Dead computer. No way to watch what I want to watch, listen to what I want to listen to, or do what I want to do. But we have a spare computer in the kitchen. What next? (Please read on, this is serious stuff!:))

After talking with Carolyn, we decide that our only alternative is to make the kitchen computer (called Hell) the new tv/music computer. I had made it a point to buy a Gateway machine with an ATI card, back in 12/2004 when I bought this computer. I knew ATI had the best TV-out quality, and Carolyn checked to be sure: Yes, the computer had S-video out!

So, we decided that Hell was to be the new Storm. The kitchen computer must come out to the rec room.

This is a big change.

This means no more computer in the kitchen, and a significant amount of mostly-unused kitchen space can now be returned to a place people stand in during parties. :)

This means a desk in the new area.

This means a lot of work, just for another temporary setup. Another temporary setup in a series of hellish temporary setups that never would have happened had Dan Lopez and Virginia Design Builders done the job they were contractually obligated to finish in 3 months in 3 months instead of approximately 3 fucking years.

When will it end, oh when will it end? It’s actually been approximately 4 years since the refinancing, and the mortgage still isn’t down to the principle it was before this whole building-an-addition endeavor started.

So, upon getting home from work, I began to decommission storm. This was like burying my son or something.

Okay, all you widowed parents, don’t get all worked up about that last comment; I’m just joking. It’s not my fault you let Timmy run into the street without looking. Stupid negligent parents.

So anyway, I took Storm apart.

Turns out, my spare fan had died. This one had no use, and no place to mount it, so I layed it over my PCI cards to blow on them. They got hot. I used all PCI slots. I had 5 cards – network, sound, video, video capture, FM transmitter, SATA controller. All slots were used.

Also, the main case fan on the front of my case was totally covered in dust. It still spun, but it might not have sucked much.

And of course, the original culprit – the noisy fan. It was the fan on the CPU. D’oh!

The real fatal error on my part was ever considering closing my computer case. Every time a case is closed, I Just think about how I’m going to have to open it again. It’s the closet and the cabinets all over again…

So anyway, the salvage began. Pictures were taken. They will eventually be at

I took each PCI card out and put them in electrostatic bags, with great help from Carolyn in finding some. Took out the power supply, all fans, heat sink, cpu, all 6 IDE/floppy ribbon cables, all power-cord y-adapters… I even ripped out the LED lights that attach to motherboard jumpers. Docking bays? I got more now.

Had to take pictures of my stickers on the case too, as there’s no real way to get them off. Good-buy, Butt-head etc.

Also, we had to deal with unplugging all the various cords that went into the front and the back. Probably 15 or so.

But the hardest part by far was dealing with the harddrives! S:=120G, T:=500G, U:=120G, W:=500G. That’s 1.24 terabytes of data I need! Including all my music!


Carolyn now had to take the case off of HER computer. She told me she had room for 2 harddrives. Unfortunately, she was wrong. Docking bays had to be employed. This actually ended up costing both of us an hour. Seriously. It was hell. Every possible issue came up for a bit.

Finally, we had both 120G drives in her computer! It now sported six harddrives (+2 optical drives), using the motherboard and **two** SATA controller cards.

Of course, her machine wouldn’t boot. She had to unplug one drive. We decided to handle things one drive at a time.

We began the copy:

copy /a: /g /h /j /k /r /s /z d:\ L:\recovered-120G-S

This would take about 20 hours, and only finish so quickly due to Clint going in (tomorrow) and deleting some temporary files he decided to part with.

Anyway, earlier in the day Carolyn had started to unhook Hell, the kitchen computer, while I was at work. She helped clear off discs and miscellaneous objects off the desk.

We moved the hulking desk around to the TV.

Then we moved the big chair.

Both required both of us, as I have back problems I do not want to exacerbate. In a pinch I can still basically do whatever I want, just not for long, and I’ll pay or it later if I’m not very careful.

Got a monitor. That was heavy too.

Dragged the new computer out.

Began the setup.

Network cable? Check.

Power cable? Lemme find one. (Cables stay attached to the plugs in our house, not the computers… computers come and go, power is constant!)

S-video out? Check!

Had to re-run some cables. Yuck.

Sound? That’s hard. Our old sound used optical digital, to avoid ground loop buzz. Nothing ruins a song like a constant 60Hz hum.

This computer didn’t have nearly as good of a sound card. It just had the mini-jack (headphone) outputs. How do I run that both upstairs and downstairs? It indicates 4 line-out jacks, but only 1 actually delivered signal.

I’d settle for only having music downstairs — tonight.

We needed that coverted “mini-jack to dual RCA converter”. The one that is like headphones on one end, but stereo hookup (RCA aka composite) on the other. Hard to find, but I have a whole crawlspace dedicated to cables. You know those huge plastic bags with the zippers that comforters come in? Incredible for storing cables. Plus, they are clear, and easily labeled. Once we found the RCA bag, we found the converter.

Got two of them – for two outputs – for downstairs stereo, and upstairs (50-foot RCA cable run!).

Also had to get a mouse. Amazingly, one literally surfaced out of the mound of cables that had been at my feet for months and months. It was camouflaged in. I have no idea where it came from. I scare me sometimes.

Keyboard was easy. Even the wireless keyboard was easy. If I wasn’t careful, I might accidentally end up with 3 keyboards instead of 2.

Front-jacks of my stereo were employed. Nice and convenient.

Sp — I got home around 6:30PM, but after dealing with all this crap, it was going on 11:30PM.

I fired the computer up. Ewww, Gateway in 36-inch letters! Ewwww, Windows XP in 36-inch letters! It no longer has the modified bios that says “powered by ganja” instead of “powered by EPA”. I feel dirty. Corporate. Violated.

My TV’s warranty clock says it has been on for 37,345 hours since 8/8/1999.
That’s 12 hours for EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I’m still not sure how that’s possible, except that I left it on for weeks at a time during 2001 and 2002.

Out of those 37,345 hours, probably 33,000 of them were tuned to my computer. One that was NOT A DAMN GATEWAY RUNNING WINDOWS XP.

Oh, the horror.

So anyway, the network drives map just fine, I go to Carolyn’s network drive to find the music.

Oh yea — this drive isn’t in our environment yet. The drive isn’t mapped. I can’t get to it from this computer without her sharing it, and me editing map-drives.btm, and editing environment.bat, and I dno’t feel like doing that tonight.. It’s late and I want to listen to music.

But I’m not defeated so easily. I have junction.exe. I can make the UNIX equivalent of symbolic links!

I VNC over to Carolyn’s computer — Getting up is for suckers, that’s why VNC is installed on every machine!

(Plus, if your monitor or graphics card fails, that is the only awy you can get back in to fix things! It’s a failsafe! Put VNC in your startup and simply close it after successful startup, but failure to have VNC is asking for problems down the road!)

I go to the drive I have mapped to L:. I use junction to create a junction, h (her drive letter), on L. So that L:\H points to H:. Now I can get to H: even though it isn’t shared on the network. Yay junctions.

So I find the “everything.m3u” playlist Carolyn made at 6AM last night, save it to a new filename, globally replace H:\ with L:\H\, and open it on this computer.

YAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have music on my good stereo! The one with 5x120W channels and a sizeable ~14-inch $400 subwoofer. (The other 3 speakers were $300 — each.)


Next up: Video.

I didn’t think video would work; the officila ATI drivers weren’t installed, so there is no way to set the monitors to clone. Both screens (my monitor, and my TV) were DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER. Usually in that situation, playing videos fullscreen will only go to the primary display, which was my monitor, not my TV.

But I guess maybe that was a belief I formed back when I used the crapfest known as Windows Media Player? Nowadays I use VLC. It rules all.

So when I tried VLC out, and double-clicked it to go to full-screen, it went full-screen — on whichever screen it was situated on. Either the TV *or* the monitor. Neat! I could watch shows on the TV.. with sound! The sound is buzzy (60Hz hum), but not so noticeable as in past (college) setups.

Of course, all the shows I wanted to watch were stored in digital format on my W: drive, a 500G drive. A SATA drive. Sitting on a shelf. With no computer to use it. This crappy Gateway has no room. Carolyn’s computer has no spare SATA ports left, maxing out *TWO* freaking controllers!

So, I must look to other drives. I have one dedicated to anime, which I haven’t been watching in 2007. Found a 3-episode anime series. Screw it! That’ll tide us over.

After all that, we broke our temporary “no shots on weeknights” rule, because today was not a cool day. Much much much much computer dust in our lungs, which particularly makes Carolyn ill.

It was 12:30, maybe 12:45, and we watch3d the anime, and went to sleep after 1AM. I got up around 8:30AM and got to work by 10AM.


Not a great day, but at the end, we got to watch cartoons on our big tv, with sound on the nice stereo, and sleep to a broad playlist of mostly acceptable to both of us music.

I was surprised it went so well.