How I broke my computer at 12 years old



  • @cartman82 posted about power users rooting through his services and disabling random ones to improve performance, totally screwing up his ability to fully access the network (and probably other unnoticed things).

    Well, I have a story like that on my own, but seeing as I was 12 years old at the time, it was even stupider than that. My parents had bought a new family computer for us a couple years prior, with this brand spanking new operating system called Windows 95. Windows 95 crashes a lot. Especially when you push it to the limit. It relied heavily on swap space and paging since you had 8-16 Mb of memory to work with, but hard drives of the time had 512MB, sometimes as much as a GB if you had something higher end.

    The computer was a few years old, and I had stuffed the hard drive with silly .wav files with my voice recordings, tons of random documents, and "high res" pictures (a whole 480x360 with 32-bit color!). Windows 95 started complaining about the disk space getting low, and it would sometimes even crash because of its tendency to clog up the temp directory and fail to allocate swap space. So, I did what my father always recommended: delete temp files, and make sure you empty the recycling bin... but the disk space was still critically low. I had already compressed the drive from the last time this happened, and compressing it further would not help.

    So, I had to seek other places to clean up some clutter. My Documents had my precious wav files and documents! I couldn't get rid of them! I looked elsewhere. I uninstalled some games I wasn't using... saving me a grand total of 2 MB. Hardly enough to make a scratch. As I looked deeper into the rabbit hole that was my C:\ drive, I noticed \Windows. Now, I knew that was the OS files, and my father did tell me that .dll files were very important in a computer, but I did notice some .tmp files in the Windows directory. Windows 95 (and probably applications created by idiot developers) would just use whatever directory they wanted for temp files. This predated UAT and sandboxing, so back in those days you could actually write to the C:\Windows directory without a problem.

    So, I cleaned up those tmp files. I was pretty proud of myself. But, what's this? .sys files? Those aren't dlls. What happens when I double click them?

    [Windows does not know how to open this file]
    [Please select a program to open this file with]
    [...........................................................................]

    Huh... well, this file can't be that important. Even Windows doesn't know what to do with it. Unlike ini files which open with notepad and do look important. [DELETED] Into the Recycle Bin himem.sys goes.

    It couldn't have been important. I remember in health class learning about something that sounds like himem, and it's something sexual. I bet that was a virus!

    Let's move on... wow, there are a lot of .sys files. And each and every one of them are unknown to Windows. Let's delete them all. I went to C:\Windows\Drivers and... holy crap. There's like a hundred of these stupid files. Adding up to a decent 25 Mb! I've hit the jackpot!

    In the end, I reclaimed some 70Mb of space, and as a bonus, got to keep my moronic recordings and Word documents! Score!

    There were no adverse effects immediately. Windows had most of the critical files cached in memory. As the day moved on, it would encounter a missing file it was trying to access and balk at me, but seeing it was Windows 95, I was used to that kind of tomfoolery anyways. Sure, it was a little more frequent than usual, but I didn't worry too much about it.

    Then it came time to reboot.

    Boot up sequence goes as expected until:

    Cannot find himem.sys
    

    Followed by a neverending flashing cursor. Uh oh. I was in denial though. Those files were unrecognized by Windows, so why would it need it? I tried different things before finally getting my father to come and fix it.

    At first he thought something corrupted Windows. Or perhaps it was some kind of hard drive issue. That is until he interrogated me. Eventually I fessed up. He was flabbergasted. His solution was to get a recovery boot disk, and tediously copy the .sys files from his own computer to the family computer, each time booting it up to see what else was missing. It took hours, and because the version of Windows 95 he had in his office didn't perfectly match the version in the family room, he had his doubts the computer would ever run the same ever again.

    He was right. The computer eventually booted up to Windows 95, but every so often there was a glitch or some kind of error that served as a reminder of what I did that fateful day. The computer was at least usable, just not very reliable and clunked out a few times. I learned an important lesson that day, and to this day every time I see a system file, whether it's a dll, ini, or whatever else I'd always think... himem.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @the_quiet_one
    I hereby nominate "breaking the himem" as the term for losing your Computer Wrecking Virginity.



  • @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    At first he thought something corrupted Windows.

    Yep, first instincts are often correct.



  • @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    had 8-16 Mb of memory to work with, but hard drives of the time had 512MB,

    Kids these days... My first Windows computer had 2M of memory and a 10M (20?) hard drive. 512s weren't even a rumor.



  • @dcon said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    had 8-16 Mb of memory to work with, but hard drives of the time had 512MB,

    Kids these days... My first Windows computer had 2M of memory and a 10M (20?) hard drive. 512s weren't even a rumor.

    My 286 machine had 4MB RAM and 203MB harddisk. Compare with that, I think your machine ought to be a very expensive one.



  • @dcon said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Kids these days... My first Windows computer had 2M of memory and a 10M (20?) hard drive. 512s weren't even a rumor.

    Kids these days. My first computer that I ran Windows 1.x on was a PC-XT clone with 640kb and two 5.25" floppy drive. And a Turbo button to make it go to 8MHZ !

    640K ought to be enough for anybody



  • @izzion said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    breaking the your himem



  • @dcon My first PC had a 6.4GB (1998) dual spindle 5 1/2 inch hard drive called the "Quantum Bigfoot". My family didn't have a lot of money to scrape together then, so getting a PC was a big thing for me and I'm still grateful to my parents for making that sacrifice, even if I'd been looking one for years at that point.

    0_1506008888656_ed306522-e903-4101-9ba7-8e5c103cf0ce-image.png

    0_1506008952686_bc7ea9c3-e98d-47bd-9556-9598007b0d97-image.png

    Eventually a well-meaning chap I played counter-strike with was good enough to pass me a used 10GB drive he had to help me out.

    64MB ram, AMD K-3 450mhz. Fast processor but the PC was utterly hamstrung by so little memory, even then. I remember when Diablo 2 released, in single player I would freeze at the bosses for 2-4 minutes as the game loaded assets and in MP, I would more or less miss the entire fights.

    Upgrading the PC was how I got into IT in general. And how I cracked my processor on my first ever build attempt...I never made that mistake again, anyway.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    already compressed the drive from the last time this happened, and compressing it further would not help.

    Oh, you didn't try compressing the drive with DriveSpace3 and then putting your stuff in a .zip file? /glances around as if he's got something to hide...



  • @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @dcon said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Kids these days... My first Windows computer had 2M of memory and a 10M (20?) hard drive. 512s weren't even a rumor.

    Kids these days. My first computer that I ran Windows 1.x on was a PC-XT clone with 640kb and two 5.25" floppy drive. And a Turbo button to make it go to 8MHZ !

    640K ought to be enough for anybody

    I used those machines in school. But no Win1.x. Just DOS. I didn't get my first machine until after college.



  • @timebandit we started with an IBM PC: 512k memory (cost over 💯 to upgrade to 640k), one floppy drive, and a 4.77 MHz processor. No hard drive stock. CGA monitor. No turbo button.



  • @dcon said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    had 8-16 Mb of memory to work with, but hard drives of the time had 512MB,

    Kids these days... My first Windows computer had 2M of memory and a 10M (20?) hard drive. 512s weren't even a rumor.

    My first Windows computer had a 1GB harddisk! This was so big none of the kids at school would believe me.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @thegoryone said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    the "Quantum Bigfoot".

    Ah, fun times...



  • @tsaukpaetra The computer was a Compaq Presario 5186. Bose speakers. The speakers weren't as loud as the hard drive.


  • Impossible Mission Players - A

    @thegoryone said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @tsaukpaetra The computer was a Compaq Presario 5186. Bose speakers. The speakers weren't as loud as the hard drive.

    Mine was an HP Pavilion of some kind, nice tall tower, tiny power button. It was great until I tried sticking the wrong kind of memory into it and the poor thing literally warbled its death as I turned it on.

    Scared me shitless.



  • @benjamin-hall said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    CGA monitor.

    I remember using an Hercule video card with a TTL monochrome monitor to use Lotus123 in 132 columns mode 😲



  • @dcon said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    had 8-16 Mb of memory to work with, but hard drives of the time had 512MB,

    Kids these days... My first Windows computer had 2M of memory and a 10M (20?) hard drive. 512s weren't even a rumor.

    It wasn't the first Windows family computer. We had a Windows 3.1 computer before that. No clue what the specs were, but it was 1992 vintage IIRC. Before that it was MSDOS, and I have some early memories from when I was 2-3 years old playing games on the Commodore 64.



  • @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Windows 95 crashes a lot. Especially when you push it to the limit. It relied heavily on swap space and paging since you had 8-16 Mb of memory to work with, but hard drives of the time had 512MB, sometimes as much as a GB if you had something higher end.

    ... you sure?

    Our home computer of that era had a 160 MB HD, and we considered that large. 512 MB seems more like a Windows 2000-era thing.


    I broke my mom's work computer twice. (Well, I didn't break it, but it had the legendarily broken System 7.0 installed on it.)

    One of the new features in System 7 is instead of having to use that horrible old Font/DA Manager app to install new fonts, you could just drag the font files into System Folder/Fonts and presto, they're available to all applications. So obviously you'd remove a font by simply dragging it out of System Folder/Fonts, right?

    ... nope. Doing that renders the OS unbootable.



  • @blakeyrat said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Windows 95 crashes a lot. Especially when you push it to the limit. It relied heavily on swap space and paging since you had 8-16 Mb of memory to work with, but hard drives of the time had 512MB, sometimes as much as a GB if you had something higher end.

    ... you sure?

    I could be confusing one computer with another. I do know for a fact we had a gigabyte drive before 1998, though, but that might have been with a newer computer or perhaps an upgrade to the one I'm referring to in this story.

    @blakeyrat said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Our home computer of that era had a 160 MB HD, and we considered that large. MB GB seems more like a Windows 2000-era thing.


    I broke my mom's work computer twice. (Well, I didn't break it, but it had the legendarily broken System 7.0 installed on it.)

    One of the new features in System 7 is instead of having to use that horrible old Font/DA Manager app to install new fonts, you could just drag the font files into System Folder/Fonts and presto, they're available to all applications. So obviously you'd remove a font by simply dragging it out of System Folder/Fonts, right?

    ... nope. Doing that renders the OS unbootable.

    Was there at least a way to recover? Like going into safe mode, or a recovery disk to repair the configuration? Anything?



  • @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Anything?

    sure: re-install the OS



  • More on topic than my last post:

    My little brother was known to randomly hit buttons (he was 4 or so). On windows 3.1, deleting the icons also deleted the underlying files (since it was just a thin shell). I reinstalled things so many time...

    I also once accidentally deleted an important system library (on Linux) before moving a replacement into place. Yeah, that didn't work so well. When mv is not found...


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @tsaukpaetra said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @thegoryone said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    the "Quantum Bigfoot".

    Ah, fun times...

    For you they were just last month.



  • @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Was there at least a way to recover? Like going into safe mode, or a recovery disk to repair the configuration? Anything?

    I don't know, the poor IT guy at my mom's work had to fix it.

    I broke it twice in the same way before I realized what specific action I did was responsible. (Of course it wouldn't crash right away, it'd be fine until you tried to reboot.)


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    @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @dcon said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Kids these days... My first Windows computer had 2M of memory and a 10M (20?) hard drive. 512s weren't even a rumor.

    Kids these days. My first computer that I ran Windows 1.x on was a PC-XT clone with 640kb and two 5.25" floppy drive. And a Turbo button to make it go to 8MHZ !

    640K ought to be enough for anybody

    I'm a millenial, and my first computer was a KIM-1. Get off my lawn.



  • @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    I'm a millenial, and my first computer was a KIM-1. Get off my lawn.

    My first computer was a COCO2.

    Unless you count an Atari 2600 as a computer.

    I'm staying on your lawn !


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    @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    I'm a millenial, and my first computer was a KIM-1. Get off my lawn.

    My first computer was a COCO2.

    Unless you count an Atari 2600 as a computer.

    I'm staying on your lawn !

    It was a TRS-80 after that. No color.



  • @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    It was a TRS-80 after that. No color.

    Which model ?


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    @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    It was a TRS-80 after that. No color.

    Which model ?

    Model III.

    Last time I started it up, the back of it caught on fire. Damn shame, but those display components were old.



  • I wish I knew the specs of my first PC. Alas, I was too young to remember. I only know it was some PC with 16MHz processor and a Turbo button that overclocked it to 40MHz. Those numbers don't match any generation of Intel CPUs I could find on the internet. And it had removable (although not hot-swappable, as I learned the hard way) hard disk.



  • @gąska said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    I only know it was some PC with 16MHz processor and a Turbo button that overclocked it to 40MHz.

    Sounds like a PC-AT with a 80286 if my memory is right


  • :belt_onion:

    @gąska said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    I only know it was some PC with 16MHz processor and a Turbo button that overclocked it to 40MHz. Those numbers don't match any generation of Intel CPUs I could find on the internet.

    That's weird because those numbers seem very familiar to me. I suspect I had the same.

    Edit: undefined



  • @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Last time I started it up, the back of it caught on fire. Damn shame, but those display components were old.

    Probably still fixable. Hope you kept it.


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    @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Last time I started it up, the back of it caught on fire. Damn shame, but those display components were old.

    Probably still fixable. Hope you kept it.

    That I did. I wonder if I can still get it repaired at RadioShack.



  • @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    I wonder if I can still get it repaired at RadioShack

    🤣

    If you can find one still opened



    • C-64
    • Mac SE/30 (so fast compared to the normal SE! Also had a IIRC 4 MB HD in place of the second 3.5" drive)
    • Mac Classic (actually my mom's work computer)
    • One of those dumb Radio Shack PC-6 pocket computers (it was actually genuinely fun to play with, first computer on this list that was legit mine!)
    • Mac Quadra 610 (with 486 DOS Compat. card! I played Wizardry 6 on a Mac!)
    • Mac PowerPC ... something? 6110? 610? I can no longer remember. (Ironically, pretty sure this machine is in my basement right now.)
    • Mac PowerPC 4400 (second computer on this list that was mine!)
    • Generic Windows 98 PC with a K6 CPU at IIRC 500mhz or so?
    • Etc into the modern era. Macs continued to a G3 in that wacky blue case, then a dualie G4 in its wacky aluminum case, than OS X came out and fuck Apple. PCs continued with generic computers built generically by me.

    Actually that G5 aluminum case is really slick. Too bad it's not ATX.


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    @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    I wonder if I can still get it repaired at RadioShack

    🤣

    If you can find one still opened

    Closest 'authorized RadioShack dealer' is some other tech store 50 miles away.

    🤔 I remember when I went to Nicaragua a couple years ago, the local tech store was an actual functioning RadioShack. I wonder if I could get it repaired there.



  • I accidentally my dad's files from the family computer once. This was on Windows 98 I think.

    was some sort of synchronization feature. I was digging around and found it. LOL it's a briefcase that you can move files into. IIRC the files that you moved into it were still accessible at their original location. So I moved a lot of stuff into it, and then got bored and deleted the briefcase. BAM all the files gone.

    My dad's personal folder on that machine is still called "Dad's - Don't touch" to this day.



  • @dcon said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @dcon said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Kids these days... My first Windows computer had 2M of memory and a 10M (20?) hard drive. 512s weren't even a rumor.

    Kids these days. My first computer that I ran Windows 1.x on was a PC-XT clone with 640kb and two 5.25" floppy drive. And a Turbo button to make it go to 8MHZ !

    640K ought to be enough for anybody

    I used those machines in school. But no Win1.x. Just DOS. I didn't get my first machine until after college.

    In college I bought a used XT off of a friend. It couldn't even run Windows.

    I had GeoWorks:

    I can't believe there is an article written in the last decade about it ❗



  • @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    I'm a millenial, and my first computer was a KIM-1. Get off my lawn.

    My first computer was a COCO2.

    Unless you count an Atari 2600 as a computer.

    I'm staying on your lawn !

    It was a TRS-80 after that. No color.

    We had a TSR-80 in my elementary class and my grandmother had one.

    Aww, when I was programming such mission-critical apps as making my name scroll in an infinite loop.


  • And then the murders began.

    @the_quiet_one said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    His solution was to get a recovery boot disk, and tediously copy the .sys files from his own computer to the family computer, each time booting it up to see what else was missing. It took hours, and because the version of Windows 95 he had in his office didn't perfectly match the version in the family room, he had his doubts the computer would ever run the same ever again.

    Could be worse. I'm still not sure exactly what I did, but at one point around '96 or '97, while I was booting from a floppy (not sure if it was one of those old games where you had to start from the floppy due to copy protection, or if it just held a custom config.sys/autoexec.bat to eke out more RAM for a game), I managed to corrupt the FAT on our 2 GB hard drive. 😞

    My dad did end up eventually fixing it - IIRC via some sort of hex editor - but it was not a fun process.



  • @karla said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Aww, when I was programming such mission-critical apps as making my name scroll in an infinite loop.

    In 6th grade, my teacher told me to copy the following text 200 times "I will not swear in class anymore"

    My friend had a daisy wheel printer connected to his COCO, so I wrote a small basic program

    10 FOR I = 1 TO 200 STEP 1
    20 PRINT #-2 "I will not swear in class anymore" 
    30 NEXT I
    

    I told her I used a typewriter to make it clean 😉



  • @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @karla said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Aww, when I was programming such mission-critical apps as making my name scroll in an infinite loop.

    In 6th grade, my teacher told me to copy the following text 200 times "I will not swear in class anymore"

    My friend had a daisy wheel printer connected to his COCO, so I wrote a small basic program

    10 FOR I = 1 TO 200 STEP 1
    20 PRINT #-2 "I will not swear in class anymore" 
    30 NEXT I
    

    I told her I used a typewriter to make it clean 😉

    That's awesome.



  • @karla I had GeoWorks on the C-64.

    You could set the mouse tracking speed to zero. (Yes, zero.)

    It saved its settings of the disk permanently.

    There were not enough keyboard shortcuts to turn the mouse tracking speed back up.

    I broke that too.


  • Notification Spam Recipient

    @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @karla said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    Aww, when I was programming such mission-critical apps as making my name scroll in an infinite loop.

    In 6th grade, my teacher told me to copy the following text 200 times "I will not swear in class anymore"

    My friend had a daisy wheel printer connected to his COCO, so I wrote a small basic program

    10 FOR I = 1 TO 200 STEP 1
    20 PRINT #-2 "I will not swear in class anymore" 
    30 NEXT I
    

    I told her I used a typewriter to make it clean 😉



  • This post is deleted!


  • @karla said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @timebandit said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    @pie_flavor said in How I broke my computer at 12 years old:

    I'm a millenial, and my first computer was a KIM-1. Get off my lawn.

    My first computer was a COCO2.

    Unless you count an Atari 2600 as a computer.

    I'm staying on your lawn !

    It was a TRS-80 after that. No color.

    We had a TSR-80 in my elementary class and my grandmother had one.

    Aww, when I was programming such mission-critical apps as making my name scroll in an infinite loop.

    I remember playing with my Dad's TRS and programming a Mandelbrot generator...



  • @the_quiet_one I also broke a family computer at a young age.

    I had just discovered how to compress files. Compressing files made them take less space, right? Why not compress everything? So the entire C drive got compressed. Cool! But I noticed there were still some uncompressed files. If you compressed the folder they were in, they got skipped. You had to actually go to just their specific properties and compress them. Tada! Everything was compressed.

    One restart later...
    0_1506033645673_9f14380f-0fa4-441e-88dd-128f5f95ebfa-image.png

    Yep. There was a reason it normally skipped those files when compressing everything...


  • SockDev



  • I got my start in particle physics by breaking the family television when I was around 8 years old. My parents got me the Explorabook, which came with a magnet for experiments. In the course of seeing what the magnet stuck to, I tried it on the television screen. It stuck, but since the television was a CRT and magnetic fields bend electron beams, the picture acquired a permanent purple spot in the lower right corner. Dad got it fixed, but my experimental career was rather curtailed for a few years.

    What happens when a neodymium magnet... – 03:51
    — magnetportal


  • area_can

    I tried to set up a hackintosh on the family PC. You have to partition and format the disk in order to make it bootable. I didn't know what that meant so I just clicked through the menus... good thing I only hosed my own drive


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