Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thank you, Sir! May I have another?!

I was going to write about how I have to shake off the cobwebs when I switch toons around, and how I have to make sure I have my buttons aligned up across toons (and potentially even MMOs), but technical difficulties got in the way.

This Saturday, I was down in the basement insulating the rim joists* when I heard an argument break out among the kids upstairs.  "Dad," one of them called, "come up and fix the computer!"

I shook off the foam insulation shavings on me and marched upstairs, expecting to have to power cycle a locked up computer.  The kids know all about the old three-finger salute, and can navigate the task manager to kill a hung program, so when I get called it's either for a) a password or b) to power cycle something.  When I arrived in front of the computer, however, I was confronted by a solid color screen.

"Uh oh," I said.  "What did you do?"

"I didn't do it, Steph did it!" my son replied.

"I didn't do anything!" she wailed.  "I was exiting LOTRO, and the screen came up!"

"Well," I said, reaching around the PC's case, "let me hard boot it."

After a hard boot, I got to the login screen only to have it disappear behind a solid tan color.

"Crap.  This isn't good."

"Can you fix it?"

"I can try.  Let me boot it into safe mode and make sure we don't have any disk trouble or malware.  But I think we lost a graphics card."

Several hours and many reboots later, I'm convinced that it's either the graphics card failing or the CPU overheating.  Once the second or third fan kicks in during the boot cycle, the video goes crazy.  I almost wished it was malware, because I can fix that more easily than a hardware problem.

Sighing, I got up and wandered over to where my youngest was sitting on the couch, wearing a melancholy expression on her face.  "It wasn't your fault," I told her.  "It's a hardware problem, and nothing you did caused that."

"Can I help?" she asked, brightening.

"No, I've got to figure out what to do."

Like Anna over at Too Many Annas, I'm confronted by a failing, aging PC with obsolete architecture.  In my case, 32-bit architecture, and if this is the graphics card, a replacement might require me to replace the power supply as well.  And if it's the CPU, finding a replacement motherboard might be more trouble than it's worth.  The PC is over five years old, and it was only a middle-of-the-pack machine back when I bought it.

Therefore, I guess that means it's time to replace the old warhorse.

As a corollary to this, it means I'm kind of out of an MMO machine for the time being.  I suppose I could install one of the MMOs that the kids and I both play on the new laptop I'd gotten for their schoolwork, but it's not an ideal situation.  Besides, I'd prefer keeping as many games off of a supposedly "work/school" machine as possible.  (Yeah, and maybe pigs will fly without the aid of a trebuchet.)

So, I guess I'm going to write about things that have already happened, as opposed to anything recent.  But really, I'm not a bleeding edge kind of guy.  The last time I did that with the PC industry was 1999, when I plunked down way too many dollars to get one of the first AMD Athlon machines, which then went for half of that price within six months.  And as for gaming, ever heard of the game Darklands?  That was the last time I got a game right as it came out and immediately dove into it, and ow were the bugs bad.**  Having learned my lesson, I merely aim for something reasonable and waiting patiently for any bugs to shake out.

*For the curious, here's a link from the online version of the Family Handyman.  And for the record, their estimate of "a day" for how long it takes doesn't take into account actually moving any crap in the basement around.  Depending on the amount of crap you have, it can take many days.....

**If you're remember, when Cata was released I didn't enter into any Cata zones until three months later, when the "I'm bored!" refrain was in full swing.  And yes, eventually Darklands got the bugs worked out and was an excellent game, but the damage had already been done to Microprose's reputation.  Even Sid Meier's Civ 2 and Colonization couldn't save the long decline of Microprose.

EtA:  Fixed an autocorrect error.  what IS it with those things anyway?


  1. Meh, it always sucks when your PC breaks down, so you have my sympathies. At least it's not as bad as back in the day when you only had a single machine in the house and if it broke you were simply out of luck when it came to doing anything computer-related.

    1. Actually, were it not for my work laptop, we would have been in that situation for a day. I had to run out and get a laptop the next day so that the household could function. I was planning on doing it "soon", but not THAT soon.....