James O'Neill's Blog

April 22, 2009

I need a human chkdsk to beat Murphy’s law.

Filed under: Uncategorized — jamesone111 @ 11:06 am

As I mentioned in my last post I’ve been having laptop problems, and like my (once) trusty Dell D820 is going back for a 3rd time. Yesterday morning as I was rehearsing the demo I was to do for a large audience in the afternoon the fan span up to “turbo” mode , there was a click and … silence. I stared at a blank screen. Changing the motherboard hadn’t fixed its keenness to power off.

I couldn’t risk using the machine for the demo: although the second D820 is not identical internally, with Windows 7 (and indeed with Vista) I can swap the disks between the machines with reckless abandon. The OS sorts out the differences in network adapters without even bothering to tell me it’s done it. So I switched my disk from one chassis to the the other. I grabbed my bag, and in went two power supplies, a lenovo (a T61p which runs server 2008 with hyper-v for the other bit of the demo), a dell , USB sticks and my travel cable packs. Out of the front door and off to catch the train.

At the Microsoft London office I fired up the Dell. MEEP MEEP “No Bootable Device Found”. What ? I went to press the disk fully home and my finger disappeared into a cavity. I checked in my bag -the disk had surely fallen out: No disk found there either. I looked at the lid of the laptop and the sticker there told me this was my chassis, not the spare with my disk in it. When was the last time I was so  stupid. After swearing, very nearly bursting into tears, wanting to smash the useless chassis into tiny pieces and even considering running outside and hurling myself under the first bus to come by (don’t ask me why it had to be a bus not a lorry – anyhow the buses don’t get much speed up along Victoria Street), the thought went through my mind of the Staines Air Crash where it seems someone pushed one lever thinking it was a different one and no one checked the positions of the two levers, and I hopped to the one question which you need to ask in any potential disaster. As Gene Krantz the flight controller of Apollo 13 put it (at least in the movie version) “What do we got on the spacecraft that is good”. OK I’ve got my server, I’ve got my USB sticks with the presentation I’d based the one for today on. I’ve lost some slides and some demo scripts. Deep breath, I can pull it back from here. No time to re-write the slides, and the demos might not be quite as smooth, but no need for me to die in front of the audience. If you were there yesterday and want the extra background to powershell slides, I’ve now put them on skydrive

And since I referred to aviation accidents the I’ve always understood the Murphy after whom the law was named originally said “If it is possible for people to do things the wrong way, they will” – he said that, for example, if you made electrical connectors symmetrical with a sign saying “this way up” people would connect them wrong way (so connectors should not allow you to plug them in wrongly). [Wikipedia has more on this] I’m sure in my days as an air cadet I heard the rule “Don’t allow unserviceable equipment to be  confused with good equipment”  – don’t put dead light bulbs in the box you got the new one out of etc. I’ve learnt the hard way to the leave the battery door open while batteries are out of cameras, so they are obviously unserviceable. My near-miss yesterday was because I broke that rule.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.


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