He blew off some of the basic rules of computing

The Second Rule of Computing is: "When all else fails, reboot." The Third Rule is: "Have patience," and the Fourth Rule is: "Read the instructions." I failed to heed two of these rules the other day when my computer had a problem.

I thought everything was working just fine until I tried to go to a page that redirected me to a secure web site. Internet Explorer 6.0 just wouldn't go there. The little progress bar went up about half way and stopped. Nothing further happened. This didn't make sense. I could surf the web except for secure sites.

Like everyone else presented with a computer problem, I stared at the screen. I thought I had thought of every possibility but I failed to go back to basics.

The Four Rules of Computing are rather simplified. (Remember Rule One about Bill Gates?) With high-speed Internet connections and home networks, just rebooting often isn't enough. In my case, not only did I reboot, but I disconnected power from the dsl modem and the router and let them reset. Lo and behold, I could get to a secure site, but only once. Then the little bar went up half way and stopped again.

Did I have a virus? Jim Mathews, the Friday morning Virus King, suggests using the free virus checker at even though I have McAfee installed on my computer. After nearly an hour of checking, Trend did not find a virus.

The problem had to be with the secure site? I called the site's technical service person and was assured it wasn't them. Now what? I called my Internet Service Provider's technical service person. Not their problem either. "Did I install any new programs recently?" I was asked. "Yes," but I had forgotten. Had to be one of the two programs that I had just upgraded, but which one?

Turn off the first one and reboot the computer. Still couldn't get to the secure web site. Turn on the first one and turn off the second one. Ah ha! Got to the secure site. All of this took some time: see Third Rule.

Should I uninstall the second program? I didn't want to because I like the program. Off to their web site. Read their instructions. "If you are experiencing problems, try the following:..." I did as they suggested. Everything now works. I finally had followed Rule Four.

I'm not saying that following these four simple rules can solve all computer problems, but they are a start. I probably could have saved myself a lot of time and grief by checking the instructions when I downloaded the upgrades, but I didn't. I waited until I experienced problems before going back and by that time I had forgotten what I had done. Possibly I inherited the gene that says men don't ask for directions. Anyway, now all is working again and I'm going to etch the Four Rules on a plaque in front of my computer.

If you would like to hear more about The Four Rules or other computer topics, visit "Coffee and Computers" at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. 'C' Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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