Monday, June 25, 2007

25 June 2007: Norwegian Blue

This was the scene from the lakehouse in Hamar over in Norway. Not bad, especially considering the sunset lasts a good three hours at this time of year.

We were there a week ago but today's the first chance I've had to blog about it, what with visiting IBM for three days of ITA stuff, racing to get the thesis signed off and to the bindery in time to graduate this year (it's looking hopeful for Thursday's deadline - Dr Les said 'ok' and the bindery said 'we'll turn it around in two days if you give us lots of money'). Not to mention the laptop dying over the weekend, of which more anon.

Norway first: we went as Gloria's college buddy Kelly met and married this nice (and very tall) gentleman named Vegar, a Tolkein-loving Norwegian. They were married in Texas back in December (and we were there for that ceremony), but decided to wait for the good weather in Norway (about three days of the year, I gather) to hold their 'blessing' ceremony - like a wedding, but with the vows in the past (past-continuous I suppose) tense. So over we went, paying £160 for 2 return train tickets from Southampton to Stansted and £20 for two return flights from Stansted to Norway (there's a time, incidentally, where irony over prices is overtaken by sheer bewilderment at the price differential). Flew into "Oslo (Torp)", which is naturally nowhere near Oslo (it's like having an airport named London (Manchester)), bussed and railed it through the capital and a couple of hours north to Hamar, not far from Lillehammer (of Winter Olympics fame), and stayed with Kelly's family in a gorgeous lakeside cabin affording the almost continuous sunset view above. Celebrations all went well of course, and there are more photos online at: if you'd like to take a look.

Back home, of course, things were a little crazy. The stupidly-large eucalyptus tree is now gone from the garden (due, I'm happy to report, to tree surgery rather than high winds - photos also available at the above link); the car engine no longer smokes; the thesis is signed off and at the bindery and the laptop is, well, currently undergoing a form of therapy known locally as "a complete reinstall of Windows because Microsoft, Intel and Dell can't get their act together".

The reason? Try a Google search on: ialmrnt "infinite loop" and find a nasty problem to do with graphics cards, driver updates and the Blue Screen Of Death, a problem about which Dell support seem (from these sites) to be in continuous denial. All I did was allow Windows Update to perform a driver update for me, which it duly did, and naturally asked to restart the computer. When it did, it started ok, let me log in, but as it was running through its startup script (and before it gave me the chance to open anything), up popped (ever so briefly) the BSOD, and the computer then immediately restarted. Logged in again, waited 10 seconds, there's the flash of Blue Screen and reboot. And again. And again.

Eventually I got the camera out and started trying to snap the message on the blue screen before it vanished. After about eight attempts I got this, and discovered that something nasty was going on with this ialmrnt thing causing an infinite loop. The solution? Roll back the driver! Of course! Except the computer reboots itself before I can do anything, and good ol' Dell/Windows/whomever is responsible for such things have elected not to give me a "start up in safe mode" option (of course, that itself may not have worked either, but it would have been nice to try).

So out came the Windows XP disk, let's try rescuing this Windows installation. Well - it worked, kind of: a whole slew of "missing DLL" error boxes came up in the process, but eventually (and very slowly) it did let me back in to Windows. Of course, the Wireless connection threw lots of errors and Internet Explorer and many other things were totally corrupted; so all there is to do is to back up all the nice photos from Norway on to a safe place (thankfully the CD writer was still operational) and attempt a total format-and-reinstall-and-do-it-again-from-scratch. Currently the format operation is at 23% - maybe it will finish in time for a spot of lunch.

Or dinner, at this rate.

Vegar is right: PC bad, Mac good. Or maybe Macs are just as bad, they just look better when they fail?


Anonymous said...

Vegar is right, that sort of nonsense just doesn't happen on Macs.

It's funny though, when I was wondering if I should try a Mac ~3 years ago I threw the idea out there to... Mr Duncan Mcrae-Spencer and the verdict was to give it a go.

Nowadays there isn't a PC in the house (3 macs now). I make all my money from failing PCs at work, why do I want to spend my free time fixing them?

I believe there is an apple shop in West Quay young fella - Macbooks are pretty solid and I can recommend the 15" macbook pro (best computer I've ever owned) expensive but good.

If you get a hankering for the bad old days there's always Parallels 3 for $79 which will allow you to fire up a Windows ME virtual machine to remind you why you switched.


DuncMcRae said...

Windows ME? Sheesh. I remember that from my exploding laptop days. I should have known better than to use an operating system named after a chronic fatigue illness.

As far as work stuff goes, I actually split my time 50/50 between XP and Linux (RedHat Enterprise or Fedora 6) - because most of my stuff is in Java it actually doesn't matter where I make it or run it. That said, the Dell (now almost back to normal, just reinstalled Perl on it) is starting to show signs of wear after almost 3 years so, bank balance willing, maybe a Mac will come our way before too long.

The question is: will work on the Mac?

Anonymous said...

the answer is - yes.


Becky said...

Dunc, I have been saying for years about how great macs are in comparison with pcs ... I cannot rate them highly enough. I just don't understand why more people don't switch, the experience is so much nicer and more reliable. Stuff does what you want, when you want it, how you want it and in a pretty way ... what's not to like?

Becky said...

And if you really have to keep using Windows for anything:

Anonymous said...

Yes Windows ME eventually became XP... so thats from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis to Xtreme Pain.