September 2010

I had recovered a computer not used in years. Eventually I managed to get XP to repair it and it worked fine for a few days and I could access old programs, in particular Sophocles 2003. However there was a persistent and annoying software fault which no amount of searching online seemed to find a fix for. I have Sophocles 2007, and the registry settings to ensure I don’t lose access to that program now the company has disappeared from the world, so the 2003 version is a little surplus to requirements. There wasn’t anything else of worth on that computer so there was no reason not to do a full re install. So I took the plunge and just did a full clean reinstall of Windows XP. I took a back-up of the drivers first using Driver Genius Pro 2005 and copied a lot of other things to the portable USB drive before commencing on the clean re install.

It all went fine. Done in under an hour, activated and loading speedily. I restored the drivers, installed a couple of programs and then we went down the path of getting the OS up to date with patches and updates.

When I started Windows took up 2.6 Gig of the hard disk. When I finished all the updates (which again took the best part of six hours) the space used was up to 9.1 gigabytes.

Fair enough, this was a full update, skipping no patches or upgrades. A couple failed and I didn’t update the graphics card driver (I did this first time round when the computer was ‘repaired’ and the graphics went haywire) but this is still a lot of hard disk space to relinquish.

Many megabytes of bandwidth and a threefold increase in space, and it’s taking a lot longer to load up. Was it worth it? I ask myself.

That’s all the new/old computer does. It’s currently working it’s way through 58 of them, and it did at least 30 on Friday. It has been idle for about three years so it does have a lot of catching up to do.

And I tracked the CD/DVD problem down to software – or to be more accurate the lack of software. It happens when I uninstall software. But as I uninstalled about four or five packages at the one time I can’t point an accurate finger at the culprit. And I’m not inclined to uninstall them one at a time to find out which one is causing the problem. I can live with a few programs that I hardly ever use sitting on my hard drive.

I haven’t been reading much of late – a little too busy with other things – but I’ll try and catch up; or at least complete the short story collections I’m working through. I found a great writer that has really impressed me. Rhys Hughes. He has a story in the Philip Jose Farmer collection The Worlds of Philip Jose Farmer and I bought one of his books on the strength of it. The Postmodern Mariner. It’s a collection of short stories and I have honestly enjoyed all that I have read so far. I can’t say that for every collection. Mostly I enjoy one or two, sometimes several, but there’s always a story that doesn’t quite hit it in every collection. But I haven’t come across it yet in The Postmodern Mariner.

I tried again to recover files from the U3 flash drive but no luck. I sent a couple of letters off by registered post last week and they weren’t in the back up before I lost/destroyed the USB drive. I have a print out of one but not the other. The program I used to hunt through the deleted files found all sorts, but not the files I was looking for. It found files from years ago but not a few days ago. And some of the dates on the files it did find were weird. 2135 and such.

I close this post with the old/new computer only on number 28 of the 58 updates.

I recently had some spare time and worked on an old desktop. It constantly rebooted and I didn’t know if it was a hardware or a software problem. Trying to get Windows repaired didn’t work, and other hard disks just caused it to not recognise any attached hardware. But I eventually managed to get it to offer me a repair option when I was using the original Windows disk after much gnashing of teeth working with other programs and fixes found on the Internet. This eventually led to a Windows repair which was basically a reinstall, with me entering the key and then online activation. The computer then booted up and within a few minutes I was looking at the contents of a hard drive that hadn’t been used since 2007. It is a pretty good spec computer too, even though it’s three or four years old.

I was quite pleased with myself.

Of course, the gods wouldn’t let it lie.

Today on my laptop my U3 disk wouldn’t load. Here we go I think, it’s finally snuffed it. I had recently bought a four gigabyte one as a replacement because the one I have been using the past few years was giving some errors here and there and felt very fragile. The program wouldn’t load but the drive was still accessible. So I play around with that. I copy all the files to the c disk of the laptop and fiddle around with the U3 drive. No luck. It would not load any portable programs and the files downloaded from Sandisk wouldn’t recognise the USB disk as a U3 drive.

I even tried programs from the temporary folder on the laptop hard disk but they wouldn’t work either. I reformat the drive and try to reinstall. No dice.

It’s about this time I realise it isn’t the fault of the U3 drive but the laptop. It is not recognising CD/DVD drives: not the internal one, not the external one and not the USB one. A quick check of the system shows me that it can’t find or load the drivers. Vista couldn’t find any drivers online or any solutions to the problem.

Ghost I think, it’s saved my bacon before. And, without thought, I load the Ghost CD and restore the laptop to last week. It’s halfway through when I realise that I hadn’t copied back the files for the U3 from the laptop c drive.

Norton Ghost does a ninety nine percent job of restoring the drive. I get a blue screen and then some Vista program called System Repair or something appears, spends ten minutes doing nothing and then loads the computer up. It’s back to the way it was last Sunday, but seeing as I don’t keep any files on the laptop that’s ok.

They’re all on the USB. Which has been re-formatted.

The recovery programs I tried were rubbish, listing only files with numbers. And there’s no way I’m going through four thousand files and renaming them. So I turn back to the backup disk and unzip the back up of the USB. I back that up manually using my copy of SecureZip. As it’s a manual backup by me it’s not as regular as the machine backup by Ghost. The latest I have is from late last month so I’ve lost about two weeks worth of information but it’s better than losing everything.

But I’ve got my old computer back again, and I might use that for a few things. Antics now has a workaround via the forum and I might stick Antics on the old computer – I did purchase the parts and build it to high specs so I could run Antics on it. And as I said earlier even though its three years old it’s still good specs: 2 gig of RAM, 2.4 gig processor, 250 gig hard drive, graphics card. That’s an OK spec even for now. It runs Windows XP which I still prefer over Vista and – as I made a point of never installing unnecessary software on that computer – it still loads and runs blindingly fast.

Another plus is that computer is where I have the program Sophocles. I bought it and then a few years later the company disappeared altogether. The software was Internet activated; you got a code from the guy and all the features were then enabled. And he was quite cool in that you could go back to him any number of times for another number. I only had two numbers; the one for the computer and another for the new (at that time) beta edition of the software.

When the software disappeared the Internet came to the rescue with a way to ‘activate’ on other computers, which involved saving out the registry entries. This allowed me to ensure that I can still use the software but only the beta version as I couldn’t access the original version on the old desktop computer. Now I can and I will save out the registry information so that if the computer goes down again at least I can continue to use that piece of software.