Being able to look up information online is often useful but rarely is it as time-saving as it was for me this evening.
Through a combination of installing and uninstalling some shovelware that came with a new toy (more on that later), I rendered my home computer’s CD-ROM drive inoperable just when I was getting ready to rip a stack of CDs. Windows XP’s Device Manager showed that the device driver was failing to load.
I tried the standard repair techniques, including the ones suggested by the Windows Hardware Troubleshooter (e.g. uninstall and reinstall the device driver), but the problem persisted. I verified that it was not a hardware issue by successful booting the computer from a bootable CD-ROM. What next?
I went to the Microsoft Support web site and entered "code 39 CD-ROM" in the search window, in reference to the error that the Device Manager was reporting. The first entry returned described the exact problem I was seeing, albeit with a different piece of software. Its suggested remedy, removing a turd from an obscure registry key that was left behind by the recently-removed shovelware, solved the problem. No way I would have figured it out on my own.
All in all I probably wasted 30-45 minutes on this issue, but it’s nothing in comparison to what I would have wasted had I not found this KB article. And I would have spent the next five days without a working CD-ROM drive.