My weekend was filled with BSOD.
The so called Blue Screen of Death was fast and painless, and did not give me time to react. Or to grieve.
So I asked myself, why the hell would I get IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors when installing Microsoft Office Enterprise 2007, or having at least 2 memory intensive programs running at the same time? I tried playing my favorite movie Der Untergang while concurrently browsing (using Firefox, of course) and I was rudely interrupted by an unexpected BSOD.
I was thinking that it was a Vista reliability problem, so I updated it with all the updates I can handle (restarting MANY times along the way because of the aforementioned shutdowns), and still nothing.
I start Windows Memory Diagnostics, and when it finished I did not see an error message. This could mean one of two things - there are no errors, or more plausibly, the system crashed before it could generate a report. I take a nap during the test (bad idea) and wake up finding that my machine had rebooted to XP. (My machine is now dual boot, XP is the default as migration is a slow process in my family.)
I then boot into XP. I was hoping to find answers when suddenly my screen turns black. No BSOD, no error message. Another second passes and my machine reboots. Just when I was downloading an Autopatcher torrent... argh! A hardware problem!
Since I was using an onboard sound chip (as I could not reliably find a sound driver for my supposedly Creative card - that is branded differently during hardware detection) and have just upgraded to a brand-spanking-new broadband setup, I decided to ditch my sound card and 56K modem. The modem was always a pain to look for drivers anyway.
And, like clockwork, the system crashes yet again - BSOD.
I was thankful that I had time to do this system maintenance - if I was working at a hospital or some place similar where I didn't have my weekends free, who knows what I could have done to this system because of my shorter provision for failure.
Searching the internet, I read that a lot of the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL errors are from bad memory. No time to look for a memory management tool that is more reliable than that of Vista.
I just chucked the oldest memory module out, a 256MB DDR-333.
I had 2 modules remaining, and rearranged them. I restarted the machine, and curiously noted that it ignored one module during posting. Bad memory slot.
I resolved that, and was able to install on my Vista partition MS Office 2007 Enterprise running on an Alcohol 120% virtual drive, alongside Partition Manager, Firefox, and NOD32. No BSOD.
Moral of the story: none, unless you consider that learning through (not with) your technology is a painful, but necessary, experience.
There are three options in preventing my experience from happening to you:
1. Paying someone an insane amount of money to maintain your PC, which you will still break even though you only go to the Friendster site once a week, or
2. Migrating to Linux - Fedora Core 7 and Mandriva have nice GNOME/KDE interfaces and are user-friendly, too. But this requires more than just common sense to install, configure, and use. Not for the faint of heart, and definitely not for the casual user who is not tech-inclined.
3. Buy licensed software so you can whine to technical support. Now, I'm not saying that I downloaded these software somewhere... but it'll make your life infinitely easier knowing that your P16,000 spent on a Windows Vista Ultimate license would be maximized by constant calls to the Tech Support hotline.