Gwnewch y pethau bychain

The computer is dead. Long live the computer

The computer is NOT my friend.[1]

I got home yesterday at my usual time, a little after 5pm, and, after taking care of the dirty dishes, decided to play a little CoV before making dinner. Went through the entire map, was engaged in combat with the big bad at the end when….everything locked up and CoV crashed. It’s been doing that alot lately, and inf act this was the third attempt to do this mission. So I started to see if I could diagnose the problem. My first thought was that it might be a memory problem, caused by having unmatched DIMMS. I shut everything down, and pulled 256meg of RAM out, leaving the pair of 512s.

And the computer wouldn’t boot. No errors. No beeps. Nothing. The lights came on, the drives spun up, but no video, no sound, nothing.

I spent the next hour or so checking and reseating all the connections, trying replacing the various ram chips in different combinations, unplugging different parts. Absolutely nothing worked, and as near as I could tell, it was a dead system.

To say I did not react well to this was….an understatement. I take computers failing on me rather personally at times. It’s not just a hardware fault. It’s a betrayal. And this betrayal drove me to do something I have not done since the mid-1980s [2].

I went to CompUSA and bought a retail PC.

I know I just lost a ton of geek-cred, but honestly, I don’t think I could have built a system for as cheap as they’re selling in the stores anymore.[3] For $550 (after rebate), I got myself a lovely Compaq Presario SR1950NX, with Athlon 64 3800 processor, 1GB of ram, dual-layer DVD-RW and a 250GB SATA hard drive.[4]

I got it home, and immediately put the RAM from my old PC in, bringing me to 2GB, and tried to put my hard drives in place. I figured out pretty quickly that they weren’t going to install nicely in the actual drive bays, so I finally settled for standing them on edge in the bottom of the case and hooking them up. I’ll evetually get myself some external enclosures for them.

The only thing I need now is a good video card[5] and I’ll be ready to rumble.

[1] If this be treason, then let us make the most of it!

[2] The last retail computer I bought new was a Laser 128 Apple ][e clone. I bought two Amigas second hand after that, and have since then owned 4 different PCs, all of them hand-built.

[3] And if you think you could, don’t tell me. I need what few illusions I have left, Besides, whatever small amount I MIGHT have gotten cheaper is offset by the instant gratification factor.

[4] And yes, Windows XP. This is the gaming system, which makes Linux and MacOS be less than ideal.

[5] The video card in my old system was an AGP card, and the new system is PCI-E. I’ve got a couple of people who might be interested in buying my old card though, so I’m hoping to offset some of the cost of the new one.


Oh good god


PBS Kids presenter fired over Indie Film role


  1. Whoa. Bummer. Glad you’re going to be back up quick, though, I like you being online.

    What’s CoV? (yeah, I live under a rock, I know)

    And as of last night, I now recognize your icon! At least I’m guessing that’s where it’s from. I saw the first half of the two-parter. I know, I’m so behind, but it’s progress. I liked his character.

    • CoV is short for City of Villains, an expansion of City of Heroes. It’s a multiplayer online RPG based on superhero comic books. 🙂

      I *loved* the captain in The Impossible Planet. I’d love him to be a companion. 🙂

  2. “I don’t think I could have built a system for as cheap as they’re selling in the stores anymore.”

    Don’t forget, your time is worth something too--once you add in spending what? all week? dealing w/ this crap, you probably came out a *lot* cheaper just buying one out of the box.

    • Point! Yeah, and that’s also time you don’t spend beating your head against Winders… painful enough. If it was a Linux box, you’d want to build it by hand to get the Right Stuff, do the custom installs, and stuff. But if it’s just to play games? You pay the trained monkeys to slap the box together, slipstream the payware program loader on there, and then you go Blow Stuff Up. No muss, no fuss.

      Of course, best of both worlds for ‘s level of gaming (not quite as graphics-intensive) was the $200 Fry’s Linspire box, just add Kubuntu… but thankfully she doesn’t have expensive gaming addictions. 🙂

      • Oh yeah, I’d not have gone with a retail box for a linux kit, but for this, it works just fine. I just like being overdramatic 🙂

    • Yeah, it’s definately a win when you count time. Now, I just spend my time putting everything the way I want it (more or less…they way I HAD it.)

    • My dislike for the pre-made ones is what software they put on my last one that I did *not* want and then was fighting uphill to get rid of. I don’t know how bad they are about that anymore.

      It’s why I wish I could buy from Alienware -- they put on nothing you don’t ask for.

      • At that point, I do a low-level drive format and reinstall it (and if they haven’t supplied my Windows disc(s) — assuming, as in this case, it’s a Windows system — then I go wring some necks and shake folks by the ankles until the discs fall out of their pockets). I don’t need all that other garbage anyway (having my own garbage kit to install 🙂

  3. That’s OK, I’m likely heading to CompUSA tomorrow myself to pick up a laptop. (Not that I had much geek cred to begin with, since I’ve never built my own machine.)

    • Well, a laptop you almost *have* to buy retail. They’re very hard to put together from parts. 🙂

      • Yeah, see, that’s my excuse for not having built my own box in years; I got hooked on laptops!

        …which straight line I will decide not to edit out. 😉

      • True, I suppose. What I meant to imply is that I’d have preferred to customize one through HP or Dell or whoever with exactly the configuration I wanted. Unfortunately, when I tried to go through HP’s site (them being the ones I had my eyes on), it looked like they wouldn’t be able to build and ship a custom one in time for when I need it. And the closest pre-built models turned out not to be available. So that leaves me with the stores…

  4. Congrats on the new weapon (against the Villains, of course 🙂 I doubt you could have saved significant money building a new machine of those specs, even discounting for the convenience and instant gratification factors (and also discounting your time at technician rates 🙂

    tried to put my hard drives in place. I figured out pretty quickly that they weren’t going to install nicely in the actual drive bays

    Huh? I mean, excuse me? Are the bays not standardized, or is there just something in the way of installing the drives? That is, to say the least, an unusual thing to hear. (I’ve had to stand drives in the bottom of cases while testing because of short cables, or lack of spare bays, but never for not fitting.)

    FYI, you’re not the only one who takes computer failure personally. I have a machine that, up until recently, was just fine. Then suddenly it decided not to see IDE Controller 2’s drives, including the spare CD burner. Bastard 🙂

    • Oh, the bays are standard size, but the case is not designed to make it easy for you to add anything, and it turned out to be much more bother than it was worth, in the end.

      I quickly recalled what I always hated about Compaqs….they make torture cases. 🙂

  5. That Bytes!

    So, after all is said and done, did you ever find out why your computer wouldn’t reboot? And have you thanked kitanzi for her hard-earned part of you guys’ income that makes the $550 less of a financial bite? [g]

    Ann O.

    • Re: That Bytes!

      I can’t be very sure — it wasn’t giving me *any* diagnostic clues. Quite possibly the cpu melted or something on the motherboard faulted.

      And I think that Kit would probably rather I stopped apologizing for the unexpected expense and being overly grateful about the spare cash being there. 🙂 After the first 20 times, it must get old.

    • Re: That Bytes!

      He has, repeatedly, in between and around moaning at how useless and incompetent he was for not getting the damn thing to instantly cooperate in every respect. I do love him -- and a good thing, too! *G*

  6. This hasn’t been a good month for hardware.. JT had a nearby lightning strike that took out his computer last week, and zorched the router and miscellaneous random hardware on his neighbors’ computers upstairs. He’s moderately vexed. And doesn’t want to get a new computer until after he moves.

    • Yeah, I had no immediate plans to upgrade this computer either. Needs must, when the devil drives.

      • Needs must, when the devil drives.

        The phrase makes me think -- does the devil *have* a driver’s license?

        Worst case, I suppose, would be if the devil was the designated driver.

  7. CompUSA? I thought you’d at least go to someplace like Micro Center. There is one in your neck o’ the woods, right?

    Computers have reached the point of commodity. It’s probably cheaper in time and effort to buy it ready-made instead of DIY’ing it.

    • Microcentre is all the way over in Duluth, and a good 30-45 minute drive if there’s no traffic. CompUSA is 10 minutes away. And honestly, a Compaq is a Compaq, and the prices looked good.

      Yep, definately at this point. Unless you’re *seriously* tricking something out, there’s no point in DIY anymore. Kind of a pity, really.

  8. My three dual-boot game machines are $250 Fry’s boxen — I figured it was cheaper and less hassle than DIY. I had to upgrade the RAM and swap the noisy CPU fan for a quiet one, but it was still pretty cheap.

  9. We’re using an Icybox hard drive enclosure on one of our upstairs PCs for a similar reason. It’s worked well for us so far.

  10. It has been cheaper to buy retail than build your own for many years — and you get a warranty (which you and I void immediately we get it home, but that’s another matter). I use PCWorld for almost all of my parts now, there are mail order places cheaper, but their aftersales service varies from ‘sucks’ to ‘nonexistant’ (one of the major ones will only do contact via email, and never answer their email!) whereas with PCW I can take it back even on a Sunday.

    But I’ve been saying “I hate computers” regularly (several times a month) since before last Christmas. I think I may be in the wrong profession *g*…

  11. How frustrating 🙁

  12. Sorry to hear this. 🙁 And, no, I can’t believe that you went out and bought a retail computer. That just doesn’t seem like you at all. *shakes head* What is the world coming to? And you and other sang the praises of Ginstar to me. 🙂 Oh, well, hope the new computer does well for you. *hugs* Btw, did you get those Hermione icons I emailed to you?

    • If I’d been willing to wait a couple of days, I’d have gone to Ginstar. But I wasn’t. *shrug*

      Yes, and thank you. She took #4, as I recall. 🙂 ( says thank you too.)

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July 2006


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