(Or: The Tale of My Hellspawn Computer.)
Now that my various computer issues seem to be over (knock on wood), it’s a good time for a project update!
I am currently still working on the rough draft of Book 5, which I started more than a year ago (sheesh) but put off in order to do the big ol’ re-edits of Books 1-3 as well as polishing up and publishing 4. I picked up Book 5 again around when Book 4 went live in November, but started having computer troubles soon after.
Like…right before an already-scheduled free promo. Son of a butt…
The issue then was that my computer had shut itself down for a typical Windows 10 Patch Tuesday update — but then refused to come back up. It would boot and reach the loading screen but then spin endlessly, mocking me with its promises. I panicked a little — okay, more than a little — and did a lot of internet searching on my tablet, which basically told me I had to reinstall windows. Crap!! I begged around on social media and a lovely friend (<3 Kelly) burnt me a Windows 10 reinstall/repair disk and interoffice mailed it to me (<3<3<3).
I picked it up, popped it in the computer and was settled in again within two hours. One thing I will say for Windows 10 is that even a reinstall won't touch your files if you don't want it to — so I didn't lose anything data-wise and just had to spend an hour or so re-downloading and installing the third-party apps it had deleted when it reinstalled the system files. So that was fine! I got a scare, I did a lot of backing-up of stuff that hadn't previously/recently been backed up, and I was off again.
Until the next Patch Tuesday, when my computer rebooted itself, as it should…and then was stuck in Updating status.
For 17 hours.
I didn't help matters. I was sure it had gotten stuck or died again (most of the time it was dead silent, and then just occasionally it'd make the little trickling sound of disk activity), so I rebooted it a couple times in the hope that it would fix itself. I would have tried reinstalling Windows again, I'm sure, except I'd lent the repair DVD to a coworker who had a borked Windows 10 laptop, sooooo…
But fortunately it finally came back up. Saved!?!
A couple days later, it had to reboot again, and was once again stuck on Updating for four hours.
By this time, I thought I knew what the problem was. During all this, one program had been running constantly, hogging disk resources: the Windows Update Module Installer. So I read up on various issues with that, including whether or not to shut it off, etc., but in the end the Internet verdict seemed to be not to mess with it too much if it wasn't necessary. So I let it do its thing and just bore with my computer chugging all the time.
Then one day I got a little popup alert. Your hard drive is almost full! You should do something about that!
I had a 500GB hard drive at that time, and I don't even know why, because I never used more than about 50GB of it. A couple games, 9GB of music, and then a lot of pictures and text files — nothing beefy. So the fact that my disk use had suddenly soared to nearly the full 500GB was VERY WEIRD.
So I went through the file system and checked the properties of all the folders to see where this extra size was coming from. Finally tracked it down to a FRICKING TEXT FILE, CBS.log, which was Windows Module Update Installer's working log — and was 300+ GB.
A TEXT FILE.
300+ GB of it trying incessantly to install something and failing — or so I assume, because none of my programs could open a 300GB text log. I looked up more stuff on the internet that said sometimes the log function hiccuped when it grew too large too fast and failed to spawn the persistent logs it was supposed to make — basically cutting a chunk out of the working log file, depositing it as a non-use informational file, then continuing to fill the working log. If it didn't do that chunking at ~2GB, it could continue to metastasize and take over a computer.
So I deleted it. The internet said that was fine — and it was!
The next day, I got another Your computer is almost full! alert.
Deleted it again.
Saw it balloon again.
Deleted it again.
Pinned the folder to my Quick Access so I could keep a hawk eye on it.
It was at this time that I caught it small enough to open, and indeed it was line after line after line of it trying to load or fix or find something and failing. So I did everything I could. I ran Windows' own update repair tool a couple times, rebooted for it — which cost me a few more hours of staring at a hanging Updating… screen — and paged through threads in probably six different forums. I mucked around with the program and the log files I don't know how many times, and then finally, in exasperation, just turned the updater off.
Then came the Meltdown/Spectre vulnerability, and Microsoft's quick patch.
Clearly I had to update. Heck, when I checked my Windows Update on the day I read about the vulnerability, it told me it had already tried to apply the patch fourteen times and failed (because the Updater was turned off). So, with a great sigh of annoyed resignation, I turned Windows Update Module Installer back on and let it download its stuff, apply it, and rebooted.
And everything came up. Immediately. Like magic.
I was baffled. I kept watching the CBS.log file, but it behaved! I read up a bit on the patch, and found that in addition to dealing with the vulnerability, it also patched a known issue in which computers that had REINSTALLED WINDOWS after a certain RECENT PATCH were getting stuck on 99% UPDATED FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME. GAAAARRRRRHHHHH.
But it was fixed, right? It was fixed!!! I went to bed!!!
I woke up to the sound of the hard drive clicking. Tik…tik tik tik… Tik tik tik…
I backed my stuff up. I burned a new Windows 10 reinstall disk. I ordered a new hard drive.
That evening, after four blue-screens, the drive fully failed.
A few days later, my new drive arrived. I slid it into place easily (it took me longer to get the frackin' case cover back on, and I'm still not sure I have it seated right) and inserted my freshly made reinstall disk. Windows 10 loaded right up. I went about re-downloading all my apps, getting my cloud data synced, getting my music… Well, that part was a pain, but a small pain that doesn't merit ranting about, since it was just an ill-timed glitch.
And now… Now, everything is okay. It's been a few days since new drive, and though it's a little noisier than the old, it's given me no trouble. All that computer stupidity ran from about December 6th through about January 17th, during which I got a decent amount of writing done — but not nearly as much as I should have. I am on chapter 24 of 27 (which may become 28 or even 29, by the look of it, argh), and while I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I am annoyed at not being there already.
I also have some background/mythology stuff I've been meaning to put up here, but have been too brain-fried to work on. Hopefully I'll get around to it soonish. I did recently do some back-end/old material updates; I wanted to get rid of my old Photobucket account, but it had all the Culture Composite images, so I took a few days to transfer all those images and also update some of the Composites to more properly reflect my current view of those cultures. Hopefully I can get some new ones up some time soon.
If you got through all this litany of disaster, you get a shiny eyeball-rose medal. I promise it won't watch you as you sleep. Probably.