Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Hmmm....I spent the last 4 hours or so trying to repair Cait's (a girl upstairs in 335) computer. While being the sweetest machine I have ever touched, next to some good ol' Sun Sparcs, Ultra Blades, and my AI prof's G5 (the benchmarks on this machine are sickening. I saw them and immediately vomited everywhere - it was funny and really, really gross), the machine is the most bizarrely broken thing. After a while, I thought the battery was dead. Nope. Were this the case, it would have at least posted properly (it was booted, beeped an angry tone, and halted, waiting for a system disk). Then I thought the BIOS was screwed beyond belief because any system disk I made wasn't being detected. Then I realized that I was being silly in that the system disks I was making were specific to a machine with XP or the like because the disk was written in NTFS (yeah, I thought disks were only written in FAT but I guess I was wrong - although maybe not, and it's just the command.com that is particular to XP...), and I made a Dr.Dos boot disk from BootDisk.com, which worked. Except none of the flashing utilities worked, and when I tried to use a BIOS detection program which dumps text to a floppy, it failed too. Following some arcane advice from the dude who sells me office supplies out of a motel (Papeterie Lennoxville / Motel Lennoxville is my little shangri-la among all of this - I must spend about 50$ a month there on random stuff), I thought the power supply might be screwed, and wasn't delivering enough juice. I changed that, and yet no luck. Finally ... I tried the last bit of advice: the ram. A problem with ram is like getting a segmentation fault. You know something is very screwed, but you don't know what, and you often have no friggin' clue of where to start. Lo and behold, I exchanged one of my DIMMs with hers and the machine boots clean. At this point I thought the ram was busted (which is weird, because Kingston stuff is usually pretty good). The scary part was when I brought it downstairs again and it was again broken, which freaked me out because it seemed like her motherboard was just consuming RAM like chips. Heh. Stupid puns are fun. But when I pop it back into my motherboard (and in the process snapping off 3 of those little RAM-clips - so fragile they are), the RAM works again. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm pretty sure that the problem all along was something really, really, really friggin' rare that I've only witnessed twice now: a phenomenon known as "chip walk". This will probably seem like the weirdest shit ever if you ever see it. Basically what has happened is that the chip unseated itself through being heated up, cooled down, and possibly shaken. How in the name of flaming ass this has managed to happen to a stick of ram (which is not only held in place by two clamps at the least, along with the tightest couplings you'll usually find on the motherboard), I have no idea. We'll see tonight (she's left for an exam). In other news, I got a 98% on my firearms safety course. Yay! I am 1/4 of the way towards blasting paper targets with my own instrument of destruction!