Monday, July 14, 2008

Broken Tech Sucks

So, almost exactly a week ago, my 60GB Toshiba MP3 player -- a Toshiba Gigabeat S60, to be exact, a great device with a great interface and nearly-effortless Windows Media Player compatibility -- died on me.

Last Friday, the day after I landed back in New York City from my weekly Pittsburgh commute, I went looking for my digital camera only to find out that I couldn't find it. I likely left it at my friend Scott's house the week before, where I had gone to enjoy burgers on the Fourth of July, but I couldn't be sure. Text-message inquiries resulted in no responses.

Well, on the same Friday, I went to Circuit City. The night before, I won the Guitar Hero tournament that my friends and I participate in weekly and Triggy (the grand puba of the McAleer's Pub GH Tournament and all-around awesome hostess) was giving away a $50 gift certificate. I put this $50 to a new 80GB Zune. Problem 1 solved.

On Sunday, I was cleaning up my room -- which was long overdue for a good "put your crap away" session. Among the rubble I found my digital camera, safe and intact. Scott then called me literally minutes after to apologize for not getting back to me sooner -- he had been stricken with a nasty case of the E. Coli that was spreading around, and he had trewn upz on the subway. But he was better now, and even though I had already found my camera I thanked him for getting back to me. Problem 2 solved.

There exists, sadly, a problem 3: The laptop I was given by the company I work for is now brain-dead. The issue began Thursday, when I was waiting for my flight back to New York City in the Pittsburgh airport. Somehow, I got a BAD_POOL_HEADER blue screen of death. A reboot solved it, but then it happened again. Putting the laptop on the floor -- instead of my lap, where it wasn't completely lying flat -- seemed to do the trick for a moment, and I had noticed that whenever the laptop tilted more than slightly due to my very fast and very harsh typing, it would blip. The tilt was in the direction of where the hard drive sits in the laptop, and BAD_POOL_HEADER is -- I think -- a symptom of a few hard-drive or otherwise memory-related issues.

Getting home, the thing seemed to run fine and on Saturday, it withstood over 90 minutes of podcast recording.

Problem was, the podcast was longer than 90 minutes. That's right -- our backup 100th Episode recording was cut due to a Blue Screen of Death. That damned BAD_POOL_HEADER issue again.

Thankfully, as I hinted above, the laptop is ONLY used as backup: All participants record their own voice files on their own computer. In the event that one or more of our voice files gets corrupted somehow, the laptop is there recording a stream of every participant coming in through Skype. It's not as flexible, of course -- I don't get to tweak out someone farting or coughing or saying something to their pets -- but it's a sufficient backup, and this weekend, the backup is all that was lost. IF everyone's voice file is stable, which it usually is, then I should be fine to edit.

Except I can't edit it. That laptop that's used to record our backup recording; that laptop that I use courtesy of my firm; that laptop that blue-screened constantly -- is the laptop I also used to edit our podcasts when I was on the road at work. So why don't I just edit a little, save, edit a little, save, edit a little, save?

BECAUSE THE BLASTED THING WON'T EVEN BOOT INTO WINDOWS ANYMORE. Right after I enter my password and it starts loading up stuff, and yes I've tried it in Safe Mode both with and without Networking, it BSOD's -- only this time only with a STOP error code and no descriptive (but still ultimately useless) words like BAD_POOL_HEADER. Just STOP ERROR X0000B3 (9823498234 2398423984792834789 239842973569729625). Those numbers were made up, of course, but it might as well have been those.

But wait -- that's not the final state it's in. After multiple tries of rebooting, and getting kicked out again, and then trying to run the Hard Disk Drive test from the BIOS (it passed the first "quick test"), it froze. Now, when I press the power button, the fan turns on. But the hard drive activity light stays dormant, and the screen stays pitch black. It's done this 10 times in a row now, and I've given up. It's dead. I have to go into the office on Friday and turn it in for repairs. Along with it MIGHT disappear ALL of my files -- work-related files.

Not only that, but it was my window to the outside world. The client site I work at does not allow access to personal webmail and blocks 90% of the sites I visit on a daily basis (thank god ESPN and Ars Technica are still allowed). So that laptop was my only recourse. You know where I'm friggin' typing this post from? The PC that sits at the bell stand in the hotel I'm staying at. Soon some rotten little kids will want to come by -- and yes I know it's 11:15PM, but it's summer vacation for them -- and look up Sponge Bob or the latest Digimon or maybe even some terrible pornography that no kid their age should be looking at.

So I just left this rant to you, gentle readers and those who don't give a ratt's butt about me but find my ranting halfway-semi-quasi-entertaining, so that you know how annoying dead laptops are. For those who listen to the podcast, well, it'll probably be coming sometime next week or this weekend. For those who don't, well, if I don't answer your emails until I'm just about due for sleep (like right now), this is why. Because I have to play bellhop in order to communicate with the outside world.

Oh yeah -- and Wii MotionPlus: w00t ... that is, of course, until it's revealed that they'll sell it to us for $34.99 apiece and don't standardize it into the Wii's technology as they did the Dual Shock and Dual Shock 3, leaving developers to wonder whether or not it'll be worth their time to actually put the effort into it if no one's going to use it because it's not standardized. (Oh hey Xbox 360 hard drive! Do you think people are learning yet about how not standardizing things can bite you in the left buttock? No? Me neither.) /cynical (I actually love the idea, but I'll be pissed if they -- as I facetiously suggested -- don't standardize it. They HAVE to... even though you know Nintendo will make buttloads of $ even if they don't. Ok, they HAVE to for MY sake. :P)

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