Sunday, October 16, 2005

Blue Screen of Death 

Little is more discomfiting in computers than to get the Blue Screen Of Death on your PC with an incomprehensible error outlined in equally garbled explanation. Such an error occurred on Sunday with a program I have been using for a long time. There was no apparent reason for the crash, but it locked my system so tightly that I had to pull the power plug to shut it down. Several attempts thereafter, and I realized to my horror that I couldn't access the desktop. Whatever it was, it was ugly and mean.

Fortunately, my brother was in the house, and he works with computers although not with Microsoft XP. He kept me from diving out the window, and we tried to debug the error. I learned quickly about a PR failure that Microsoft and other software companies still have not resolved. It is damn difficult to use system recovery software and other tools buried in the operating system. They're all there: Try to find them. When you do, try to understand what they mean. Debugging ain't for sissies.

Finally, on a hunch, I went to a software manufacturer's site and tried to debug through it. The manufacturer recommended on the web page to download the latest version of the software after removing the current version. That seemed to do the trick. Everything appears to be working again -- and it only cost me four hours. It was just what I wanted to do on a Sunday evening with a house full of guests who could hear my four-letter muttering.


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