Sunday, August 26, 2007

More bad luck and a complexity question

Given that the number of page hits of this blog is proportional to the amount of bad luck described here, perhaps I could continue. Alright, not that bad. When I went back to my home in UK, immediately when I tried to switch on the light, the bulb blew and also catching the circuit breaker. Ok, at least that wasn't a fuse so I only need to switch the circuit breaker on again. I have become well prepared with this, and torches and so on are always ready.

The notebook finally had Windows reinstalled and things are almost alright now. The DVD drive isn't too willing to read discs (yet another different problem!), but I could bear with that.

So far so bad. Let's switch to a different topic. I have been wondering about a very important complexity question arising in airports. What is the time complexity T(N) of a group of N people to check-in at the airport check-in desks? Surely it is super-linear, but how bad is it? It always look like it takes forever for a group of 5 or so people to check-in...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bad luck series 5: Computer problems

When I was back in HK, I tried to repair the notebook. As soon as I put the plug of the power adapter into the socket, the fuse blew. After messing around for some time, I found another fuse from an unused plug, so I swapped the fuses. Then it worked.

Ordinary methods did not work (safe mode, recovery console). At the end I realized registry editor can actually edit "other" registries (e.g. on a different harddisk). The login problem was then fixed.

Next day when I put the plug in again, it again blew. I bought some new fuses but it still didn't work. And it turned out that the power adapter itself was out of order...

I have repaired some problems of the notebook (at least, I can now control network connections), through modifying many things in the registry. It looks like it is not virus or similar, but some disk or file system error which leaves tens or hundreds of registry errors scattered around, one for each problem.

I hope this is the end of the series...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bad luck series 4: Hotel

After some time, the airline arranged a coach to take us to the hotel. Then all the people queued up all the way to the outside the hotel waiting for check in. People driving on the road was looking astonishingly at us; in at least one instance the driver actually wanted to shout and ask us what happened. (What would you think if you see a hundred or so people queueing up outside a hotel in Nathan Road, say?) To their credit, the hotel staff gave free cold drinks and ice lollies to those at the end of the queue (which includes me, of course), after we had queued for, erh, half an hour?

I thought I had enough of Calgary and decided to hide myself inside the room for the whole evening. They gave me a very large room - actually an entire "flat" with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, etc... probably because these are the rooms which won't usually be booked.

And then I discovered they have wireless Internet. So I used it happily. Until...

Next morning I wanted to check email before setting off to the airport again. I was surprised that the XP welcome screen becomes the classic Win2k login screen. And then I was immediately logged out after logging in. I thought I won't be able to fix it until I got back to get some tools...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bad luck series 3: Flight delay

After the "fun day on your own" the day of departure finally arrived. If not for that fun day, I could have left earlier and all the following will not happen...

Anyway, I was picked up by an airport shuttle. The driver asked me which airline I was flying with. "Thomas Cook airline", I replied. You know, those budget airlines. He said, "They are not flying today! You have to wait till tomorrow". I was puzzled but then he laughed.

I arrived the airport and while there's a bunch of people around the check-in counter, no one is really checking in. Finally I asked a member of staff. He replied, with his nose pointing to the other side, that we would be delayed "for a while". At that point I was already fully prepared for a 24-hour delay. Although I couldn't quite understand how the driver knows that at least 5 hours before departure.

Eventually we were informed of a "mechanical problem" which they had "successfully" identified, and we "only" need to wait for the parts. You see, typical budget airline problem. We were then promised overnight hotel stay and breakfast, etc. My next flight to Hong Kong is no more than 48 hours after I return UK; should they delay more then I better go from Gatwick to Heathrow directly...

My bad luck didn't stop here and actually, it affected other people as well. While I was sitting in the airport, a man sitting back-to-back with me fell to ground suddenly as if he had a heart attack. After a few minutes he woke up and appeared ok, though.