Sunday, March 13, 2005

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties. Please Stand By.

I hate Windows 98SE!

Unfortunately my primary computer is a Toshiba laptop with 192 MB RAM, a 6-gig hard drive, running (wait for it!) Windows 98SE. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get The Blue Screen of Death and have to restart, often two or three times. It has become one of those things I live with – like chronic pain.

Yesterday I did a stupid thing. I downloaded one of those updates MS is always telling you is essential to the security and well-being of your computer and, thus, your life. After installing it I shut the computer down to have breakfast. When I got back to it an hour or so later, it wouldn’t start. It would do one of three things: give me The Blue Screen of Death; give me an attractive blank screen that faded from almost black in the upper right corner to a light gray in the lower left corner; or give me my normal desktop only in a two-by-two tiled array with a strip of rainbow colors between the upper row and the lower row. In each case I had to turn the computer off.

I had no clue as to what was going on. (Yeah, yeah. I know. I was having one of my dense days.) I have been expecting this computer to crash beyond resurrection for some time now, so I figured this was it. Then I discovered I could start it in Safe Mode. Cool! I could plug in my thumb drive, download all my newest files, reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows.

Those of you more familiar with the inner workings of Windows than I might have already known that while operating in Safe Mode the USB ports do not work. Thus I could not, in one easy, quick operation, dump my files to the thumb drive.


My computer doesn’t have a CD writer, so I’ll zip my files to the floppy. Thirty-some-odd floppies later, I’m as done as I have the patience to be. Now I slip my Windows 98SE CD into the computer preparatory to reformatting the hard drive. Guess what? In Safe Mode the CD drive doesn’t work either!

Now what?

Nursing a hypertensive headache I decide to make some popcorn and watch “Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon” with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. This is part of a 10-movie set that I got at Best Buy for about fourteen bucks. Well worth the money.

I suppose watching The Great Detective at work influenced me. When I returned to the computer, I remembered the old saw, “When your computer doesn’t work after installing new software, the most common cause is the new software.” Blinding insight! All I had to do was uninstall those nasty Windows updates. But how?

I knew it couldn’t be as simple as going into Control Panel and clicking on Add/Remove Software, but what the hell. I gave it a try. Lo and behold, there they were! Those insidious updates were listed plain as could be in the software roster. Quick as a bunny I uninstalled those suckers and rebooted. On the second reboot I knew things were back to normal. On the third reboot everything came up and worked. Hallelujah!

At that point I wanted nothing more to do with computers for the rest of the day.

I hate Windows 98SE.


At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry, Bob. I'm supposed to know a lot about computers and how to fix things--let me give you my secret: "Trial and Error". Which you used...:)

As far as the Sherlock Holms DVDs go, they're pretty good. Have you heard any of the old time radio shows down by Nigel Bruce and Basil Rathbone? Good stuff...


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