Thursday, November 29, 2007

Things stop working

These days it seems to me that nothing is working.

Reminds me of a time almost 35 years ago when I had trouble with a particular computer. Back then, very few people owned a personal computer. I was an undergraduate in a new Computer Science department, and one of my professors owned a mini-computer, a PDP-8. It was available for student use, and we had to sign up in advance for 50 minute time slots.

Every time it was my turn, I would walk in, set my notebook on top of the console, and start to work. After just a few minutes, the machine would crash, and I would have to spend the rest of my time slot trying to get it working again.

I asked my fellow students, but no one else had that problem.

What was going on? It turns out, that you already know enough to figure it out, if you'd like to take a minute to think about it before reading on.

* * *

Yeah, it was the notebook on top of the console, causing it to overheat. Stopped putting the notebook on the console and never had the problem again.

It's not always quite so easy to figure out why something that always worked before doesn't work any more.

* * *

Recently, my email client software, Mozilla Thunderbird, has stopped doing its automatic updates. Here's what happens instead. Without telling me, it goes out to the network and downloads the latest version. Once that's all been received, it pops up this alert (interrupting whatever I happen to be doing at the time--ARGH!):

I've tried it both ways. Closing everything and giving it the go ahead, and clicking on Later. Choosing "Later" gives this response:

Okay, that's fine. Either way, I am always very careful to shut everything down before restarting Thunderbird.

Doesn't matter. It always fails. After a few moments, it lets me know that it didn't work. Again. I've lost track of how many times it has tried. The bottom line is that Mozilla Thunderbird update doesn't work.

The error message is not helpful. All other applications ARE closed. WHICH files do I need permission to modify? It doesn't say!

And, I have no confidence that restarting Thunderbird makes it actually try again. Because all future attempts to restart Thunderbird happen without incident. And yet, over and over again, it is downloading and readying the update. Only to put me through the same process and the same failure yet again.

Where can I turn for help with this kind of problem?


Nancy said...

I love thunderbird! :) I'm sorry you're having such problems with it...have you tried the calendar thing? I haven't yet, but Andrew uses it.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, that sounds annoying. You could try searching google for other people having the same error. If you don't find anything, then you could just reinstall it. The version that you would download would likely be the most up to date, and you could bypass the problem that way.