The weirdest computer problem ever

I’ve just built a new PC (geeky specs on request, people. And pictures. I’m not sad enough to post them up here. yet). It’s worked fine since I started going on it. Started to get a bit bogged down now that I’ve installed all my crap back on it, but there you go.

Anyways, I got in from work today and my firewall said it had an update. Needless to say, I said “grab it” and let it do the download. Little blue line…. “please reboot”. Fair enough. Reboot.

Only when the system came back up again I had no mouse pointer. Argh.

Briefly, I have a couple of machines routed through an electronic KVM switch, thus sharing a mouse, keyboard and monitor. The mouse is USB, but shoved through a USB-to-PS/2 adaptor and the keyboard is just plain PS/2.

First thought is that it’s just struggling, so I gave it a minute or so. Nope. Nothing. OK. Reboot. Still nothing. Pants. Obviously, I’m assuming hardware here – after all, a firewall upgrade’s hardly going to shaft the mouse, is it? Oh, and I’m running WindowsXP so I need the mouse to click on the icon.

Somehow, after swapping cables around and stuff, I got a mouse pointer. Hurrah. Wiggle-wiggle. Mouse wiggles. Click on icon. Start to type password… and nothing appears in the box. And the mouse pointer’s died. Still there, just doesn’t move. Ooooookay.

Basically, after much fiddling and plugging of various things directly into various ports and popping USB mice directly into PCs, I discovered this: Once Windows had even *started* to load, as soon as I touched a key on the keyboard the PS/2 ports were locking up. Completely.

If I booted to DOS or into the BIOs… no problem. No problem. Must be a driver issue. I’ll get into Safe Mode and roll back to a recovery position. Only I can’t, as I need the F8 key to get into safe mode and the fraction of a second I’m out of the BIOS area… the PS/2 ports lock.

Arse.

Can’t use VNC as I’ve disabled the remote access. Besides, to create an XP-accessible client of any of the other machines, I need a network disc that I’d have to create on the PC I can’t get on to. In the meantime, the XP machine is alone on the network.

So… a 90 minute round trip and &163;22 netted me a USB keyboard (erm… and two fans with red LEDs that I accidentally bought as well. Oops). Plug it in, boot it up, no problems. Roll back to last night’s sound card driver installation (which was prior to the firewall update), remove USB stuff, re-insert PS/2 stuff…

Done.

So why the hell did the firewall trash my ports? No idea. But it ain’t getting updated again. Four hours and &163;22 gone. Grr.

Things To Do In The Office When You’re Bored

Yup, another day sat at my desk twiddling my thumbs because I’ve got nothing to do. My job is based on working on site. When I’m not there, I have nothing to do. Yet they still insist I come into the office. Two hour round trip, eight and a half hours at my desk. What’s the point?

Hey ho.

Well, as something to do this afternoon, here’s a list of things to do while sat at your desk with bugger all to do. I’ve tried to make them things you can theoretically get away with. When I reach the stage of playing paintball in the corridor, I’ll let you know.

Update your blog

Check your email

Chat on MSN… for 8 hours

Do coursework

Eat

Yawn

Twiddle thumbs

Doodle

Pick your nose

Eat it

Update the virus scanner 4 times a day

Surf various sites while avoiding all the porn ones you want to go to

Chew gum

Breathe

Try holding your breath for a bit

Sneeze and spoil it

Bang head repeatedly off desk

Play Pantera drum-beats on your belly

Insult the MD in a very loud voice

Make farting noises

Play “toss the soup can” until it lands on the desk with a *THUD*

Contemplate making yourself sick all over the desk so you can leave

A Funny Thing Happened At The Doctor’s…

Genuine story from my boss. A couple of years ago, he was living with his dad when a letter from the doctor’s arrived addressed to “Mr Anderson” (for the same of argument – names changed to protect the innocent).

Obviously with them being father and son, they’re both Mr Anderson. Mr Anderson Senior (72 years of age) opened the letter and read that it was about an appointment. He duly noted the date and went to attend.

He arrived at the clinic, sat down and waited. After a while, a nurse called his name and asked him to go into a particular room to see the doctor. Upon arrival he sat himself down and the doctor started an informal chat.

“Before we go any further, Mr Anderson, we need to ask a few basic questions.”

He nods. Fine.

“First of all… how long have you been considering having the vasectomy?”

Apparently it took them a week to clean the burnt rubber from his plimsoles off the floor.

Speed Cameras… Again

What else in this past week? Oh, yes. Finally got a reply from the police in South Wales along with photographs of “my car” being caught on a speed trap. About 30 miles west of the car park it was sat in at the time the pictures were taken. By what looks like a speed-gun effort in a car parked behind a bridge, from what I can judge. There are no markings on the road, and the angle doesn’t indicate a mounted camera anyway.

Regardless – not me. Same numberplate, coincidentally. Same make of car, and model. Possibly the same colour. The numberplate itself, however, is a different design. The back of the car is also decorated – mine isn’t.

My issue with them this time (yes – an issue. With the speed camera police. Who’d have thought it) is the dating and time limit on the letter. I mail them about 6 weeks ago to say “it isn’t me. Prove it’s me”. Eventually, at their leisure, they get back to me with a letter saying “here are some pictures. According to the law, you’re guilty unless you can prove you’re not. You have 7 days from the date on this letter to send us your details or we’ll drop letters to the court and you’ll get the death sentence”. Well, almost. Apart from the death sentence bit.

The fun bit is the date on the letter – 16th of March. So I have to reply to them by… erm… today. The day I received the letter. Which has a reply address and a URL to a web page that’s under constructions. No telephone number.

You’d almost think they just wanted to prosecute me, give me a criminal record and take my cash. Surely not?

Instead, I dug out the original letter which does have a number on. Rather glad I kept that. Dial the number and you get a 5 minute recorded message which reels off the address twice, constantly telling you that you should mail them with any queries. Right up until the end when another number is read out just the once, very quickly and with a blip in the tape over one of the numbers so you have to guess at it.

So I call that number, to get another recorded message telling me that my call is important, their hours are 9-12 and 2-4 Mon-Fri, and that I’m in a queue of no more then 5 persons per operator. After a further 15 minutes (on my mobile), I finally spoke to a human who – to be fair – was very helpful.

Essentially, I just need to send them a photo of my car. They may or may not send a policeman over to check it out but she reckons it’s pretty likely the “charge” will be dropped and they’ll keep an eye out for the car with my plates on in Wales. Woo-hoo.

I’m still pissed off with the tone of every letter, though. Threatening. Time-limited. Automatic presumption of guilt. If a loans company sent letters like this out, they’d be all over Watchdog every week and hounded out of business. How in hell can we let our own police force, a body for which on the whole I have a great deal of respect, treat us like this? In any other area of the law you’re innocent until proven guilty. Have your car (or one that looks like it) caught on camera and you’re guilty until proven innocent.

I know there are human rights organisations complaining to the European Court to have this overturned and brought in line with all other UK (and European) laws, but why is this necessary? How did this ludicrous reversal in standard legal practice get through in the first place? Is there a possibility that the tens of millions of pounds generated by these cameras each year have something to do with it?

I’ll let you know how it pans out, but basically… Not Guilty, your honour.