Saturday, October 31, 2009



Took in Is.'s first gymnastics class at Splitz in Canton. Followed that with lunch at Ginger, a nearby Pan-Asian place. And then we drove over to St. Clair Shores this afternoon; later had dinner and trick-or-treated with my brother's family near 11 Mile and Little Mack. Fortunately, there were no fires to put out on our three-block route, which we walked through conditions that gave every impression tomorrow begins November. Back in Ypsilanti now, wondering when I want to spend this weekend's free hour and watching the Pistons, who trail the Milwaukee Bucks by seven points in the 4th quarter. Announcers keep saying "Brandon Jennings, Brandon Jennings."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blames on the Claims

Is. pretends to read from Gertrude Stein. "A piece of coffee. More of double. A place in no new table."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blank Screen, Ultimate Boot

The three-year old HP Slimline started acting up on Monday evening. Eventually the whole works seized, locking up stiffer than an ice fishing zombie dangling a line in Coldwater Lake in late January. I mean, frozen st-st-stiff.

Now this is the machine D. uses for everyday stuff: work documents, email, trafficking photos of Is. The last piece--baby photos--explains why this freeze-up was an Instant Crisis: three years' worth of digital images aren't backed up anywhere.

Because the usual solutions (Ctrl-Alt-Del) weren't working, I had no choice but to unplug the frozen PC. When I rebooted, it cycled through the HP welcome screen (with the full spread of startup function-key interruptions available) and the Windows XP startup screen before landing on a blank screen. The blank screen included the mouse cursor, but nothing else, none of the desktop icons or navigation options.

Various troubleshooting forums reported this problem is fairly widespread. Lots of people have suffered through Windows XP booting to a blank screen with a mouse cursor. And yet, the supposed causes were numerous: viruses, flawed hardware, glitchy service pack stuff, and so on. I had a PC Doctor CD burned, and I ran it through its cycle to at least confirm that all of the hardware checked out.

More than anything else, I needed to gain access to the baby photos, access that would permit me to back them up before I attempted to run Windows through a repair process. After talking through options with my brother, I used my VAIO laptop (along with ĀµTorrent and InfraRecorder) to download Xubuntu and burn its .iso image to a CD. Xubuntu worked fine, but it wouldn't give me access to the Windows files.

I rooted around in more forums, and I found that, unlike the lighter Linux OS, Ubuntu running from a CD would allow me to access all of the computer's files. I downloaded it, burned the .iso to another CD, booted the troubled computer from the disk, and easily navigated to find the precious files. Next, I simply connected the Maxtor external hard drive I typically use to backup the aging VAIO, created another folder, and dropped 23GB of stuff from D.'s HP onto the drive.

With the data rescued, I only needed to restore the operating system. I could manage this either by A) reinstalling Windows XP or B) (a long shot) following instructions for a Registry Restore Wizard available as part of Ultimate Boot CD for Windows, which I read about in a forum as a solution to the blank-screen startup in XP Home. Figured it was worth a try.

Seems miraculous in retrospect, but option B went smoothly. I downloaded the UBCD4Win .exe, also copied the contents of the XP installation CD into a folder, then ran the UBCD4Win executable, built the .iso, and burned the Ultimate Boot CD. Within a few minutes, I was able to run the Registry Restore Wizard, pick a restore date from two weeks ago, and reboot the HP Slimline as if today was October 15 and nothing ever happened.

Of course, I went ahead and cycled through a few more steps, running cleanups and virus/ad-aware scans. AVG found a virus called "Defiler," which may or may not have been the culprit. I didn't bother to search beyond the "lazy 1-10" Google results for a backstory on the Defiler virus. Had no trouble assigning it to quarantine and, thus, putting an end to Windows XP "defilings" for the near future.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


  •  I'm a few days off pace for blogging every day in October. Try NaBloWriMo in MoNov? MoDec?
  • News re: haunting: Is. will dress up as a _________ for Halloween.
  • On second thought, it's a surprise. She has planned and practiced a trick in case any jokesters withhold the good candy. Or in case insiders announce her costume choice prematurely.
  • I don't know what Ph. will dress as. Unforgettable haunted houses in Kansas City, anyway.
  • Talking midterm evaluation trends, Queneau on style, Project Three setup, and Pollan as example, and V. Tufte's "Short Sentences" (for Monday) in ENGL328. Good, if overcaffeinated, session at 2 p.m. Better at 5 p.m.?
  • That's become a pattern, by the way: the 2 p.m. section gets the raw that is by 5 p.m. cooked.
  • By tomorrow at this time, perhaps I will have fixed the unrecoverable OS problem.
  • Perhaps not.