Stupid Goofs

People used to ask me if I’m “good at computers”. I came to resent it a little. I think they thought they could never be good at it, a genderal issue, like we have to be inhuman to be “good at computers”. They never asked if I’m “good at pencils.” I told a few people that I was born at canal no. 7, got bored, and went to Earth.

The Old Switcheroo

My Wi-Fi was not working. The switch on the side was in the on position. The BIOS had internal Wi-Fi on. Two or three USB Wi-Fi devices were plugged in at different times. At least one used the driver already included in the operating system already on the machine or was supposed to. The hardware port worked. The USB Wi-Fi worked on another machine. Still, no Wi-Fi yet. My stupidity was that the side switch was in the on position but was not actually on. Apparently, sliding it off and then on solved it. Granted, that means there’s a defect in the slider, maybe a grain of dirt, but it’s been fine since that one little fix.

The Lunatic Takes a Swing

This one wasn’t stupid, but it sure looked it. I swung a hammer a couple of times at the edge of a large printed circuit board of a proprietary phone system. It was sticking out of its case and most people would have gently wiggled it into place, but I’m not most people. Good luck getting parts for the system. I don’t think it was being made anymore. I don’t think the manufacturer was providing any support anymore. Good luck getting parts on my income at the time. Good luck telling a whole office to function without phones for a few days, as we had no alternative system. The way I swung the hammer looked random, not at all careful. That’s the kind of maneuver that gets people to tackle you to the floor and wrap duct tape around your wrists and mouth while they call a psychiatric hospital or the police or else they leave the room. This time, they left the room. A moment later, I announced that phones were working. I think they tested it. They knew me but they didn’t know I could fix a phone system. I didn’t know I could fix a phone system. I figured it out, though. We never got a manual, because $85 was too much for the office budget. I did most of that work at night, when no one would miss the phones for an hour or so. I did a lot of figuring out.

Stupid Rain

I take my laptop outside most days, in a backpack. (A computer case is almost screaming, "Steal me! Steal me!" Backpacks are common. Also, I don’t dress to be fancy.) Sometimes, it’s going to rain. Sonetimes, that’ll be a thunderstorm. I know the weather prediction for the day and night and I know it before I leave the house. I have plastic bags to protect my stuff. They’re free, when I shop at local stores. Doubled up, even with pinholes, the bags work well. I carry spares, too. For a thunderstorm, when it’s coming, I slip my laptop into a huge Ziploc bag, so huge I bought it at a large hardware store in a box of four, and it’s made of thick plastic. The zipper thing never worked, it has a red string that came out the first time I opened it, but the bag is so large I can wrap it around my laptop a couple of times, give or take, and the dry laptop stays dry through a thunderstorm.

Except that I don’t remember to move my laptop into my Ziploc bag, which is right there, a few inches away. Then I wonder why I didn’t pack it. Or I forget to pull the other bags over my papers. Then the papers get, um, er, uh, wet. I lose something like a half hour at home spreading everything out to dry and repacking it the next morning. Maybe the rain hates me and throws a ray beam at my brain just to confuse me.

Clouds in my Laptop: I’m as Brainless as the Rain

I’m stupider. I leave a store and walk right into a heavy rainstorm. It just started pouring, but the store will close and I don’t want to stand inside to pack my backpack against the rain. I had protected my stuff except for the most crucial step, and I’ve already prepared for it, but, being a moron, I think I can walk a few blocks to the subway without a problem. I have a large heavy-duty Ziploc bag, which I bought in a hardware store. It’s not for sandwiches. I can slide my laptop into it. The seal isn’t any good but I can wrap it around and that’ll do the job, as long as I don’t drown in an ocean. But, being the aforesaid moron, I don’t slip my laptop into the Ziploc.

That was probably late in . Nine months later, water is still in the display. I can see it without power. It’s a bit like sky cloud outlines, especially in the beginning.

The laptop, a Dell Latitude E6400, gets warm on the bottom, but the display doesn’t. And I don’t want to apply heat to the display; I have no idea what that would do and don’t care to foot the bill for an experiment. I’m glad I didn’t let it freeze.

I dismantled the lid and got the display panel out. I followed Dell’s instructions. I took the lid apart and got down to the one component. But that component looked sealed and I didn’t think I could do anything about the water already inside. I reassembled it, the laptop now didn’t work at all, I took it apart again, I think I fixed the new problem by reseating a connector with many pins, and got the laptop working again.

And there’s less water than there was. I think the trapped water is so thin that the LCD likely gives off just enough heat to vaporize some of the thin water. When I carry my laptop in my backpack, the end with most of the visible water is upper, but the water doesn’t move inside.

It still interferes with what the computer draws on the display. It slightly distorts subtle graphics, but I don’t do much with that. It’s not so bad anymore. Maybe in another year it’ll be dry enough to be invisible.

I hope I get a little smarter at remembering to use the Ziploc bag.

The Other Frequency Range

I buy a Wi-Fi adapter for my laptop. I can get two networks I have permission to use, or, rather, I could in the past, but now my laptop recognizes only one, not the other, and I don’t even notice that this begins when I start using the new adapter. My other laptop, with its own internal adapter, is the other way around, and actually it gets both ranges but gets the other range more powerfully and thus more usefully. For weeks, maybe months, I’m puzzling about this, about both laptops but especially the one with the new external adapter. I’m geeky and should be able to figure it out, but somehow it escapes me.

I go online and read a bunch of websites for the free advice. The advice looks intelligent, but nothing quite tests out. It takes quite a while for me to realize that I bought the wrong product, or rather the right product but with the wrong expectation. The vendor’s description said that it was for one frequency range, not the two ranges that are used for Wi-Fi. The vendor was clear. I’d buy from that vendor’s website again. But I hadn’t noticed that some adapters work in only one range, some only in the other, and some in both.

So I completely missed the meaning of the vendor’s statement about which one this adapter was good for. I’m expecting advertising and retailers’ website copy to hype, so maybe that’s why I missed this statement. Maybe I’m responding as if an ad for water said “our water includes oxygen”. Yes, and so does tap water, and if I like the water supplier (like if I ever bought water, a concept I hardly even understand) maybe I’ll ignore that bit of hype and buy the good stuff anyway. I’m usually pretty good about reading what vendors say about what I’m about to buy, and this case reminds me why I still should.