Thursday, 31 March 2016

Laptop rescue saga

As the school is on holiday this week, the midweek Eucharist at St German's was a quiet affair in the Lady chapel, a welcome change after the intensity of last week. I went straight home afterwards and did some necessary food shopping, banking and parcel posting before lunch. Then I settled down to see if I could fix the broken Acer Aspire Core i3 laptop which Kath acquired from a fellow gym member and passed on to me to play with.

Normal booting caused it to crash and reboot, so I tried booting into 'Safe Mode' but without success. It got so far and then hung after a file check, displaying a desktop wallpaper but nothing else. Eventually the hard disk light went off, indicating there was no activity. I then modified the boot settings and tried a live version of Linux Mint on a USB flash drive. I was astonished at the speed with which it started, took full control of the hardware and gave me a fully functional machine. 

Linux showed the Windows file system was in place, seemingly uncorrupted. The name of the last user was evident, but data file folders had been emptied or never filled. I was able to email Kath with a status report, but nothing more than this. At least the hardware works.

Today, I took the funeral in St Paul's Grangetown of a well known local lady who'd lived in the same house for sixty years. The church was packed, and there was standing room only. St Paul's is a big church, impossible to heat properly. It was cold indoors, despite the sunshine streaming in. One of the granddaughters gave a moving and funny tribute, much of which was devoted to extracts from Gran's regular letters to her when she was in university. There were more smiles than tears. 

Among mourners were two relatives of the deceased whom I knew - one was Brian, Martin's father in law, the other was Tony Bishop who was city centre Police Inspector when Vicar of St John's. He retired around the same time as I did, and it's the first time we've met in five years. The Committal was in the South Glamorgan Crematorium, closer to Grangetown than Thornhill. We sang 'Amazing Grace' which in the crem hymn book had an extra verse that didn't appear in the service hymn sheet, a verse I don't recall singing before. Not everyone had brought their service sheets with them, so there was a little confusion which left people bemused, if smiling.

After a late lunch I went into the office with a few small jobs to complete, and then brought home with me the office copy of Windows 7 installation disks, to see if I could effect a system repair on the Acer. No luck. The DVD/CD drive certainly worked with other disks, but would not boot from the Windows installation disks, for reasons which I couldn't fathom. I was able to use one to create an ISO file and copy it to a flash drive, having had success with booting Linux from flash. This was a tricky process of trial and error to get right using only the resources of the Linux live flash version. No luck again. There seems to be enough of Windows operating system to block the use of anything other than a Windows backup taken from the Acer itself. Or else the CD firmware is rigged to prevent this. 

In the end, there's no alternative to getting rid of the offending operating system, and install Linux Mint. That little pleasure will have to wait until tomorrow.

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