Frabjous Times

Upgrade (4)

I bought a copy of this Visual Basic book at Barnes and Noble because of the 50% off store offer and the included 60-day trial version of Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 on disk. Great, I thought, I can try out the .NET incarnation of VS at home and compare it to VS 6 which I have installed at work.
So I get the book home and break the seal on the software, then pop it into my CD-ROM drive on my main Windows machine. Up comes the prompt "Please enter a disk into the drive." Huh? the disk is in the drive. Then I popped the media out and took a closer look — oh, it's a DVD-ROM. That's no big problem, I'll just read it at work where I have a DVD-ROM drive on the same machine as a CD burner and transfer it back in pieces. After all, what I wanted for now was just Visual Basic, not the whole VS suite.
After a couple days of ferrying disks back and forth and finding that it really didn't make sense to split it up this way, I decided today to do the sensible thing and buy a nice, simple, DVD/CD-ROM drive to replace the 52X CD drive in that Windows 2000 Pro machine. After cabling it up, I hit the power button and waited for it to boot. And waited, and waited. Okay, something's not right, causing the boot sequence to hang halfway through. After fumbling around cabling and uncabling things a bunch of times, I got it back to the same configuration as I started and got it to boot. Hooray! I verified that I could see the contents of the DVD-ROM and everything was all set to install.
Then I noticed that the contents of "My Computer" were looking a bit sparse. What happened to my G:, H:, and I: partitions, which were residing on the second IDE hard drive on my machine? A peek at Disk Administrator and at Partition Magic showed that somehow in the disk swapping process, the primary partition on my auxiliary disk had gotten clobbered, taking out most of the layout information on the disk. This was not so much a catastrophe as a big pain, because although all that data is backed up, it exists in a half-foot high stack of CD-RW disks from the last year or so which would have to be copied back.
All right, ignore that setback, let's see about installing that software. Now finally I was able to launch the installation of the .NET "prerequisites" off of the disk, which went okay, all except for one failure: the Setup Runtime Files component. Following the instructions to install it manually by running bootstrap.msi failed with an error message that it could not find D:\WCU\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\VS7Debug\msdbg2.dll, which I could clearly see from DOS. Although I couldn't copy it manually, it took a few more boots into Safe Mode to establish that it wasn't because the dll was in use, but that for some reason that directory on the DVD was just unreadable. I think I'll take it into the office to see whether I can read that little directory there (meaning there's something wrong with the new DVD reader) or whether there's something wrong with the disk itself.
So the net effect of today's efforts is that I dropped $50 on a DVD drive whose installation knocked out the data on three disk partitions which will take a couple of hours to restore. And I still don't have Visual Studio .NET 2003 set up. It's nearly enough to make me want to get out of the computer business entirely.
Originally published: 2003/10/18 17:07:24