Monday, April 21, 2014


So, Debbie needs a new computer for work. She's been using an old Win XP laptop we bought before we left Michigan back in 2006? 2007? Anyway, a long time ago, and Microsoft cut all XP support a couple weeks ago so it was time. We had recently heard that Best Buy's website had Win7 refurbs for around $200, so we grabbed one. It was delivered on Tuesday, April 14th. Obviously, nothing was going to happen with it until after April 15th, so the box just sat by the door. When I finally dragged myself off the bed on Thursday, I thought I'd set it up quick by plugging it into the TV and seeing what it was like. I had big plans for all kinds of yard work that I'd been neglecting for the last 90 days, but this would just take a minute, right?


So I turned the thing on, typed in the activation code, and was immediately informed that I was running an illegal copy of Windows. Sigh. It would certainly help if they wouldn't print the activation code in a grey, sans-serif 6-point font on a busy, multi-colored sticker. So I cursed Bill Gates and called the 800 number and managed to get through the phone activation. I was enthusiastically informed that I was running a legit copy of Win7. Gee. Thanks.

I opened up IE and tried to download Chrome. I was hit with a blizzard of security warnings telling me that Google's SSL certificates were out of date. That proceeding was DANGEROUS and was I really, really sure I wanted to do that. I initially thought this was just more Microsoft BS trying to force the world to use IE and Bing, but it quickly became apparent that something was wrong. I couldn't get to any website, even Microsoft websites. Bill Gates came in for another round of curses, as did his mother.

I had a copy of Firefox on my Drobo, so I gave that a try. Same result, although I was able to plow through and get Chrome loaded. That also proved futile; Chrome had no better luck than the other two browsers. I tried to update Windows; unknown error occurred. I tried to update IE; unknown error occurred. I tried to update Firefox; unknown error occurred. By now, I was cursing Bill Gates, his mother, his grandmother, and his entire linage back to the Pilgrims. (And no, I have no idea if Bill Gates is descended from one of the original Pilgrims, but at this point, logic wasn't playing a big role in what was running around in my skull.)

OK, enough. I flipped the TV over to the port my computer was plugged into and hit the power button.


No "click" when I hit the button, no lights, no fans, no nuttin'. Crap.

Debbie was already logged in at work, so I couldn't use her computer. I turned everything off and went outside and did yard work. I was fairly certain that my rake, broom and reel mower would work, but I was still a little apprehensive. Luckily, they all "booted up" fine. So that's how I spent most of the day.

That evening, I had my end-of-tax-season party, and the next morning we left on a two-night cruise that Debbie had won at work, so there things sat until we got back on Saturday. Figuring magic faeries or gnomes or something had fixed things while we were gone, I made another go at it. No improvement. One completely dead PC, one PC with non-functional internet, and one aging laptop running an unsupported version of Windows. I jumped on Debbie's laptop and started Google-ing around. I kept running into information on fixing problems with SSL certificates on the server side, but nothing from the client side. After a half-dozen or so rearrangements of the same search terms, I finally hit something promising. Except the fix looked like it was written by a half-Chinese, half-Klingon mutant with twelve fingers and a broken keyboard: Change the router's pishnaj setting from "M88t^h" to "U$(g74". And so on for about a screen and an half. I hadn't the slightest idea what he was talking about, and in any case, I was pretty sure my router's "pishnaj" had nothing to do with the problem when Debbie's laptop, running through the same router, was working fine.

Scrolling down, I saw another reply that listed several reasons why a browser would think every site had expired credentials. One item mentioned checking the PC's date. I had checked the date; it was OK. The time was off a couple hours and in the wrong time zone, but I thought I had fixed all that. But never hurts to check again. I walk over and look at the date and time: April 20th and the time was the same as the cable box. Then I looked a little closer:


You have got to be KIDDING ME! I just wasted hours chasing my tail and cursing the entire Gate's family tree because Win7 thought the year was nine and a half years before Win7 was created?

So yea. Fix that and everything magically works. Twelve hours or so of downloading updates and rebooting and installing everything Debbie will need to switch over to this system, and all is well.

With one system, at least. Our main system was still DOA. I opened the case, took one look inside, and decided I didn't have the time* or patience for that anymore. Not to mention that I've shed most of the weird little tools and gadgets for disassembling and testing PC parts. A neighbor recommended a place right around the corner that didn't try to take your first-born just to look over a system. I needed to buy a second monitor for Debbie's new PC anyway, so off my system went to the shop. In about five minutes, he had it diagnosed and priced out. Dead power supply. Best $100 I ever spent and it will be ready by tomorrow afternoon.

*As to why I don't have the time, it looks like I will be starting to work for the park tomorrow. They wanted me to start today, but I told them I needed Monday to get some things done, like dropping my PC off at the shop and buying Debbie's monitor, and laundry and unpacking and and and. I wasn't supposed to start until a week from Monday, but one of the maintenance guys just found out he has cancer and will be starting immediate treatments. So instead of being the extra person that is supposed to get everything caught up around here, I'm just getting the headcount back up to what it was last summer. Wheee.

Well, I need to go make dinner.

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