whew. thank goodness I removed that google pleb geronimator. now I can get on with stuff. just check to see if the computer comes on again this morning aaand…yes, ok. looks good. I realized I haven’t virus checked since 1974, so I do that and everything’s ok. ooh. might just quickly geotag that photo of half a range rover outside a medieval town house. lets get google earth running.
hmm. its a bit slow. um, I’ll just wait a couple of seconds to see if it wakes up a bit. ooh. that’s not supposed to happen, why’s my screen gone blank? oh, hang on, its back again. no, hang on, its gone, oh, no, there it is. oh
as the smashing pumpkins suddenly begin stuttering over the last line of 1979 and the fan goes bonkers I realize that not all is well in just-as-I-thought-it-was-alright computerland and in an unceremonious instant, everything stops and there is that half a second in between you hoping it hasn’t rebooted and the boot screen appearing where you hope it hasn’t just rebooted itself and taken all your InDesign docs with it but of course it has.
yes yes I know its probably not actually google web accellerator or google earth themselves that are forcing my hair from my skull in fist-sized clumps as I try and just get a computer to keep running but its them that are the big boys pushing, on threat of massive chinese burns, the little boys out in front of me to string a string across the 2 lamp posts I’m about to electronically cycle through. can you say uninstall?
so after 17 hours of ever decreasing circles of success it’s time to give up on the possibility of extracting that photoshop of a stuffed polecat and the pop will eat itself back catalogue as I’m obviously not going to access C:Documents and settings at any time soon before I have to yank the platter out of the system and lob it unceremoniously into the dog toilet of bomb damage whereupon a 14 year old blart will find it take it home and slave it and uncover the names and addresses of all the top ranking officials at the middle school govenor’s committee at which the daily mail will foam at the mouth at the insecurity of our new labour data culture and start a campaign for mandatory arrests for anyone under 18 who looks like they have special needs which will draw robin in to the arguement just to point out why ID cards are so wrong.
having had partial success with chkdsk /r in the past I clutched at that straw as my data became inaccesssible all over the place and had, well, partial success with it. 57% success in fact. after I’d run it for the 4th time. which took 7 hours. before it hung. again. this was all from the recovery console which didn’t really let me do anything else unless I wanted to copy 20,000 files from one folder to another one at a time but I couldn’t even access the folders anway or see the place I would want to copy them to. all I want to do now is save the bits I hadn’t backed up to the external WD 250gb thing and then reformat the internal drive with a hand gun before the new 500gb one turns up on friday just before I go away for a week leaving everyone at home without a wireless connection for the old PC downstairs which is the club penguin access point or email. here’s how clever I am: admin tools -> computer management -> disk management -> properties -> tools -> error checking -> check the boxes for repairing bad things -> reboot to give exclusive access to disk. hey presto! infinite fricken autochk loop. as something was completely arsed up due to me defragging some system files onto a bad disk sector – oh yes, that’s fine sir, we’ll just put that useful utility over here, on top of the BROKEN STUFF – when autochk kicks off upon a reboot (for tis autochk that does the work) it never completes and I have to take a hammer to the big button on the front of the case to restart. and upon restart, autochk kicks off and never completes and so I have to take a bigger hammer to the broken button on the front of the case to restart. and upon restart etc.
I think I have dirty bits. I’ve been told that before, but this time it’s my computer telling me. more accurately, it’s probably a boot file or something file telling my broken XP installation that it has raised a white flag that says ‘dirty bit’ on it and so everything must go mad. you can unset this flag and autochk doesn’t run, which is useful. but you can’t do that from the recovery console. oh no. you have to have a proper shell to do that so that’s ok, you can’t log in to windows to get a shell because authchk won’t let you, but we all know that you can just run in safe mode and do it that way. easy. F8 F8 F8 F8, er, yes, I want safe mode. good. right. ooh, lots of cmd line references to drivers and stuff whizzing past which looks promising. hmm. I guess it’s stopped at that one because it’s REALLY BIG or something. hmm. it’s not that big. hang on. you’re not doing anything are you? (cue enormous hammer case button action). 3 attempts later and it’s clear that safe mode is going to steadfastly refuse to run and that the little people inside the machine are now laughing uncontrollably behind thier hands at my total lack of adequacy in resolving this technocrisis. and don’t you start telling me what to google in order to get the answers I need to work around this problem BECAUSE I’VE BEEN DOING THAT ALL FRICKEN DAY ON MY OTHER COMPUTER WHICH HAS SCSI DISKS SO NO I CAN’T JUST RUN IT AS A MASTER AND SLAVE THE BROKEN DISK AND NO I DON’T HAVE A CD OF LINUX THAT CAN RUN THE OS AND HAS THESE GREAT TOOLS TO EXTRACT FILES FROM THE BOOT DISK WHICH YES IS JUST ONE HUGE PARTITION I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW ALREADY THANKYOU.
at eleven thirty I am instructed to walk away before throttling myself with a USB cable tidy and I contemplate a life without XTC or all my old tweaked flickr files.
install. yes, just a clean install dammit. go on, do your worst. oh, that was quick. and you haven’t trashed the old files? nice. here’s an external drive. recognize that? ooh yes. lovely. right, is everything from The Smiths to Windsor for the Derby still intact? and that picture I took out of the window landing at Denver which was actually interesting? ooh, there it is. would you mind if I just move it over there? thanks awfully.
today I will mostly be installing XP Professional and Adobe Creative Suite 2.3. I’m not putting anything else on here. maybe the router. oh, and the laser mouse. maybe need the printer. and sonicstage. better get the drivers for the 7900GT too. and the audigy 2. oh, better make sure the wireless is installed. and the selphy. probably need to install sp2 and everything since then as well. better do that first I guess. ooh, and the new drivers for the WD drive etc. etc. etc. etc. etc….
is it taking ages for you? I mean, I log in and when I try to access email it takes, like, 5 minutes to start and then that little network icon thing appears and just flashes a bit and it all runs really slow. does it do that for you? er. yes.
there’s only a limited number of times you can try and defrag a 250gb disk only to find you don’t have 17% spare to actually perform that action and so you go ahead and start creating multiple restore points and then try and remove the previous 4 versions of adobe creative suite without breaking anything that’s left and after you’ve rebooted about a hundred times and then had a go at using add/remove programs to try and remove a few programs – which you thought was a perfectly acceptable course of action – only to find that need for speed: stupid won’t actually remove and that if you get rid of the source code for half life that steam will actually blow a gasket and you have to download the ship before it’ll let you play episode 1 and then have a go at just ‘cleaning up’ some of your ripped cds only to find that you’ve just made all 200 cds that come after ‘The Smashing Pumpkins’ disappear into a mysterious explorer black hole at which point you’re wondering why you didn’t just back stuff up and reinstall the whole system.
or just back stuff up. oops
which is why you find yourself running the lovely chkdsk /r again because you can’t now even back up your 3 years worth of digital photos and ripped cds because fricken stupid ntfs file system doesn’t know where they are even though it’s looking REALLY HARD and locking up the whole system every time you move a window an inch to the left to check out the progress of disk check which will fail after 10 minutes because you’re running it when you’re actually logged in you idiot and because you’re LOOKING at the disk in a funny way it’s throwing a wobbly and hiding behind the sofa and throwing up into the event log which you finally checked after googling all your error messages only to see a millions references to bad sectors which have been there since january but you didn’t realize because you just thought you had probably made something go wrong because you installed a web cam and so you were asking for it and that’s why every time you synchronized go live it took 17 hours to update a teleweb widget which is coincidentally about how long it takes to explain why making it a capital ‘E’ should be such a problem but anyway here you are frothing at the mouth at gibberish like Windows replaced bad clusters in file 32122 of name DOCUME~1TimLOCALS~1APPLIC~1MICROS~1MEDIAP~1CURREN~3.WMD and wishing your sun ray at home had arrived or your acer ferrari but at least it’s a holiday in the US so you’ve got an extra couple of hours to catch up on things, like, um, WATCHING STUPID CHKDSK UTILITIES FIX PROBLEMS WITH MEDIAPLAYERS, so everything’s alright. nobody’s reading this anyway so how less productive can you be, waiting for the chance to be able to restore all your design work for the last 2 years?
28 percent done. it worked last time. if it doesn’t work this time I’m going to take the spare disk out of the w2100z that’s actually got solaris installed and port adobe creative suite 2 myself. by teatime. and then draw massive pictures of sheds with wings and print them on the rasterizer whereupon I’ll plaster them onto the bus shelter and do a short fandango with a spanner.
is it fixed yet? NO IT ISN’T. alright, I was only WELL DON’T
0x88EF4CCD4A4D means you are bad and that you should be locked up how dare you take that from mr horse whisperer and lodge it in your fudge rom just because you get office doesn’t mean a thing. you put the kernel in there and so it’s your fault if you tinker for hours when you should have gone to essex for a shower. it would have only taken a few monkeys to give you that answer but you were faffing about with a wireless sponge and flipping aquapets through the catflap until you ran out of disk space. oemkrnl. duh
that should be on. I mean, there should be a screensaver or something, not a vsync test on input 1. wait, I guess she’s done something and just only half closed it down or something so I could probably just wiggle the laser around a bit and wake it up. oh. anyway. I’ll just press all the keys on the keyboard at the same time, that’ll do it. right. oh. I’ll just turn it off and on again then, that always works. ok, right, that looks alright, so, what should we play for the next hour or so?
hang on. UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME. what the hell is that? I mean, I recognize a blue screen when I see one but that’s normally because nv_disp has blown it’s top because I tried to clock a 7900GT to 700/2000 or something, not a shouty message like this one. so, hang on, if this was Solaris, I’d, um, I dunno. think. go, on, back it the mists of time when you sat in front of a Sun Ray or an Ultra 2, or an IPX, or a Sparcstation 1+. you know, when you sat on the live call transfer desks in watchmoor park and pretended that, when British Gas phoned up and said that they were losing 10000 quid an hour because Oracle has decided to take it’s ball home, you knew what to do next and said some old rubbish about mount volumes and striping. come on, think about all those CMS tickets you picked up on the warranty support desk from cheap-but-valued support contract holders who had just got a sparc 10 and couldn’t get the floppy disk to load a cdrom. there must be something you used to say to them that is probably relevant now.
how about, er, f s c k? would that help? probably. on Solaris. you could probably run lots of other really useful things like format, partition and mount that were in that manual you got on that training course when you were that student doing that sunsolve online stuff. except this isn’t Solaris, is it? no, it’s windows XP, which you you treat with the same caution as you do the Megane Scenic – as long as it’s getting you to Tescos, you don’t look under the hood – so what are you gonna do now? look it up on google? well, you’ve still got the w2100z sat over there which you could use to do that, but it’s past midnight now and if you fire that thing up at this time, you’ll wake the whole street. right, no, you’ll just have to GUESS what to do next. so, what the hell does UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME mean then. um, my filesystem is f**ked? hell yeah! probably! is that bad? er, you work it out. only 5 years worth of family photos and your 2500 cds ripped onto that baby and now you’ve probably lost them all. is that bad? is it? did you back it up recently with that external drive you bought specifically to back it up should something like, ooh, i dunno, a filesytem error happen? mwuhahahaa.
ok. I’m guessing I have to boot this thing up some other way and then do something with a command prompt? getting warm. ok, I should have an XP cd somewhere then? very warm. boot off the cd and then do some kind of repair thing? ooh! burning now! right. ok. I’ll take a look in this drawer behind me which has all the cdroms that have been anywhere near this machine and hope that the copy of XP I find is one with a printed logo on it, not a permanent marker scrawl saying something like //|nd0//5 XP cr4ck on it. aha, Dell recovery disk. I hope that’s analagous to Dave’s recovery truck. let’s see. hmm. right. ok. not I dont want to install windows again. no. I said no. reboot. ok, right, aha! options! that one has the word ‘repair’ in it, so I’m going to select that one and see what happens. ooh, safe plus command plus headache plus sweaty palms. that sounds about right. let’s see…oh. a command prompt. er…
having done help everything about 17 times and tried to remember what each one did, I gave up caring and just ran one which sounded like it should work, although it would probably format my brain and pass my pin number onto some bloke in russia. chkdsk. ok then, chkdsk /p. oh dear, if the next 98% takes 5 minutes for each 1% I’m in trouble. aha, yes, I know it’s broken, I want to fix it. ok, chkdsk /r. I says something about ‘recovering’ data. not sure what it does with it. put it somewhere else? just let me know it’s recovered it? ah well, whatever. chkdsk /r. <return>
I woke up about an hour later just to catch the progress meter go from 50% up to 75% and then promptly back down to 50% again before sitting there for about an hour before it went to 51% just to have me think it was actually doing something. I’d had enough. I pressed the big button on front for about 3 minutes just to make sure I’d really turned it off. disaster. I’ll have my morning tomorrow on the phone to Dell support walking through the whole experience with a 23-year-old warranty support engineer who’s probably just come off the phone to British Gas and really can’t be arsed to help me out. I should be finishing off my globalization review then, dammit. right, I’ll just give it one last chance before I slope off to bed.
press. click. buzz. ping. It didn’t get to ping before. oh. I love you.
I’m guessing it was chkdsk that finally got things straight, but I really don’t know. in any case, everything is fine now and I’m spending the rest of the day copying every single byte of data on this drive onto a magnetic tape by hand with a pair of tweezers. I’m at 0.00000000001% at the moment and it’s not moving very fast.
that’s supposed to be 470 but if you make it 488, well, what do you expect? and I know it says 685, but that really means 1350, don’t you get it? well, I only paid 200 sovereigns for this and I spend ages sticking that whizzy contraption on top with toothpaste so I’m not about to start rupturing it’s spleen all over the squeakers when they set me back a couple of ponys in the first place. I spoke to this bloke who said that is was bound to happen anyway and so I should just put it all back together and drive out to stansted or something with a packet of bran flakes and a sponge and maybe we’ll get to 1500 after that optimization thing renders me useless for 30 minutes and fries my trousers at the roadside.
I mean, I specifically shelled out on this thing so that I could break it on purpose, but I’m not quite ready to do it yet because I haven’t really actually used it yet other that that time I crept up behind a mexican in the dark and punctured his trumpet with a kitchen devil. oh, I did also clamber up a particularly greasy pole just to see if I could look up my own dress, but in the end it was only to see if we could all just stop stuttering around in the snakepit and maybe crash the truck across the border. of course, there was that time in Russia when I stepped on a truncheon and blew the gaff, but in terms of the rates I was looking for, that seemed pretty feeble, so I cranked it up to 520 and tried the 1990 final, but they still missed and so I’m back to lying down on the chair mat with my sony ericsson and blathering about component deployment when I’ve only got about an hour left to get this stupid thing sent out.
hardware is throttling my membranes and the jagged sawtooth blade of the cutter in my skull is jarring my eyeballs at 2000 rpm. that shouldn’t do that when I quit. reboot, quick. ooh. dammit. that didn’t work. I thought I might get away with just swapping out the ATI X800 for something new, and be done with it, but it’s something else. its my precious precious diamond pro 2070SB. its buzzing like a demented asbo on a saturday night in norwich, outstaring me in a frenzied, worrying kind of way, which suggests its about to fall in the river, mashed up on diamond white and draw. all over the screen is a fusion of distorted scan lines and broken wires and I can barely read the hotline number in the feverish haze.
trouble is, that number is useless. the warranty is about as current as Tony Bennett, so I’m going to have to make the horrible choice I’ve been trying not to make for years. CRT or LCD. I’m feeling flat, but granular.