myself into a proper mess, and on occasion, I’ve had to get someone else to bail me out. Sometimes, I’ve found and fixed the problem myself, which always feels good. But I can’t say that my learning style is one I’d recommend to anyone else.

The Plain-Jane html pages of the early 90s were well within my grasp, even then. But how many of us worried about code validation twenty years ago? Search engines were just starting to appear, and our biggest concern was adding our pages manually to their index.

Looking back at some of my early, cobbled-together pages has given me more than a few chuckles. Today, though, it’s a different story. Those homemade pages I slapped together by trial and error wouldn’t rank for squat, and would likely leave many webmasters in convulsions of laughter. Thanks… I’ll be here all week folks.

I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there that learned their programming skills the same way.

Fun, isn’t it?


  1. Oh Doc,

    I feel for you!

    My new Dell has caused frustration on two continents. Don’t get me wrong said ‘puter is great, the preloaded software was the issue – what should have made life simpler, well…. didn’t! Pure and simple.

    Discs and authorization codes for the fluff stuff (Encyclopedia Ginormica, Jewel Wizard and Jeopardy Super Deluxe arrived tout suite but, G_d forbid you should want to do any work! Discussions with the vendor – directed me to the manufacturer, customer service for the manufacturer is dealt with by the ‘Mumbai Jones’s’ – delightful folks – extremely polite but who couldn’t understand my accent at all! Mr Jones finally directed me back to the vendor. Twenty days later I got the codes 1 day before it expired threatening to take my work with it!- so much for priority shipping .

    Now, if I could only get it to communicate with the free wireless capability! of course without it the bloody Lo-Jack can’t get updated! I’m considering going back to vellum and quill? – then if someone steals the darn thing I can just sharpen another feather.

    😀 Laine

  2. Thankfully, I haven’t had that problem. When I have ordered my Dells, I ordered them with the specific software packages I wanted, and it came installed and authenticated, so I didn’t have to wait for any keys. I understand that now, one’s keys come separately from all corners of the earth. I suppose someone felt that would enhance the level of customer service. Right!

    My biggest problem is that my laptop maxes out at 2GB of ram, and that has proven not to be sufficient for the hoops I put it through. I’m ready to set this wannabe waffle iron aside, and get a proper desktop with some muscle. I’ll save the laptop for excursions and light duty.

    Thanks for stopping by, Laine… always nice to hear from ABroad! 😉