Dear User, Something Bad Happened

I’ve figured out why the whole process of installing XP (sorry folks… the OS and its manufacturer are crap, but most of the good bread only works with their toasters) was such a nightmare. I gave a good hard think, and realized that of nearly a dozen error conditions that prevented this from occurring successfully, not one of them actually produced an error message. At least, not one that would give the slightest idea of what the hell the error actually was.

I’ll spare the story of the long, dark tea-time of the Windows XP install*, but this whole error message situation is eerily reminiscent of “I’m upset with you but won’t tell you why”. (Gender stereotypes are left as an exercise to the reader.)

I love this little popup bubble I’m getting now that the OS is, indeed, installed: “ERROR: A duplicate name already exists on the network.” This is one of those notifications that appears in a cartoon bubble at the bottom-right of the screen with a little “pop!” sound. So um… what kind of name* are we referring to here? DNS name? Computer name? Workgroup name? Computer name inside of a workgroup? Which workgroup then? I haven’t set any names OR workgroups yet, so it must be some braindead default. What that braindead default is, however, is apparently classified information.

Clicking on the error bubble, or any attempt whatsoever to interact with it, like right-clicking, hovering over or attempted dragging, causes it to –pop!– disappear without a trace. Not provide any information whatsoever on which network, which kind of “name” it’s referring to, where else it exists, or how serious this problem is. (I figure “not very”, because everything seems to be working and the screen hasn’t turned blue.)

PS. Since writing this, the screen has started turning blue. A lot. One of several different BSOD codes each time, and multiple different drivers implicated by name (if any). One is the infamous DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL… heh, I like that. Rough translation: Driver not respecting the kernel’s authoritah. Nevermind the drivers I have for every piece of hardware in this machine are the latest available versions and all WHQL-signed, which, up until a couple days ago, I presumed to mean tested, digitally signed and certified by Microsoft to not have stupid bugs like this. Ok, at least I’m not getting this “duplicate name” popup anymore. (Maybe the other machine decided to change its name to The Machine Formerly Known By a Duplicated Name.)

* what’s “slipstreaming”? Hacking your own driver packs (etc.) into a custom burned Windows install CD because it doesn’t support RAID out of the torrentbox. Or your CD-ROM drive, mind you, that it is currently installing Windows from, because at that small portion of the install process it decides there’s not actually a CD-ROM drive there. Or your floppy drive containing the drivers it wouldn’t load from your motherboard drivers CD, a floppy drive which it reads just fine to get the names of all the drivers and ask you if you’d like to use them, then loads them, then is unable to find them on this very same floppy disk 6 minutes later to copy them to your Windows installation in progress (nevermind that these drivers are already resident in memory, probably NOT self-modifying/polymorphic/WOM), OR the other two (2) backup floppies you made because you don’t trust dusty old floppy disks.

** and don’t even suggest the possibility that “name” is meant as a user-friendly euphemism for e.g. an IP or MAC address…

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