Yes, my wife actually said that. For geeky reasons: I fixed her screensaver.

She uses the Weather Underground screensaver, and ever since she got her new computer (that I made for her), it hasn't worked. Big, blank screen.

I kept telling her that I don't do Windows anymore, and that she should call Microsoft or Weather Underground for support. She eventually sent Weather Underground an email.

At the same time, I was learning some programming stuff that got me a little confused. I had given up for the day, but after lunch I came back ready to go, and said, "I'm ready to get cracking on this problem." She queried, "You mean my screensaver?"

"No, I mean my programming problem," I responded. "Why don't you send Weather Underground an email?"

"I did," she said, and then proceeded to use the Wife Code on me: "That's OK, just go ahead and work on your stuff. I'll wait for the email."

I've been married 17 years now, and I've learned a thing or two. For the unobservant, she actually said, "You ought to work on my problem instead of your fun thing."

So I went to look at her screensaver. It's supposed to retrieve weather images from the Weather Underground website and display them as a slideshow. We figured there was a network problem. I'd had her disable Windows Firewall earlier, but I've done tech support before, so I tried it again myself.

The screensaver still didn't work. And I couldn't find anything else causing the problem, either: she'd already disabled all her adblocking and malware scanning stuff.

So I said I didn't know what the problem was. She used the Wife Code again: "That's OK. Don't worry about it. I'll just wait."

Another translation, for the unobservant: "Don't you even think about quitting now, or there'll be trouble."

So I decided to bring in the big guns. I started channelling the Alpha Geek. He downloaded Wireshark, a network sniffer, and installed it. Then I started capturing and ran the screensaver.

It was making a connection with no problem. In fact, it was downloading some screensaver.swf or something! It was just a plain HTTP connection, and the URL was sitting right there in my capture log.

I put aside the bad design and security implications of running a Flash program as a screensaver and concentrated on how to get this problem off my back. Putting the URL into Firefox loaded the slideshow with no problems. That was the Aha Moment. I figured that Windows was probably hardcoded to use Internet Exploder for all its networking needs. And obviously, since I had built the computer, nobody had needed IE, so it wasn't configured with a Flash plugin!

Sure enough, loading the URL in IE gave me a plugin problem. So I installed Flash, and the slideshow appeared in IE.

But not in the screensaver. It gave me a dialog saying "This program needs the Macromedia Flash." I put aside the bad grammar and concentrated on how to get this problem off my back. :)

A reboot didn't do it. But a quick Google search found the problem: the plugin installed Flash9.ocx, but external programs were looking for Flash.ocx. I copied the file (because the plugin would still be looking for the file named Flash9.ocx) and renamed it. Then the screensaver worked without a hitch!

It was at this point that my wife declared me a god. It was a little flattering, I must say. And largely undeserved.

Then I got back to the really important stuff: learning GNU autotools.