Sunday, November 22, 2009

Microsoft meets ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

Twice this year I’ve had to reinstall all my software, files and settings to my Dell desktop PC after Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system suffered a fatal system crash.
Is it a coincidence that the fatal error in both cases bears the same name as the homicidal computer in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
When my PC crashed, I got a black screen of death with the message: “Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt: \system32\hal.dll.”
That’s right – Hal, like the astronaut-killing HAL 9000 computer from “2001.” The cinematic computer suffered a system error that it tried to cover up by murdering the witnesses.
Hal.dll errors are serious. Luckily I didn’t lose data, but I did have to reinstall all my software programs. I reinstalled Windows, Office 2007, McAfee security software, applications for burning CDs, editing photos, a virtual private network to access my company’s system, to name a few. Then there’s all the Web browser customization, including toolbars, plug-in apps, bookmarks and passwords.
I’m still recovering from the mess created by the most recent crash last week.
By the way, Hal.dll stands for “hardware abstraction layer” in Windows’ “dynamic-link libraries.”

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