Windows Technical Support calls me again

“Oh, so you think you’re Mr. Genius Man,” the crackly voice said, drowned out by static caused by his cheap VOIP connection. “Enjoy your broken computer, Mr. Genius Man. Goodbye, Mr. Genius Man.”

So ended 23 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back, but I figure it’s 23 minutes he wasn’t spending scamming someone else. I don’t do it often, but my kids were playing nicely and we were all in the same room, so I guess I don’t regret it too much.

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How to start over with MySQL in Debian

I got my new 64-bit web server up and running today. Now the main task that remains is to get my data moved over to it. I talked myself into going with an Apache setup, since one program I want to run (Webtrees) is designed for Apache and its search engine optimization seems to work better under Apache than Nginx. It’s fast anyway; displaying the 17-person family of Andrew Davis McQueen of Leesville, Mo., briefly consumes 2% of the available CPU time in Webtrees with the APC PHP cache installed and enabled. And that should get better, seeing as newer, faster, better versions of both Apache and PHP were released in the last month.

As I built my new 64-bit web server, I messed up MySQL a couple of times. When you break MySQL beyond repair, here’s how to start over with a fresh MySQL install and a fresh /var/lib/mysql without doing a Windows-like reformat and reinstall of the entire operating system:

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How to make your laptop more reliable (or at least die trying)

People have been asking me a lot of notebook/laptop questions lately, so I figure it’s probably a good time for me to write about them. I’ll tackle reliability first, then I’ll tackle upgrades.

About five years ago, I wrote and published a newspaper column titled, “10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy a Laptop.” I still think the best way to get a reliable computer is to skip the laptop and get a desktop, but since people are going to buy laptops anyway, here’s what I’ve learned about keeping them reliable.