Friday, October 22, 2004

Various ThisNThats

Things are patched up with my mom and dad now, regarding the network.

I helped my dad recover his stock market program and then I helped my mom turn off the welcome screen after every screen saver. She only wants to log in once.

That same night, Jeff told me that the server may be down, because he couldn’t see it at all. I went over the common troubleshooting tips with him, and he had me convinced enough to Remote Desktop to the server from my PC, just to make sure everything was ok.

Everything was indeed ok, Jeff just forgot that a backslash looks like this (\) and not this (/). So when I kept telling him to type \\dentserver, he kept typing //dentserver, and there’s a big difference. Once we cleared that up, the server suddenly existed again.

Then it was Julianne’s turn. Her new computer’s video card didn’t like the combination of a really old monitor and Windows XP. So now she’s running a POS PCI vid card from 1994 or so at (full!) VGA until she buys herself a new monitor. She hates it, because VGA, as we all know, is crap. Maybe we didn’t know that back in 1994, but that’s not the point.

My across-the-street neighbor asked me if I’d take a look at his PC last week. He said he didn’t know what the problem was, but he suspected that the motherboard was bad.

I went over for a gander, and sure enough, I saw my second case of exploding capacitors in a month or so. They hadn’t blown as spectacularly as Sandy’s had, but it was clear from the bulged cans and oozing electrolyte that the motherboard was definitely sick.

It was tricky, though, because he had really specific motherboard requirements. It had to be Mini-ATX, support DDR 400, have both USB 2 and Firewire, and have AGP 8x. That shouldn’t be such a tall order to fill, but it took thirty minutes or so of searching before I found an Asus model that fit the bill just right. Oh yeah, except for the firewire. But we found a PCI card for that.

Wonder of wonders, when the board finally did come, it had almost the same chipset on it as the original board had. But better capacitors. I guess SIS is the only chipset manufacturer currently running that particular feature set.

When I pulled the heatsink off of the board, it brought the processor right along with it. The chip was so well stuck to the heatsink that I had to use my knife in a gentle prying motion to get it to violently pop off of and then fly away from the heatsink. What really worried me was that the processor chip flexed as it came free. And it didn’t just flex a little. It looked bad.

But I had prepared my neighbor with the information that the bad capacitors might also have ruined the chip, and so even if it ended up bad, he’d be ok.

The board I ordered came and I had to cut the Pentium 4 processor frame off of it and re-attach the original one because of a special heatsink configuration. I used a goodly amount of thermal grease on the chip, finished putting the machine back together and tried booting.

Success! The processor was fine. I still can’t believe it.

My neighbor is from Germany, and so he wanted his copy of Windows to be localized to German. On my first couple of tries, I could only get the computer to speak German about half of the time.

That sucked, so I went back to his house and borrowed his German factory XP install CD. It’s a good thing I know the Windows setup process so well, because I don’t know German, and it was all gobbledygook to me. I managed to mash the right buttons at the right times, and now he’s a happy camper.

And that brings us just about current. I’m going to try to make whatever preparations possible for next week’s LAN party this weekend, and of course I’ll need to do some resting also.

Hmmm, Leon, how about we finish that Mario 3 game?

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