Almost every day I put my tablet PC through a cycle of hibernating and waking up (reloading the RAM).
About 5% of the time, the reloading fails and I need to reboot. Last night, the reloading failed worse than normal: a blue screen would flash for a split second, and my boot screen offered extra options, such as "Normal", 3 types of "Safe Mode", as well as "Last Working Configuration". None of these worked. I always got the flashing blue screen.
So I call HP Support, and tell them about this. They ask about my Recovery CD. I tell them that, since my laptop doesn't have an internal CD drive, I have a Recovery Partition instead. So he tells me to hit F11, which I do. Then he tells me that this "Recovery" will format my HD!!!!
- No way!! How do I stop that?
- you can try pressing ESC or something...
(And why does reinstalling Windows automatically reformat the HD???)
Fortunately, it turned out that formatting hadn't begun because it required clicking on an OK button. So I hit ESC instead. This immediately causes formatting to begin!!! NOOOOO!!!!! (A smarter version of myself would have turned off the computer instead of hitting ESC, rather than assuming that those programmers were HCI-aware.) It takes me 6s into the formatting to switch off the computer (thanks to the battery not having a switch). Fortunately, I have a big HD which would take much longer to format completely.
So now I can't even get a boot screen. Instead, I get a message that "NTLDR is missing". Fortunately, I made a nearly-complete backup onto my external HD two weeks ago. (And it should go without saying that I'm thankful for GMail, LiveJournal, del.icio.us keeping my personal data online)Here's what I lost
* a few (~10) text files, including class notes
* journal notes from Nando's lecture proving the Central Limit Theorem
* a few pictures from my cell phone
* MS Office, student edition (hopefully I still have the DVD)Reinstalling
I estimate it will take ~10 hours of work to reinstall everything:
* Windows XP (+ change defaults)
* Firefox (+ ReadItLater, NextTab)
* Cygwin (+ "SHELLOPTS=:igncr")
* VPN client
* SSH client (WinSCP, I think)
* PLT Scheme
* VLC Player
I'm tempted to switch to Linux, but (1) I doubt the tablet pen would work (2) I'm skeptical of claims that I won't have to waste time doing low-level work just to get programs installed correctly.
This is a good time to reevaluate which of the above programs are worth keeping. Does anyone recommend OpenOffice? (I won't need OneNote for tablet capabilities, since I have Windows Journal)Lessons
* when it comes to emergencies, if you have trouble with their English and/or the connection, hang up and call again.
* don't try to fix things late at night, when your mind is working sub-optimally.Recovery
The data in my HD is mostly intact, just difficult to access. I'll try to boot into Knoppix
from a Live CD, and save my files onto my external HD.
In the meantime, maybe I should get my HD replaced by HP, while it's still covered by warranty. The failure from last night should be enough evidence.
UPDATE: Local geeks tell me that the 6s of formatting has almost certainly wiped out the partition table (except for the table separating the recovery partition from the rest), which should make the files very find to find. Nevertheless, it doesn't hurt to make a Knoppix Live CD and see what I can find.