Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Free Laundry

          I don’t usually do my laundry on Tuesdays but I had some time to kill on the 24th of May, so I decided to do it that day. When I got to the community laundry room, I noticed that all the washing machines didn’t have the usual digital messages on them. They usually show the prices for regular wash and extra wash. On this day, there were no prices, just options for  regular or extra. So I pressed the button for colors and the water started coming out. Wow! I thought I hit the jackpot! Free wash for that day. I was only going to put in one load but I went back to my place and took whatever I thought I needed to wash from my closet and ended up with three loads of laundry.  I wanted to share the good news with my neighbors but there weren’t any around in the middle of the day. Everyone must have been at work or school. So I did the next best thing - I posted the news of my good luck on Facebook.
After the washing machine finished doing its job, I noticed that they returned to the usual digital messages, meaning the free wash was good for one cycle only. I surmised that the company that owns the machines may have done some maintenance that day and after collecting all the accumulated coins, the machines probably resets to the free wash cycle. From this time on, I’ll be watching out for them every Tuesday. My laundry basket has never been as heavy as it was on this day. Too bad the dryer wasn’t free too.
So there it is - another episode in my mundane life where even just the free use of a washing machine gave me so much satisfaction that I had to blog about it. :D

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A D.O.A. Computer

          A coworker has been mentioning that his computer would not boot up any more and it was giving fatal disk error messages. I said I fixed another coworker’s computer a few weeks before and that I could look at his to find out if I can repair it (for a fee of course). On our way home from work, I followed him and picked up two Dell computers that were not working. When I got home, I took out the newer one, removed the battery, discharged any remaining power left, plugged it in, then turned it on. Each and every time I tried this, the message I got was: no bootable hard drive found. I looked up that error message on the internet and most if not all said that the hard drive was most likely dead. Not wanting to give up so easily, I wanted to try other things, but I had to go to bed because I had to return to work the next night. When I woke up in the afternoon, I swapped the hard drive with one of my empty drives which was recognized by the BIOS. So that means the computer was still ok but the hard drive it came with wasn’t being recognized by the system. I also inserted some old operating system disks and they all launched (I aborted the process midway). As a last option to find out if the hard drive was still salvageable, I attached it to an external drive enclosure with a USB connection and connected it to my own computer. My computer tried to install a driver but did not succeed in recognizing the broken hard drive. I finally decided at that point that the drive was deader than a doornail. If another computer cannot even read the drive, then it’s impossible to even try to format and partition it. The drive was DBA (dead before arrival) and nothing else could be done with it. I could tell my coworker to find a shovel so he can bury the drive in his backyard. Cause of death: unknown.
                I said two Dell computers right? Well as far as the other one, I still have to find out what’s wrong with it as of this writing. I might work on it tomorrow on my day off.
                Okay, so the next day, I did the same preliminary removing and discharging of the battery on the second computer. I turned it on and it stopped midway through the boot process and asked me to strike F2 or F12, so I did the F2. It continued booting after that. Other than being slow, I didn’t see any error messages or anything wrong with it. I had to leave it to do my stationary bike workout and when I came back, it had gone to sleep. When I turned it back on, a familiar name came up in the log in process. I suddenly remembered that I had worked on this computer about two years before where I had to clean it up of spy ware and viruses (virii?). At that time, I optimized it so it would work faster. It’s really an outdated computer which only has 256 megabytes of memory, the type that isn’t manufactured any more, so it could not be upgraded. It also came with only a 60 gigabyte hard drive. Oh, my! I did the usual Windows XP updates which took a couple of days due to the slowness of the processor and the lack of memory. Then I ran Ccleaner to eliminate unneeded files and repair the registry. When I talked to the owner, she said the computer would not boot, however I couldn’t duplicate the problem. I warm booted and cold booted several times while it was connected to the power cord without any problems. It was until I reattached the battery when I noticed what the owner was talking about. It would not boot at all but just hang to the point where it asks you to strike F2 or F12. That was the AHA! moment. When I detached the battery, the computer had no problems booting. I searched the internet for causes of this problem but other than a question posted in a message board, there were no answers to be found. Why did this happen? Heck if I know. It could be worn out contacts between the battery and the computer which interferes with the whole system, or it could be because it’s really old. At least I found the cause of the problem even though I don’t have an answer for it. Other than that and in spite of it’s age and slowness (kinda like me with running and walking), it’s still fully functional as long as it’s plugged in. I don’t know if the owner will have the patience to wait for programs to load and webpages to open though.
                As a follow up regarding the newer Dell, I talked to the owner and suggested that he contact the company to see if he can purchase a DVD disk of Windows 7 because the system didn’t come with a disk like most computers do nowadays. Since the hard drive was dead, the built in recovery mode was no longer accessible and he didn’t create a system recovery disk nor backed up his computer. Dell should only be charging a nominal fee for the disk, and the owner can buy a new hard drive to reinstall Windows 7. Unfortunately, all his saved data is gone. Oh, I almost forgot. Before I finally gave up on the damaged hard drive, I placed it in the freezer then tried to use it again. That technique failed too. Just as a side note, I have used that technique before to recover data from a failing external hard drive. I managed to recover most of it although it took several freezings and thawings

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hypermiling the Buck

          According to Wikipedia, hypermiling is defined by the New Oxford American dictionary as the attempt to maximize gas mileage by making fuel conserving adjustments to one’s vehicle and one’s driving techniques.
This has nothing to do with driving. Also nothing to do with having a deer run long distances until it collapses from exhaustion. I just like the way hypermiling sounds to describe how I haven’t had to visit an ATM machine for more than a month because of money conserving adjustments I was able to make since selling my old netbook and fixing another, both of which enabled me to earn some money. I earned $190 from those two ventures which may be a paltry sum to better earning people, but not to me. Between food, beverages, higher priced gasoline, and miscellaneous expenses like adding a load of $20 to my prepaid cell phone to call Mama on Mother's Day, $190 + $80 from my last withdrawal should not normally last for 37 days. My last ATM withdrawal was on April 11th. As of this writing (5-18-11), I still have $21 left in my wallet. I’m not the type who micromanages my expenses, so I can’t really explain how I managed to stretch the dollar for so long. I’m just not a big spender. If I can only earn some more money fixing computers, I may not have to visit at ATM machine any time soon. Of course that’s just wishful thinking. I don’t think I’ll be able to make a living doing just that. By the way, as my former classmate in the Philippines mentioned on Facebook recently, the peso equivalent of $190 would almost buy you a new desktop computer there. How far and how long would $190 go for you under normal circumstances (no emergency expenses)? My average expenses for those 37 days was $7.29 a day compared to the usual $11.42. Just slightly more than one of Starbuck’s large flavored coffees, I’m guessing.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Treading Pavement

          Now that the supposed day of rapture has come and gone, let me give you a blow by blow account of that day’s walk. The previous week, I finished a one mile warm up in 15:11. This week, the warm up mile time went down to 14:30. Things were looking up already. At the start, it felt like I was going at a pretty good clip. The only difference this time was that I didn’t pass any runners/joggers. I don’t think that the two I passed last week showed up this time. That, or they had improved their pace considerably in a week’s time that they were way ahead of me. So there I was again, trailing all the others.

 That's me, trailing the man with the red cap. I'm last as usual.
At an out and back portion of the course, it was great to see people I used to run with coming back and we cheered each other on. In spite of my slowness, it feels nice to be accepted by my friends who still run. How far behind was I?  When I reached the turnaround point, I told the people at the water station that they can start packing up because I was the last one.
As far as my power walking went, I gave it some effort but it didn’t feel like I could equal what I managed the week before. I didn’t even get close to getting short of breath. No matter how hard I tried to walk faster, it felt like treading water. Maybe I was subconsciously trying to be protective of my ankles and would not push off hard enough. I also experimented the swivel hips and heel to toe techniques, but I couldn’t keep that up for more than a few meters because it felt so unnatural.
Trying to pick up the pace in walking feels so much different from running. In running, you can speed up by increasing your stride length or the cadence of your steps. There seems to be a limiting factor when you try to do this in walking. You can only try walking so fast and if you go any faster, you might was well be jogging. Which of course doesn’t help with my ankles because of the additional impact forces.
So what’s next in this experiment? Perhaps I should go back to the technique I used the previous week and that was basing my pace on my perceived effort where my breathing felt like I was doing a slow run. We’ll see next week if the ankles cooperate.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 21st, 2011 - On The Day of Rapture, A Rapturous Walk

          After having widely exceeded my pace during the first week of AREC marathon training and astounding myself with it, I was brought back to reality when during the next several days, I could not do another walking workout because my otherwise “better” left ankle was hurting badly. No doubt the pain was caused by the faster than expected pace and subsequent pressures placed on those already balky tendons. Other than the usual daily to and fro, I wasn’t able to do a brisk walk again until last Thursday and this was done on the treadmill. When the second day of training came on Saturday, I wasn’t sure what to expect of my ankles. Nevertheless, I showed up anyway. The mileage was going to be one up from the previous week (6 miles instead of 5). Will I be able to do 13:30 pace again with the extra mile?
About 120 people showed up for the 4 miler  (half marathoners) and 6 miler (full marathoners). I think there were three walkers including me but the other two were only doing 4 miles, so as it has been the last couple of weekends, I was alone again, naturally (apologies to Gilbert O’Sullivan).
Since I was walking all by myself and there wasn’t anybody around to key on or pace with, my concentration wavered at times. When I reached the finish of  the six miler and clicked off the GPS watch, my overall pace was 15 seconds per mile slower than the previous week. It was slightly deflating, but I thought, what the heck, I was only expecting 15 minutes per mile when I started these walking workouts. Considering that May 21st was supposed to be the end of the world, it was great to be able to spend the final day with running friends, to be alive, and be able to walk at a pace of 13:45 per mile. As close as one can get to rapture!

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fiberized Pop Tarts

I went to the 99 cent store last week to look for some hard candy, and right by the entrance they had a display of Pop Tarts. Normally that wouldn’t have gotten my attention, however the boxes said “now with 20% of daily fiber per serving”. Interesting slant on a toaster pastry indeed. Not only that, it said “one serving of whole grains”. Who would not want that? They are beginning to try to “healthysize” pastries now. Reading the fine print later, the excess sugar and fat has remained, of course, and just one pastry had 190 calories in it. Other than the fiber and whole grain, the total calories, sugar, and fat content equaled close to a regular sized Snickers bar. So what do you think? Is the addition of fiber and whole grains worth the trade off? By the way, it’s the same type of fiber you can find on Fiber One and Fiber Plus bars which I’ve been having lately – Inulin from chicory root extract. It’s something I’ve written about in the past in the blogpost entitled “Artsy Farts From Fiber One”. Despite the sugar and fat content, I bought a box anyway and had a couple of pastries for dessert that evening. The effects were not as hard hitting as Fiber One or Fiber Plus since those have 35 % of daily fiber per serving, but nevertheless there was a sense of satiety after consumption. A couple of days later, I bought two more boxes. Since the 99 cent stores buy their products on closeout, the Pop Tarts came only in strawberry flavor, but that wasn’t a problem for me. I don’t expect to buy any more though because of the sugar and fat content, and at that price, the store should be running out pretty quickly. An indulgence of three boxes should be enough. But not all at once.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

AREC Marathon Training – 2011 Edition (In my case: walk training)

So what about these numbers: 13:30? Saturday morning was the start of the annual AREC marathon/half marathon training for the Long Beach Marathon, something I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate in this year due to my ankle issues. Plus all these shenanigans about waking up too early on Saturday mornings which I have become lazy about. Nevertheless I set my alarm at 5 a.m. and went anyway, if only to pick up my technical shirt for renewing my club membership. The night before, I had to decide whether to wear my shoes and orthotics for running, or the shoes and orthotics for walking (as I type this sentence, this word processor keeps on changing the word “orthotics” to “esthetics”). I opted for the latter because my last run two days before made my ankles too achy for another running workout. I got there early, filled out the necessary waivers, then started a warm up walk of one mile. Oh, it took about 15 minutes and 11 seconds which was not bad for a warm up.
There were the usual lengthy first day introductions before the start. I checked the sign up sheet and saw about 110 names on it. Not too shabby in spite of some people from the club running the Palos Verdes Marathon and Half that day. Just a tad before 8 a.m. we finally got started. I didn’t expect any other walkers in the group so I started from the rear so as not to get in the way of the runners. For the first time in a long time, I was not in the mix. But whadayaknow, I actually passed two joggers in the first 100 meters! I had set my watch to 4:1 intervals with a plan to walk hard for four minutes and recover for one minute. That plan was out the window after the first interval because I just kept on going and ignoring the recovery minute. I didn’t know how long I could keep up that clip and I also didn’t know what pace I was doing because I don’t have pace sense in walking as I used to do in running. In running I could guess my pace per mile depending on my perceived effort. However, I’m clueless about walking pace based on perceived effort. Since I couldn’t keep up with anybody, I was walking all by my lonesome until the club vice president who was taking pictures while running back and forth all over the course, caught up with me with a mile and a half to go. He managed to take a picture of  me from the side exposing all my gray hairedness (methinks it might be time to color my hair again which I haven’t done in about 4 years because I had given up vanity). In any case, I made it to the finish of the 5 mile walk, clicked my GPS watch off, checked my average pace per mile, and voila, it was a surprising 13:30! I don’t think I’ve ever walked that fast before even though I managed about 13:45 five or six years ago covering 10 miles. But that was when I only had a problem with the right ankle. Considering it was quite a cool morning, a sweat rate of two pounds was pretty good because it meant that I was putting some effort into my strides. Instead of longer strides when I don’t swing my arms, my steps were shorter and done at a faster clip. I still have a lot to learn about proper power walking technique. All I know is that it has something to do with the heel to toe push off plus some hip action. With the effort I put in last Saturday morning, it wasn’t much of a surprise that my ankles were hurting for days afterwards.
Other than passing a couple of people at the start, I was the trailing participant of the group. In fact, I was the last finisher. But, it was a very good finish.

Side note: In the past, I would have blogged about this right after I got home from the run. However, I've been getting lazy lately and writing about it has come later and later. My apologies.

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Random Thoughts About Weight and Running

Losing weight and gaining fat? Is it possible that running helps ward off subcutaneous fat better than other cardiovascular or aerobic exercises? In recent months I could see traces of my former six pack disappear slowly even though I’ve lost a little bit of weight since I stopped running, while doing other types of aerobic activities. I think the slight weight loss has something to do with eating lesser, but I don’t know what the connection is with body fat percentage. Maybe it’s a testosterone issue related to age.
                Running or jogging or shuffling in the past week and a half without expectations of being able to go fast or pick up the pace has caused lesser pain. I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce the load on the ankles. When it feels that I have picked up the pace subconsciously, I dial it back. So far it’s going well and I might keep on riding it until the ankles tell me to stop again.
                Can weight get too dangerously low? I know it can, but how low?  I haven’t been eating as much as before although I still have a tendency to overeat once in a while. After all that’s a habit that will take time to break after doing it for so many years, while being able to rely on running to control weight. I find myself regaining weight a little bit on the nights that I work since there is a tendency to eat an extra meal while staying awake on the job. However, in recent months, I’ve hit low weights I haven’t had since probably starting high school. On May 9th I hit a new low of 115 pounds upon waking up. I hope it was  just a lack of fluids which is also probably the reason that day’s run felt sluggish, and I felt out of breath even though the very slow pace didn’t warrant it. The next day my weight was still at 115.2 even though I tried to eat and drink slightly more. A weight that low is something I don’t think is healthy for me. I’m guessing my borderline should be around 116.5 to 117.5.  It’s nice to be able to keep weight down without relying too much on exercise to burn off the calories of course. There have been days that I’ve been able to reduce the intensity and duration of my workouts because of the lower weight. I don’t want to develop an  eating disorder after having what I call a running disorder for so many years. Meaning, I insisted on running every day even when injured.
                By the way, here is another way I try to stay active at home instead of just sitting on the couch while watching TV. I dance. Well I don’t really know how to dance but while watching DWTS or American Idol, I flail around like a chimpanzee until the dance or song on TV is finished. Recover, then repeat after the commercial break.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Computer Rebooting Problem Almost Made Me Pull My Hair Out

        Happy Cinco de Mayo!  As promised, after fixing my friend’s netbook, I’m going to tell you about how I had to fix my own recently acquired laptop a couple of weeks before. After the initial setup, I transferred all my files and settings from the old laptop to the new one using Windows Easy Transfer. I then downloaded whatever updates were necessary, then connected all the USB devices (printer, Magic Jack, TV tuner with DVR, external hard drive, cordless mouse receiver, and cell phone charger. Since I kept the computer on all day during the first day, I didn’t detect any hardware/software conflicts, nor error messages. The next day, while doing a warm reboot, the system went into an endless loop at the Windows splash screen and would not complete the boot process. Even when I pressed the power button for a few seconds which would have turned the computer off, it didn’t. I had disconnect the power cord and remove the battery. When I did a cold boot, there was no problem and the computer booted as usual except for a warning saying the previous boot did not execute properly and if I wanted Windows to do a system check and attempt a repair. I did that but Windows didn’t find any problems. When I did another warm reboot without the battery without the cell phone attached to the charger, I didn’t get an endless loop. What I got was a system freeze which stopped at the point where the screen said: Starting Windows. This time, when I pressed the power button, the computer turned off. Ok, so what was the problem here? I surmised the cell phone took too many resources for the system to power up successfully. I researched the endless loop problem beforehand and their solutions were much more complicated involving going into the registry.  I called tech support anyway and they said that it shouldn’t be doing that. They suggested that since the computer was new, I should restore it to the original factory settings because there might be a corrupted file somewhere. All I had to do was run a built in program. So that’s what I did and this time I didn’t transfer the files and settings afterwards. I thought that was part of the problem. By the way, I was mistaken, it was not part of the problem.
Having restored the computer to it’s original settings. I did another warm reboot with all peripherals still connected. Again the system froze. So I disconnected all the two USB hubs where the peripherals were attached, and the problem disappeared. The next steps I tried will be slightly confusing and I am not able to explain it plainly, so please hang in there. First I disconnected the HDMI cable. I reattached the USB hub on the right side where the MagicJack, wireless mouse, and cell phone charger were. The rebooting problem returned. I connected the hub to another port, still same problem. Another USB hub on the left side had the printer, TV tuner, and external hard drive attached to it. Without the right side hub, the computer booted properly. Now I’m guessing that maybe the USB port on the right side had lesser power than the one on the left. Daisy chaining a 4 port USB hub to another 4 port USB hub on the left side port didn’t help though. I decided to  remove individual devices starting with the cellphone charger (I was charging the phone at that time) and the hard drive. Lo and behold, the computer rebooted! The charging cellphone  and hard drive must have taken a lot of resources. However, if I reattach the cell phone charger and external hard drive after Windows boots completely, it doesn’t affect the USB port or hub at all. The hard drive and charger works normally.
At this point I started thinking that the warm reboot problem was not caused by corrupted files but rather caused by underpowered USB ports with too many peripherals attached. Maybe a self powered USB hub might help. That’s the kind that has it’s own electric cord to plug into a wall socket. I found one on Amazon.com with 10 (!) ports, and after reading the glowing reviews from previous owners, I ordered one. When it arrived, I couldn’t wait to attach all my peripherals (with much room to spare). Keeping my fingers crossed, I warm booted the computer, and… badabingbadaboom, it worked! I did it a couple more times to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. So there it was, too many peripherals plus underpowered USB ports make for a rebooting problem regardless of the computer having a 3 megahertz processing power. Problem finally solved with a self powered USB hub!
On a side note, the thing about updating Windows: you download and install an update, which begats another update, and begats another, and so on and so forth. Kinda like one of the books in the Old Testament where so and so (starting from Adam and Eve, I believe) begat somebody, who in turn begat another, then begat some other.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Creative Running?

What?! A blogpost about running?! With ankle tendons not cooperating very much in the past year, one has to become more creative in attempting to do a running workout. Case in point last Friday morning’s attempt: I left the GPS watch at home so I didn’t have the pressure of picking up the pace. So with every effort made not to pound the ground too hard, I jogged non-stop very, very slowly for 30 minutes after which I walked easily for one minute, walked briskly while swinging my arms for another minute, then jogged again for one minute, repeating the three minute cycle until I finished a whole hour. The result? My ankles were mildly sore afterwards but didn’t feel like I overdid it. A couple of days later, with a similar strategy, I was able to jog non-stop for 40 minutes and to finish the hour, I managed to alternate one minute intervals of jogging and walking. I don’t know why I call it jogging. To me that word means bouncing up and down more than going forward. What I did was more shuffling than jogging or running. At least I was finally able to do an outdoor workout. One needs to do whatever needs to be done to satisfy one’s endorphin cravings without going over the top and hurting oneself any worse. I’ve become a short distance shuffler.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Restore a Friend’s Computer? Am I Nuts?!

Please bear with me because this is going to be a long one, but not as long as it took me to attempt a fix.
When I offered to look at my coworkers’ netbook to see what was wrong with it, little did I know the extent of its problems, and that it would take me a couple of days to fix it instead of what I thought would be about half an hour. Surely, I just need to turn off system restore, run a virus scan, then turn system restore back on, right? So I turned the computer on and it booted to what appeared to be a regular desktop. So far so good. My coworker said he wasn’t able to connect to the internet anymore. After checking to see if I was connected to wi-fi, I clicked on Internet Explorer. Nothing happened. Just to make sure I didn’t misclick, I tried it again, but still no dice. I tried clicking on the Safari browser but the system could not find it, and other programs didn’t launch either. Let me just enumerate what other things I tried:
1.       Ran CCleaner to fix and clean up the registry – did not fix the problem.
2.       Ran AVG antivirus – found 1 virus and 5 Trojan horses, but did not fix the problem.
3.       Booted from BIOS and went to Safe Mode – did not fix the problem.
4.       Booted from BIOS and tried Last Known Good Configuration – did not fix the problem.
5.       Last option was to run ACER Erecovery Management which would have restored the computer to its original factory settings. Program would not launch.
6.       Reinstalled all drivers – did not fix the problem.
Most of the time, Windows indicated that there were missing and corrupted files. I saved the owner’s documents to a flash drive and called him in the morning to tell him I might not be able to fix the computer but would like to try one more thing, and that was to load up my old Windows XP Professional to see if it would be able to restore the missing files using the recovery console from the disk. The computer itself didn’t come with a disk as most systems do now. Not only that, it doesn’t have a DVD/CD drive. How can I even try loading up my old Windows XP Pro if the netbook doesn’t come with a DVD/CD reader? It just so happened that I had an external one. So I tried that and all I ended up with was the BSOD (blue screen of death) with an error message saying there was something missing from the hard drive. Maybe the second time would be a charm but still no cigar. 

Oh my, I was getting in way too deep and it was becoming a challenge. I may have to erase the whole hard drive and do a clean install of the operating system, but of course the netbook didn’t come with an installation disk. It was supposed to be stored in the aforementioned ACER Erecovery Management which wouldn’t load up. Here were the next steps I took to restore the darn netbook all of which took a lot of time:
1.       Formatted the hard drive.
2.       Used a DOS program from a CD I had to check the disk for errors and if any data was recoverable.
3.       Partitioned the disk.
4.       Tried a clean install of Windows XP Professional – unsuccessful, still giving me BSOD.
5.       Tried to run ACER Erecovery from a flash drive using DOS – unsuccessful.
6.       Tried to install my old Windows Vista – unsuccessful, system was not compatible.
7.       Tried installing Windows 7 – 32 bit – unsuccessful, system incompatible.
8.       Tried Windows 7 Starter from my own Asus netbook. Disk can only be used for my computer and would not install in others.
9.       Finally I tried Ubuntu (Linux) Operating System which I had used briefly a few years back. It installed, but for those who don’t know how to navigate that system (meaning me), it’s difficult to do things the way you are used to in Windows or Mac systems. At least installing Ubuntu told me that the hard drive was still usable.
10.   Uninstalled Ubuntu.
Next was trying to find a free Windows XP operating system on the web. After looking at several message boards and websites, I couldn’t find one. You would have to kowtow to Microsoft and buy a new one. However, a YouTube video mentioning XP popped up after a Google search but I didn’t think anything would come out of it. Since I was almost at my wit’s end and ready to give up, I watched the video to find out if it had any suggestions. The guy said he had an unrestricted Windows XP that didn’t need a validation code. Well, what do I have to lose? I downloaded his file, thinking that if it was a virus, it couldn’t do any worse than a netbook that already doesn’t work. I did a virus scan on the file first, no problems detected, so it was time to burn an image to a CD. By the way, in case a virus or Trojan horse was hidden in the downloaded Windows XP, I used an old computer to handle it. Since I’m not too familiar about burning an ISO image to a CD, I had to research that too, but it would have to come the next day. Come morning, I was finally able to copy the ISO image to a CD so I could try to install it on the netbook. By this time, the early morning of my day off had flitted away and I still had to do my workout. I went out for a run/walk before proceeding further.
When I got back, it was time to try to install the operating system. I inserted the CD in the external drive, kept my fingers crossed, then saw the programs starting to load into the netbook’s hard drive. I kept hoping that it wouldn’t stop and abort the installation like it did when I tried my XP Professional, Vista, and Windows 7. Well, what do you know but the darn thing installed completely! I was so elated to finally see a desktop! Windows indicated that it needed to be registered or else the trial installation would expire in 30 days. I tried to register but couldn’t go online. Darn, another setback! Well of course I couldn’t go online because the computer was missing drivers for its wireless and wired LAN, video, audio, built in camera, etc. In other words, all drivers, ok?! I had to download all of those from the ACER website at another computer and put them on a flash drive, then copied them to the netbook. I installed all the drivers and was finally able to get on the internet. When I tried to register the operating system, I hit another roadblock. Microsoft asked for an activation code because the one that supposedly came with the downloaded XP didn’t work anymore. Microsoft must have found out about this bootleg copy and blocked it. There was one more thing I could try and if that didn’t work, I would suggest to the owner of the computer to buy a new and legal operating system. I looked at the bottom of the computer to find the Microsoft label with activation code exclusive for that system, typed it into the Microsoft activation website, held my breath, and lo and behold, Microsoft accepted it!!! I now had a fully operational system! First things first, I downloaded an antivirus program from AVG, installed it, then I hit another wall. It wouldn’t install because the basic operating system was outdated. Time to do a system update which took another few hours until reaching the latest SP3 version of Windows XP. After all that, I was finally able to install the antivirus software. As a last step, I copied the owner’s documents and pictures from my flash drive back to the restored netbook after scanning them for viruses.
Oh my! A mistakenly thought of 30 minute job turned out to be a two day affair. The virus and Trojan horses that I found did what they were supposed to and did it very well. But so did I. It just took longer than expected. I called my friend and told him briefly what I had to go through to get his computer working again, and that it was ready for pick up. He said he was already considering buying a new one after I told him a couple of days back that I might not be able to repair the netbook. He also offered to pay me for the repair.  Here is my dilemma. How much should I ask for? Can I now put a shingle outside my door offering computer repair services for a fee?
By the way, I saved a copy of that downloaded operating system so if you need it, let me know, but you would need to have a legal activation code, of course. This process is probably easier in Windows XP but not in Vista and 7 because of their stricter activation process. For now, I have faced the challenge and won!
Later on, I’ll tell you about computer problems of my own which happened a couple of weeks ago.

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