Driving Miss Labeled

Sisyphus, son of Aeolus, is forced as punishment for his transgressions against the Gods to roll a block of stone up a steep hill, where he will use it as a workbench to reinvent SCSI, only to have it tumble back down to the bottom where he will be forced to start over. The process resumes, destined to last all eternity; this punishment is depicted on many a Greek vase, though typically omitting the “reinventing SCSI” part, which is difficult to represent iconically, and somewhat redundant considering the rest of the metaphor anyway, and there’s only so much room on a vase, OK?

Theseus, who according to legend is the hero who rid the world of Sisyphus, is not typically depicted on these vases, presumably due to compatibility issues.

Occasionally in Windows XP a USB keychain or thumb-drive will steal a drive letter from a network drive – that is, you can plug in the keychain drive and it will be assigned the drive letter “G:\” (for example), so you can’t get to the artist formerly known as “G:\”, your network drive. And, occasionally, this happens the other way around; you plug in a USB keychain and it plain old doesn’t show up, because it lost whatever behind-the-scenes tug-of-war goes on for already-used drive letters, for which there is apparently no consolation prize.

It does this because we are in the future, where technology has made our lives an idyllic paradise, simple and stress free.

The fix is pretty straightforward: with the keychain plugged in, Control panel ->
administrative tools -> computer management -> disk management and manually reassign the drive letter for the keychain to something unused. Commit the changes, close the disk manager, unplug the drive, plug it back in, and it should show up this time, as the chosen drive letter. Can’t hurt to reboot, just to be sure.

How you can write an “AssignDriveLetter()” widget without a “DidWeAlreadyUseThatLetter()” widget lying around is a question better left to the Gods, I’m sure.

7 Comments

  1. Posted March 9, 2005 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    The entire drive letter system seems hilariously passé.

  2. Mike Hoye
    Posted March 9, 2005 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    If it wasn’t for Microsoft’s rabid devotion (and, I have to say, pretty miraculous success rate) to backwards compatibility, it would be long, long gone.

    Having said that, yeah, it’s pretty dumb, one of those ideas that I bet that they’ve spent every day this century wishing they’d strangled in the crib before it learned to walk.

  3. janice
    Posted March 9, 2005 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if it works on XP, but I seem to recall from a stint in a networked windows shop (not sure which version it was: NT or 2000) that the drive lettering could be “directed” so to speak using a batch file that ran at startup. It’s been a while, but I know that in that environment the lettering was maintained in this manner to facilitate IT support.

    Yes, it was rather hilarious to hear people telling each other that whatever it was they were looking for was on the [letter] drive after having worked in a less regimented shop (also windows) where the designator of choice was the share name.
    The understanding being that you were free to attach them in any order you felt made sense to you if and when you needed access.

  4. janice
    Posted March 9, 2005 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I shoulda previewed that… and “on the [letter] drive” was what I meant to have show up. Angled brackets ate their contents.

  5. Mike Hoye
    Posted March 10, 2005 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Yeah, you can do things like “net use” to correctly map samba shares to letters. It’s not a bad bandaid, and you can use it to obscure the fact that your drive namespace is vanishingly small, (and, to be fair, not many people need more than 20 drives), but it doesn’t play the “is this drive used already” game according to the rules, either.

    As an aside, why can’t I look at autoexec.bat or config.sys files on a bootable floppy in an actual Explorer window? Why do I have to go back into a DOS window to see them, even if I’ve chosen to show hidden and system files? Bastards.

  6. Sean "i told u i was hardcore" Neakums
    Posted March 11, 2005 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Where I work, some shares are named “GDrive”, “FinanceKDrive” and so on.

    Most of the shares I actually use I visit by UNC name via Start/Run.

  7. Mike Hoye
    Posted March 11, 2005 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    As all sane people should. I like to keep some net-use batch files around, so that I can link up to stuff quickly and simply, but either way.