Lacrimae mundi

pclipSteve Ballmer – you know… the guy who took over the helm at Micro$oft after Bill Gates moved on to collect his state pension – is also moving on. At an epic farewell bash at Seattle’s Key Arena, Mr B. proclaimed Micro$oft to be his fourth child, before energetically hi-fiving and hugging pretty much every one of the 15000 MS  brown-nosers employees who’d gathered in the stadium to see him off – somewhat bizarrely – to the strains of “I’ve had the time of my li-iiiife”, (although if my job had given me a net worth of 18 billion dollars, i’d probably be having pretty wild time too). No wonder the poor guy was in floods of tears at the thought of leaving ‘the greatest company in the world’!

In a bizarre coincidence, it so happens that Micro$oft also managed to have me on the verge of tears this week too. Tears, both of frustration and fury at the utter futility you feel when faced with one of their products that has decided to go horribly and catastrophically wrong. My own nightmare scenario coincided with Bill Gates blaming IBM for ‘CTRL+ALT+DEL’ – apparently he wanted something easier  for users to contend with… perhaps he thought that something less awkward would make up for every other sodding thing MS have ever come up being so utterly, soul-destroyingly obtuse!

However, i digress: Imagine, if you will, a computer that has worked – almost without issues – since the day it landed fresh-faced and smear free upon my desktop. A computer that has been treated to a 5-star lifestyle, including a smoothed UPS power supply, regular backups (yes, really!), all the latest in drivers, BIOS flashing and upgrades and even gets a once-over with the hoover every couple of weeks – in short, a computer which, by rights, should purr like a persion cat, on a sheepskin rug, on the back seat of a Rolls Royce, travelling upon a road of pure velvet.

Yeah, right!

Cue Mr Paperclips’ evil twin – Mr dxgmms1.sys – you may not have come across him before, but believe me, you don’t want to. Nobody on the entire interweb actually seems to know what exactly this file is, and if Micro$oft do, they ain’t telling. Some say it’s a DirectX driver, but nobody really knows for sure, but what we do know is that this pesky son-of-a-digital-gun lies at the heart of a whole bunch of pain and suffering.

Take my own experience – my lovely, well-behaved PC suddenly became like a sulky teenager: the sort that nothing can rouse from bed in the mornings, and then – when they eventually do surface – you wish they hadn’t. My computer started having ‘episodes’: sudden, inexplicable freezes for no apparent reason; random crashes to the Blue Screen Of Death, seemingly triggered by anything from clicking on a link, to brewing a cup of tea; more BSOD crashes on, and during startup – at least one of which seriously mashed my C:\ drive; and then, the ultimate and most heart-stopping of all, my PC just wouldn’t get out of bed… erm, i mean, wouldn’t start.

computer_001When i say ‘wouldn’t start’, what i mean is that time, after time, i’d hit the power button and the darn thing wouldn’t get past POST, (for non-geeks: Power On Self Test – essentially, i wasn’t getting beyond the beep). This was a disconcerting thing, particularly since – when it felt like it – everything would suddenly burst back into life for no apparent reason.

This has been going on for around a month, but last week was by far the worst – when it takes 17 attempts just to get to my desktop, something has to be done; and so i had a poke around in the Stop Files left over from all those pesky BSODs… and there it was – dxgmms1.sys – the gremlin that might well lie at the heart of all my woes. Fixing it though, has been another thing altogether. i’m hoping the tweaks, hacks and bodges i’ve exploited may have done the trick, but it’s only day two, error free, and i’m not entirely convinced yet – we’ll just have to see.

Oh, and what was Micro$oft’s contribution to putting right this tale of woe – sod all, apart from pointing me towards a Knowledgebase article for a patch i already had. Well, thanks a bunch guys – nice to know you really do care. If that’s the way the greatest company in the world treats their customers, i dread to think what the crappy ones might be getting away with.

I know you came here to read about sl, so my apologies for an entirely unconnected rant – but at least you’ll know, if i happen to crash in the middle of a conversation, or just don’t turn up in sl when you expect me – i’m probably just swearing at my PC in frustration, whilst working out schemes to raise the cash to buy a Mac!

s. x

I’ve had enough, enough of you
enough to last a life time through
so what do you want of me?
got no words of sympathy and if I go around with you
you know that I’ll get messed up too with you
The Primitives – Crash

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