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Topic: computer hell happens--a saga

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    computer hell happens--a saga

    For those of you who appreciated the relative silence from me the past three days, here\'s the scoop.

    I\'m playing along, trying to finish up a couple of pieces for a deadline, when strangely, the latency of my main Giga box seems to be increasing bit by bit. Strange. I reboot.

    Nothing. Blackness. Silence.

    OK, no biggie. I\'ve lost power supplies before, and since Giga-boxes tend to keep the hard drives humming, they eat power supplies at an accelerated rate. I make the trip to Fry\'s (1.5 hours including drive time is my average), and install a nice new Enermax PS. I boot up, and weirdly, as Windows finishes loading, I get a spontaneous reboot. Odd, but the OS loads this time and everyhing seems to be working. Happy times--I finish my pieces, deliver the CD, and drop into bed much later than anticipated, but all is well with the world.

    Then I wake up. Make coffee, stumble into the studio. The monitor is black again, all hard drive lights are lit.

    Odd. I reboot. Blackness.

    Now things are getting a bit suspicious (doh).

    First, I remove the new PS, and try one from one of my SFX boxes. Same behavior. The Enermax, on the other hand, works in the SFX box. So, I load up the **first** power supply that failed. It works in the SFX box, too.

    The sinking feeling begins.

    I pull the processor. Ugly black mark. Now that the Flower Cooler (yes they rock) is removed, an even more alarming black mark, about an inch in diameter, is reavealed on the motherboard. The sinking feeling deepens.

    I start pulling hard drives. More sinking feelings.

    The eventual shopping list:

    Power supply
    MOBO
    Processor
    Three hard drives
    Video Card

    Now, here\'s where my defensive purchasing at least saved me some grief. When I buy hard drives, I always buy multiples of the same kind, and make sure that there\'s always a duplicate that lives outside a given computer. This was a lifesaver. The circuit board from a single remaining drive enabled me to transfer data off the fried drives (this only works with exact model/revision products, though...). So, I was able to recover all the drive data and the OS by gutting each drive and copying the data with the good remaining boards, using another machine.

    The video card was the last casualty, and oddly not because it fried but because the new MOBO was not compatible with 2x AGP. This final \"insult\" occurred about 7:50 pm last night, but I was able to speed to a nearby CompUSA and get in just before they locked the doors.

    Moral of the story: Even if you are extremely well prepared (which I was), a computer nightmare can put you out of business for several days. In my case, I had machines to get me through, but had the deadlines been any more intense, it would have been touch and go.

    Be prepared [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img]

    The upside--I replaced the Athlon 2200+ with a 2400+. I wanted to go for the 2600, but the damage was so expensive I couldn\'t justify another $80. As it turns out, the 2400 is a much quicker and cooler chip than the 2200, and it only cost me around $100. I also put another RAM stick in the box (bringing it to 1.5 GB). Anyone who is using Giga in WinXP take note: It\'s worth the money to do this...that little bit of breathing room made the box load more quickly. Unfortunately, I didn\'t do before and afters on instrument loading capacity, but when I get caught up in a few weeks, I\'ll pull the RAM stick back out and post some hard data.

    There you have it. Look out. Mercury is in retrograde, and they say that is bad mojo for computers. I believe it.

  2. #2

    Re: computer hell happens--a saga

    Bruce,

    I feel your pain. I\'ve had more than one such problem and it is always a PITA to get everything going again no matter how prepared you are.

    -- Martin

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: computer hell happens--a saga

    Originally posted by mschiff:
    Bruce,

    I feel your pain. I\'ve had more than one such problem and it is always a PITA to get everything going again no matter how prepared you are.

    -- Martin
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Thanks, Martin. No joke. I have been doing this long enough to know it\'s always \"when,\" not \"if,\" but it still never fails to take your breath away when you realize your expensive computer is now an expensive doorstop. I was hoping to invest that money differently.

    I feel much better now. I have been drinking. Yes, it\'s Sunday morning. But I owe it to the kind computer gods to rejoice, sit by the pool, and honor them with sacrificial cocktails.

    Actually, I am t-minus one hour to being overrun with nieces and nephews, who will scream incessantly for several hours and try to drown each other at every turn. It is necessary to dull my motor responses accordingly, otherwise, Uncle Bruce begins screaming his own, decidedly more obscene song at the little buggers.

    The one AMAZING part of the saga was Windows XP. Had this happened on a Windows 98 box, I would still be in complete misery. Incredibly, XP booted up after changing literally every major subsystem, in just about exactly the same amount of time it takes to boot normally--then asked me to do a reboot because it wanted to clean up some drivers. One reboot, and it worked perfectly.

    I would never have even attempted to save the OS install on W98...it would have been a disaster. I booted up in safe mode to check the device manager, and XP had completely cleaned up--there was not a spare driver or element out of place. That is completely, utterly amazing. I really dug XP before. Now, I am in love.

    I have also discovered a new drink--the Margarini. I am exploring a theory that adding one ounce of Gin to any cocktail makes it better.

  4. #4

    Re: computer hell happens--a saga

    Just wondering if you know the origin of the problem.
    Was it a voltage spike, or lightning or just a component going bad and dragging others along the way?
    Also do you have a UPS that the AC signal your computer is recieving is isolated from the AC from the wall?[not all UPS\'s achieve this]

  5. #5

    Re: computer hell happens--a saga

    Hey Bruce -

    Yep, Windows 98 as I recall does not react kindly to the motherboard being replaced, and you might as well as reinstalled the OS at that point!

    Eric

    doggett@doggettstudios.com
    www.doggettstudios.com

  6. #6
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    Re: computer hell happens--a saga

    You\'re actually quite lucky that your XP booted without blue screening after changing all of the components. XP like 2000 is quite picky about the hardware and will change what is in the HAL depending on the hardware. If the items are incompatible with the HAL loaded, it will blue screen. Usually Windows 98 is more successful with changing hardware. This has been my experience working in a lab developing hardware and software.

    BTW, did you figure out what actually went bad on your system? Most BIOS\'s should sound a warning that the system was overvoltage. It\'s always a good idea to check these BIOS settings when building or updating a system. Did you possibly get hit by lightning? Only time I\'ve seen this kind of failure was after a lightning hit. Surge protectors should be replaced yearly if you live in an area with lots of lightning.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: computer hell happens--a saga

    Originally posted by Sharmy:
    </font><blockquote><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><hr /><font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">I have also discovered a new drink--the Margarini. I am exploring a theory that adding one ounce of Gin to any cocktail makes it better.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">and what time is it there? I must presume you run the heater in your pool.....otherwise brrrrr.... our pool is still cold here in sunny socal. Of course the little buggers will probably jump into anything. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Hey Craig,

    It\'s 85 degrees in the water. Dallas is like Hell\'s kitchen when the sun starts blazing. I heat it up to 80 degrees for the first couple of weeks of spring, then the sun kicks in and keeps it warm once the winter chill is off.

    I have convinced several people to try the Margarinis. They make a face on the first couple of sips, then it\'s downhill all the way, baby.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: computer hell happens--a saga

    Originally posted by Haydn:
    You\'re actually quite lucky that your XP booted without blue screening after changing all of the components.

    --snip--

    BTW, did you figure out what actually went bad on your system? Most BIOS\'s should sound a warning that the system was overvoltage. It\'s always a good idea to check these BIOS settings when building or updating a system. Did you possibly get hit by lightning? Only time I\'ve seen this kind of failure was after a lightning hit. Surge protectors should be replaced yearly if you live in an area with lots of lightning.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Yes, I felt intensely lucky. I was prepared for the worst. I think I stacked the deck somewhat in my favor by going with almost the same motherboard--I replaced a GigaByte GA-7VRXP with a GA-7VAXP, so almost all the components were just updates of the same basic system. I have been running a really hardcore sequence looped for several hours, and the machine is cruising along just fine now. Of course, it\'s essentially a new computer, so it should.

    I have no clue what the first component to go down was. The capacitors on the motherboard were puffed up on top and had actually burst open, so whatever it was, it was pretty violent. I have never seen anything like it in years of dealing with these one-eyed monsters. Definitely one for the record books in every respect.

  9. #9

    Re: computer hell happens--a saga

    Well, just had my mobo replaced from GA-2000 to GA-2000+ using Windows 98SE. But as you said, chipset is same so no hassles from 98SE. Any other case, mucho hassle!

    I don\'t know about you but I back up my work three time. One is a .wrk, one a bundle and the last is a bundle on a separate computer networked. Soemtimes, even a fourth time on CDRW. .GSP backed-up as well. But still...the house could catch on fire...etc.,etc.

    I fried an internal dual ultra SCSI drive which had all of my current music files (it wasn\'t the boot drive). I couldn\'t get the OS to see the drive. The next morning just out of last minute hope I try again and it SEES the Drive!!! I quickly copy all the files to a working drive. On the next boot, the SCSI was permanently dead!

    Are there really Angels other than Charlie\'s? [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  10. #10

    Re: computer hell happens--a saga

    Might I also recommend getting your main drive tweaked to perfection then backing it up with a disk image program. You can back up, say, a 5gig drive to a compressed image and place it on another drive, cd-rw, dvd-rw, etc., with little hassle. Most of the programs out will automatically break up the image over several cd-rw\'s or dvd-rw\'s so you can just reformat a new drive with a perfect copy of your original drive in the event of a disaster. Bruce\'s idea for having backup drives is the ideal solution, but it can also get pricey. The disk image scenario is always a great backup/alternative.

    Regards,
    Scott

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