Yesterday something bad happened.

Yes, it was Valentines, not traditionally a day my mood is good (Especially with the whole “togetherness” aspect of local programming that’s particulally annoying at the moment).

Yesterday, though, the hard-drive of my desktop decided that since nobody had sent it a Valentines card, today was a good day to die. Click. Boom.

XP decided it couldn’t find it’s system files. Couldn’t recover it’s system files. Couldn’t reinstall it’s system files. Couldn’t go on living. Goodbye, cruel world, may you find a better operating system than me. Blam.

This was annoying, because I was looking forward to playing computer games all weekend. Nothing more than that, really, because I run something of a Teflon Windows install. Nothing sticks. Everything I want is kept on the server (My ‘My Documents’ folder is a subdirectory of my home dir on the server, shared over Samba), All I have to do is format the hard-drive, shove my Windows XP CD in one drive and my Unattended Install Disk into the floppy drive and come back in a half hour to a clean, new windows install.


You see, somewhere between now and last November – when I wrote that article – I’d decided that the most vital thing I needed was not my emergancy must-have-so-system-downtime-is-minimal floppy diskette, but a dos-boot diskette so I can play my older games still. So I had copied an image of the diskette onto c:, and turned my emergancy-vital-important diskette into what was, now, three and a half square inches of worthless plastic.

At this point I called myself a number of impolite things. I told myself I was being a bit harsh on me, but I disagreed and continued raging on the general theme of me being a moron who didn’t deserve a computer.

I reread the article I wrote last time, wished my writing style was slightly less florid and slightly quicker to get to the point, downloaded the example file and recreated the disk. Mere hours after the inital crash, a spinny-rotaty question-mark informed me that I was now in the New XP Experience! Yay. Rapture. Spiraling shapes of pure entertainment, now go away and let me get to my desktop.

It went away and I was left in teletubby-land. With a speed caused by months of experience, I got rid of teletubby land (Replaced with a rather nice picture of a Cambridge sunset) and turned the green/blue to darker-green/silver. Then I realised the important thing.

I had no drivers.

You see, I don’t keep installation CDs. I have this connection to the Internet, no bandwidth limits, and the exact knowledge of what is in my computer. I can get drivers from the source, damnit.

Or rather, I could. Right now my connection to the Greater World is via my dad’s PC. The contents of our home-network are my desktop and my server, because my parents object to having wires trailing around the house (Don’t have time/money/equipment for wireless). Hmm.

I do, however, have an MP3 player.

I have, over the last few years, spent quite a lot of money on MP3 players. I had one of the orignal Rio’s, a replacement cheap one when that died, a Rio600 when the buttons fell out of the cheap one, and my current one. The best example of why Digital Rights Management is a Bad Idea (And yes, Virginia, there are good reasons for both DRM and copyright, but that’s another article) is that my current MP3 player is the first one that Just Works.

It’s a USB Mass Storage device. PC, Linux, even OS X recognises it as a USB Mass Storage Device. It’s a 128mb USB hard-drive that has a headphone socket and will play any MP3s it finds though it. It has a built in USB plug, too. It Just Works.

Therefore I was able to spend an entertaining day ferrying my MP3 player between dad’s computer upstairs and mine downstairs containing drivers for the sound, 3d, modem and network cards; Direct X; Game, System and Application patches; without having to burn CDs of them.

I did, however, lose my game saves for every game that doesn’t follow the (sensible) Microsoft recommendations and put them in the My Documents folder where they won’t get lost. This is, obviously, most of them, so I’ve spent most of today burning backups of my server home directory (Dying hard-drives concentrate the mind with regard to backups) and wandering back through “Prince of Persia: Sands of Time”.

Oh, and watching Office Space (IMDB). Which is good.