Blue Screens and Web Apps

My laptop, which I fear is on its last legs, got a little servicing today from Dell. It'd been blue screening frequently since, well, since Dell last visited me two months ago (broken fan -> overheating laptop). I'm going to assume that's just a coincidence, although the timing is suspicious...

I tried reinstalling windows first, of course, but then it blue screened when I tried to reinstall. Excellent! At least Dell can't tell me it's a software issue...

I ran some tests and then Dell ran some more tests, to discover that absolutely every test passed. Wonderful! (Paraphasing)

Gayle: "All the tests passed."
Dell: "Ok, well we'll send out a technician to replace the hard drive and the CPU."
Gayle: "Ok, but we ran two separate hard drive tests and they both passed."
Dell: "Sometimes the tests skip over things."
Read: Dell is taking shots in the dark right now. Excellent.

One new hard drive and reinstall later, I'm in the process of getting my computer back up to a liveable state. It's much easier now than it was a year or two ago. There's less to install because of web-based apps, and it's easier to reinstall those few things.

  • Pictures: I use Picasa. Quick, easy install. Man I love Picasa / Picasaweb - have I mentioned that? More on that another time :-).
  • Word Processing: Somewhere, amongst piles and piles of CDs, I have the Word and Excel. I think. Google Docs & Spreadsheets works better for most things anyway (since I can access my files from other computers), so I'll hold off on installing Office for now.
  • Email: I weened myself off Outlook years ago (I used to be a big fan, but then it broke on me) and have been using Gmail for a long time.
  • Calendar: Google Calendar. Love it!
  • Web Browsing: Firefox. Installed.
  • Programming: For non-work things, I use .NET and Visual Studio. I recently moved my two websites (Social/Conduct and CareerCup) over to ASP.NET 2.0, which means that I can just use Visual Studio Express. Good thing too - the regular Visual Studio took sooo long to install.
  • IM: My friends are split between Google Talk, AIM and Windows Live Messenger.
    • Google Talk: I do prefer the windows client, so I downloaded that - small, quick, easy.
    • AIM: While a lot of applications don't significantly improve with each version, AIM was one of the few which actually got worse. Installing was always a hassle because you have to find the appropriately old version of AIM and then match that to the right version of DeadAIM (a plugin that adds some nice features). Gmail Chat now has AIM integration - I think I'll just stick with that.
    • Windows Live Messenger: Oh my this was hard to install! I download the installer (WLInstaller.exe) and open it. It starts a webpage with my default browser (firefox, of course) and then tells me that I need to use IE 5.0 or greater. Well, damn. Do I really have to change my default browser just to install Windows Live Messenger? Come on now. I eventually track down another site that offers the install file directly.

I'll probably get around to installing Office at some point, and maybe AIM as well. But if I had to pay a few hundred bucks for Office, would I buy it? Probably not. We really are getting increasingly close to the idea of the dummy terminal.