Well… The past few months have been moderately frustrating as far as my device world goes. Despite that frustration I’m mildly fascinated by what seems like random occurrences all occurring at about the same time. From my main machine to my iPhone, within the past couple months I’ve had to either reinstall or rebuild them from the ground up.

File server. It all started when I was trying to watch high definition media located on my file server from my media center. The media center was connected to the network via wifi so that just couldn’t cut it for 720p stuff at all. Once I plugged it into the network the stuttering and chops got a little better but no where near watchable. So I broke down and took my cheap ass to the computer store to buy a USB 2.0 card for my poor old champ file server which was sporting a blazing fast pIII 700mhz processor. Turns out I never could get the card working and I tried two different cards.

Since I still wanted USB 2 and didn’t want to buy a whole new machine I decided to throw my old gaming machine in the file server case and go with that. Well after a little while that backfired as I ohh-so-intelligently decided to not look at the power rating of the 350w power supply I put in there which not only had to power 4 IDE drives but also the video card I had that would fit that board is a radeon 9800, which required additional power. Stability problems ensued, couldn’t boot off a working CDROM drive or USB stick even after updating the bios because it wasn’t looking at any of the choices I set. Also the only fans I had for that processor were quite a few decibels over what I was used to.

With power supply partially fried and motherboard and bios not behaving I decided to take another trip to the store and spent $100 on a used motherboard, processor, 1gb ram, a new power supply, and a new quiet fan for the processor. Great, dandy even, I’m set right? No. Well after cleaning up the destruction and getting the machine back in it’s place, reinstalling windows and finishing all the updates it starts blue screening on me at random. Tested the memory and sure enough, one of the sticks is bad so I had to make yet another visit to the store. I should have just spent the money on new ram but NoooOOooo.  I then exchange it for another stick of ram, ohh it’s bad too.  A few days of ram testing and not having consistent access to my media and it’s finally back in the stable condition it was before all this started, yay!

iPhone. Since my 2g iPhone I’ve rarely had issues that I couldn’t recover from but just a couple months ago when my 3g decided it wouldn’t boot after I restarted it when it locked up I was out of a phone for a couple days.  It was apparent how crippled my professional, educational, and personal life became without it… ‘fascinating’ </Spock>.  From internet tethering to facebook, sms, and conference calls; the practical uses created a void but unfortunately I hadn’t backed my phone for a couple months so after restoring it, jailbreaking, and unlocking it I still had a bit of work to do.

Thankfully everything’s working on it now except for the bottom speaker constantly stops working unless I grab the phone at both ends and give the entire thing a little twist.  I learned how to open up a 3g iPhone, attempted to clean out the insides with a few duster shots and after putting it back together 3 times it finally started working consistently for a week or so until about yesterday when it started cutting out again… bleh!

Netbook. I love my netbook and it was working great on Ubuntu 9.10 so why, god why, did I go ahead and allow it to update to 10.4 when it asked me to?  What a fantastic mistake that turned out to be… what gave me the impression this would be as painless as telling a WordPress site to automatically update itself?  At some point during the automated update process it choked and then couldn’t undo the changes it made and after rebooting the system was completely unusable (thank heavens for DropBox though).  I then thought rather than attempt to fix the issues with my less than expert Linux skills I’ll want to kill myself less if I just wipe the machine and reinstall so “… if I’m going to format it anyway I might as well just put a clean install of 10.4 on there”.  Well after a month and a half of battling email issues since I wanted to check out some of the new integrated features of 10.4, blue tooth nightmares with keyboard/mouse and iPhone tethering, and other network manager issues… it’s finally working just like I want. *whew*

Main Desktop. Sometimes, not always, I need to relearn lessons I learned long ago.  I don’t like having a virus scanner, no matter how good or low profile it is but I should run one on my file server at least or install a good manual scanner.  Not to be arrogant but it’s embarrassing even at my relatively inexperienced level to get a virus.  Thankfully this wasn’t just a virus though, it was an impressive category known as a ‘rootkit’.  I gotta hand it to the jackasses that embedded it into the software I illegally downloaded downloaded for educational purposes.  If they hadn’t also included that blatant, in-your-face ‘xp smart security‘ virus I’d likely not have searched for other issues and noticed I had a rootkit installed for some time.  Since I had been dealing with rootkits and that xp security scanner virus with one of my clients only recently I already had a firm grasp of what was going on.

Through some odd twist of wires, electrons, and fate it ended up nuking my Windows XP install so badly before I got it off that I could not boot and received blue screens every time I tried.  I even think the main boot record became corrupt somehow and I lost the ability to boot into Ubuntu.  After many late nights and looking up every problem I ran into on my tiny netbook screen I familiarized myself with grub and the windows recovery console, nuked my software and system registry hives and was finally able to boot into Windows without having to completely wipe my machine clean.  Thankfully the file server was infected with the rootkit also but wasn’t blue screening.  Nuking the registry hives wasn’t an option since I didn’t have a working CDROM in that computer then to use or copy over the recovery console from a Windows XP CD.  It’s all removed now, but let me just say: getting rid of some rootkits are a bit more challenging than removing any other type of virus, GMER to the rescue if you find yourself in that spot.

Is that the end of an involuntary spring cleaning??