Well, This Just Sucks

Forgive me for this, I just need to rant. I’ll hide it so it doesn’t take up the entire site.

I’ve been fairly busy since getting back on Sunday, hence the lack of posts. Being busy is good, generally. Not this time, though.

Firstly, I woke up on Monday morning with my right ear blocked. This happens every six months or so, and really winds me up. I’ve got some ear drops but it always seems to take an age to sort the problem out, during which time I can’t hear properly. I’m not completely deaf but things are muffled. After a few days it starts to hurt, and it seems that no matter what I do in the meantime the problem comes back. I should see a doctor at some point, I suppose. So the week didn’t get off to a great start.

I’ve been trying to catch up with work, and the same old problems that make me look incompetent keep coming up. Blank emails breaking downloads; things I’ve set up just *stopping working* for no reason I can find; me taking the time to answer questions that were apparently ‘tongue in cheek’. Etc.

Not fun. I did, however, download and install Windows XP Service Pack 2, which installed flawlessly. The new security centre is a great addition (it couldn’t quite figure out my corporate copy of NAV and NIS, but that’s no biggie). SP2 should be great for Joe Public, as they’ll at least be told that they are in desperate need of an antivirus package, even if they can’t be bothered to buy one. The integrated firewall is much nicer, too, allowing full program control. I quickly tested out IE’s new popup blocker, and that seems to work well. Another feature I hadn’t seen before I discovered when I pressed F8 on startup: the boot menu now gives you the option to turn off auto-restarts on a crash, which will be most handy for diagnosing those annoying startup blue-screens that vanish so quickly 🙂 So I officially like SP2. Then, after downloading my holiday pics from my Canon G3 digital camera, it was back to work.

Monday afternoon I decided that I was fed up and I’d play some Doom3, which I’d installed but not tried yet. I ran the game and Mars appeared…and it was blue. I’m no astromoner, but as far as I know, Mars isn’t blue. Actually, I am kind of an astronomer: it’s definitely not blue. Nevertheless, this could just be some style thing, so I loaded up the game. Lots of texture corruption ensued, so after 7 seconds of the introduction I quit.

First thing to change in situations like this is the video card drivers. I downloaded the 61.77s from NVIDIA, booted into Safe Mode, ran Driver Cleaner to remove the old set, installed the new ones, and rebooted. I ran Doom3 and Mars was red. Great! So I started the game…and it crashed. “Abnormal Program Termination”. I tried again but no change. Kak. Off to the Activision website and to the support FAQ I went. And, happily, I found an entry for ‘program crashes with abnormal program termination’. Cool. Should be up and running in no time, I thought. Sadly, the entry simply said ‘make sure your sound and video drivers are up to date’. Sigh.

I downloaded the latest nForce drivers and, as before, booted into Safe Mode. I removed the old drivers with Driver Cleaner, installed the new ones, and restarted. And the computer restarted itself. Then came the Windows-has-not-started-properly-what-do-you-want-to-do-screen. ‘Start normally’ caused a restart. As did ‘Last known good configuration’. As did ‘Safe Mode’.

Crappety crap crap crap. I got pissed off at this point and gave up for the day. There’s no point trying to solve problems when I’m wound up, I just get more and more cross. So I did various other things, then went to bed.

Next morning my ear was still kak. I tried to resurrect the computer. No joy. Messing around with files using BartPE (website seems to be down at time of writing) didn’t help. It looked like a repair install would be necessary. Except that, of course, I have no XP SP2 cd, and I didn’t fancy overwriting SP2 with SP1. Using BartPE I copied all the files to a useful folder structure, extracted the SP2 setup file, and tried to run the slipstream program. Didn’t work. BartPE isn’t a fully operational windows environment, unfortunately. Ok. All of the other XP computers were in use, so I copied the files to a CD (which BartPE does very well) and copied them onto the ME-based laptop. The laptop’s pretty old now, and this took a good 45mins. I ran the slipstream program and…it didn’t work. It needed XP/2K. Geez. Finally, during my lunch hour, I managed to create a CD on another computer in the house, and started off a repair install.

At this point, Ben arrived. We’d arranged to go fly a kite, and I’d been looking forward to it. We left the repair install going and headed to a nearby field next to Hatton Country World. The field was huge, and devoid of anyone else other than occasional walkers at the edges. Thankfully, the weather held off, and I had a go with a very cool purple and green kite in light winds. Ben was originally throwing the kite into the air while I tried to fly it, and after a while we swapped places. Ben’s a bit better than I am, so after a minute I grabbed my camera from where we’d left the kites and took a couple of pictures. After a bit Ben gave me the kite back and I put my camera down and tried to emulate what he’d been doing to keep the kite up in the air.

After running round a bit we went and assembled another kite. Just as it was finished I remembered my camera, and went back to pick it up. It wasn’t there. So I walked in ever-increasing circles. Still no sign of it. Ben came to help, but we couldn’t see it. Our search radius widened as time increased, but with no joy. Ben’s sister arrived later and helped. The grass was short, and bottles and other pieces of litter were visible from a long way away. There were various pits, but very few anything like large enough for my camera to slip into. Still, after perhaps two hours of searching it was nowhere to be seen. I checked with the lost property department of Hatton Country World, but they’d had nothing handed in. I left my details with them. So, in the end, we left, the intention being to carry on searching in the morning with some different people (Ben went on holiday today) and different angles of sunlight. Ben and I didn’t remember anyone going anywhere near where the camera was, in fact we only saw about four people in the time period, and they were all walking around the edge of the field. It seemed very unlikely that someone would have happened to have seen me put the camera down, managed to get to the centre of the field, pick it up and get back without either of us noticing.

At home I continued with the XP installation, then realised I’d used the XP OEM cd to create the slipstream CD. So my XP activation key, which is linked to my upgrade copy, didn’t work. Sigh. Anyway, I then went to Ben’s for tea and had a great evening; I haven’t had that good a time in ages and I’m very grateful to him, Lynsey and his sister for putting up with me.

I woke up this morning and my ear was still bad. After grabbing some breakfast I, my sister and Nod went back to the field. Nothing at all. We covered the entire area by foot and with binoculars. We then, happily, got caught in a very sudden, very heavy downpour. So it looks like my camera, along with 512mb memory card, has either been stolen or is so far down some kind of hole that it’s not visible. I’m hoping someone, maybe the lawnmower, will come across it and hand it in, but it’s seeming more and more likely that it’s been stolen. I’m annoyed but not terribly upset. It’s a huge pain to have lost it 2.5weeks before I go to America, but there weren’t any important photos on there. I try not to get too attached to possessions. It’s just how it is.

So, anyway, I got back and messed around with the computer some more. After creating another slipstream CD I finally managed to get XP up and running. As ever, the wonder of the repair install fixed everything right up, so I’m now running along quite happily. About an hour ago I decided I would try out Doom3. The new nForce drivers survived the repair install but the detonators didn’t. So I installed the latter and rebooted. I closed all unnecessary programs, plugged in my 5.1 headphones and went to double-click on the Doom 3 icon. And my mouse broke.

After ten minutes trying to remove a very stubborn hair next to the sensor I discovered that it worked on exactly one half of my RatPad. Wtf. A little more examination showed that this was the more well-lit side. I moved things around to try to figure out exactly what was happening, when the problem fixed itself! Great! I grabbed the headphones again…and the mouse promply stopped. It would seem that *somehow* my headphones are interfering with the wireless mouse. If I move them away it works fine. Charging it up has no effect. I don’t have any speakers and don’t really want to play without any sound, so at the moment I can’t play.(UPDATE: Mouse is working again now, but I still get abnormal program termination.) And to make things worse, it’s just got to the stage where my ear’s started hurting.

So things pretty much suck at the moment.

Ooh, a new one: if you try anything in the search box on this website, you get “H4ck3rsBR Crew…. S8ldier”. Must be a leftover from the Netweaver problem…probably. Great!

On the bright side, nobody tried to set fire to my garden. Kudos to Ed for keeping a cool head!