Tuesday, October 23, 2007

CRASH! Part 2

If you've been along for the blog ride, you've already seen CRASH! Part 1, in which I described the Great Computer Crash. It was not pretty. It involved a virus taking out my winload.exe file, which pretty much means that unless you fix it, you now have a very expensive paperweight.

Well, after discovering that the recovery disk (that HP made me make because it wanted to save maybe 18 cents by not supplying one) did not work, I checked out the HP site for support. I hoped they would have an easy fix. Yes, I know that was probably a delusional thought, but one can always hope. After searching the site for some time, it appeared my only option was to buy a recovery disk at $10 (plus shipping and handling), because a missing winload.exe file now constituted a 'problem', and HP will sell the disk to you if you 'have a problem'. I could also wait 7-10 business days for it to get delivered because I hate paying overnight charges. Well, that was entirely too long for this gaming Geeky Mom. I can be patient, but I'm not into suffering internet withdrawal.

Now, I could use the desktop, but that would involve kicking hubby off of his Oblivion game or the Terry Goodkind forum, neither of which he really wants. Sweet husband that he is, he would do it if he had to, but I didn't want him to suffer withdrawal, too. The laptop was very considerate in the timing of its crash, and it broke down while Jimbo was at work so that I could use the desktop to look up possible solutions. How's that for geeky--sitting at a desktop with the laptop on my lap at the same time.

Of course, fixing it meant going to the Lucasforums' General Tech Discussion forum, which is a far more debonair-geek name than "Help Desk." I figured if anyone would know how to solve this problem, it would be Trusty Friends stingerhs, Astrotoy7, ChAiNz.2da, or any of the other LF computer gurus. While waiting for their replies, I googled "winload.exe problem and my recovery disk won't work". Up popped an HP page on just how to solve the problem. Apparently, this page is so cleverly disguised that HP's own search engine can't find it. Maybe they should use Google.

So, how to fix the problem on my computer? Hit F11. That's it. One stupid key stroke.

It gave me the option to back up my files. I chose that and drove over to Best Buy to pick up a portable external hard drive. I discovered an 80 Gb hard drive costs about the same as a 4 Gb flash drive. Apparently, the 4Gb on the flash drive are gold-plated or something to make it that expensive. Well, I got home, plugged it in, and saved the files to the external hard drive. I F11'd the viruses into oblivion as I reformatted the drive.

Then all I had left was to reload the saved files. Did that work? I'll give you two choices, and the answer is not yes....

Monday, October 22, 2007

CRASH! Part 1

It finally happened. My computer crashed catastrophically.

I've owned a computer of some sort for 11 years, and used a computer in some way or another for the last 20 or so. However, I've never had a crash like this before. Sure, I've had the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) and black screens before, and I've had trouble with a bad sector or two on my older laptop. Still, I never had anything that required a complete hard drive reformat.

Until yesterday.

My computer had been acting a bit odd--Skype chat wouldn't respond when I clicked it, and OpenOffice just sort of disappeared--the shortcuts suddenly pointed nowhere. It was like the computer when "Huh?" anytime I clicked those. This happened shortly after I removed a porn post from Lucasforums. Being a. a super-moderator, b. a mom, and c. totally anti-porn, it was my responsibility to protect the young impressionable minds at LF from raunchy abject crap. Yes, I know that the kids can see all the porn they want with just a click of a couple links, but that's not the point. I am a Mom, and in the realm where I wield the Mighty Edit Button and Ban Stick, there shall be no Naked People.

So, there I was, checking out the new posts on the forum, when I saw a post in Italian. Since LF is English-only (I use the term very loosely in view of 1337- and IM-Speak), my internal Crap Detector (tm) red-lined. Unfortunately, it over-shadowed the Mom Sense (also tm) which was telling me "There must be Naked People in that thread." I have no clue how the Mom Sense developed. It just did. Many a teen has rued the day that Trusty Friend Rogue Nine cajoled me into the super-mod position, because it now meant they could no longer post their naughty pics and comments for any length of time before the Momerator caught it.

Well, I clicked on the thread. I saw a bunch of Italian links. My Italian is limited to "Buon Giorno!", "Ciao!", "Lorenzo di Medici", "Cappuccino", and a couple swear words my Italian step-mother taught me, which I shall not repeat here. The first five or ten links did not have any of those words, and unfortunately I did not read far enough down the long list. If I had, I would have seen 'erotici', which, while not part of my Italian vocabulary, is nevertheless equivalent to "Naked People" in Jae-world. I clicked a link. And promptly had my eyes assaulted with things I never wanted to learn. And undoubtedly picked up the charming little trojans that infected my computer.

A few days later, things on my computer started acting funny. A virus scan caught nothing. My spyware caught nothing. I went to C|Net's site and downloaded a more aggressive malware detector (HijackThis), suspecting some invasive spyware. Sure enough, the two trojans showed up, hiding out in my HP games. Fortunately, I don't play either computer Parcheesi or Sudoku on my computer. Why play those when I have Kotor, Kotor: The Sith Lords, Neverwinter Nights 2, and my newest game, Guild Wars? So, the viruses had not exploded and spread everywhere, and I deleted the games to get rid of them.

All appeared well, and Skype went back to acting normally. I went to bed after shutting down the laptop for the night, thinking life was good. Silly me. When I turned on the computer the next morning, Windows cheerfully informed me that it could not load. I asked it, not so cheerfully, why not. It, of course, just blinked blankly at me and asked me if I'd like to do a scan. I informed it that I would like it to actually start, but if a scan was required to do so, then I would jump through that hoop.

I waited patiently (or not) until it beeped and said it couldn't find the system32\winload.exe file. This is Microsoft-speak for "You're totally screwed." Even I could figure out that if the program that loads Windows is corrupted, it is Not Good.

Using the desktop for a Google search, I learned that yes, a missing winload.exe file really does mean I was totally screwed and that I needed to load from the recovery disk, and so I pulled out the one I'd made shortly after I got the computer. HP, in its infinite wisdom (and no doubt the desire to save shareholders a fraction of a cent in costs) decided that it would not supply recovery disks for its users. You can copy the recovery files in a special partition to your own disk (which is easier said than done--HP doesn't like it when you play around in the recovery partition). You can also buy recovery disks from HP for $10 (plus shipping and handling), but only if you have 'a problem'. Can you check to see if your recovery disk actually works? Only if you want to reformat your hard drive. Needless to say, this isn't one of HP's better ideas.

Did my recovery disk work? I'll give you two choices, and the answer is not 'yes'....

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Geeky Mom Uniform

So there I was in the store, buying underwear, wondering what kind to get. This came about because Jimbo had determined that it was now a requirement that all underwear shall be a. Free of holes and b. Thick enough so that light may not pass through freely. Suddenly about 5 sets of underpants disappeared, representing about 1/3 or more of my collection. I was informed, in fact, that Jimbo was not going to wash anymore of my underwear until I had purchased some more. I'm quite happy with comfortable underwear, even if it does have a small hole here or there. Holes do not bother me, unlike some of my family whose motto is "Don't wear anything that you don't want the ER nurses to see." Apparently, they think the staff will be simply appalled at holes in underwear. I cheerfully point out that if they've gotten to the point in the ER where their underwear is in view, a. they'll be too sick or injured to care, b. the staff is going to cut off the underwear anyway, and c. have seen so many naked body parts that they couldn't care one iota. This does not make my family members feel any better.

Off I drove to the store, because while I do not mind underwear with holes, they still must be clean underwear with holes, and I do not like doing laundry. Since Jimbo had thrown out a whole bunch, I'd have to wash underwear like every 5 days or so, and that was just not an appealing thought.

I went to the usual 'white cotton brief' section, because that's what I typically buy, when I actually buy underwear. It occurred to me that this must be a geeky mother thing. Let's face it, white cotton briefs are not teh hawt and sexeh, which works pretty well since geeky mothers are not generally teh hawt and sexeh, either (and if you are a hawt and sexeh geeky mother, God bless you!!). White briefs may be geeky, but they're also comfortable. They stay where they're supposed to say, and they do not ride up in places where they should not. If I have to sit on my tushy at the computer, I am not going to sit on a bunched up wad of fabric. So, I bought 2 packages of white cotton briefs. I also broke out of the geeky mother stereotype and (shock of shocks!) bought some bikinis. In colors and patterns no less. If I ever end up in the ER, I think the nurses will make more comments about the bright polka dots than they would have ever made about a few holes. :D