When visiting a cultural capital like Washington, D.C., some folks like to visit museums, the theater, and the opera and concert halls. I headed straight for BestBuy to help a friend dig herself out of the sluggish hell of a 6-year-old Dell PC with 500 MB of RAM trying to run Windows XP. The old machine also has a failed USB subsystem and a bad CD burner.
Unable to wait for a custom configured machine, we were limited to what BestBuy stocks. We wanted to reuse her old monitor and it turns out that very few of the systems at BestBuy have DVI output. Nearly all consumers are being sold computers with analog VGA monitor outputs! One machine that BestBuy did have was a $1000 HP desktop (no monitor).
My friend said “this is going to be a nightmare; I’ve heard such bad things about Windows Vista; maybe I should switch to Apple?” I confidently assured her that we would have the machine up and running within 20 minutes.
This top-of-the-line HP includes a keyboard and mouse with the old PS/2 connectors that I hadn’t seen for 10 years. I plugged them in. I connected the machine to the monitor and mains voltage and powered up. After answering a few questions about time zone and language the machine displayed some crystalline graphics and then a soothing uniform blue screen with an error message about “IRQ” and some discussion about dumping core.
I repeated this process a few more times, each time getting farther along before the machined blue-screened. It finally booted and I was able to connect a network cable and open up a Web browser. No Internet connection.
I called HP for technical support. The telephone support voice menus helpfully explained that Pavilion PCs were not eligible for phone support. You had to use the Web to get support via email or chat. This would be a challenge for someone whose new computer wouldn’t boot. After about 20 minutes I got through to a human. They would make an exception for me. The guy told me to type some stuff at the CMD line. Blue screen of death again. The guy explained to me how to do a system restore from the boot options, then hung up because he said it would take a long time. It sure did. The first attempt at a system restore got stuck at 47%. The next one hung at 31%. The third attempt resulted in a blue screen and core dump.
Apparently the old Haiku can be updated.
Windows Vista crashed.
I am the blue screen of death.
No one hears your screams.