Sunday, February 04, 2007

Technology Sucks At Both Ends Of The Scale

So I was just settling in for a good night's entertainment listening to my left ear doing "Great Moments In Caliope History" while my hearing came and went, when Mrs Stevie stormed into the room and growled that the computer "wasn't working". I was initally concerned by her use of dense technical jargon, but upon seeing the machine for myself I understood the need. It was in constant-reboot mode.

A quick trip to Safe Mode Land had me in at an attractive and almost unusable

800 x 600

screen resolution and with the explorer defaulting to "icon" view every time the window refreshed. In no time at all I had come to the conclusion a factory restore was in order lest I go mad and chop the PC into little ittybitty bits so I began porting off all the C drive data to USB drives.

I can't be sure what had kneed the OS in the nuts, but I'm assigning blame to the shareware utility I used to ghost the hard drive on Thursday. I would have used Norton Ghost, but had decided it was too expensive last Sunday when I had a copy in my hands. It is decisions like this that have made me the financial giant and revered guru that I am.

I finally tracked down the restore CDs and ran the "make it didn't happen" job. In a matter of mere hours the machine was back in the heady days of Christmas 2001. Then I installed SP2 from a disc copy I have. This made the little green bar that tells you XP is really loading and not hanging turn into a little blue bar. Hard to see what all the fuss was about really.

Then I found the Norton executable that would reinstall my (downloaded) copy of Internet Security (by some miracle I had actually saved it in a relatively safe place) and was pleasantly surprised at how straightforward it was to re-install. Very much empowered by my success to date, I connected up the internet and let Norton download a year's worth of anti-virus templates, scam sites to block, applications to block, parental control lists and gosh knows what else, all the while screaming in bright red that the software was out of date and that I should Do Something! Ironic that the software couldn't tell "something" was in progress, given Peter Norton's open criticism of lazy programmers in the past and the beating of his own drum at their expense.

Once that phase of operation Get The Computer Working Again You Idiot 1 was complete, my appetite for watching little green bars slowly grow while wildy inaccurate time estimates flash was not quite appeased, so I let the machine download and install 63 critical XP changes (all of them since SP2 mind). In a mere three hours it was all over bar the pending installation of missing software and belatedly realising USB drivers hadn't installed and doing them again and aaaaaaaaarrrggghhh!

While it was all happening I pulled some more wiring for the new bathroom which involved taking down the drop ceiling in the downstairs bathroom then threading 14-gauge Romex across the rafters and then along about half the room, before poking it up into the upstairs again. This so a switch on one side of the room can control a device on the other. The lengthwise run had to be stapled to the rafter. There was all of about eight inches of room to swing the hammer, which necessitated the use of the technique where one uses the side of the hammer head to drive the staples. Gah! Luckily, a collection of nasty crap had collected on top of the ceiling tiles during previous work, so I had the good fortune to be showered with it when I pulled the tiles.

On Sunday, I thought my luck might turn and I was right. In the middle of installing the DVD burner software, Mrs Stevie let out a yell and called for me. I wandered into the kitchen to find she had somehow burst the u-bend and the undersink cabinet, home to an ecclectic collection of half-used bottles of cleansers, poster paint, brillo pads and whatnot was now flooded with foul stinking water. I ran down to Arse Hardware and obtained a u-bend, returned to Chateau Stevie and attempted to fit it. The joint to the waste-pipe riser leaked. I tightened the nut a bit more. It still leaked. I gave the nut another tweak and succcess! The nut split into three parts and a fine spray of liquid filth went everywhere.

Muttering some stand-by words of power I undid the riser connection and (eventually) managed to make it let go from the PVC wastepipe. Not before discovering that The Builders2 had once again fitted things "Gennaro Style"3. The PVC wastepipe flapped about in a manner that screamed rather than suggested that the installer had neglected to glue one of the joints4, and it had a non-PVC sealing nut screwed to it. Fortunately the aborted wastepipe from upstairs gave me ready access to a PVC sealing nut for the new riser.

Which I naturally hadn't bothered to buy.

So it was back to Arse Hardware for a new riser, new coupling nut and new seal. Once I had got that home and cut it to length with Mr Hacksaw, it was extreme hardship itself to get it to fit in the plastic wastepipe, requiring much strength, some liquid soap, about eight types of swear words and Gerald, my Stilson's Wrench before the job was done.

Once all the bits were connected we once again had a kitchen sink, and I was able to return to the job of fixing the computer. It's almost done. I'll refit the Office software tomorrow and install Mrs Stevies Greeting Card software suites and then I'll attempt to put the Pinnacle video processing software back together.

Since it wasn't working properly before the computer went nails-up, I'm not sanguine about my chances.

  1. Mrs Stevie was kind enough to suggest the name of the project
  2. Gennaro
  3. In order of increasing naffness there is
    1. The Right Way
    2. The Wrong Way
    3. The Really Dangerously Wrong Way
    4. The Gennaro Way
  4. The joint in question must be somewhere behind the dishwasher and hence inaccessible unless I deinstall that. Not it! Not unless I see water leaking, that is

No comments: