Tuesday 14th November 2006

It was the equivalent of taking a pistol, placing it against your temple and pulling the trigger. I keep asking myself why, but the fact that I still have the ability to update my blog, does mean that not all is lost. Let me pick up the story from last night. As you all know my computer was fully functioning but not running at 100 percent. I had scheduled (as previously mentioned) to rebuild my machine completely from scratch over Christmas. Looks like I have forced that decision over a month early. I stupidly decided that a Monday evening was the perfect moment to upgrade to Internet Explorer 7. What was the worse that could happen? I had to bypass certain security features in the software, which meant a trawl through a few pages of Google results. A forum page had a long winded method which involved using a Hexadecimal editor. No thanks. There must be an easier option. On most blogs this educational post had been deleted with authors fearing legal action from Microsoft. However, as you can expect some web sites, fall through the cracks, even from the might and muscle of the MS legal department. I found a thread but a quick scan proved it was still quite involved and I continued the search for a relative simple solution. There was. Well so I thought. I found a simple thirteen step guide on getting around the obstacles enforced upon me. Or so I was brought to believe. There was a point further down about not restarting if prompting to do so, has it could potentially corrupt my Windows. I was far too arrogant to read and fully understand the instructions. Instead I decided to boast to my work colleague via MSN, “How difficult could it be?” Only for that to be the last words I would speak to anyone online for the rest of the evening. The installation failed, okay, no sweat. No need to panic, Captain Mainwaring. Surely Windows would just work. Nope. My machine killed all open applications and processes and began to reboot. Oh no. Even still, I was only slightly concerned. I was confident that Windows would reboot and work fine. I was so wrong. You would not think I work in IT and spend a countless number of hours staring at computer screen. When Windows did not load first time, I began getting desperate. What could I do? I know, a repair installation of Windows. On the second reboot attempt, Windows actually booted up to my relief, but to errors galore. All my programs were corrupt. MSN Messenger logged me in and my status was online but the main screen was blue and blank. Not good. Then a bubble appeared to state that Winamp.exe was corrupt. Uh oh!. Could I run a repair? I had done it on other machines but never my own. The main OS files are restored but my all important profile remains intact. Nope. That was not an option. Quite literally, when I put my SP2 CD in the drive and booted up, I had only the options of a fresh install or the wonderful but completely useless recovery console. I tried one last final reboot but it was even worse now. No log in screen, not even the XP splash screen. Just a message that a critical system dll file was missing. With hindsight a repair would have restored the DLL and more importantly got my system back up and running. But then I did not readily have access to the internet and there was no chance of me booting up the family PC at that time of night. It was just after 10pm. There was no alternative. I had to take the plunge into the deep end and reinstall Windows. I hoped to carry out a reinstall rather than a fresh install and hope (and pray) that my all important files remain intact. Normally I would be going crazy and smashing up my room at the thought of losing all those years of documents, websites and accounts. However, I was relatively calm. This renstall was a minor inconvience. I had last week backed everything important up onto my 320gb hard drive. Sometimes my timing is impecciable. My next obsticle was the product key. For some reason the key I had in my possesion was invalid. Perhaps it was only valid for SP1. Although I had installed Windows on this, then newly build machine with no problems. Who was I gonna call? I called Chris, half expecting him to hang up on me, or more like be sound asleep. He was wide awake, to my surprise and more than happy to help. In the end he messaged the collegue I had been speaking to perhaps fifteen minutes earlier. After the laughter died down, I was given a product key and finally got Windows loaded. (On the second attempt as it failed first time around, so had to restart but it was only the GUI section, so thankfully it picks up from where it left off.) So around 11pm, I was back up and running. Well with a standard Windows XP Professional SP2 build with no drivers and it took me thirty minutes to load the basic drivers and my television card, so I could at least watch some television before I fell asleep. I had created a new account, called Test, so as not to overwrite my existing Andrew profile. However, no internet access. That would have to wait until this evening, when I had the time get MSN and a few other minor applications running. My plan is to keeply wipe the C: drive and reinstall properly over the weekend. I am just far too busy this week to be able to spare the time to actually get the machine up and running to my complete satisfaction. The morale of the tale is simple. Do not think you can install a major upgrade at the drop of a hat. Think about it. Then think about it again and before you replace a single dynamic link library file or run the alternative update executable, consider the worse case scenario of everything going wrong. Then, come back the next day with at least one alternative option and the most important, a back up plan. Something I rarely tend to bank on. A shame when you consider I work on a helpdesk supporting around nine hundred end users. If I do not have a clue, what hope is there for them?

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