Out of Hibernation

The start of 2006 has not been as smooth as I would have wished.

The forecast for today is a high in the 50s (Fahrenheit), which is quite warm for Michigan in January. It makes it easier for one to get out and about, though it is fairly detrimental for ice racing. It also makes it difficult to chain oneself to the office chair, especially when the developments on the desktop have been as frustrating as they have for me.

After our traditional two week hiatus, we went through the usual motions to jump start the new year. We have a big project meeting in which we discuss the plans and goals for the upcoming 12 months. For 2006, we have the same projects we had toward the end of 2005, and there were a few unfinished pieces of business left over that have to be resolved shortly. I am excited by the prospects, so I jumped right into my part.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was quashed in short order. As usual, I manually updated all of my virus and spyware definitions (for 5 products in total) and launched a complete drive scan. No malware was discovered, but during one of the scans, my environment hard drive crashed, leaving my primary development system sans operating system. Fortunately, my source code and data is on a separate physical drive, so nothing was permanently lost, save my time for reinstalling everything (and a couple hundred bucks for hardware).

So I eventually had the system hardware reassembled and (seemingly) functioning, and I decided to upgrade to Windows XP Pro, which was already planned for the next reinstall anyway. The operating system installed fine, but shortly after I enabled my second monitor, on a secondary video card, the machine locked up solid, but not before displaying significant amounts of garbage on that screen. Of course, now that the display is enabled, the system tries to use it on each bootup. Fortunately, I was able to tiptoe through one of these sessions to disable it again, and now I am back to stable operation, it seems.

As I type this on my brand new laptop (which unfortunately does have my email installed yet), I am downloading updated video drivers, hoping against hope that the lockup and screen artifacts are the result of a software bug, despite the appearance of a hardware failure. I am not really looking forward to purchasing a brand new graphics card as well, especially given that two such almost simultaneous problems could indicate a bigger issue (i.e., power supply or motherboard problem). I do not have the time to mess with this stuff.

Alas, one of the (few) problems with having a very small company is that I cannot just hand the problem over to a technician to fix, since I am the technician. When I want to be just a programmer, this is an annoyance and frustration.

Looking at the positive, this problem occurred just as the year was getting started, rather than right before a major milestone deliverable, and now we have it out of the way. If you want to feel progress, you can start at a low point and it is easier to improve. I am looking for the satisfaction of a small victory in being able to simply program.

In a bit of coincidental satire, the radio just played Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Takin’ Care of Business:
Look at me, I’m self-employed; I love to work at nothing at all day.

Not true.

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