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Nolan's Pop Culture ReviewHard-Drive Crash, Internet Oblivion, and Back
POSTED BY NOLAN B. CANOVA, March 18, 2011    Share

To long-time readers not on my Facebook Friends account or a recipient of my mass emailings, you must be wondering where Ye Olde Editor has been the past week or ten days or so. Well, I'll tell you...

Last week, Thursday morning in the wee hours, I was uploading a video to YouTube, fresh from the great news that I had been promoted to the "your-15-minute-video-limit-has-been-lifted!" club. Very exciting news, that. The new video I was uploading was only ten minutes, but I was making future plans just the same. I left the computer running while I when up front to get something to eat and watch TV. I came back an hour later and saw the video was only about 54% uploaded (you know, that charming feature of YouTube where an expected 45-minute upload winds up taking two hours). Satisfied I had at least another hour to wait, I left the room again to plant myself in front of the TV to catch up on, I don't know, an old movie or something.

After another hour had gone by, I decided to check how much time remained on the upload, hoping maybe it was actually done so I could start another. What I found sent the proverbial chill down my spine.

The black screen of death (cousin to the blue screen of death) was displaying on my monitor with an oddly-worded error message that made no sense to me, but seemed to imply Windows had tried to re-boot itself and failed...and something about a memory problem.

I did what I thought was the logical thing and turned the computer off and back on again. Now I got another black screen with a new error message that said Windows couldn't be found because a critical file was missing or corrupted ("system32 > hal.dll" for you tech-heads out there). This was not good.

A call went out to my computer tech (who does not want to be named, as he no longer does this full-time, but he's been invaluable). Amid my screams of "HELLLLLLP!" he talked me through a few crude diagnostic steps (similar to the ones in the Windows instruction manual), but it was futile. The same error message displayed over and over. He came over and got the computer.

Two days later and after several heroic attempts to reboot Windows and recover files, he called and informed me what I had pretty much figured out already: the hard-drive was near total failure and could not be recovered. (In reality, the "hal.dll" error message had to do with hardware more than any missing files.) This meant either a new hard-drive would have to be installed or me having to buy a new computer entirely.

I had learned from past similar episodes the value of making back-ups, so this crash was not quite as catastrophic as it could've been. Still...if I knew to the minute and second when the poor machine was going to die, I'd've been more aggressive about backing up more current files, to say nothing of older programs I'll never see again. Oh, well.

I'll pause here for a second to elaborate that this calamity had nothing to do with YouTube, and for the record, in my tech's opinion, I was not the victim of a boot-sector virus. My hard-drive was a little over five years old and it was simply its time to go. My understanding is that five years is about the life expectancy of any hard-drive, especially with how hard I drive them! OK, back to the story...

So, I bought the new hard-drive (a new computer will have to wait until later in the year, but I am planning on it), he installed it, got it up and running, and delivered the computer back to me. Miraculously, Windows found my DSL modem instantly (I wasn't expecting that to be automatic). I felt way better about everything.

For the past week, I've been busy catching up on emails and website maintenance, trying to restore what I can from back-ups, and looking into replacing programs that I lost. For no particularly compelling reason, I decided against re-installing my original AOL browser. Don't really need it anymore, I guess, and it was getting really outdated anyway.

Fortunately, PCR's co-moderator Terence Nuzum handled some emailing and maintenance in my absence (thanks, Ter!), so at least the staff wouldn't think I'd fallen off the earth somewhere.

But, I'm back. All in all, I was offline and incommunicado for about four days. But if you're like me, those four days can seem like forever when virtually all creative and communicative work is done through a computer tied to the internet!

"Nolan's Pop Culture Review" is ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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