I have had a string of bad luck in the home computer area the last couple of weeks. First, M's computer refused to boot, throwing a "corrupt config/system" error randomly after rebooting one day. Microsoft suggested that it is an registry error but I suspected HD error instead. Before I even gotten around to take a look, my own machine also threw the same error a few days later. This is after I came back from like a 4 day vacation and turning it on. On the surface, it seems like they are related but I really dont' see how. I dont' know any virus that would kill the HD like that. Anyway, in frustration, I decided to forego computer use for a couple of weeks. It was strangely liberating not to be tied to the Internet all day long. I actually got a large amount of GTA done. You never know how much time you are using up until you can't surf the web anymore!
Anyway, lack of computers has gotten M very antsy after a week or so. She even went so far to suggest that we buy a laptop so she can keep online!! I have created a monster! I told her that buying a laptop is NOT the solution to our problems and resigned to start to fix her problem. I used a seagate diagnostic tool to scan the HD which threw a few read errors but generally the file system seem to be intact although XP Recovery Console refused to recognize that there is a OS installed. I thought the best way to go is to boot from a linux disk (Knoppix) which runs an operating system from memory and get all her stuff off to her external drive which I just bought her a couple weeks ago and then format the HD. That went reasonably well. I copied all her docs and favorites and stuff to the external HD. Then I bought her a new bigger HD plus memory upgrades (you can never just buy one thing on Newegg!). So reinstalled windows etc etc. everything runs beautifully. XP boots up in 5 seconds. M started using it with happiness and then we realized something horrible, the linux OS apparently doesn't recognize file named in Chinese!! none of them got copied over. So we lost all her music, videos and favorites that she named in Chinese!!! Now that I put a new HD in, I can't go back to the HD because her stupid Dell machine only allows one SATA HD to be installed (they removed all the extra plugs). booo!! So I had to convince M that naming stuff in chinese is a bad idea. I think she was suspicious but she went with it. Incidentally, I am never buying a cheap Dell computer again! It is a piece of crap. After I bought it, I had to buy M a new HD, a new sound card, new memory, a switch to go with the new soundcard, new microphones to go with the new sound card and a external harddrive since she ran out of room in her original. for all that I could have built her a better one already humph!!!
Now having done all that relatively painlessly, I decided it is time to tackle my own computer since I found that I am fighting M over computer time now that we have one. (-_-!! its evil!!). now my HD is organized into three partitions, OS, data and data2 which is filled with Clay stuff (no laughing!!). I figure I could still get the data out of it and just wipe it clean. however, this is much much worse. Seagate diagnostic started throwing out read errors for basically huge chunks of file segments. chkdsk would fail at 10% without fail. basically i think the entire middle chunk of the drive is busted (why!!! why!!!). which means that I lost pretty much all of my data partition, filled with my pictures, my mp3s, basically everything I ever owned in cyberspace. however, all my Clay stuff is all still there ( great that really helps since I can redownload everything from the web anyway). So I plugged in my IDE HD into M's machine as a slave and started looking at data recovery tools online that can read a corrupted NTFS system and salvage whatever is left. I got GetDataBack which seems to be pretty good. I had to download from a Chinese website (cough cough) and for a while it seemed to going really well. It can read file segments and skip the bad ones and salvage whatever is left. So I started it up and told it to read through the data partitions which is about 200G. It said it will take 15 hours so I went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, the entire computer is frozen. no mouse, no keyboard, no display. What can I do, I had to reboot. As soon as it restarted, my HD started making the whirl and clicking noise really loudly when it was accessed. I knew righ then I am doomed. After the computer came back, it couldn't even recognize that I have a second HD installed. my HD just clicks like a old man on his death bed coughing his lungs out. So all that work is for nothing. this drive is just a pretty brick now. or as Velius puts it, a sophisticated brick.
Velius has now convinced me that I should just buy a new computer. He was nice enough to even list out all the components for me lol. So I guess I am upgrading!