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Fix a Windows boot loop with AHCI

My wife’s computer was stuck in a Windows boot loop. We’d get the Windows 7 boot screen, and it would display a single pixel of the Windows 7 logo, then reboot itself endlessly. Booting in safe mode made it fail on classpnp.sys.

Any number of things can cause this, and it usually happens after you swap a motherboard. Enabling AHCI turned out to be the fix. Enabling AHCI also can be easier said than done, but I figured it out. She’s running Windows 7 (for now) but these same tricks should also work for Windows 10.

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My Babe Ruth lottery ticket

It was June 2, 2015, the 80th anniversary of Babe Ruth’s final Major League Baseball game. That day, I bought a lottery ticket. I spied a 1935 Goudey Babe Ruth card on Ebay, which casually mentioned it was an “RP,” which is usually shorthand for “reprint.”

Chances were, the seller was telling the truth, and hoping some bidders would fail to notice the code word. But the card looked just convincing enough that I decided to place a bid, just in case the seller was wrong. I won. The total price including shipping was $11. No one else had taken the bait.

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What it was like being a Royals fan from 1986-2013

If there’s one thing I’ve heard this week, it’s that people can’t imagine what it’s like being a Royals fan through their 29-year drought without playing in a postseason. I can tell you what it’s like. We’ve had some highlights, but mostly we’ve put up with endless parades of really bad players and really bad managers.

Those of you who enjoy looking at gruesome things, keep reading. These are the players we’ve spent 2.9 decades trying to forget. But keep this in mind: My hair started going prematurely gray in 1986, the same year Dick Howser died and the Royals started fading.

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Don’t hide your abilities to avoid bullies

There’s a disturbing story on Slashdot today: Kids are playing dumb to avoid being bullied.

I have two things to say. I was bullied when I was a kid. In seventh grade, it was me against the world (or at least the entire school), and the problem followed me, though not as intensely, through two more schools, until sometime in my sophomore year.

But it gets better. Trust me on that. Some of the losers who picked on me never graduated high school. Some spent time in jail. Some couldn’t get a date if their lives depended on it now. Their lives peaked right around age 18. Meanwhile, things are pretty good for me, largely because each time I’ve been told to pass a long test if I want to keep my job, I’ve been able to do it.

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First impressions: Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper

Microsoft has released an antivirus/antispyware live CD that runs in the Windows PE environment called Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper. I wouldn’t use it as a full replacement for a Linux-based live CD from an antivirus vendor such as Bit Defender, which I’ve written about before. It is, however, a good supplement–a second opinion. Nothing catches everything, after all.

The idea behind all of these is to boot into a sterile environment to scan a dormant hard drive for things that evade or disable your normal antivirus software. The need for this grows just about every day, as there’s a lot of really nasty stuff out there these days. It’s not a substitute for normal antivirus software–it’s what you call on if and when normal antivirus software fails and a malware infestation prevents normal use of the computer.

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Parents aren\’t supposed to act this way

There’s an episode of “Everybody Hates Chris” where a thug tries to get Chris to start stealing gold chains for him. Toward the end, Chris’ dad finds out, confronts him, and says that if he goes near Chris again, “You won’t go to jail. I will.” Chris’ dad then goes on to tell the thug exactly what he’ll do to him. And that was the end of it.

That’s how parents handled things in the ’80s. My dad did something similar when I was in 7th grade.

I guess today, some people set up fake Myspace profiles. Don’t read the story (or what follows here) if you’re easily upset.Megan Meier had an on-again, off-again friendship with a girl who lived down the street. After she ended the friendship for good, she started turning her life around.

Megan’s mother had banned her from Myspace because she and her ex-friend had created a fake profile with a photo of an attractive girl and used it to talk to boys. Soon before she turned 14, Megan’s mother lifted the ban.

Soon after, Josh appeared, wanting to be added as a friend. So began a six-week acquaintanceship. Megan was on cloud nine — she finally had a boy who she thought really thought she was pretty.

Then came an abrupt message: “I don’t know if I want to be friends with you anymore because I’ve heard that you are not very nice to your friends.”

It was all downhill from there. The next day, more disturbing messages followed. And Josh was sharing her messages with others.

A day later, Megan was dead by her own hand.

Josh had inside information on Megan and her relationships. Sort of. You see, Josh didn’t really exist. He was a fabrication of Megan’s ex-friend’s parents, created to see what Megan was saying about her former friend, and, obviously, to mess with the sensitive 13-year-old.

The thing that bothers me the most about this is the total lack of remorse. The mother said she heard at the funeral that Megan had attempted suicide before, so she felt less guilty. As an ambulance came down the street for Megan, the mother told one of the other people involved that she probably shouldn’t mention the Myspace account. And after Megan’s parents found out about the hoax, they destroyed a foosball table they had been storing for their so-called friends and dumped the pieces on the lawn. The hoaxers had installed a security camera–I wonder why?–and caught the incident on tape. They had the gall to press charges.

One family loses a daughter. Another loses a foosball table. The family that lost the foosball table is the one pressing charges. Megan’s father’s hearing is on Thursday.

Adults ganging up on a 13-year-old is not appropriate behavior. Thirteen year olds do a fine enough job of ganging up on one another and messing with each other’s minds. They don’t need adults–who are supposed to be role models and authority figures–jumping in.

I have firsthand experience in this. When I was 13, I was living in a little redneck town, attending a small school. I was ambitious and a deep thinker, and my classmates didn’t know what to make of someone like me. The way to get to be somebody in my combined 7th/8th grade class was to go to convenience stores and steal dirty magazines. Since I didn’t steal dirty magazines, I didn’t listen to Michael Jackson, and my dad drove the wrong brand of pickup, I quickly became an outcast.

Mostly they messed with my mind, but on three occasions it actually turned violent. The third time, happened during a softball game in PE. A kid named Joey–Someone I thought was my friend–bulldozed over me as he ran past second base.

I told my dad. Dad said he didn’t know what he was going to do, but he’d do something.

A few days later we had a softball game against another school. I was starting in left field. Joey started at third base. As he took his position, Dad walked up behind him.

“Hey, that was really cool how you mowed down David the other day, wasn’t it?”

Joey turned, grinning from ear to ear, until he saw that it was my Dad talking to him. The look on his face told Dad all he needed to know.

“I’m gonna have a lot of fun beating the [expletive] out of you, kid.”

Dad didn’t actually lay a hand on Joey. He made him a deal. If Joey left me alone for the rest of the year, Dad would leave him alone.

Joey made good on his end of the deal. I lived to see June, we moved away over the summer, and I never saw him again.

I’m not entirely convinced that the way Dad handled this was appropriate. But this was the third time something like this had happened and it was obvious the school authorities were unwilling or unable to put an end to it themselves. Dad’s confrontation with Joey happened during a softball game, in full view of our teacher (who was also the coach) and principal. Dad had Joey so rattled that he committed errors in the first inning, and when Dad started jawing at him again in the second, neither of them asked him to leave.

As inappropriate as Dad threatening Joey with bodily harm might be, it was a whole lot more appropriate than messing with a 13-year-old girl’s mind for six weeks, impersonating an interested 16-year-old boy, and sending a hormonal teenager on an emotional roller coaster ride before pulling the rug completely out with a final message that ended with the words, “the world would be a better place without you.”

Dad’s intervention was swift and clear. By the third inning, it was over, and with no lasting damage. About 10 years ago I heard Joey was going to college in Kansas City, which was quite a bit better than how some of our other classmates turned out.

I’ve seen a lot of outcry to unmask the identities of the people behind the forgery. I believe I have a pretty good idea who they are, but I don’t want to print something that might be incorrect. By searching public records I was able to locate a couple who fit the profile in the story. I believe the ringleaders are now age 40 and 38–certainly old enough to know better, and I would think old enough to have better things to do than harass 13-year-old girls.

The Meiers have said they won’t file a civil lawsuit against the couple who ganged up on their daughter and drove her to commit suicide. They want laws changed so that what they did would be illegal.

I disagree with that. I don’t know how you make what the Meier’s neighbors did illegal, and even if you did make it illegal to create a fake Myspace account for the purpose of harassing teenagers, the law would be impossible to enforce.

This is the perfect situation for a civil lawsuit. File a wrongful death lawsuit, saying that the family emotionally harassed their daughter for six weeks and drove her to suicide, and sue them into bankruptcy. You can’t send them to jail and you can’t bring their daughter back, but you can take away their $200,000 home and with it, much of their ability to do the same thing to someone else in the future, and, perhaps most importantly, you get them out of your neighborhood.

The Meiers probably don’t want the money. No amount of money will bring their daughter back. But this legal tactic is probably the only way they can get the one thing they do want–for their neighbors to leave. Not only that, it sends a message to people everywhere: Do not act inappropriately on Myspace, or there will be severe consequences, up to and including losing everything you’ve spent your career working to accumulate.

If there’s money left over after paying the lawyers, I’m sure they could find some worthy cause that could use the money to make the world a little bit better place.

And with those neighbors gone, Waterford Crystal Drive in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri would undoubtedly be a better place.