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….

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 ™ 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’….

You Know You’ve Played Neverwinter Nights 2 a Little Too Long When….

Weird things happen when you play a computer game for awhile and then Skype with a Nemesis a little too late, like really strange dreams. This all started yesterday when I played Neverwinter Nights 2. In my current campaign, I’m playing a female Sun Elf wizard and my PC casts spells a lot–well, pretty much all the time. For those of you not familiar with the game, when you play some of the spellcasters in the game, you choose your spells from a large list to fill up slots in your ‘spellbook‘. You can change the spells in your spellbook as needed to adjust to the situation at hand. Once you fill up your slots, you then ‘rest’ to activate them. This means that you can pick a bunch of nasty fireball and lightning spells to take out all the bad guys. When they’re all dead, you trade the spell out for one to unlock all the locked treasure chests in the area if the rogue isn’t handy. Then you rest, unlock all the chests with your unlock spell (which, for some reason I can’t fathom, is called ‘Knock’ in the game instead of the more sensible ‘Unlock’), scoop up all the goodies, switch back to the killer spells, rest, and go on to the next area of monsters.

So, I spent a good while doing just that in order to get to Act 2 and meet up with Sand, who is hands-down my favorite NPC in this game. He has an acerbic wit, and the game developers gave him some of the best lines in the game. His quip when you encounter a red dragon in the fire giant mountains made the price of the game worth it alone. Anticipating more witty comments from him since I planned on keeping him in my party more this playthrough than my first, I played quite a bit yesterday to get to the point in the game where he joined my party.

Then I finally took a break from the game after dinner and Skyped with Trusty Nemesis Emperor Devon for awhile about the existence of God, debate styles (and my lack thereof), and general Lucasforums gossip, not necessarily in that order, but definitely far too late into the night. I finally went to bed and got about 6 hours’ sleep when Jimbo, husband-god that he is, brought me a cup of coffee. I was still in that twilight stage of sleep where you dream for awhile just before you wake up, and the coffee woke me up the rest of the way.

Me: Honey, you are a husband-god for bringing me coffee.
Hubby: Thank you. I like being called a god, you know. I didn’t want to wake you up too soon, though.
Me: That’s OK, I was having a really weird dream.

Hubby scooted me over on the bed a little to sit down next to me. Apparently he thought ‘weird’ meant ‘bad-dream-nigh-on-nightmare’ and was prepared to comfort me. He didn’t quite understand that in this case when I said weird, I meant ‘really, truly, it’s weird‘.

Hubby: So tell me about this dream.
Me: Really, it was weird.
Hubby (soothingly): I understand, dear.
Me: Well, I dreamed I was in the bathroom, and I had to blow my nose. I had two spells–stoneskin and ‘blow-my-nose’, and I had to use the ‘blow-my-nose’ spell to, well, blow my nose.
Hubby: You had a spell to blow your nose?
Me: Yeah–isn’t that weird?

At this point, hubby, who has played Neverwinter Nights 2 and knows about the stoneskin spell and the general workings of the game, started howling laughing. Thank goodness he had sat down, because I don’t think he would have been able to stand laughing that hard. It was like he’d turned into a giant muscle spasm.

Me: So I blew my nose, and it was really gross. If my sinuses had been that bad, I really would have needed a spell to get all that stuff out.

Hubby continued laughing so hard he could hardly breathe.

Me: So I got all the stuff out. then I changed the spell out for a new one–don’t remember which one–and rested on my knee in the bathroom to activate the new spell.

Hubby was now lying on the bed twitching, past the point where he could make much more than squeaky sounds as he laughed.

Me: I’m not quite sure why ‘blow-my-nose’ was a level 4 spell. I mean, it was ranked right up there with stoneskin, for heaven’s sake. I think at the very most it should be level 0. I was also amused that I had the foresight to change that spell out and rest. Not sure which new spell I picked.

I finally had to stop talking and drink some coffee so Jimbo could recover.