Archive for January 29th, 2011

Surviving the Blue Screen of Death

| January 29, 2011 | 11 Replies
Surviving the Blue Screen of Death

The BSoD, to those who may not know the term, is an epithetic reference to Microsoft’s simple message that your computer has been hosed, so to speak. The infamous blue screen has been the incitement of many a sincere and profane invective, since it was first seen in MS-DOS.

As a software developer, I have seen my share of BSoD’s. They were relatively common in the DOS versions of Windows, that includes Win3.x, Win95, 98, and ME. The Win2k and XP versions were built on a more stable platform, called NT for “New Technology”.

I had never seen a BSoD in Win2K or XP until this week. I tried to install a webcam driver for an older camera.

At first, I was not overly concerned. In previous versions of DOS and Windows, a simple reboot let me go in and fix things.

Reboot failed to BSoD. So I tried booting to Safe Mode. Fail. I tried several other things, including Googling the exact message from my laptop. I spent a couple of hours tinkering with BIOS settings and running tests from a bootable CD. I removed the “new” old driver files. No luck.

In XP, the BSoD apparently means SOL. I had a dead system.

But, I do make regular backups. All my data files were copied to a USB hard disk a week earlier. And I had a complete clone of my drive from 7 months ago; full O/S bootable.

Now I had to make a decision. My 2005 machine has since been upgraded to the max RAM, and I’ve quadrupled the hard drive as pictures and videos required it. But if I have to go through all the work of updating an old disk and installing missing newer programs and grooming my newer preferences, maybe it is time to get a significantly faster new machine and do that work on it. I almost went to go buy one.

But in the name of parsimony, I first got my clone from the bank (safe deposit boxes survive house fires and burglaries much better than local backups), swapped the drive in, and booted. It worked fine. So I spent a whole day updating it. Windows, browsers, program updates, anti-virus program and updates, Quicken, Turbo Tax, et cetera, ad nauseum.

I have a USB adapter that converts any SATA or EIDE drive into a USB drive. But I could not use it directly on my desktop, because Windows “helpfully” finds system data from all bootable drives, corrupting the desktop. Wisdom is what you learn the hard way.

So I connected the BSoD drive using USB on my laptop via my home network, and copied all newer files using an XCOPY batch file . It took several hours.

Then I used my usual xcopy batch to make sure I had all the newest data on my regular USB drive. Then a day of testing to see if I can find anything I missed.

When I was confident that the drive pulled from the bank (bottom edge in the picture) was good, I had to clone it back to my newer drive (in the drive bay upper right). I used the EaseUS free disk copy utility. Another few hours. And much worrying about having maybe missed files, or (worst case) cloning the wrong way.

I had some real worries, because my older disk (the one that now worked) had 8 unreadable sectors. But after cloning, I ran a CHKDSK on the clone, and everything was actually okay. EaseUS copies all sectors, including those known as bad to BIOS. So after two days of work, I now have my 6 year old computer back to where it was 2 days ago.

Yay?

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Upside down starships

| January 29, 2011 | 16 Replies
Upside down starships

Here’s some important information on upside down starships.

I’m reminded of “upside down” earth photos, and maps.

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Ayn Rand’s real world position regarding government benefits

| January 29, 2011 | 34 Replies
Ayn Rand’s real world position regarding government benefits

I recently spotted this excerpt in Wikipedia (I left the footnote references so you can backtrack):

A heavy smoker, Rand underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1974. Although she had long opposed government assistance programs, she eventually accepted Social Security and Medicare payments for herself, under the name of “Ann O’Connor”, and her husband as well.[87] A July 1998 interview with Ewa Joan Pryor, a New York state social worker, conducted in 1998 by the Ayn Rand Institute, revealed that Pryor assisted the two with filing. Federal records obtained through a Freedom of Information act request confirmed that between December 1974 and her death in March 1982, Rand collected a total of $11,002 in monthly Social Security payments.[88] O’Connor received $2,943 between December 1974 and his death in November 1979.[89]

Rand, is often cited today by conservatives touting extremely limited federal government, including many Tea Party advocates who are currently collecting social security payments and Medicare benefits. Here is the Wikipedia opening paragraph on Rand:

Rand’s political views, reflected in both her fiction and her theoretical work, emphasize individual rights (including property rights) and laissez-faire capitalism, enforced by a constitutionally limited government. She was a fierce opponent of all forms of collectivism and statism,[3][4]

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The Onion explores America’s obsession with Sarah Palin

| January 29, 2011 | Reply
The Onion explores America’s obsession with Sarah Palin

The Onion explore America’s attraction to Sarah Palin:


Morbid Curiosity Leading Many Voters To Support Palin

In this second piece, The Onion also takes a swipe at our Snow IQ:


Snowy Conditions Proving Hazardous For Nation’s Idiots

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