Tuesday, July 31, 2007


So, Adobe has released a new version of the Flash Player. It seems everyone under the sun is now requiring this new version (well, yahoo maps and my Dad's RoadRunner email are). So I decided to install it on the old home compooter.

Oddly, it worked fine for me, but then when other people tried to use those sites, it complained that it did not have the version installed if using Internet Explorer. Firefox was just plain fine. So I decided last night to dedicate myself to figuring this out.

Mistake, as it turns out.

I upgraded to the most recent IE, as I had held off on that cuz of the crappier user interface. Didn't help.

I tried uninstalling the previous version, as in the Flash troubleshooting FAQ it said this could be a problem. Didn't help.

Finally, I found a note on what to do if it's ONLY IE that doesn't work, whereas other browsers do, and it's only for some users on a multi-user XP system. It involved changing the permissions inside the registry by using the register editor. Apparently, there are complicated register entry changes made by the latest Flash that by default all users do not have permission to make, even if they're designated as "Administrators" in the account setup.

No big deal. I've edited the register before and never had a problem. So they gave an example of what your permissions should look like.

On my compooter, the permissions screen was blank. (Interestingly, on my work compooter, it looks just like the example from Adobe). So I added the "Administrators" group and gave unrestricted permission to it. I hit OK. Then I hit EXIT.

And that was the last of my compooter.

It just started diddling the hard drive with the screen frozen. I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

After a while, the hard drive stopped being diddled. I waited. And waited. And waited some more.

Finally, I power cycled the thing. My compooter often hangs when trying to restart and needs a power cycle.

It came right up. To the second splash screen. Then it sat. The mouse worked, but all I had was a pretty blue screen with a little "Windows" icon in the center of it. I waited quite a bit, at this point in a fairly blind panic, it being 1:30am and the compooter being dead.

I tried "last known good config". Didn't help.

I tried all three varieties of Safe Mode. Didn't help.

I searched high and low for my Windows DVD and could not find it. Not that it would have helped, I don't think, as I don't know what I would have done with it. There's this "re-instaling the OS" thing that you can theoretically do, but I dunno if the Windows DVD is even bootable.

I paced around the house like a crazed maniac.

I got out the phone book to look at the listings for compooter repair. Ooo - The Mrs. is gonna be mad that I broke her compooter. I cursed myself for not buying that external drive and drive cloning software that got a glowing review over at The JohnnyB.

Finally, I just let it spin and went to bed. A fitful rest until the early morning, when I had a dream that I found a floppy that came with the computer called "registry recovery", ran it, and it found 4 corrupted registry entries all from a marijuana advocacy website, fixed them, and the computer booted just fine. I slept happily until I woke up realizing it was a dream. I ran downstairs to check on the compooter, and it was still sitting at the windows splash screen. And the mouse still worked.

So I spent all morning decided whether I should pay someone $50/hr to reinstall my OS and hope he doesn't decide to reformat the drive along the way and lose all my data; or if I should get a new hard drive, get that up and running, then copy the files over; or if I should just get a new compooter since this one has been kind of dogging it for a while. In the end, I decided that nothing soothes the heart more than a new compooter, so I went to a highly-rated local compooter store and spec'd one out. It's kinda similar to The JohnnyB's Velocity Micro, but I went downscale a bit on many of the components. Though I did get 4MB of cache on my Core 2 Duo (6340? 1.86GHz/1066bus/4M). I also opted for Windows XP instead of Vista, as I didn't want to deal with trying to find Vista drivers for all my peripherals nor did I want to deal with Vista's nasty evil DRM.

We're scavenging my dual-layer DVD+/-RW drive, the wireless keyboard and mouse, and the firewire board from the old compooter, and we're installing the old hard drive in as the d: drive (since it's a 7200RPM 80GM drive, though it's IDE instead of SATA, so it needs an adapter). Nice thing is the store does all that for free even though I didn't buy the original from them.

I get the compooter tomorrow, assuming no unforseen problems. He had it all assembled except for my scavanged components between the time I went to the store to order it and when I returned with my old system an hour later. If I had been willing to take Vista, I coulda had it today. But XP has 5 hours of downloaded updates that need to get installed after you install off the DVD, so he needs to take until tomorrow to get all those done. (Best Buy charges an extra $100 to do that for you.)

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the old hard drive isn't messed up and that all our data is there. Mostly all we care about is all our digital pictures (I have up through about 9mo ago on a DVD) and The Mrs.'s Outlook Express archive/address and her IE bookmarks. I can't imagine a regedit messing up the hard drive, so I fully expect it to all be intact. And, having both drives in the same machine means I can move files very quickly and I can spend as long as I like finding non-critical files. I still have a boatload of files in a directory on that drive that I created as a copy of the hard drive of the previous computer. That hard drive was too slow to be moved over to the new one.


CJ said...

I hate late night computer problems.

I am pretty sure the files are fine and you can backup the drive via cloning software before recovery attempt(s). I could have done it for you for free and try the recovery bootable CD/DVDs I have.

My sister recently spent ~$700 buying a Dell Core2Duo system that is more than enough for her email/browsing/gaming usages -- and that price includes a 22" LCD monitor.

XP SP2 install should not require as many updates as the original XP install CVD. That store should use a newer DVD for installation -- but then they can't charge you as much. ;)

Nava said...

At our house, this kind of sentence is usually the beginning of a beautiful, long and prosperous "Damn Technology" post-saga...

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ellie said...

What do you use Flash for? Anything? I find it annoying.

JohnnyB said...

Good call on not going with Vista - we have it on the VM machine, and it's pretty much the sole cause of all problems.

You should still get the external back-up drive. In case of emergency, you pull 2 wires and walk out with all your data.

Nava said...

Aha - this is the first time I hear The JohnnyB saying something against Vista.

Indeed, Vista sucks. Big time!!!