03/15/2001

Fun problem today. A system decided it couldn’t find HAL.DLL at boot time. The result: a dead PC. “Replace the file,” it says. Yeah, that’s easy to do when the system won’t boot! Chicken and egg, anyone?

There is a read/write NTFS driver for DOS  floating around out there, but all of the non-Microsoft NTFS drivers that try to write NTFS have risks involved. I’ll use these tools for data recovery, but I’m nervous about trying to use them for disaster recovery. The chances of creating a bigger disaster are just too great–NTFS isn’t a simple filesystem and it’s poorly documented.

So, the safe solution is to grab the appropriate install CD (NT4, Win2000), and boot from it as if you’re going to reinstall. It’ll ask whether you want to install or repair an existing installation. Choose repair. It’ll offer to do a whole bunch of things. De-select everything but checking the system and boot files. Let it do its thing (it’ll take a few minutes), then pull the CD and reboot. You’ll be back in business–almost. Reinstall the current service pack to avoid the mismatched files problem.

This solution works when HAL.DLL, the NT kernel, or any number of other system files decide to take early retirement on you. At least the fix usually only takes a few minutes.

If you’re an aspiring IT professional, or if you’re looking to get a new job, or you’re up for review, remember this. It seems to be a frequent interview question, and for some reason people are really impressed when you know this.

And no, HAL.DLL didn’t pop up and ask, What are you doing, Dave? at any point during the repair.

Fun discussion today. I was talking about Internet dating, for some reason. And a colleague(?) whose opinion I really value said a few things that got me thinking. “You’re a lot braver than I am,” she said. Ahem. I’m not sure that’s the word I’d choose, not in light of The Register‘s story  My Internet Love is a Corpse-Hoarding Granny . Not that this is a level of journalism anyone should aspire to, but it was good for a few laughs in the office.

Hmm. I know my sister spent more time in chatrooms online than I ever have. Hey, Di, I know you met some real creeps online. You ever meet anyone that bad?

Anyway. My coworker talked about the risk of disappointment when you finally see the person–definitely a valid concern–and wondered about the initial chemistry. I think you can get some of that, but the problem is your imagination can tend to take over and it’s easy to make the person into something else. I read an interview with Aimee Mann some time ago. The interviewer asked what a particular song was about, and she said the best part of a relationship for most people is the beginning, because you can make the other person in your own mind into a creature that doesn’t exist. That’s even more true on the ‘Net.

But that imagination can set you up for disappointment. That person could end up being even better than you imagined. Or they could be totally different, your mind can translate “different” as “worse,” and then it’s crash and burn time.

I know it works for a lot of people so I’m not gonna knock it. I thought the potential downside she raised was interesting and something I’d never really thought much about.

And that’s good. I had a brief discussion with Dan  yesterday, and I guess I raise some things a lot of people never really thought much about. I’m glad someone’s keeping me on my toes.

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