Tag Archives: DIY

Praise the Baby Unicorns; I’m Back

21 Aug

Hey, look at that; I’m up and running again.

That’s right.  Up and running.  I have conquered the deep, dark, World-of-Warcraft-desiring darkness, recovered my files, and upgraded my computer.  Like a champ.

Forgive the big pat on my own back; it’s just that I’m pretty stoked that this all worked out.  Partly because I seriously needed my old files and I’m praising baby unicorns they’re back and partly because I recovered my old hard drive by myself, with no help from the Geek Squad.  And I’m pretty jazzed about that.

It was just about the time that I began to publicly mourn the loss of my large-screen computer on Facebook via my tiny-screened phone that my brother, a Software Engineer, called me to diagnose the problem.  He assured me that not only could my hard drive be retrieved, but that I could retrieve it.  He told me it would make a great Lollipop Tuesday.

Gets me every time.

If you’re one of the new subscribers in these parts (hello dumplings!), you can direct yourself to the “What’s Lollipop Tuesday?” tab at the top of the bloggy-blog.  If you’re one of my not-so-new subscribers, why didn’t you tell me it had been ages since my last Lollipop Tuesday?!  I haven’t tried anything new and scary in my life for months.  MONTHS!  Do you realize what’s happened to me? I’m frightened.  I’m not going outside as often.  I’m starting to lose faith in my ability to do the crazy.  So let’s make a pact: I will begin to do Lollipop Tuesdays more regularlary and if I don’t, you will harass me.

It’s a free harass pass.  Enjoy.

So from here on, I will catalogue my recovery of my hard drive for anyone who cares, doesn’t believe I did it, or happens to have a Dell Inspiron N5030.  Because they tend to hit the crapper after a year and a half and if you own one and it hasn’t crapped out yet, FOR THE LOVE OF BABY UNICORNS, BACK UP YOUR FILES.

Okay.  Everyone who doesn’t want to be bored: see you next week.  Everyone else: operation hard drive retrieval commencing.

Once upon a Lollipop Tuesday past, I needed to install Internet at my apartment but didn’t want to pay the $100+ for someone else to do it.  I was concerned that I would fail mostly because my brain isn’t really wired for things mathematical and logical.  My brain is wired for finger paint and mocking people in my head and neuroses of all shapes and kinds.   But I sucked it up, read the manual, and after sporting a very furrowed brow for a very long time, was happy to report success, a functioning Internet, and a lot of money saved.

I would have happily just taken my computer to the Geek Squad or a local computer guru to have them take care of things for me.  I was prepared to sell my body if necessary to get my old files out of the death trap Inspiron.  But I was quoted a flat fee of $100 to just bring it in and apparently, I wasn’t prepared to do that.  I’m protective of my George Washingtons and I was determined to not pay someone solely because they are smarter than me.  So my brother sent me the manual for my computer which I brought up on Dave’s iPad, and I dove in.

iPad right, Inspiron from hell left, signature Mr. Bubble pajama pants center.


The manual said something or other about “What You Will Need”, and I noted a small Phillips Head and Flat Head screwdriver were in the mix.  But I really only had an eyeglass repair kit with a tiny little Flat Head screwdriver and figured it would have to just be my MVP. 

After nearly stripping the second screw to little bits and bending the “Flat Head” eyeglass screwdriver into “Corkscrew Head” I was unconvinced, and a trip to Lowe’s was in order.

I hate Lowe’s. There is nothing there that excites me.  It’s all work and fixtures and tools and saws.  It smells like lawn chemicals and all I can think of when I enter is the hours and hours I would try to entertain myself in the lighting aisle while my father tried to find something or other to fix a leak or a squeak or a rattle in the house.

Apparently my unwillingness to pay someone for being smarter than me is genetic.


they’re beauuuuuutiful

But to Lowe’s I went.  I spent much longer than I wanted in the tools aisle and found a beautiful tiny screwdriver set that could conquer any laptop fears I had.  For twelve dollars, I was back in business.  

As it turns out, dismantling a laptop is a lot easier than I thought it would be.  Basically, there’s a big panel hiding under the keyboard that has everything (including the keyboard) plugged into it.  That board is secured to the bottom of the laptop with a ton of screws.  Unscrew the pieces, dismantle the pieces one by one until you get to the hard drive, and boom: done.

It sounds easy in theory but by the time I got to the whole “remove the speaker cable” portion of the manual I got really confused.  The picture didn’t look like mine and it wasn’t obvious how to locate  the cable on my own.  So I began to hunt for a YouTube video to help me through.  It was then that the heavens opened and blessed me with a video that showed me that everything I had done up until that point was silly.  My step-by-step digging down to the hard drive of my computer was one way to do it, but the better way was to just take out every single screw from the bottom of the laptop, flip her over, and pull up on the palm rest.  In the model of laptop I had, the hard drive was hiding right at the edge of the panel and I could wriggle my sausage fingers inside to retrieve it.  (The video is here if you were reading this hoping for a tutorial).

That big empty spot is where I yoinked the hard drive from. It looks kind of scandalous just peeking in like that.

And boom: hard drive procured.   I sent a pic of it to my brother, who told me what apparatus I needed to pull the files and for $30 dollars at Best Buy, I was so close to sweet restoration.

While I was there, basking in the fact that I had saved $50 or more doing the task on my own, I had to invest in a new laptop.  Appartently the old one was at risk of having a few more parts hit the pooper on me soon and I didn’t want to risk all this work only to find that a few weeks later, it was all for naught.  So I found something reliable and affordable to upload my files to.   I was a little worried at first because I was alone in Best Buy and when employees spot a chick in the laptop aisle, they swarm.  Not because I’m attractive; because they think I’m stupid.

when I asked the Sales Manager where I could find a SATA to USB converter cable, she said she didn’t know what I was talking about. I felt like a computer god.


After running back and forth between two aisles of laptops and taking pictures of their tags to compare specs and send to my brother for his approval, I had aquired a sales member named Emmanuel.  He was not, however, there to save me.  He was there to talk down to me and try to talk me into a $1000 computer.  I explained to him that I didn’t need his help and that I knew what I wanted.  He proceeded to quiz me on what makes a battery lose its charge, what the difference between an AMD and an i3 processor was, and a myriad of other things I had already boned up on via my brother before I entered the store.  Apparently he saw my display of knowledge as a challenge and continued to harass me until he could find something I didn’t know.  Finally, I explained that I know what I’m doing, that I “do my own repairs” and that I had a hard drive with me at that very moment that I had retrieved in the AM.

sweet, sweet success.


As it turns out, Best Buy associates treat you completely different when you tell them you have a hard drive in your pocket.

Emmanual retired to the center kiosk, I found the Sales Manager to let her know I’d like a laptop locked in the bin, and for Emmanuel to stop harassing poor, lonely women in their 20s who are hunting a decent computer.  I went home triumphant.

All things worked as promised and I’m now up and running on my brand new laptop with all my old files, and a dismantled old laptop in my bedroom just begging to be sold for parts to make up the cost of the one I’m typing on.  And I feel like a king among men.  My finger paint brain figured out something technical and computer-y and didn’t melt into a big pile of goo.  That’s success if I’ve ever heard it.

So hey: thanks folks, for reading this long and rather boring account, for offering condolences last week as I mourned the loss of everything digital, and for your offers to come into the World of Warcraft and pull me out should I seek refuge there.  In case that ever becomes a real fear again, I’m a night elf hunter and I’ll be found on Shattered Hand.

I’m back up and running.  Stay tuned next week for a brand spankin’ new Lollipop Tuesday.  Get excited.


The (Not So Lazy) Lady’s Guide to DIY: Hanging Herb Garden

30 Aug

I am so tired. I have been beaten to death – obliterated by the supposed simplicity of a DIY tutorial on window gardens.

Happy Lollipop Tuesday ya’ll.

Now I know some of you are noobs to thejackieblog and while I welcome your smiling, shiny faces, I reckon you might want to take a gander at the top of the page where it tells you what the heck a Lollipop Tuesday is because as of this moment in time, you can’t exactly Wikipedia it.  Which is a shame.  Feel free to draft an article for it.

This week I decided to try sucking at gardening.  Well, I decided to try to suck at fashioning a hanging window garden so that I can try to suck at gardening.  It was courtesy of igardendaily‘s suggestion the “What’s Lollipop Tuesday” page, and boy was it a treat.  

Cut bottom, poke holes in it, reposition it, tape the junk out of it til it stays.

I imagine someone who indeed gardens daily and runs a garden blog would perhaps have the patience for such shenanigans, but I, sir, do not.

In order to start the mess I made of my dining room area, I consulted an online tutorial from persephonemagazine.com on how to turn coffee cans into cute little hanging herbs.   The title was promising: “The Lazy Lady’s Guide to DIY: Hanging Herb Garden”.

Why do online tutorials make everything look so freaking easy?  These little craft and DIY bloggers with their beautiful pictures and their artsy websites and their super awesome things that make me wants to recreate their awesomeness in the comfort of my home.   They emphasize how easy something is and when something’s incredibly hard, they use words that keep you from getting discouraged like “tricky”.  

For future reference, don’t trust “tricky”.   It’s the same as saying “this is a gigantic pain in the arse”.

I trusted this tutorial.  It lured me in with a false sense of security.   When I hear “The Lazy Lady’s Guide to….”, I feel capable.  I feel maximum output for minimal effort.   I feel good.

This is not a tutorial for a lazy gender of any sort.

Perhaps part of my problem was that I didn’t splurge on the coffee cans at first.  You see, the hanging herb garden made from coffee cans requires you to buy coffee cans.  But I’m not a coffee drinker and golly is it expensive.  And since the tutorial called for cans with a plastic lid on one end and tin on the other, I thought I could get away with buying Hershey’s syrup cans.  

Now, chocolate syrup is something I can use.

Flip them over, gingerly transplant (and thereby kill half of) the herbs, throw a coffee filter around them, and tape the junk out of it all again.

Unfortunately when I bought said syrup cans, came home, emptied them all into a big vat, and rinsed them, I found that it was necessary for me to be able to use a can opener to cut off the tin side.  And since Hershey syrup cans are rounded on the bottom ever so slightly, my can opener would not comply.  So I went back to the store to drop a bunch of money on coffee I’ll never use for cans I should have bought 3 hours prior.

Note to self: follow instructions.

With gallons of chocolate milk to fuel me, I carried on.  Through the hole-punching and the taping and the glueing and the messing up and starting over – I stuck with it all.   And I dragged Dave along for the ride.  Because by golly if I’ve gotta make four cans, I was going to have an assistant.

It was actually pretty easy for Dave.  Which made me think that perhaps I just don’t have the DIY gene.  There’s gotta be something in these people that makes them awesome at whipping up things from out of absolutely nothing.   They don’t even look like cheap crafts; they look like genuine groovy things.  It’s baffling.

Anyway, I eventually finished it.  I mean – it was hard.  And I spent a lot of money.  And I’m not even sure I can keep these suckers alive

Cover them in glue and paper. Try not to make it look like a 4-year-old did it. Also, pick all the glue off yourself when you're done and throw out half your belongings, which undoubtedly got dipped in glue along the way.

now that they’re in my window living in fear of what I did to my orchid (which, by the way, is sitting below them growing a very exciting second healthy leaf).   I’m a little concerned that I may have spent more time assembling a hanging herb garden than I will actually be able to keep them alive, but that’s a risk.   Especially when you have cats…

I’m sure that dangling the plants from the ceiling that they already loved on the ground was a sound decision.

But hey! I have an herb garden! And until it dies, it looks pretty darn cool.  I can breathe in the super awesome oxygen-rich air around me and pull from the fruits of my labor for cooking experiments while I toast my achievement with chocolate milk.

I really don’t know what else to make with an entire vat of chocolate syrup.   

In the amount of time it took me to write this post, Dave used the leftover paper from the project to fashion a lamp for the dining area to match our new herb garden.

These natural DIY-ers just slay me. 

Treasure it, friends. They won't be alive long.

Stop Acting So Stupid

14 Jun

Photo by Tom Raftery with ever-so-slight alterations by yours truly. Click the image to check out his Flickr PhotoStream.

I’m writing this blog from the comfort of my own apartment.

Bam.  Just like that.   Because just a mere 30 minutes ago, I set up my own Internet.

Happy Lollipop Tuesday, folks.

Hey, I admit that when I saw the options on Verizon’s web page to either self-install or to hire a technician, I was tempted to hire the technician.  After all, when it’s $100, it must be difficult, right?

To assume so is to assume that all expensive hookers are worth it.  Or that all expensive clothes won’t look like junk after one wash.  Or that pets from breeders are better than pets that aren’t.

Cost does not imply worth.

This is what I’ve learned.  You know, I think I’m starting to blow the top off this whole thing.  Seriously.  Every single day I am more and more aware of the incompetence of those around me.  I know very, very few people that I would employ if I owned a company and yet most of them have jobs.

I’ve regaled you time and time again with accounts of stupidity in the workplace.  I am utterly baffled as to how these people get through the system.  And yet there they are – swimming along with you and I in the intellectual pond of life.  What’s more shocking is that you might be giving some of those people your hard-earned money to do something you automatically assume you can’t do yourself.

I admit – if the price tag on having a service technician were something like $19.95, I would have assumed it was much easier and done it myself without worry.  It’s that 3-figure thing that made me think it might be a bit beyond me.   And it’s because everything in this world is so specialized.  We live in a time where you need to have a four-year degree in anything to be considered for it.    After all, why would I hire you to recruit people when I could hire Joe Shmoe who has a 4-year degree in Human Resources? 

Even though you both might be equal performers after one year of experience.

That’s right – my one-time experience installing my own Internet has opened my eyes.  I’m on to the universe and I’m not letting go of my unyielding common sense grip on it.  I literally got everything out of a box, plugged a couple cords in, and followed a step-by-step prompt on the computer.   It wasn’t even full of difficult things with funny names and strange acronyms.  It was just a bunch of reading (or ignoring) and clicking “next” and “I agree”. 

I could be one hundred hard-earned American dollars poorer right now if I hadn’t just had the guts to think I could do it myself.

I ordered a book case for the office and organized a team work day to put it together last week.  Do you have any idea how many people sat around staring at the box and talking about how none of us was qualified to do it?  There was all this doubt, which bred more doubt, which ended up in a group of folks coming to me and saying they couldn’t start until I was in the room.

I put one yes-man in the room with them to see what would happen and when I came to check on them, it was halfway done.  He had absolutely no experience.

So I’m done with this “I can’t” nonsense.  Sure, there are lots of things you can’t do.  There are lots of things you probably really suck at.  But there are lots of things you assume you can’t do that you actually can.  Or even worse – before you even try, you admit defeat and pay someone else do to it for you.

It’s all a big secret and I’m unraveling it.  The world is full of overqualified, insecure naysayers and if you break free and have a can-do attitude, you’ll save stress, money, and get a big fat dose of confidence.

I’m not kidding around.  Stop wasting your time and feeling like junk about yourself.  Go apply for a job you are almost qualified for.  Go sign up for something that you’ve always been embarrassed to try.  Read a manual and attempt something you’ve been putting off because you don’t have the money to pay someone else to do it.  Cook something ridiculous.  Pick up an instrument.  Go explore that spot in the gym you’ve never gone near.  Stop acting so stupid.

Wow.   Tuesdays are changing me.

And I’m only halfway through the year. 


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