Jim had been trying to upgrade his notebook computer to Windows XP Pro, and the upgrade had crashed in the middle of the process.
Sometimes, I get requests from subscribers or even non-subscribers that are unreasonable. I enjoy helping subscribers solve their problems. Of course, my other motivation is that it helps me write my newsletter articles.
In this case, a site visitor obviously searched the web for something related to his problem, found my site, subscribed to my free newsletter and immediately sent one question with a brief description of a problem that could have been caused by any number of things.
He said he had cleaned the Windows CD and tried again, but to no avail.
Of course, he wanted me to tell him exactly how to solve his problem — all without telling me exactly what had happened, or even giving any helpful hints ("The upgrade stopped at step 5" — I wonder what that step is).
Even if he had told me the exact error message, a crash in the middle of an operating system would require hands-on help, if he wasn’t a very advanced user.
Recovering the system wouldn’t be easy. A fresh install from the upgrade CD, though, should be, but he’d need his old Windows CD and all the Windows XP drivers for his notebook.
I responded to Jim that I think it’s time for some professional help or at least the help of a talented amateur. I suggested that he visit his local computer store — and should expect that they will have to do a clean install.
Obviously, this wasn’t the level of free advice he wanted. Poor Jim immediately unsubscribed in a huff.
I guess he wanted me spend hours figuring out all the different ways his system might have crashed, and what to do from each of those conditions, in order to fix his computer — and without even bothering to tell me exactly what had happened… or what happened when he tried re-running the upgrade.
I suspect the computer doesn’t even boot into Windows now (but he couldn’t be bothered to tell me if it did or didn’t).