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Ron Savage (5224)

Ron Savage
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Journal of Ron Savage (5224)

Saturday April 28, 2007
11:32 PM

Abandon hope all ye who boot here

[ #33145 ]

Context: Win2FK on one hard disk (the starting point), and FreeBSD on the other (the ending point).

WTF # 0: 2 weeks ago I'd had a regular blood test, but the lab (Gribbles, grrr) mixed up my sample and someone else's, someone very, very, sick, so they reported my Triglyceride level at 11.0. So I tried 2 other labs, Dorevitch and Melbourne Path. Their results were 2.6 and 1.9, respectively, Whew.

WTF # 1: Under Win2FK I try to uninstall Tortoise Subversion. After just 2 seconds, the machine reboots. Try:

WTF # 2: I can't log in to Win2FK! Perhaps in a daze recently, I changed the administrator's user name?

WTF # 3: I Google for a couple of password crackers, and download them, thinking I will put them on bootable floppies. But at home my only floppy drive is unreachable. At work I find all other contractors have laptops like I do, without a floppy, and it just happens it's not convenient to use the PC of a permanent staff member. Try:

WTF # 4: I visit a small business near home, where I know the people who run it (we started a computer business many years ago, when I knew absolutely nothing). They have about 6 computers in the one room office, but not one floppy drive works.

WTF # 5: So we fire up an old copy of Nero, which says 'In order to create a bootable CD, first create a bootable floppy'. Yeah, right.

WTF # 6: It's the weekend, and the company I contract thru is having a fight with Telstra (the more-or-less government-owned phone/internet company), so I have to take a holiday next week, so there goes $4,200 in income. Well, one day was a national holiday (ANZAC day), but you get the idea. Note to self: When travelling in Taiwan do not, repeat do not, try to explain in Chinese why Australia invaded Turkey about a hundred years ago, even if you think you know in the first place.

Non-WTF # 7: I download the CD ISO version of those 2 crackers, burn CDs, and finally boot from one of them. Yes! I can see the admin username, and it's quite similar to the long list I made when guessing. So now I can log in to Windows, and start downloading FreeBSD (silly me).

WTF # 8: I get to 471 Mb downloaded of the 1st CD ISO image, and FireFox aborts the download in order to upgrade itself to V Thanx, idiots. Well, at least I have the satisfaction of not using IE, I guess.

WTF # 9: I restart and get to 444 Mb downloaded, and it freezes. So I go to the pictures (The Namesake, a good film), and when I come home, nothing's changed. I kill it off, and switch to my FTP program, which does the job, although after a mere 10 minutes, FireFox announced it wanted to install another upgrade, but much to its disappointment it was not able to abort the FTP session. Then I download the 2nd and 3rd
CD ISO images, burn them to CD, and boot the first. Oh dear.

WTF # 10: The programs runs (joke) like a glacier on Valium, taking 40 (sic) seconds (sic) to move from screen to screen. I boot several times, but it's always the same. I'm both astonished and frustrated. One time, I let the install continue a long time (not a long way), and eventually it starts copying files from the CD, and the rate of 2,058 (sic) bytes (sic) per minute (sic). Sick.

WTF # 10: First time, I had a Cruzer SanDisk plugged in to a USB port. Got various warnings:
umass0: BBB reset failed, TIMEOUT.
umass0: BBB bulk-in clear stall failed, TIMEOUT.
umass0: BBB bulk-out clear stall failed, TIMEOUT.
Then those 3 msgs repeated.
Then the first msg repeated again and I got sick of waiting, so I rebooted and pulled the flash drive. No speed up!

WTF # 11: So I download Ubuntu 7.04, and it's the same! It switches to graphics mode, I have a mouse cursor, which moves, but there it hangs. After 10 minutes, I reboot.

WTF # 12: Now I'm over my monthly download limit, so I call my ISP to upgrade, and they tell me it takes 14 (sic) working days (sic), since to switch from ADSL to ADSL2+ (which I take the opportunity to do), they (the ISP) switches wholesale telephone providers from Telstra to little ol' Optus, since it's a better deal. If I die of old age waiting, will they deliver broadband to the local cemetery? Will I still care? Oh, and
go easy on the 'Boot Hill' jokes, please.

WTF # 13: I hit the FreeBSD forums for advice. I get plenty from one person. Suggestion # 1: Burn the CD at a slower speed. OK. So I use 12x (the slowest on the menu), rather than 40x (the default). No speed up!

WTF # 14: Suggestion # 2: Drive cable sharing problem. OK. So I crack the case (which I hate doing these days), and pull the data and power cables from the Win2FK disk. No speed up! And anyway, the hard drives are on ata0, and the DVD drive is on ata1.

WTF # 15: Try installing FreeBSD again, with the external Audigy II sound card powered off. No speed up!

WTF # 16: Try again, having used the BIOS to disable the USB devices, since those TIMEOUTs above were still worrying me. No speed up!

WTF # 17: I run Belarc Advisor (v-e-r-y nice), and post a web page, as asked for by my advisor on the forum. He can't see a problem, but he hasn't tried Bluetooth. Bluetooth audio was reported by Belarc. Try: Suggestion # 3: Disable Bluetooth. Since I did not have a Bluetooth device plugged in at the moment, so I thought, I uninstalled the Bluetooth software I'd installed to use a Bluetooth modem to talk to my mobile phone's camera library. It did not
occur to me to search the Belarc Advisor's output for Bluetooth devices. No speed up!

WTF # 18: When we discussed the Bluetooth problem, I realized the Belarc Advisor was referring to a
Bluetooth audio device on the mobo, so I used the BIOS to disable that, and tried again. No speed up!

WTF # 19: Since I could only see 6 USB ports on the box, and the BIOS claimed there were 8 enabled, I reset the BIOS's count to 6, and try again. No speed up!

WTF # 20: Back to my friends', and borrow Ubuntu 6.06 LTS. It hangs, just as 7.04 did! But the mouse works!

WTF # 21: Back to my friends', and borrow Debian 3.1 r5. They had Debian 4 but it was not yet burned to CD. Debian installs quickly! And yet, it gives me a heart attack when it first refers to the 2 hard disks and hda and hdb, but Grub installs (I chose the default) on hd0. I mean, did that overwrite the MBR (Master Boot Record) on the Win2FK disk or what? Better boot Win2FK and check. Oh, dear.

WTF # 22: I can't log in to Win2FK (redux)! Well, actually, I can boot Windows, and I can log in, but every time I try, it locks up 30 seconds later. Panic! Die, Grub, die! Below, you'll see it was not Grub's fault, but I can forgive myself for pointing the finger at this stage. So, what to do? Actually, I don't want Debian, and perhaps Debian just happened to not use the device, if any, causing the problems with the other OSes, so I am rather uneasy about the situation. Also, I explain on the forum that I have not indulged in
overclocking, or any other hardware-based hanky-panky.

Non-WTF # 23: Now another advisor says he doesn't like memory in slots 0 and 2, so I shuffle the RAM. Yeah! Fast install! I tried with 512 Mb in slot 0, and when that worked quickly, put the other 512 Mb in slot 1. So it was 2 more boots, but now I'm happy, not realizing what's to follow...

WTF # 24: By now I have formulated my life's philosophy: (1) Buy a shotgun, (2) If it boots, shoot it!
And anyway, the Win2FK problem remains, so I take the box to the local PC shop where I bought it. The technician rings the next day. No problem! It boots! OK. Rack brain. What's different. Obviously the peripherals. He suggests trying it without any, so I boot it at home with 4 cables: (1) Power, (2) Video, (3) Keyboard, (4) Mouse. It boots!

WTF # 25: Plug in the external Audigy II sound card. It boots! Err, just a sec, 30 seconds later it locks up. Die, Sound Blaster, die! Err, thanks for dying, SB. So, Grub was innocent.

WTF # 26: By now it's 28th of April, and the 12-month warranty on the Audigy expired on 11th April! As they say: Never let hardware know you're in a hurry.

WTF # 27: So back to the PC shop, for a new sound card. The technician says I can save $30 on an OEM card, since the only difference is the fancy box. Err, also lacking are the instructions saying it only installs under WinXFP! So, back to the PC shop, for a simple Audigy internal card, with instructions. Music is music to my ears.

WTF # 28: Time to make another Win2FK 'Emergency Repair Disk'. But the drive won't write to any floppy. Forget it.

WTF # 29: All this while, I was pondering how to get music from the home office to the lounge room. There is an array of possibilities, but a salesguy suggests Apple AirPort Express. Yes, Apple, not just the dark side, more the psychopathic side, but the solution is so neat I have to try it, and the instructions on the box say Win2FK is supported! Yeah, right. What they don't say is that under Win2FK the main configuration program is deliberately crippled, so as to not install, and you can only use this device with an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station, whereas I was planning to use my Netgear WGR614 wireless router.
Take it back for a refund, if only to finish on a high note... Well, either that or replace Win2FK with WinXFP, but I'd be still using proprietary sortware and hardware, which I assume is not supported under FreeBSD, so no.
My solution, after laying in bed thinking for hours, is to buy a little MP3 player, stuff it with music, carry it thru the air - just like wireless! - and plug in powered speakers in the lounge room. Neat, huh?

Yes, folks, just another day at the office. And now I know how the Captain of the 'MS Titanic' felt (and yes, I know 'MS Titanic' is a tautology). Try:

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