Home > Computers and Internet, Life or something like it, Technology > Entry 04/04/2011 10:17:53 AM – Mentat 608

Entry 04/04/2011 10:17:53 AM – Mentat 608


Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde

April Fool’s Day this year can be marked by as one of the worst days that I had gone through in a long time.  My good friend Glenn said something to the extent when he said, “…worst days ever…”  While that might in fact be true in his life for me, well having died once and come back, I think when looking back at four days ago, this is rather light when compared to it.   And of course, when ranked by the multitude of other events in my life…  Well, let’s just say this one ranks somewhere between the acutely annoying to the sort of thing that would make the Drama Faerie proud.  Though I digress from my usual indulgence and should get right into the meat of things.

April 1st.  It had been marked on my calendar as just one of those sort of days I had an extra chore that I needed to do:  clean the cat fur and dust out of the desktop computer.  Even with the HEPA filters, I could see through the plastic window on the detachable panel that there had been some that had collected in there.  Couple this with looking at the back of the computer and seeing it collecting against the ducts, I knew it was something that just has to be done.  Sow when I woke up I shut down the Main PC, headed to the bathroom for a shower and prep myself for the choking feeling many people get when they see dust bunnies that seem to have the size of a Muskrat with the sentience one would expect from something left in the Fridge since Thanksgiving 2008.

Honestly, it went well.  At least at first.  Mini-vacuum in hand, with a can of compressed air, I was able to get most of it off the radiator on the CPU fan, out of the Video Card Fans, and even from the back and power supply fans that had collected there.  Leaving the unit open, I had booted the thing up and to my amazement it went through POST without so much as a hiccup. And as it was sitting there on the desktop, I accidentally took off the front panel of my Tower and to my wondering eyes and annoyed impatience realized that I had forgotten to clean those fans and filters out.  So off the computer went, and that’s when my problems began.

After cleaning out the intake fans and the dust from the filters there, I had attempted to power up the unit to get back to the desktop and the BIOS simply wouldn’t get into the BIOS and POST.  It was powering up, but I  was getting the impression that the unit simply wasn’t given any errors and it wasn’t booting up.

At least, I thought to myself, I could reset the BIOS to factory default settings and fix the occasional problem between the IDE Drives initialization and warm up and the video card power consumption issues that had been causing the system to intermittently crash since I had replaced the video card.

Cracking open the case, I went looking for the jumper and given the location of this BIOS jumper — it’s in one of the more difficult places I’ve experienced in my time working with x86 computers:  right near the SATA plugs for the HDD and DVD drives.  And while I do have a rather good set of tweezers for accessing and pulling the jumper — it’s still quite a bit of work trying to get the jumper pulled, set in the reset position and put back into the normal position so that the system will boot up properly.   And that’s when I drop the jumper and can’t see where it had dropped to.

So, unplugging all the cables in the vicinity of where this jumper is and not seeing it; it then becomes the frustration of moving the tower about in such a way as to confirm that the jumper isn’t lodged into something, and hopefully comes out somewhere on the anti-static mat so that it can be put back in place.

Ninety minutes later, the jumper’s found:  lodged in the section of the tower that is even more difficult to access by both finger and tweezers.  Thirty minutes after that the jumper’s reacquired, reset and put back into the default position, wires plugged in everywhere they belong,  Low and behold, the BIOS is accessible, changes are made to the IDE controller of the board (causing the IDE drives to go into a state of self-diagnosis during POST), and eventually the system comes back up…

By this time three hours had passed and I had a right good amount of rage and anger going on because of the amount of work that I had gone through that should’ve only taken forty minutes.   I was frustrated and more than a little sore because of the amount of delicate work I needed to do finding the jumper, getting the BIOS reset and getting the system back up to operating conditions.  There was a small amount of me that was relieved, but the rage at the moment was winning out.

Glenn finally comes online and asked me about what had been going on.  At the time I hadn’t been in voice/video chat so he couldn’t tell how raging I was.  He could see that I as mad by the amount of swearing I had been doing, but he’s never seen me rage in frustration.  His answer is to get in a little FPS competition in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 2.

I agreed as a little competitiveness and bloodshed would help my rather sour mood of the moment; and loading up Steam ended up trying to do a little Spec-Ops Scenarios.

Bad move and I didn’t realize just how bad a move it was until well afterward.  We ended up doing a mission that introduced me to a creature that up until Friday — I had never experienced within the game:  the Juggernaut.  I was expecting to be fighting mere mortals like I am in the mission and when I shot at this creature and it kept charging, my raging only got worse.    It was made worse by three other missions that we had played where I was off-game and easily mad about everything that was going on.  During one mission that I’ve been relatively successful with found the lag to be noticeable.  It was noticeable in that when I shot at one of the soldiers that was charging down on us, he would go through the kill animation and then a full second and a half later the blood from the hit would be spurting out in the air.

By this point, I was a monster in voice-chat on Steam.  Swearing like a trooper, and simply not calming down the way I normally do even from gaming.  Glenn had let me alone, which was the worse thing to do, as I had no outlet and the rage was still just sitting there in the front of my head.

So signing off of everything, knowing that cheater gaming would be the best solution for me (as I could kill to my heart’s content in god mode and generally be the superhero of whatever game I chose to play) , I grabbed the DVD for Fallout 3 and loaded it up.  It was going relatively well as I was at the part of the game that didn’t involve any sort of tedious adventuring (like Moira Brown’s Wasteland Survival Guide) and played for a short time getting a bit of my frustration out, even though I could still feel more than a bit of rage still crawling about the back of my mind.

I forgot why I got out of the game by this point…  I think it was because it was time for lunch and I didn’t want to pause the game; instead wanting to check mail and Usenet posts.  Getting out, I had a bite to eat, checked a little e-mail and then decided on getting back into the game.

Now the thing is with Fallout 3, it’s far easier to just open up Windows Explorer and double click on the icon set on the DVD drive.  Even with the icon in the Start Menu, I’ve noticed that the game tends to crash more than using the Launcher associated on the DVD.   I’m still angry, impatient and frustrated and the last thing I wanted to deal with is crashes annoying me all the more.

That’s when I saw that the drives were backwards.  I had set the drives up in such a way that the bootable drive is supposed to be the upper DVD drive.  It was actually in the lower setting.  Now don’t get me wrong, with Windows Systems since 2000 Server — it’s an easy enough fix.  You go into the Computer Management Console and under the Disk Management simply swap out the drive letters so that they read the way you want them to read.   The problem with this is that while this would be fine for the system booting into Windows, there would be a good chance I’d forget the drives are swapped out and that if I had to ever reformat and reimage the drive, I wouldn’t remember that the drive cables were switched; thereby thinking that the bootable DVD drive had simply stopped working.

So instead of swapping drive letters within Windows, I shut down the system again, I cracked open the case one more time and sorted out the SATA cables so that they would be in the correct order.   And once again, the system refused to get by POST once the power was re-applied.

I attempted a BIOS reset once more.  Nothing

I tried to pull the CMOS Battery.  Nothing.

I tried one more time to reset the BIOS; and lost the jumper once again.  And after almost two and a half hours and literally taking apart the tower piece by piece, the jumper was completely lost.  But that’s not without further calamity.  As it turns out between the frustration, the on-going raging, and the desperation of trying to find the jumper as I didn’t have any extras lying about the house (for a first in a long time), I had inadvertently put down the tower on top of a pair of my glasses crushing them.

Funny thing that…  For all the ranging and frustration and desperation and anger I had been going through at about this time, it was literally the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Instead of becoming completely incendiary, with a huff all my anger and my frustration and my rage was completely spent.  I wasn’t calm by a long shot, but at the same time I wasn’t a raving lunatic anymore.  I simply gave up and decided that it was time to simply take a break as it was accomplishing nothing in getting the problem fixed.

I sat there on the couch and powering up the laptop, I had counted my blessing in that I had maintained synch ups for this sort of thing as well as knew that Friday early morning (2 – 4 AM), I had been able to successfully run a complete backup on the system so it’s not as though I had suffered a Great Hard drive Crash like the time it happened to me back in 1996.  And going over to my favorite and fast online hardware vendor — New Egg — I decided it was time for an upgrade.  The new Motherboard, Processor and because of the layout the new RAM — 6 GB of it to be exact.  Further, because of the processor, I decided on getting the 64-bit version of Windows 7.  I had to also look into a PATA to SATA Converter as this particular motherboard does not have an IDE/PATA slot like the current/previous motherboard had.

So all in all — I should have the shipments to me here by Tuesday, Wednesday latest and another 18 or so hours later, I should have the system back up and running by the end of the week *fingers crossed*.

The next day (Saturday), I decided on heading out to look into getting replacement glasses for the ones that I crushed during the debacle with my tower.

Now in the South, all I have to do is provide an intact pair of lenses to the optometrist on duty at any glasses-making place, they will take a read of them and make them usually with no questions asked.  In one instance the Optometrist on duty didn’t believe me on whether I had my eye exam within the last two years and after calibrating the device they use to determine corrective lenses, had me perform a quick eye exam to ensure that I had 20/20 vision with the corrected lenses.  And within an hour in one place, and a couple of days at another I had a replacement pair of glasses, no questions asked.

I hit three different places up here in the north.  The first place gave a quick look at the frames and when they determined the frame hinge was destroyed said that the glasses frame was useless.  They refused to fill the prescription without my going through their Optometrist Office, and couldn’t schedule anything until Tuesday.

The next two places were pretty much the same — without a written prescription to fill — they refused to make replacement glasses.  Of which the last two places did have the microscope device used to determine what the prescription of the lens was.  When asked why they refused to fill the prescription the remaining two gave pretty vague reasoning behind it.  One even went so far as to say it’s policy with the company (which is untrue because the one place that routinely refilled glasses no questions asked as part of the same franchise in the South).

So, while spare glasses currently on, it would look as though I’m going to need to make an Optometrist appointment later this week and see if I can’t get myself some replacement glasses for the pair that are broken — as the current pair while working rather well — are a bit snug on my face and cause some discomfort when wearing them for long periods of time.

After coming home from all this disappointment and annoyances of what felt like the Medical Insurance Agencies dictating policy for eyeglass replacement — I decided to tidy up the room a bit and get ready for having to put together a processor to motherboard and then to the tower when what do I stumble across that I thought I had lost?  The BIOS jumper that I thought that I had lost.  It was sitting on the other panel of the tower stuck in the guide rail used to lock the panel in place.

Great, just great!  I think.  But too late to try to put the unit back together and give it one more go.   Not that I want to at this point, I believed that the BIOS got bricked.

So that was my April Fool’s in a nutshell big enough to hide the Death Star in.

Then Sunday was a sight to behold.  After I started my routine chores of laundry, I had stepped out briefly to confirm whether the meteorologists in the area had been completely charlatans about their forecast for the day or whether they had just gotten lucky about it (after all, as it’s said — Meteorologists: where they can be wrong 80% of the time and still keep their job).  As it turns out, they had been lucky and the weather was beautiful!

So after dumping the first load into the dryer and starting the second, I went about pulling the bicycle out of storage and checking to make sure the tires were pressurized, brakes were working, and all the appropriate, gears, pulleys and working parts were greased and working properly,  And with everything back in working order,

Half hour later, I decide to take a spin and make sure that I did do all the fixing I should have done.  4 Miles (6.4 KM) later, while I’m feeling accomplished and a bit shaky, I realize that I’m grossly out of shape.  I would’ve loved to give it another go today, but unfortunately for me — it’s raining and much cooler than I’d want to ride with a pair of shorts.  So I’m going to have to hold off ’til tomorrow and see whether I can have another go at it, or whether it’s gotten colder again.  *crossing fingers again*  If it is warmer, I plan on adding a couple of more miles to the journey.

[Last Edited: 04/04/2011 05:18:37 PM]

This morning as I was sitting here and putting my thoughts together while reading my morning news sources and feeds, I had been struck with an interesting sort of inspiration, but before I go into it, I’m going to take a brief step back and explain a bit of the conundrum that caused me to have this flash from one of the muses.  For the last 5 or so months, I’ve found myself sort of floundering when it comes to writing.  Some weeks I’m able to talk about the things going on in my life with no problem…  Other weeks, I find myself drawn not entirely unlike a deer to oncoming headlights of a Mac Truck to writing about tech stuff as a means of getting out of writing some journal entry that I feel I’m going to be excessively maudlin or insipidly whiny in.

So the inspiration was to split that out.  Because let’s face it, when it comes to IT Tech — hardware, software, and what have you — I assuredly have an opinion on it.  People often come to me for various sorts of advice, or to help them clean up their systems, or even finding the right sort of software for whatever it is that people want to work with.  I can’t see why I can’t put it to good use somehow.  While I’m no authority of anything tech by any stretch of the imagination, and not remotely published…  I think it’s only natural to take a passion and keeping it a sort of hobby instead of getting it confused with my journal, which has been (and should always be) about my interaction with the world — both online and outside the door of my house.

Now the only thing is — to come up with a name for it…

Well that’s about it for the time being.  Until the next time.

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  1. 04/13/2011 at 2:13 pm
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