The Challenge of Computing

For the past few months I’ve been blogging, emailing, and computing in general on my backup machine. Somehow, my main computer had become unstable, rebooting at any or no occasion.

I’m not sure what made it go nuts. I only know it did. I suspect it wasn’t a virus or spyware. I’m very careful about that, but something was bugging it and it was relentless.

At one point I wondered if the problem wasn’t caused by the power supply? Considering all the crap I’ve got shoved in my computer case, it might have been overtaxed. A few weeks ago I ordered a new, quieter, more powerful power supply and a few extra sticks of memory.

This weekend I pulled the old supply and hooked up the new one. Though it looks complex with lots of wires and plugs connected to it, it’s really pretty straightforward.

I fired up the computer and – well, it was the same garbage. Right in the middle of nothing the computer would reboot. Maybe the original power supply was bad and a spike of electricity from its strained regulators had put bad data on my hard drives?

I decided to start from the very beginning.

My C:\ drive didn’t contain much other than installed programs. All my important data was squirreled elsewhere. I re-formatted the drive.

Next came my copy of Windows XP. In the drive it went and the install process was underway… until it stopped. Randomly, files weren’t being copied properly and Windows wasn’t shy about telling me.

The message was something like, “Press Enter to try again, skip this file at your peril.” I pressed Enter… and Enter… and Enter. Sometimes on the second or third try a recalcitrant file would load, only to hit the another pothole a few seconds later.

Finally there was a file that wouldn’t copy, no matter what I did! Was it the CD drive, my hard drive, the Windows CD itself or something I hadn’t thought of yet? I kept trying, but never got any further.

Finally, tonight at work while reading through an old Usenet message, I found something that might be the culprit… though it sounded off the wall. Sometimes when mixing and matching memory chips, Windows balks. It just refuses to install.

That, in a nutshell, was what had happened to me.

I’m guessing – actually, it’s more like hoping, I’ll be able to stick the memory into the PC once Windows is loaded and running. It will run much faster with 1 Gb of RAM than it does with 512 Mb.

As I type this Windows is updating, installing all the security patches that have come out since XP hit the scene. I still have a few more drivers and utilities to throw on before it’s time to reinstall my programs.

What a royal pain!

In the long run, all of this anguish and angst will go away. The computer will run like a top. I will be happy.

It’s a machine I designed and built myself. Unless something goes wrong from time-to-time I feel I just haven’t pushed the envelope.

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