Where does my brain stop and my computer begin?

Posted on April 15, 2009. Filed under: Games, Health, HowTo, Musings |


If you’ve read this blog for any length of time (thank you!) you will have seen me discuss “computer issues” (I refuse to call them “problems”; each situation is a learning experience, right?)

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I had a thing or two to say to this gentleman, yesterday…but it was, really, my fault. I sort of accidentally installed Internet Explorer 8 at the same time as I installed a new version of America Online. Now, for my own personal browsing, and quite a bit of my work, and this blog, I happily use Mozilla Firefox which bathes me in goodwill and browsing bliss. But, a couple of client’s email lists are maintained on AOL, and thus I need to have their rather boated program on my machine. There are actually some nice features on AOL—I know various people have various feelings about it.

But, in order to run, AOL requires the mind control and world domination browsing software known as Microsoft Internet Explorer.ย  As I was installing the latest version of AOL, 9.5, (which, let’s face it, I really didn’t need yet, but oh well), up popped a little box asking me if I wanted to “upgrade” my Internet Explorer at the same time. Silly me! I read “upgrade” as “update” and thought (actually didn’t think much about it) that there were a few little tweaks and fixes available for my current version. Gosh knows IE can use a few tweaks. So I checked “YES”.

Folks, do not do this (unless you’re much more tech-savvy than I am; which nearly everyone is; and you’ll tell me that my subsequent…issues, have nothing to do with this; however you’ll still need to explain why, coincidentally, they started right after this install). Choose one or the other; not both! You can always go back and “upgrade” anything you need to later.

Along with my shiny new IE8, I also got a new toolbar. What is it with these toolbars? Almost every piece of software gives me the “opportunity” to obtain a toolbar upon installation. Most programs, if I do a “custom” install, which I almost always do, give me the option of not adding yet another bar to the already crowded top of my screen. I’ve turned down AOL, Yahoo, Google, and a couple of others. In IE8, there is no option not to install, surprise, MSN toolbar. There’s a little note in the “user agreement” (you know the one where you have to click on “I accept”, even though, admit it, you HAVE NOT READ IT, and about 17 paragraphs in it says you may not actually USE the software for anything useful?) which says that I must UNINSTALL the toolbar AFTER the main install should I not wish to have it.

I wouldn’t mind these toolbars if they offered some actual tools. I could use a nice miter saw, a self-adjusting wrench, and a new pair of needle-nose pliers. But no, these toolbars generally (with some admittedly useful exceptions) offer me the opportunity to get to sites I don’t want to visit 1.5 seconds faster than if I just typed the name into my searchbar.

Uh, OK, where was I…oh, yeah, so I installed all this stuff, and later proceeded to do one of my jobs. I had a rather simple task: write a weekly update email for a client, and send it out to their mailing list of about 900 people. Easy-peasy. It took me six hours! AOL kept closing itself, I couldn’t get to it through Explorer (“the software has encountered an error and must shut down. Our boss says we have to apologize for the inconvenience, but we don’t really want to because, let’s face it, it’s kinda common, and why apologize for normalcy, you know?, but anyway we’re sorry.”) I’d just get ready to send out a batch, and bye-bye browser.

Finally, at 4:02 am, US Pacific time, which we are, at the moment (Did you know that most of Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time?) it was done. This newsletter was already a day late because of my personal computer—alright, I’ll admit it—problems, and I didn’t want to go to bed until my task was accomplished. Fortunately for me, a lot of my working hours are flexible, and I got to sleep in until 9:35, at which time a large unpleasant quail decided to perch near my window, and sing her morning song to me. But that’s another post.

So, I turned the computer on, and typed this all up, as a way of explaining why I haven’t been online much, at least for personal fun and blogging and commenting in the past couple of days.

I’m just so subliminally wired now though, as you are too (I can tell, because you’re reading a blog! online!), that having ones ubiquitous machines stop working well is almost as injurious as smashing ones toes! My brain hurts. (That’s a line from Monty Python; brains don’t really hurt.)

The last thing I did before I finally went to bed is uninstall IE8. And install it again. Wish me luck!—oh, that didn’t work. I’m going to try to post this before it crashes again…arguhnh!!!ย ย  blorp.


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33 Responses to “Where does my brain stop and my computer begin?”

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hahaha… it’s amazing how you make a misfortune like that into such an entertaining read. i’d have been moaning and cursing about it on my blog instead!

Way back when, when AOL was tiny and just for Macs, I was a beta tester for their PC version. And back then it ran on a now-defunct OS called Geoworks, which was Windows for the Rest of Us, meaning those with 286s and 386s that Win 3.0 didn’t like. And even then AOL took forever (we called it America on Hold) and even then it made simple things difficult. But it wasn’t bloated. Not with Geoworks.

Tee-hee; thank you, sulz! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad you found it entertaining. I find a lot of life pretty funny, although I do have my moments. I try to get all the moaning and cursing out of the way before I write my post! ๐Ÿ˜›

Wow, that’s a cool story, ella! I didn’t know AOL was just for Macs first. I’ve never had any sort of Apple computer, although I lust after them. My very first email account was on AOL. We didn’t “browse” much in those days, as we were charged by the minute. I still have that same email address (since 1994) for family and friends. Goodness, a beta tester back then. I didn’t know what a beta tester WAS then. ๐Ÿ˜‰

As a luddite who works in technology, I am sooooo sorry for what you’ve been going through, ME. I’m reluctant to say yes to any pop-up window and sometimes don’t even allow my own programs to load. You have my deepest sympathies. I’d probably hit the redo button in my control panel and start all over again as if nothing had ever happened. But who knows what new adventures that might bring!

Good luck, ma chere amie.

Ronnie Ann

Oh no, Muse. I can relate, I’m sure you remember my Vista “issues.” I am so sorry, it is frustrating isn’t it?
But that picture is hilarious!
I hope you get back up and running soon.

Hmmmmm – why, exactly do you have to use IE for these mails, Muse? By all means mail me privately if you want to – but generally – if people are sane and having AOL means you’re not – use AOL as the ISP and everything else, like Firefox to do browsing etc. From reading the post that is what you do anyway – I am slightly stumped as to why though.

If it is a computability issue for AOLs atrocious web based mail you have a couple of things you can do – 1, use popmail to receive the mails and send mails – all you need for that is AOLs pop and smtp servers which should be available and set that up directly on your PC through outlook express or Mozilla Thunderbird pop clients.

2, if you download Opera Browser that works almost identically as IE but is far better than IE – it accepts actives etc.

If this doesn’t help – then as I say, mail me directly, Muse, and I will look into it for you ๐Ÿ™‚

As an aside Re: toolbars.

I had a client who called up complaining about how her screen was getting smaller and smaller and was really pissed that when we had gone to see her to do the maintenance stuff we hadn’t seen this. As this had been a problem for some time.

I went out after asking the normal question about resolution etc – she was even more pissed when she changed them and it had got worse – “Just get one of your guys out here – YOU DON’T KNOW HOW ANGRY I AM RIGHT NOW!!!!!!”

I went out and looked at the suspect PC and asked what was wrong, “What!?” She screamed! “Can’t you see!!!!!!! I have to scroll down and down – it’s like a letter box for Christ’s sake!”

I did ask who else used this PC – her son did – “Ah – I said, let me show you why you shouldn’t allow your son to use the Admin account.”

In the remove programs were 13, yes 13 toolbars that he had downloaded and installed. Now, when a client installs them you normally think they are going to use them. She said she had no clue as to what they were.

After removing them and rebooting – and getting rid of all the spyware he had installed – she asked what would be a good password to add to the Admin account, I gave her the same one as she had removed so her son could use the PC.

And that cost her 200 quid!

I also suffer from on-line stress since networking is part of my job. Now suddenly, MS starts goofing up your pc just when you’re brain is already starting to fry! So I see where you’re coming from
Muse :-).
About MSN, I put it on the Firefox NoScript untrusted list because it kept intruding like a dictator. Why don’t you do that too?

I’m finding myself using Firefox more and more these days. I’m using a combo of IE6 and the latest Firefox. I never did upgrade IE because I didn’t like the change in the layout of everything on it from IE6 to IE7. Perhaps now that I’m beginning to like Firefox and using it more, I should just make the jump and upgrade IE. But of course why even use IE if I have Firefox? lol, I think it’s only because old habits are very hard to break ๐Ÿ˜† It’s almost an instinct for me to double click the ‘e’ icon for the internet.

I share your dislike for toolbars. I wish programs wouldn’t include them in the installations, even if they give you the option of opting out, but would rather just leave it to us to go and download them if we wanted them.

Oh, computers! This is why me and technology don’t mix!

I hope you’re having more luck now?

Lol! The horror of software, and why is it mostly Microsoft software? Hmmm… I wonder. ๐Ÿ˜›

Well it was quite brave of you to reinstall IE8 after all that trouble. You’re quite a patient person Muse I presume.

When it comes to browsers, I stick to my FireFox for tools and work related browsing, and Google Chrome for fast browsing. I personally think all IE browsers are retarded. They are the most hated by web designers and developers because they always need special css adjustment done to your project to be rendered properly on IE.

So goodluck on round 2 with IE8. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ronnie Ann, I accept your deep and heartfelt sympathy! I did in fact finally reinstall my operating system (Windows XP, service pack 3, as it happens). Like getting a new computer, but time consuming. I appreciate your “adventure” comment. It certainly has been one. And thanks for the luck! ๐Ÿ˜€

I’m running now, BD. The computer is working well, but me—not as much! It’s been quite a time getting caught up! I’m starting to settle down a bit now, though, thank you!

Will, thank you for such a detailed response!!! The short answer is that these two email lists belong to clients who like them on AOL for their own reasons. But, I will send you an email with the backstory in a couple of days. Thanks so much for the offer. (You’re not going to charge me 200 quid, are you?) ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Your toolbar story was hilarious. That poor woman. Still, she needn’t have gotten so irate at you lot, when she was that clueless. ๐Ÿ˜€

I appreciate the sympathy, poch. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I don’t know what it is about MSN and Outlook Express, for instance. I know some people like them, but they seem to have compatibility issues—with me! ๐Ÿ™‚

Another Firefox convert, Shane! I like it a lot. I’ve been using it for several years and am still finding out things about it. As it turns out, when I reinstalled my OS, I left the IE7 alone. I had reinstalled 8, but, I didn’t want to put it there after I’d wiped my hard drive, since all my woes started then. I’m happily using Firefox for almost everything, and that blue “e” just sits there…Maybe you should put the “e” in the bin so it won’t tempt you on the desktop! (HaHa) After all IE will still be in your computer if you really want it! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am, thanks B0bby. Up and running and way behind… ๐Ÿ˜• You don’t mix with tech? You seem to do very well, blogging-wise. ๐Ÿ™‚

I am rather patient, thanks, Tazzy, but my bravery only lasted one day. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I started again the next day with a clean system, and I don’t know why I don’t do that more often, it’s sooo nice having all the unnecessary files gone. I haven’t tried Chrome, yet—FF seems adequate for what I do. That’s so true about tweaking web pages to display properly. I’ll view one I’ve just put up in FF, then switch to Explorer to check it out (another reason to have it) and, bleh! ๐Ÿ˜€

Erm, how do I put this…

I feel so bad for you guys using Windows. Macs are better…

…that is, if you don’t do anything with your computer.

Seriously though, IE is just about the worst program of all time. No joke. I haven’t used it on my (Windows) machine since 2004.

Leaps- I strongly agree with what you say.
I’m on Windows too but changing OS is very toilsome.
That’s why I advice people to choose their OS carefully before buying. You’re virtually stuck with it after you choose!

I think my previous comment ended up in your spam…

Hey, leap. Thanks for feeling our pain. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well, I like FF, so I don’t use IE, much, but I do like to see how things appear there, it’s helpful.

True, poch, it’s not just IE, which we can choose to use or not, but also Windows Whatever. Well, there’s always Linux… ๐Ÿ™‚

Hmmm, I didn’t see it there, Juan, and I do scan the spam before deleting, so unless you tried to sell me V i a g r a or something, you should have been there. Sorry, man, don’t know what happened. And now this one is here?!? What did you say in the other comment โ“ Looks like you got a new avatar to go with your new blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

No, I didn’t try to sell you any of those things. At least I don’t remember trying… unless I got possessed by the evil spammer demon while I was typing me comment.

I was just asking if you have considered exporting your mailing list and use an online service instead. The advantage would be that you wouldn’t need to install anything on your computer.

I linked to a site that reviews some of them and thought that perhaps you might want to check them out.

Stupid Akismet, ate my comment.

Let me try again. The URL is:


Maybe one of those can be of use to you?

@Will : Wow!! you charged 200 quid to just do that?!?!

Muse: Nice post.entertaining! ๐Ÿ™‚ Btw, I think that quail wanted to wish you a good morning!

Be careful Muse. I smell a rat.


I apologize for the double post. It didn’t appear after I submitted it, so I assumed it went to your spam and that’s why I posted it again. Please delete the duplicate.


I sincerely hope you were not referring to me when you said you smelled a “rat.” You don’t know me, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

If you think I’m trying to get Muse to visit a questionable site just because the words “email” and “marketing” appear in the URL, you are mistaken. By making the URL unclickable I was not only trying to NOT make it easy to lead traffic to that site, but to make whoever was interested in actually checking it out to copy and paste the URL and take it from there. Besides, SiteAdvisor has flagged that website green, so I believe it’s pretty safe to visit it.

If you’re comment wasn’t referring to me. I sincerely apologize for the confusion, and I’m left to ask you to please ignore mine.

Juan, oh dear! I wonder what happened. I’ve deleted your duplicate, as you requested. All three went to spam this morning, and I don’t know why! I have my filter set to accept up to three links from previous commenters, and you only had one. I’m sorry this happened to you. Thank you very much for your persistence, and for sharing the information about email list managers; I shall look them over. I really would like to have less “stuff” on my computer! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hi Apar! He’s expensive, but I’m sure Will is worth every penny! ๐Ÿ˜› You are right about the quail. If I weren’t grumpy at the time, I would have appreciated that s/he waited that long to sing to me! ๐Ÿ˜€

Thanks for looking out for my interests, poch. Juan is an old friend, a great designer, and all-around good guy, so no worries there. I was only teasing him about the spam, as I know him, but that wouldn’t be clear to those who don’t, so I apologize for the confusion! ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks again, Juan. You have never been anything but kind and helpful to me, and you’re welcome here any time.

Muse, you forgot to mention: a great programmer as well ๐Ÿ˜‰

Humble much? Pleeze!

No, but seriously, I do appreciate your kind words. And whenever I can, I’ll look for more email managers that might interest you and will email them to ya.


I’m very sorry Juan! I didn’t know you’re Muse’s friend. It’s just that I was receiving a lot of spam mails and blogs yesterday I got too careful.
Welcome and forgive me please ๐Ÿ™‚

Much! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well, Juan, I don’t have any direct experience of your programming expertise, so I’ll just have to take your word for it. ๐Ÿ˜› Thank you!

I’ve been getting more email spam, too, poch. It seems neverending lately! Thank you. It touches me that you were concerned about my online safety. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s funny how solving computer problems can turn our brains into prison-food. Luckily for me, I’ll be taking a college course on how to avoid it, like a hoon avoiding turning little kids into less-than-edible strawberry topping on the road as he speeds down it, just a few seconds before the school home-rush. Thank goodness there’s Firefox ๐Ÿ˜€

Hello Virgilius Sade, and welcome. I’ve read your comments at a mutual friend’s place. I concur about Firefox! Your metaphors are startling and evocative… (!) A class in avoiding turning your brain into mush, or in avoiding computer problems? ๐Ÿ˜›

Both, because if I did nothing, my brain wouldn’t qualify as mush, but prison food. Or the near-solid equivalent of a prison delicacy known as pruno.

Blogging is an education. Not having been incarcerated or worked in one, I did not know that. I did tour one once, but they didn’t offer us lunch. My favorite part was the fish pond which had sunk into the earth. “What happened to the fish?” I wanted to know. “No, you don’t”, they replied. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Knowing my levels of morbid curiosity, I’d like to know about the fishies too, but I already have an answer, and it’s not for the kiddies either! ๐Ÿ˜›

V S: ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

ha ha ha…

I’m glad you liked it, masha. ๐Ÿ™‚

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