Only one. But that’s all it took on the morning of Saturday, 31 May to fry my main computer, router, dsl modem and television. Despite the presence of very expensive surge protectors. Elsewhere in the building, it also took out two other television sets and a telephone.
Understand, I’m the geek who calls people on the phone to warn them to unplug their computers whenever thunderstorms are expected. Having followed my usual behavior, I felt pretty good about turning things back on as the thunder receded in the distance. I was reassured when I checked the radar map online and walked into the kitchen to make breakfast, when I heard a loud “SNAP!” outside the building. Not a “BANG.” Not a “BOOM.” A “SNAP!” I poked my head out into the living room to see a black monitor screen. That’s when the good feelings started to dissipate.
At first I thought it might be just the power supply, but I finally tracked the source of the problem to the motherboard. And that’s when things started getting really depressing.
When I built the computer, a scant three years ago, I researched it for several weeks and made the usual compromise: cutting-edge vs. budget. And, thinking I wouldn’t have to replace it for at least seven or eight more years, I eschewed technology I wasn’t sure I needed in favor of tried-and-true. I didn’t realize basic connectivity would change so much.
Like CPUs. Newegg sells only one AMD 939-pin cpu now, and no motherboards that take it. I don’t know if my existing AMD64 cpu is still good, but it’s useless without a motherboard to plug into, so I had to spend the money for a processor.
Or video. Everything I read on the subject of agp vs. pci express indicated that pcie was an expensive toy for gamers, and since I’m not a gamer I went with agp, which at my age I still consider “new” technology. Wake-up #2: motherboards no longer have an agp slot. So now I have a presumably good agp video card I use for a paperweight, and I had to spend the extra money for onboard video.
Or IDE connectors. Modern motherboards only have one IDE connector, meaning support for only 2 IDE devices. That means I had to find a way to connect 4 IDE devices (cd burner, dvd burner and two hard drives) to 1 slot. After considering a number of expensive and complicated options, I gave up and bought a SATA hard drive. So now I have 2 very good IDE hard drives which also work very well as paperweights. I also bought an external HD enclosure for the big, 320 GB drive, so at least I can use that as backup storage. And the external HD enclosure allowed me to hook up the old drives one at a time and get to the data on them.
And somehow, in all the research three years ago, I missed the rather large fact that then-current DDR technology was being replaced by DDR2. So the 2 Gigs of RAM I was so proud of had to be replaced, too. Of course, being me, I had to double the amount to 4 GB. At least this wasn’t a complete loss: my old memory replaced and quadrupled the amount of memory in my daughter’s computer, speeding that up considerably (plus, she got my old monitor, because I felt so guilty about the piece of garbage she was using).
Also around the end of May, two apartments in the building were vacated, and I had to spend a bunch of time overseeing the prep for new tenants, taking time away from the process of researching and rebuilding the computer. Add to that the time it takes (over a week) to install my favorite operating system (Gentoo Linux), and I’m just now getting up to speed with it.
So after a time-consuming and expensive process, I have a working computer. And it’s AWESOME!!!1!eleventy!! Between the dual-core 64-bit processor and the 4 Gigs of memory, it doesn’t even break a sweat while editing and processing images, normally my most resource intensive operation.
I’m back. I no longer have to depend on the old, slow Thinkpad for intertube access. So what does that mean to you, the reader? Absolutely nothing. I’m still too lazy to post on a regular basis. Although I’m not likely to go another 3 months between posts. Probably.
Update: I’m not the only one.
Go over to this post at S. Weasel’s place for more.
Must be global warmening or something.