Because they’re smarter than us . . .

Pay attention to the type of RAM!

Pay attention to the type of RAM!

On Wednesday I fried my motherboard. ‘Fried’ today being more general term for ‘damaged’ or ‘drugged,’ one should note that as I pressed the power button a smoky semi-toxic odor of burning metal emanated from my computer case — strangely recalling to mind my brother Ryan’s last bout with the grill.

Apparently despite a high similarity in spelling, DDR and DDR2 RAM cartridges are not interchangeable, and my attempts to replace the former with the latter . . . well, I won’t be using my computer anymore. In celebration I ordered a new processor and a new motherboard, toasting an early birthday with a bottle of wine and CSI: New York. Later quite drunk I emailed Dasad – the message that has little to do with this story, but which I will post nevertheless as I managed to allude to both Hemingway and Vesuvius in the same sentence:

It’s truly amazing what a few glasses of cabernet sauvignon can do to a writer. A carefree night, an open bottle of wine, and an empty glass of mine own, such opportunity need not knock twice. My tongue feels as loose as a goose in a noose. Like Hemingway, words flow forth from my soul lambasting a troubled world like fires from the pits of Vesuvius upon the walls of Pompey. The effects are marvelous. My head feels light and airy, spinning as I move my body from left to right, to right to left and back again, repeat until morning. Hopefully with sleep and kind dreams of beautiful places in between. Lands where true love and adventure find kinship and life; such is the land for me, inebriated as I am. Farewell kind sir! I will meet you again in the morning with troubled head and embarrassed blushes brought on by my current revelary . . . revalry . . . revelry. There, I got it. Whew . . . Sleep tight good friend. May the voyage of your dreams bring you round to lands as marvelous as mine own, full of good food, beautiful women, and kind song. Farewell and good night!

Anyway . . . waking sobered and focused, I passed the next two days traveling between Best Buy and home in search of the essential ingredients for a machine that does not require fifteen minutes and much keyboard smashing to open Firefox.

My parts:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
  • Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P motherboard
  • 1 TB hardrive
  • HP DVD writer/reader
  • Geoforce video card
Faster but more delicate . . .

Faster but more delicate . . .

Frankly the only thing that surprises me more than the fact that I got all the necessary pieces to fit together without a bedside holocaust is that we reached the point where we need one thousand gigabytes of space in our desktop for our various collections of music, games, and anime music videos. One would think that 300 GB is enough for anyone’s hoard of anime fansubs without debating which episodes should be sacrificed to the recycling bin. Sadly such is not the case.

All looked very good this morning up until we had began running our Half-Life game.  Chapter one had just ended violently.  Black Mesa had exploded into an alien realm. I sent Gordon Freeman to investigate when the screen went black. We had installed XP last night and the drivers the following morning when I woke.  Everything appeared in working order when the computer suddenly shut down. Poof!

“Huh? What the hell? Kevin . . .”

“I didn’t touch anything. I promise.”

“Son of a . . .”

The same scenario haunted my last PC, which routinely died sporadically clicking off into a black screen without the courtesy of announcing I had done something stupid. Half-way through an email, half-way through my homework, seven-eighth of the way through the final demon assault in Warcraft 3 with a legion of leopard-mounted night elves at my command, the siege ends, fading into endless night.

I never did discover the source of the problem and in the end attributed it to hardware failure: a faulty motherboard or corrupted CPU. Changing the power source failed to resuscitate; the strategic use of several floor fans against the open tower did nothing but whip up a torrent of dust, benefiting my vision little and the computer even less.  Now with similar symptoms using my old tower, I wonder if it was the culprit then and now.

Diagnosing the problem . . .

Diagnosing the problem . . .

Later in day Dasad arrived to examine my sick newborn. He exchanged the RAM cartridges, performed some diagnostics, sprinkled pixy dust and prayed in binary. The computer has functioned for the rest of the evening and all of Sunday.

“The Asian genes,” he remarked, blowing on his fingers. “Machines love me.”

Like a tower of cards I should have left well enough alone; instead I foolishly chose to reorient my case away from the middle of the floor – apart from being kicked every now and then it wasn’t that cumbersome. After fishing my wires through the desk, I activated the machine again but the prima donna proved obstinate for the evening’s performance. The diagnostics scrolled down the screen and shut itself off and left me irritated and fretful throughout our nightly somnolence.

The machine righted itself the next morning after Kevin turned the case on its side, arranged some wires, crossed his fingers, and stroked the RAM in the same gentle motion Dasad had taught him before. The computer started up immediately convincing me that some issue must exist within the case and that machines detest my presence. For the time being, my new computer sits awkwardly under my desk, absorbing our legroom but working. Kevin’s just downloaded Winamp. The Beach Boys play “Surfin’ Safari” and all is right with the world.

My next project: fixing old models

My next project: fixing (or frying) old models

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