0800: Turn on PC
0801: Log in
0802: Windows declares that it must be activated. Online activation fails with error code 0x8009001 (which makes no sense). Reboot.
0805: Log in again. Get to point where Firefox works but nothing else does (Windows has put me in the penalty box for not running "genuine Windows," so the Start menu &c. is missing). Load file:///c:/ to get at file system; run command.com
0810: Futz around with command.com for a while trying to manually register various DLLs; fail
0815: Reboot, log in again, try manual activation. Call toll free number; when it asks for a bunch of numbers, notice that they are missing from my Windows screen
0825: Am eventually connected to Indian support agent who does not appear to understand spoken English but who laboriously, repeatedly, monotonously reads from a script, adding flowery interpolations such as "I am again thanking you for your patience" straight out of a fusty phrasebook from the Raj
0845: She, too, is confused by the lack of numbers on my screen and decides to transfer me to a customer service representative
0850: Customer service rep is confused as well, repeatedly asking me for my product key and part number from the DVD that came in the Windows Vista case; she is unfamiliar with the standard radio alphabet (alpha bravo charlie delta &c.) and it takes an age to get anywhere
0915: Eventually she decides that I may in fact own a valid copy of Windows Vista (hell, I bought it at the Microsoft employee store in Redmond) and deigns to assign me a support case number
0918: Am transferred to Vista technical support
0922: The hold music disappears, but the call remains connected
0930: I give up; hang up
0932: On the laptop, I attempt to look up my case number, but am denied (it is not properly associated with my .NET Passport, er, Windows Live ID)
0935: I call Microsoft technical support
0940: I am connected with another Indian support agent
0948: After convincing him that I do in fact have a valid copy of Windows Vista, I reboot using the Vista DVD and run the Repair option
0955: The Repair option will not work because my RAID drivers are newer than what shipped on the Vista DVD, so I say goodbye and hang up
0956: The agent calls back, apologizing profusely for having disconnected me. I explain that no, I meant to do that and that I will resolve the problem on my own
0957: After failing to repair my copy of Vista (unknown error, presumably RAID related), I reboot my PC
0958: The PC is no longer in a bootable state (boot.ini has apparently been damaged by the Repair utility, which has mistaken my external backup drive for the primary hard disk)
0959: I boot from the DVD and decide to reinstall Vista
1000: The Vista installer wants updated RAID drivers. I go to intel.com on the laptop and discover that Intel only provides RAID drivers in two formats: 1, a monolothic installer that cannot be run during the setup process, and 2, a ZIP file that contains a Windows executable that formats a floppy disc and writes the drivers to it. There is no way to get just the driver so that I can put it on a USB memory key or burn it to a CD so that the PC can read it
1002: Dan begins searching for the ancient USB floppy disc drive that came with his old Sony VAIO laptop circa 1998
1003: Dan finds it (he's fast!). I use Intel's software to create a floppy disc with the drivers, copy it to the SD card from the digital camera, and stick it in the PC
1005: Windows Vista setup loads the RAID drivers and then declares that "Windows is unable to find a system volume that meets its criteria for installation"
1006: Using the laptop, I Google that sentence and discover that Windows Vista will not install onto a hard disk unless it is explicitly marked as the first bootable device in the system BIOS (who knew? It's not in the readme)
1010: After changing the BIOS, rebooting, reinstalling the RAID driver, and sacrificing a chicken, Windows Vista begins installing itself
1030: "Completing installation..."
And that's been my morning so far. How's yours going?