It’s mid-afternoon, and I’m merrily typing away in XP when it suddenly turns into treacle, and then a huge, blue, fierce BSOD bars my way. I haven’t seen one of those in a long time. I don’t really register the alleged reason – I’m thinking about what I was doing, and feeling happy that I was in VNC and consequently nothing’s lost – before XP reboots.
And then it gets unhappier, muttering about “disk boot failure” and instructing me to insert a system disk.
Um. I’m sure I had a boot disk somewhere, is that what I want? On a floppy? I can’t find it anyway. If I could find it I’m not entirely sure what incantation I would need to invoke. I’m not a Windows weenie.
Luckily, and unlike normal people who at this point would be up the proverbial without the proverbial, I’ve got a network and a Mac and I can google for information.
Meanwhile I try some percussive maintenance: give it a well-deserved thump and reboot. Ooh, it does something different; it doesn’t boot, but I get some other differently useless message. And again, something different still. A temperature/fan thing? A cable thing? I hate intermittent failures. I hate Windows.
Recovery Console. That seems to be a common thread on the net. Simply find your original XP CD… aha! Avaragado Packrat to the rescue.
Meanwhile, the PC magically boots! All the way into Windows, back to normality! For a couple of minutes anyway, and then it BSODs again. Hmm. What have I changed on the PC recently? I installed Google’s Browser Sync extension for a testdrive, and installed all the very latest Windows updates. Ah. How very suspicious.
Anyway, problem not yet solved. Boot the XP CD, choose to Recover, choose a Windows installation to log in to, type the Administrator’s password. The whatnow? I try the usual suspects. Three strikes and you reboot. I keep trying until I run out of ideas, yea even unto old Tarantella administrator passwords. I webscover that XP helpfully hides the Administrator account unless you boot into Safe Mode. The PC plays nicely and lets me do that. As expected (and already tried in the Recovery Console), there’s no passsword. I set one, reboot into Recovery Console, and it promptly rejects it.
This makes no sense whatsoever. I soon discover a site that tells me that, yes, this can happen, mad isn’t it, and points to a Microsoft download to fix the problem. A download that no longer exists: great.
I find a KB article describing the problem, in which Microsoft confesses its sins. The grandly named resolutions: create some new, bugfixed Setup disks, assuming you still live enough in the stone age to have six usable floppy disks (and a working PC that can write to them, which for me is somewhat in doubt); or install the Recovery Console on your hard disk (blah working computer blah) and then install this magic hotfix, that you have to ring up Microsoft and beg permission to download.
Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.
And that’s where I am now. The intermittent nature of the problem worries me. I might try rolling back the Windows updates tomorrow, assuming I can get it to boot, but I don’t think that will solve it. My money’s on a dodgy disk right now.
Unless the lazyweb has any better ideas…