Dead tired and in no condition to be making command decisions, it seemed that I had beamed my primary drive down to the third planet
, so to speak. During the hasty triaging I had forgotten to offload some of my most vital files: backup index databases, a text file with all of my logins, a list of games that I've beaten
, unfinished posts of every stripe, original content in a dozen different formats, and on and on.
There wasn't much to do now other than reinstall Windows, except for this: while using the Ubuntu Linux live disc I'd noticed an option in its advanced start-up menu to run a memory test. Within one split second Memtest86+ showed that 108 MB of my 512 MB RAM were returning errors.
For a while now I've been on the lookout for secondhand PCs running XP at throwaway prices. One finally turned up a mere four days before my computer had the RAM JAM
. It's a branded computer made in 2003 or '04. Initially I didn't pay much attention to the hardware; the feature of the computer that most appealed to me was that it included an XP FPP license, box and all. Apparently the previous owner had lost their branded install disc and subsequently purchased a full license. The XP disc had obviously been used little, or more likely once
; it's in mint condition. Getting it for 25 quatloos took some of the sting out of my having paid 10 times that for an XP Full license a few years ago.
Regarding the computer's hardware, it's mostly decent. Intel motherboard with a Pentium 4 processor. The 80 GB hard drive would be alright except that it's extremely slow. Worse, the PC had only a paltry 256 MB of RAM. But it looked as though, with a little work, this computer could be comparable to my old PC, maybe even a little better in some respects.
With that in mind, I moved the secondary drive from my old computer to the "new" computer and prepared to install Windows.
I've been living with insomnia and the negative effects of sleep deprivation for some time now
, and so it was that I awoke in a terrible funk just a few hours later. Unable to get email working in my secondary installation, I had to boot to the primary drive in order to receive my important communiques
. On the way there, via the new C: > Chkdsk E: > C: alternate boot-path, CHKDSK locked up.
Obviously the situation was only getting worse on my primary drive. In my sleep-starved delirium, against all instinct and better judgement, I decided to let Windows repair itself using the installation CD. It would have been an easy thing to first finish offloading the remaining 20% of my data, but the recent success with Linux had left me feeling kind of invincible, and if this didn't work Windows could only hurt itself, right?
With the CD loaded I rebooted, selected the installation to repair, and pressed 'R'. Everything seemed to be going well enough, until the repair operation froze at 47%.
Rebooting, the Windows CD informed me that it had already failed to repair the installation and asked if I wanted to try again. Try.
It had sounded a lot more confident before. But try
it did and achieved exactly the same result: frozen at 47%.
My C: drive was thus rendered unbootable - no more email. And much to my chagrin, now the secondary drive wouldn't boot up - no more Internet either. But to top it off, even Linux wouldn't recognize my primary drive anymore - 20% of my precious data, gone.