Before hitting the sack on Saturday, 9/27 (after arriving in Manila), I of course pulled all manner of electronic equipment out of my bag, and began setting up my command center in the room – as is my custom. Faith had insisted both that we take only one laptop and that it be hers. Both were sensible demands suggestions, given that a) we didn’t need to lug around multiple laptops, b) we had enough luggage without a 2nd laptop, c) my laptop is a work laptop with all kinds of information on it we don’t need to take a chance on getting stolen in the Philippines, and d) her laptop is new and covered under the mega Dell no-matter-what-happens-you’re-covered plan. So, we had her (*cough* bright pink *cough*) laptop with us, and I drug it out to send the “we’re here” email before bed.
The laptop didn’t immediately connect to the internet. I talked to the front desk, and learned that you had to call a certain number, get passwords, etc. I complied, and still no connectivity. I thought maybe the three-fingered salute would help, so I rebooted. But instead of a smooth return to the land of Microsoft, Vista told me that a critical file was corrupt on the hard drive, and that booting wasn’t going to work. UGH! You mean to tell me we lugged this thing halfway around the world, watched half a movie on it, and now it’s dead. No way I’m accepting that.
We went to bed, and the next morning discovered that the hotel has a business center where we could get online. We sent the “we’re safe” email then, and updated our Facebook statuses (which have become a life’s blood of some kind somewhere along the way. I also sent out an email to several technically-savvy friends to send me the critical missing file, figuring I could load it on my USB drive, boot to a command prompt, replace the file, and be on my way.
Got the file, but the command prompt wasn’t happening either. Or safe mode. Or anything else for that matter. I read up on the corrupt file, and found that it’s part of the authentication system used to gain security access to the file system (among other things), so there was no way around it. I had to boot to something else.
But I can do that. Newer computers can boot to the USB drive. Surely the Windows XP systems in the business center could add system files to my USB drive and make it bootable. Ah ….. nope. Some utility I could find online? Well, hundreds of sites claimed they had a utility to do the trick or gave interesting instructions, but at the end of the day, nothing worked. Eventually I screamed uncle, and caved. Well, Faith told me to give it a rest and focus on the trip not the silly computer. She’s wise.
But that didn’t stop me from sneaking out at one point and trying to find another copy of Vista at the mall, which failed miserably. Evidently Philippinos don’t believe in Operating Systems, and Faith doesn’t believe in stealth shopping. So that plan failed too. Not sure I’d really have bought a copy of Vista to solve the problem, but now that I think about it, the amount I’ve paid to lease computer time at the business center (about $11/hr) would probably have covered it. lol
So, the net result… The laptop remained locked in a suitcase most of the trip, and we have enjoyed the hospitality of the business center one hour at a time, when one or the other of us could sneak away late at night or during John’s nap time. Welcome to parenthood! So that’s what all our parental friends have been talking about all these years.