Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Stick Got Stuck

I must have run over a Mormon’s dog. Or, if not a Mormon, then one of that lot that believe in predestination and bad things happening to good people. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such a terrible run of bad luck. I do know that it’s been a hellish 48 hours.

The rain hasn’t stopped since Sunday afternoon and today the thunder has been rumbling since dawn. Not that I’ve had much chance to notice either. I slept surrounded by a dismantled computer with the Windows boot screen filling dreams that refused to fully load.

After Gabby kicked me out of the flat on Sunday, I spent a miserable night in a local hotel run by Mrs. Norris, a fifty two year old landlady with a taste for margaritas and lonely lodgers. My exile lasted until early Monday morning, when Gabby rang my mobile at nine thirty.

‘Chip, I forgive you,’ she said, as simply as that and without a degree of sympathy for the innocent man forced to spend an evening faking an asthma attack before barricading the door to his hotel room.

‘What do you mean, you forgive me?’ I asked, determined that my wrongful punishment should not pass without comment. ‘You threw me out of my own flat for no reason except an old friend decided to kiss me on the cheek!’

‘I know, I sorry,’ said she of the knee jerk reactions. ‘But I want you to come back. I miss you, Chippy.’

Half an hour later, leaving a tearful Mrs. Norris behind me, I dropped my bag in the hallway of the flat. Gabby hugged me in welcome but before I could say I was happy to be home, she was leading me into the office.

‘It stopped working when I turn it on this morning,’ she said.

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Computer. The computer not work.’

I began to see why she had forgiven me so quickly.

‘Computer turn off and I can’t get it back on again. I know you can fix.’

And with that, she shut and locked the door to the office and left me to work my magic. It took me fifteen hours to get it to load but by then I’d ripped out the sound card, two graphic cards, three hard drives, a floppy drive, a DVD burner. Then I’d got down to the gut of the machine. I cleaned out the fans, tested all the power connections, tightened screws. Only at one o’clock this morning did I think of pulling out one of the memory modules.

And the machine finally came alive.

After a day searching, I discovered that one stick of memory had failed. Small blessing really. Eighty pounds might not seem much but it’s eighty pounds I don’t have. Only Gabby was neither impressed nor forgiving.

‘You want to go back to hotel?’ she screamed when I told her the bad news. ‘You get computer working and I forgive you. But, Chippy, if I see one blue screen. I kick you out again.’

So now I’m living by the moment. I have to find the money for the new memory and then I’ll be trusting that the engineers at Microsoft have written an operating system stable enough to protect me from a prolonged stay with Mrs. Norris.

Like I said: it’s been a hellish 48 hours. I now worry that the next 48 are going to be much much worse.


Ms Baroque said...

Chip, how are your next 48 hours going? I'm thinking of you.

Coincidentally, my oldest kid has been in computer hell for six days now - five years' worth of his music is seemingly lost forever on a corrupted external hard drive, following a massive backup exercise prior to reformatting three computers. He says the key word is "Vista."

Anonymous said...

You telling us you have a server for a desktop ,what's the scsi card driving ,you don't give the make or model .

Big Chip Dale said...

Ms. Baroque: Vista is driving me crazy. I had both on my machine, but always used XP. Now the memory failed, I've fixed it by using the remaining good stick, and Windows XP crashes. So, I've decided to start using Vista and beginning to actually love it. Then it tells me that I need to reactivate it!

Anonymous: what SCSI card? There's two graphics cards (in SLI) and a sound card. That's it. My motherboard has got RAID I don't use it (will do that next time I need to reformat all my drives). Of course it's a bit powerful but I don't like to be caught short... And Second Life still crawls on it.

Anonymous said...

Chippy the bottom one is a SCSI controller card and you appear to have on board sound.

Big Chip Dale said...

Anonymous: Ah! I can see where the confusion arises. It's a Creative Fatality card with a ribbon cable running to a front panel full of sound inputs/controls in one of the sound bays. The motherboard is a Asus A8N Premium with onboard sound but I never use it. Now the secret is out. I'm really a geek.

Anonymous said...

So you told us a little fib then,you do know about computers ,you now say you are a geek,can you fix my nephews pc a dell dimension 5150 it won't switch on and you get a flashing yellow light.

PS £145 for a motherboard from Dell,non on Ebay at the moment sigh.

PPS nothing on the Dell blogs or site, so it must be a good pc.

Big Chip Dale said...

Anonymous, now you see why I keep quiet about my limited computer knowledge?

Dells are overpriced. Unless you buy a Mac, which include some custom parts, most PCs are made from components sourced from well known companies. Better PCs have motherboards built by Asus, Abit etc.; processors either AMD or Intel; graphics cards based on chipsets by one of two companies. Can’t you buy the parts from a company like Dabs and cut Dell out of the loop?

You don’t say what’s flashing? A light on the case or on the monitor? If you can’t get it to switch on (i.e., no power to the machine, drives don’t power up) then it’s probably either your motherboard or your power supply. If you’re getting power to the motherboard and the case light flashes, it’s probably not the power supply (though it still could be). Check all connections going into the motherboard. Push the memory sticks in. They can sometimes come loose in hot weather. It could also be bad memory, as I discovered.

If it is your motherboard, good luck. You need to know your way around a PC to replace one. It’s just like building a PC from new.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Chips just winding you up ,Dell produce motherboards and cases ,you can't fit a generic motherboard into a Dell case ,it's actually the motherboard at fault ,I think it's the bios ,if you do a reset using the little handbag plug ,the pc boots up ,when you change the date or any other bios changes it wont boot when you switch on ,it's a strange problem,not seen it before and Iv'e changed loads Dell and HP motherboards,IT fault finding is my day job.

Big Chip Dale said...

So, Anonymous, now I reveal how gullible I am too.

I don't like Dell. In fact, I hate all these big name brands. Sounds like a horrible problem but just to state the obvious: you've checked the small Lithium battery powering the BIOS hasn't run down?

Anonymous said...

Chips put a brand new one in ,I got hit with that one many moons ago,when the battery goes it can give some very strange symptoms.