After battling "weird anamolies" for about two months, I finally said, "screw it" and re-installed Windows XP on my laptop. Part if not most of this is my fault. I use this laptop as my everyday system and I *thought* testing Windows XP SP2 and VS .NET
2005 would be OK. After installing/uninstalling these plus a bunch of other stuff, it got to the point where cleaning up the system was just too hard. So, I saved all of the settings that meant something to me and then, re-installed Windows XP Professional,
doing a fdisk/format during the install. Fortunately, I keep all of my data and apps on a separate partition so I did not have to completely reinstall everything (to those of you out there, I HIGHLY recommend this...don't put everything on C:).
Couple of things during my system re-install that I thought were really cool. I run local copies of two web sites on my laptop for development/testing purposes. Both use Apache, PHP and MySQL. I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive about re-installing this stuff. It took me awhile to get these tweaked so that they would work the way I wanted them to. After the XP re-install was done, I went into the Apache bin directory and ran apache -k install. This got Apache up and running again as a service. I then went into my MySQL bin directory and ran the Windows admin tool which auto-magically re-installed the MySQL service with my existing databases. Lo and behold, everything was back to the way it was before my re-install and my two web sites were up and running as though nothing happened. This is not possible (at least as far as I know) using IIS and SQL Server. Unfortunately, most of my other apps (like Office, VS.NET, MS Money) required running their respective installs. Fortunately, saving and restoring my Office 2003 settings is absolutely painless using the "save/restore Office settings" tool. I wish more applications offered this functionality...it would make re-installing apps a whole lot easier.
After battling "weird anamolies" for about two months, I finally said, "screw it" and re-installed Windows XP on my laptop. Part if not most of this is my fault. I use this laptop as my everyday system and I *thought* testing Windows XP SP2 and VS .NET 2005 would be OK. After installing/uninstalling these plus a bunch of other stuff, it got to the point where cleaning up the system was just too hard. So, I saved all of the settings that meant something to me and then, re-installed Windows XP Professional, doing a fdisk/format during the install. Fortunately, I keep all of my data and apps on a separate partition so I did not have to completely reinstall everything (to those of you out there, I HIGHLY recommend this...don't put everything on C:).
The best way is to take a snapshot of the system to an image file with an application like Symantec Norton Ghost after a fresh install. Then you can rollback your system in a couple of minutes. The sad part is that there seems to be no other way. I have held on to the hope that it would be possible to diagnose any problem if I just study hard enough.
But I'm starting to realise that it's a fools dream.
I do a lot of digital audio on my home computer and have four kids who love to surf the net. After awhile the system get pretty bogged down and I have just gotten used to doing a complete reinstall every 3-4 months to keep my system optimal. This may seem like a pain to some, but in my situation it works great.
--> I *thought* testing Windows XP SP2 and VS .NET 2005 would be OK
It's probably never a good idea to run beta versions of software on your primary computer, regardless of the OS you use. It's best to have a secondary machine that you use specifically for this purpose. Now, on the other hand for release candidate quality software I would argue that you should install it and try it out on your primary machine should you care to take a calculated risk... In the RC case, you may just happen to have a system configuration that we missed in our testing and, by installing and running the RC quality code, you could uncover a bug that could have pestered thousands of your fellow developers/users.
I realize that there's a slight paradox in what I just said: be very wary of running non-RTM versions of software on your primary machine but please install RC quality software on your primary system and give us plenty of feedback which will necessarily be based on real world system, hardware and application configurations.
Know much about the Faint Young Sun paradox and the solution to it? There's a metaphorical connection between that solution and that of what I'll call the Young Software paradox. What do you think it is?
Keep on posting,
When I have a beta or a RC of some Microsoft product, I'll install it directly on my primary machine (which is a notebook), which I usually use for software development. I do that because I usually really want to use the beta product in the most appropriate way. If I would have installed it into a test machine, I would probably skip (because of my comodity) a lot of tests (that otherwise I will do on the primary machine as "work" and not "tests").
Of cource, from time to time this behaviour that many don't understand in me leads me to reinstallations from scratch, but they are not that painful as one may think.
I have Ghost packaged backupt for the OS (Windows XP OEM) and then I only install software that I need: Visual C# .NET. That's the only thing I really need beside the OS. Of course, I also restore My Documents, Visual Studio Projects, etc. from the latest incremental backup (I usually create 1 backup CD with such data) every two weeks (sometimes sooner, sometimes later, depending on my free time). The backups are not always exactely incremental as I don't use a backup tool (since Windows's Backup does not allow me to backup directly to a blank CD), but instead I copy the new projects, files, etc. manually to the CD. I admit, it may happen one day that I forget to place a file to the backup folder on a CD and I will probably lose that file, but hey, that's life. However, never happened to me yet... hehehe...
So, as a conclusion, I think that the paradox is solved for me: I install everything on my primary machine, until it goes down the drain and then reinstall... after Windows XP the time between reinstalls is a lot larger: about 6-12 months. It's good enough for me...