I made a bunch of changes all at once, and suddenly my system froze when I tried to log in, just saying “Loading your personal settings…”
For a long time, I’ve wanted Windows to show me exactly what it was doing, since “Loading your personal settings…” means nothing. Is it choking on a config file? Trying to reconnect to the network share that doesn’t exist anymore? Is my new anti-virus software conflicting with the old?
I’m still not entirely satisfied, but it turns out that Windows does support extended messages in the login dialog: in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / Software / Microsoft / Windows / CurrentVersion / Polices / system, create a DWORD called “verbosestatus” and set it to 1. (And, per some of the online guides, make sure you don’t have a “DisableStatusMessages” key, or at least make sure it’s set to 0.)
Now, instead of getting “Loading your personal settings…” I can see exactly what file it’s loading. Although to be honest, that wasn’t at all helpful in this case, but this is a setting I’m going to leave on.
As an aside, don’t ever run two anti-virus programs at once. I’m pretty sure that’s the program. Safe Mode doesn’t let you remove software (stupid! stupid! That’s why I needed to get into Safe Mode), but I remembered the old msconfig (Start -> Run -> “msconfig”), where I was able to be judicious in disabling both anti-virus applications, along with some other services that I really don’t need running in the background anyway. And now it works like a charm.