A black week for Rupert's personal technology

Someone's opened up a hellspawn gateway in Holloway. I don't know how else to explain this week's crop of techno-miseries, which have included* My much-loved Dell X1 developing a severe case of death.

Someone's opened up a hellspawn gateway in Holloway. I don't know how else to explain this week's crop of techno-miseries, which have included

* My much-loved Dell X1 developing a severe case of death. To be more accurate, a BSOD happening about ten seconds into Windows boot with an UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_DEVICE error.

* My fondly-regarded Samsung X60 frying its battery

* My homebrew dual-core big machine coughing its guts up when I try to copy some music across to the iPod.

Add to that one of my DAB radios refusing to DAB, a Reciva wireless streaming box taking a firmware upgrade and turning into a brick - all in the space of three days.

I've donned the surgical gown, of course, and gone looking for clues. The Dell's departure seems due to unreadable sectors on the hard disk, but so far I haven't been able to find out which files have been affected. Windows boot logging doesn't commit to disk before the machine borks: I know where the bad sectors are, thanks to the Ultimate Boot CD but I haven't found a Linux sector editor that knows enough about NTFS to relate those sectors back to a file name. Even when I do get there, of course, I have to decide whether to trust the hard disk any further. The temptation is to take my data off, run some intensive tests and reformat for Linux - but for now, that's my main iPlayer box and that needs Windows.

As for the Samsung: well, the battery never lasted more than an hour anyway and I only use it as a desktop replacement. I did speak to a fascinating battery company at IDF who had some very interesting things to say about why LiIon batteries die so often - and why they catch fire - so that's under investigation anyway. On the bright side, Ubuntu 7.10 is now in beta - so I'll be going there soon.

As for the Big Machine: if that's another hard disk failure on its way, I'll cry. It's interesting how little I use it these days; it's got fancy graphics, lots of RAM, tons of disk space, but mostly it just holds the music and photography collection. And that's backed up to the Intel NAS box, which I must write about in more depth one of these days. That's been useful but frustrating, and every so often I dig down just a bit deeper into what's wrong with it, just enough to know I need to learn more before pronouncing. It's an object lesson in how open sourcing something is no panacea to software woes: documentation and community count for just as much as code availability.

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