So, my primary computer (named Storm) died Monday morning at around 5:30AM, while Carolyn & I were asleep downstairs on the couches. This is the most significant non-data-destroying hardware failure of my life, in terms of personal impact.

This machine is how we listen to music (used 24 hours, since Carolyn currently isn’t working), how we watch all our video entertainment (we have dvds and vhs to fall back on, but haven’t used them in several years), and in general the most important piece of hardware in the house.

In hindsight, I never should have upgraded the CPU. Greg Z, you followed in my footsteps: Beware.

My case generally ran at a temperature of 160 degrees, but this was within the defined fault tolerances for my CPU. Anyway, here’s some of the crap I’ve had to deal with since it broke… Geek warning…

It all started when Dave & Lacey were over giving us a new kitten (which we have since returned; it was not a good match). My computer started making weird nosies. The fans occasionally catch a “meal”, and make weird noises as they “digest” their “prey”. I’ve heard it before. I shrugged it off. I’ve never taken fans too seriously. Big mistake.

When the crash finally happened, it was about 5:30AM. I awoke to a shrill high-pitched non-stop buzz. My computer has occasionally crashed that bad in the past, so I got up to deal with it. In a foggy haze, I held the power button down for 5 seconds, and it finally turned off. The hurting stopped.

But then I tried to turn it on. Oh no… My heart sank. But we are well-versed in the “false boot” phenomenon, which especially likes to happen after mucking with BIOS or harddrives. So I tried again. Uh oh. Now I was really concerned. After a few tries, I would at least get to the memory check. Then a bit further. This was bad. Real bad. I was freaked out.

Somehow, I waited a couple minutes, and Windows came up. After a bit, the music started, automatically.

Some background on the music starting automatically:
I have heavily tweaked out the startup of my machine. I never stopped using the “autoexec.bat” that we used to all have in the DOS days. Nowadays, I have an autoexec.btm (btm because it really must be run with 4NT). I drag it to start->programs->startup, and then edit it to be “c:\4nt\4nt.exe c:\bat\mymachinename\autoexec.btm”. It handles everything that I would like to happen once you get to the windows desktop. (Username and passwords are entered automatically via TweakUI, so getting to the desktop requires zero user intervention.) Included tasks: Setting the machinename, path, environment, mapping network drives, starting winamp & EvilLyrics, a few 4NT windows, peerguardian, powermenu, regprot, then pressing play in winamp via winamp’s WAWI web-control, by using wget, starting the ftp server, checking for ftp download queues and starting ftp clients if those exist, rolling logfiles, running the drive-mapping monitor, killing unwanted startup processes, synchronizing my scripts, utilities, and perl libraries, and running Kate’s Replicator to handle backups.

So by the time the computer boots up and handles everything, my responsibilities are mostly automatically taken care of, and the music is playing. Silence wakes me up; this brings the music back within 10 minutes of a power failure (assuming my UPS battery backup dies) (we have 4 of those) (CyberPower sucks: avoid.)

So anyway, I got really happy.

Then it died again.



Not good. I opened the case. Tried to get it to start up. To no avail. Maybe it was the new 1700mHz CPU? The one that the motherboard isn’t even designed to handle except for obscure bios hacks where you lie to it?

I quickly found the original 900mHz processor. Popped it in (with some trouble). Still no go.


I would manage to get into bios. But a character or two would not display right. It would lock up after awhile.

Yup, the motherboard sure as hell seems fried enough to not be working. This sucks.

Quickly, Carolyn got her portable mp3 player. We copied the 15 gigs of mp3s back to her new, 2nd 750G drive. This drive is so new it hasn’t even been network mapped or cataloged in our environment. We quickly made a playlist (mp3index /s >everything.m3u) and ran it.

Now we at least had lower-quality (computer speakers in the corner) music that we could snooze to. It wasn’t our “changerrecent to learn only” playlist of songs that we are attempting to learn (get to know until familiar with, then remove from the playlist). It was just a broad playlist of anything Carolyn picked out of our collection.

This also included Phantom Of The Opera which I had the unfortunate circumstance of falling asleep around when it was played.

After an hour of mucking around, Carolyn & I drank half a shot of tequila each.

I decided to go back to sleep for another 2 hours, and come into work an hour late. I’m 1.75 hours ahead at the moment anyway, and can stay late since I am not matching any hours of Carolyn anymore, so it would work out.


I’ll count this as Day 1, even though I woke up 2 hours later. I still went to work, so I didn’t deal with the computer again until around 12 hours later. That constitutes another “day” as far as I am concerned.