What She Said

August 8, 2002
10:27 PM
The Upgrade Chronicles, Part 4

Well I only thought it was over. So my PC threw a STOP error, this time an "infinite loop" error, something to do with the GeForce3 card. I've heard of these but never ran into it before. Not a huge deal, since as luck would have it NVIDIA released new drivers today. Rebooted, reinstalled, rebooted, got back to work. Then while in Neverwinter Nights the system locked up. Rebooted, then when I got back in I got another STOP related to IRQ's or somesuch. So if I wasn't convinced I needed to reformat/reinstall XP I was at this point. Of course, once I rebooted again, my BIOS gave me a SMART error. SMART is (apparently) a dealie on hard drives where they can signal when they think they're going to fail. I Google'd this and the consesnus is: this isn't a drill. This hard drive really is going to die very soon. Given that it's a 4+ year old 6GB drive, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

In any event, my wife has a second 40GB hard drive that we bought so we could mirror her hard drive but we never got around to it. Given that I do all the ViaTexas work on my system it makes it a better candidate for this idea anyway so tomorrow I'm steaing my wife's hard drive.

And yet for some reason, despite the fact that it's going to work out fine and I was going to reformat anyway, this whole thing has pissed me off. Not sure why, maybe because of the series of events leading up to this don't exactly inspire confidence.

10:03 AM
The Upgrade Chronicles, Part 3.

Granted, there's not much more to tell at this point. I got home, rested, ate, watched West Wing, and then reassembled my PC. Not sure if I got all those sound card connections right but no biggie. Also, I noticed back when I upgraded to XP the hard drive light was on all the time, regardless of if the hard drive was being used. It does that now, too, so either I have it screwed up or it's business as usual. I carefully removed the Pentium III sticker from my case and replaced it with the Athlon XP sticker. I placed the Pentium III sticker on the little sticker dealie the Athlon XP one came on and placed it in the box I stored my PIII/mobo/old RAM in. I plan on making a second server system with them at some point. Or not. Not sure. This will require a second case and hard drive and I'll want the sticker for that. Of course it stands to reason that the new case will be cooler than the one I have my Athlon XP in now so either I'll have the slow system with the good case and vice versa or else I'll switch them out and have another sticker crisis. Yes I'm a dork. The Pentium III sticker was metallic and sustained some damage when I took it off. It was on crooked and that's bugged me for three years now. Yes, I am this crazy. The Athlon XP sticker is a simple sticker so I'm not sure it could survive a transplant. I wonder if it's possible to get these stickers outside of a CPU purchase, since the companies probably want to prevent people from slapping an old Pentium into a case and placing a Pentium IV sticker on it. I also placed the metallic "Powered by ASUS" sticker on my system for some reason. It's fine, but it looks like it was designed in the 1950's.

After re-qualifying in America's Army, I played Neverwinter Nights for a very long time simply because I lost track of time (and because the game plays so well now) and so did Wendy (as she often does when reading a book).

My cat Liza was sitting in my chair the whole time. Funny thing was, when I was down on the floor with a flashlight behind the system making all those connections she came down there to watch. And now she's taken to laying down on my desk when I'm programming. I've actually found it makes me more focused to occasionally pet her when she does this. Of course, I also have to because if she lays there and I ignore it long enough she'll sit right in front of the screen and stare at it and me back and forth. This will be right before she decides to see if she can get the mouse cursor. Early on she figured out that the cursor is behind glass and she can't get to it so now when it's close to an edge of the screen she'll slap under or on the side of the monitor, like she's trying to reach around. On the one hand she's smart since she knows slapping at the screen won't work, but on the other hand she never figures out that the other method won't work either.

But I guess I'm lucky not only to have a cat that like me but has the same interests as well. Now if she would just stop with the sadistic biting...

August 7, 2002
6:47 AM
The Upgrade Chronicles, Part 2.

Got the stuff in today. Got the stuff into my system tonight. Posting this from my new system right now.

The Internet (mainly Google) is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it means that you are more informed as to what you could be looking at, in terms of things like upgrades and products. The downside is that ignorance is bliss. Though I read tons of good "this motherboard is great!" posts, I also read tons of "this motherboard sucks!" posts. It only takes one of those to make you nervous.

Many posts I had read stated that after upgrading to the A7S333, they were unable to get anything to run. Or boot. Or any OS's to install, especially XP Pro. The common statement was the BSOD in the installation. Now, as I chronicled earlier, BSOD is a generic enough term that I didn't know if it was a "real" BSOD or if it was a generic error message with a blue screen. As I left the computer shop, some guy walked in with the same problem I was dreading - new mobo, new RAM, new processor, no dice on XP. He was exchanging the RAM to see if that could be it. I started dreading this upgrade more and more, especially since it dawned on me I've never done anything this drastic alone.

Anywho, it took me 2 hours to get the new stuff in - partly because I was cautious, and partly because while Tiawan makes good motherboards, they don't make a friendly upgrade experience. It took several tries to get the thing to turn on because as it turns out the part where the power switch hooks into the motherboard isn't documented well either.

Then I booted it up and it went into BIOS mode. This was good. It detected the one hard drive I hooked up (I figured I'd hook one at a time up). Then I rebooted. It couldn't detect the hard drive, despite doing so in the BIOS. It also couldn't detect the floppy disk. I turned the floppy cable around and fixed that one but the hard drive was still a no go. So I hooked the other one up and that seems to have done it. It's got something to do with the new hard drive cables/IDE paradigm but damned if I know exactly what or how, nor do I care at this hour.

Then XP started booting. And stopped. Or rather STOPped. It gave me a blue screen with an error message. At this point I'm not sure if its a "your shit is broke" or a "your shit is different" message. It says to reboot, so I do. It happens again. After some research and some random card/hair pulling, I get it down to this - the IDE controller has changed (obviously, the entire system has changed) and XP can't handle it. I can either revert back to original motherboard, hack the registry, or reinstall XP. I pick the last option. Just to cheat, I reinstall XP over itself. An hour later, I'm back up and running.

So I fire up IE. Kinda faster. I fire up Excel. Kinda faster. I fire up Outlook. Kinda faster. At this point I start to wonder if this was worth it.

Then I fire up Neverwinter Nights. Whoa baby. For starters it comes up a lot faster. That's good. It shows a cutscene. This is when it occurs to me that I couldn't watch these before - too choppy. Now they're like silk. That's good. Then I get into the game. Damn. I never realized how choppy/slow it was before. Now it's like a big stuck of buttah. Me likey the new processor. I could even bump up the resolution.

Then I fire up Civilization III, which I thought would be an even better test, seeing as how the game doesn't rely on 3D hardware. Whoa. I never realized how many frames I was missing in this little sprite based game. And the load times are almost nil.

Then for fun I fire up Jedi Knight II, since the hectic battles were often a source of slowdown. I can run it in 1280x1024 mode. I've never been able to do that before.

So I'm happy. And relieved.

The one slightly sour note is the fan on my GeForce 3. A while back it was making noise, and I was going to have to replace it. Then it stopped, and I was happy. But when I took it out I noticed the fan was not turning easily, which made me think perhaps it hasn't been spinning this whole time. When I put it back in I heard odd "chirping" noises - it was the fan trying (and failing) to spin. Not sure if it's been making these noises all along (only heard them with the cover off the system) or if its just now stopped working since I fucked with it but in any event I need to replace it soon. Good thing it has a heatsink. Not sure why a CPU without a heatsink can make the chip fry and a video card chip will mostly just cause lockups and not fry, but oh well.

I may still do a full reinstall of XP, or I may not. Depends on how this installation reacts. Also I still don't have all the little sound card connections going yet, nor do I have all the right stuff for the lights on the case and such, but good enough for now.

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