Sunday, July 27, 2003

The Fortress of Suckitude

It all started so innocently.

My mom wanted to check her email at home, but my parents' computer gave her an error message (something like "out of memory", but that's not important) so she rebooted. You'd think that should solve the problem, but no. Now it wouldn't start at all, and it stopped with a vmm32.vxd error. I checked Micro$oft's knowledge base and usenet and it seems fairly common ("it's not a bug, it's a feature!) and it recommended reloading Windows 98. Not to worry, I told my dad, I've loaded Win98 before and it's a snap.

Three days later the computer hadn't been fixed. In fact, it had gotten worse. When trying to install Win98, somehow all these Windows-related error messages showed up that should have had nothing to do with installing a new version. We finally decided to rename the Windows directory (while in DOS) and then install Win98 clean. That sort of worked, as now all the drivers for everything plus a whole lot more never got loaded. But it does run Windows, as long as you don't mind it at 640x480 in 16 colors.

The next solution was to have him bring his computer to my house, we'd take his hard drives out (maybe 10 GB total) and put them in my computer, copy the information onto my 180-GB hard drive, reformat his, and then load all his programs and data back.

So this afternoon I opened up my computer, turned it off, and pulled the cables off my CD burner so I could stick on one of my dad's hard drives. Hmmm, that didn't work, my computer rebooted but stalled when it got to "Loading Windows 98". After waiting longer than I needed to with no results (and after a couple more reboots), I said "fuck it" and decided to reload Win98 onto my C drive so that I could then do the same to my dad's hard drive. I had reloaded Win98 onto my computer in the past with no problems, but that was the past. It got up to the "Congratulations for choosing Windows 98!" menu, then dumped me out with an error message. Using the Win98 boot disk allowed me to see that my D drive (all 180 GB of it) was still there, but my C wasn't showing up at all. It vanished, as far as DOS was concerned.

No, it's not the power cable - I tried two other unused ones plus the one that was successfully powering my CD burner, and none of those worked. It's not the ribbon cable, I replaced that a couple times with no luck either. Nothing. I even tried putting it onto the power cable and ribbon for my good D drive but it still wasn't recognized. Then I had to dig through my Big Box O' Computer Parts to get my 1.6 GB hard drive that I removed several years ago (when I got my 40 GB C drive), properly formatted it, and loaded a clean copy of Win98 onto it. Yay, I can finally get back into Windows! At least my D drive is still there, though none of my programs will work and my home network is down. Now I'm getting this "C drive has a FAT32 error" when I tried to mount my until-this-morning-it-was-good C drive. And nothing seems to work on my Primary IDE slot on the motherboard, only the Secondary one (but fortunately my extra-large 180 GB D drive came with its own special IDE controller card, so I can use my old/new 1.6 GB C and my regular D drive).

So somehow I managed to fuck up not only my until-this-morning-it-was-good C drive but also apparently the motherboard's Primary IDE slot. And on top of that, I can't get my computer to read my dad's hard drives anyway. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck. And on top of that, I'm going on a 10-day vacation in 3 days.

I am so not letting my laptop get anywhere near my desktop computer or my dad's computer in my computer room. That place has turned Eeeevil (do that Doctor Evil pinky thing when you read that last bit).

I think it's time to look for a new computer. My desktop's oldest parts date back to 1995. In July 1997 my house took a lightning hit and it fried my modem, video card, motherboard, RAM (they emit light gray smoke when they start to burn, in case anyone asks), Pentium 75 chip, and SCSI adapter card for my scanner (the chip was replaced with a 166MMX). I've updated the hard drive (originally just 700 MB, then added a 1.6 BG, then replaced the 700 MB with a 5.7 GB, then replaced the 1.6 GB with 40 GB, then replaced the 5.7 GB with a 180 GB - and now I'm replacing the 40 GB with the 1.6 GB, ironic ain't it?) and CD drive (from a 4x reader to a 12x burner to a 52x burner). I think the only original parts are the power supply, the floppy drive, and the case (which says "Gateway 2000 P5-75" on it). Six years is a long time to have a computer working, isn't it?

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