I know you've all been wondering.
The answer is that the computer of my "crash!" post is back and running. However, I had to go through a multi-step process to see it restored. And it's honestly not fully restored, but the important data has been recovered.
After running SpinRite, I was still unable to get the computer to boot. I got further along than I had previously, but still not able to boot. A disk error was encountered in the process.
By this time, I had taken the hard drive down to my other computer and was able to retrieve important info off of it. Mostly my Quicken data. I could retreive pictures from the "my pictures" folder too, so I knew the drive was not totally lost, even though it wouldn't boot.
This began another very irritating process. The re-installation of Windows XP.
I have a hollographic XP Home Edition install disc. After getting about 50% through the installation process (did I mention I purchased a new hard drive from TigerDirect on Capitol? A Seagate 250GB for $80!), I encountered a "cyclic redundancy error." A WHAT?
Apparently a Cyclic Redundancy Error is a fancy way of saying that an error has been encountered in reading the disk, and really what is going on is that the software suspects that the disk is not authentic. I restarted and tried again, and again. Every time I got to the screen that said "39 minutes to finish the install," I got this error. VERY very frustrating.
Let me just pause and say that a few weeks prior to this incident, I received a new copy of mace os 10.5 "Leopard." My installation on this laptop took about 3 hours total time. I went from 10.4 to 10.5 and had absolutely no trouble. All my data was maintained and the OS upgrade was flawless.
Back to the Windows machine. Thom tried to help me resolve this issue. He attempted to assist me with this issue, babysitting my machine during the week of dress rehearsals and trying to get it to go. But in spite of cleaning the lens on the DVD drive, cleaning the disk itself, it became clear that the error was not able to be overcome. Either a much deeper issue existed in the hard ware, or there really was a simple error on the disk. (Neither of us had an extra home XP disk lying around).
Thom recommended I take the computer to Intrex, where for $50 I could have them run a diagnostic on the memory, CPU, HD (new HD), and motherboard. They did, and they found now trouble.
Once they began to install XP however, they encountered the same error I encountered. HA! I feel a little vindicated. The solution? They simply swapped my install disk with theirs and it worked like a charm. Stupid.
So now I have windows machine up and running again on a fresh hard drive AND my old HD in the computer primarily to retrieve my old data when needed.
I've also tried something I've never done before. I'm running everything as a user rather than as admin. I have a password protected "admin" account, a "Janet" account and a "Brian" account. Since I like to use Google's firefox bookmark plugin, keeping seperate accounts between Janet and me will allow us to bookmark our browsing separately.
Computer crashes, life goes on. Computers are becoming like cars. We're very dependent on them to the point that if they crash we almost don't know what to do!