Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fried computer

So my computer is five years old, which makes it Methuselah in terms of PCs. I'd been putting off buying a new one, what with the whole being unemployed thing and all, but events conspired against me.

In January I had a serious virus problem. I'd been paying for years of of McAfee virus protection, but I was still using the software that came with my computer, which was out of date. So it wasn't updating properly against any of the new viruses. In effect, my computer had let every little nasty bug in the door for so long, it had overwhelmed the system.

Jean's friend, a computer expert, bravely spent several hours trying to revive the patient, but it was to no avail. I had to do a system restore where I essentially returned the computer to its original state when shipped. This was very time-consuming, as there were several gigabytes of personal documents, e-mail and other stuff to be transferred, plus a gazillion drivers to re-install and so forth.

I make no secret of the fact that I'm an avid video game player. Aside from home office, the top use I get out of my PC is playing games. Mostly it's been World of Warcraft lately. When the latest expansion of it came out a few months ago, I noticed that my computer's performance running the game was markedly worse. Sometimes in crowded areas, my frame rate would drop to literally one.

I wanted to try some of the newer games like Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3, but there was no way my ancient computer could play those at anything other than crawling speed.

Somewhat dubious about Vista, I was determined to get my system to last another year, until the next operating system of Windows comes out. So I'd made some inquiries about what it would cost to upgrade my video card and RAM, and learned it would probably be around $250 or less. I made up my mind.

In fact, I was coming home from lunch with Jean on Wednesday when I thought of stopping off at Frys to see what components would cost me. But I decided not to, because I wanted to fiddle around with some sound editing software I'd downloaded (freeware) for use with my new weekly film podcast with Joe Shearer at

Without belaboring you with tale of my stupidity, I plugged the wrong cord into my computer and shorted it out. A fearsome crackling noise erupted, and the computer went dead. It started back up OK, but the sound card is fried. It cannot produce or detect sounds from a microphone. And since it's one of those integrated sound cards, it would mean changing out the motherboard to fix it.

In other words, I had just sealed my computer's fate.

Who knows, maybe I secretly desired a spanking new system and impulse guided my hand. I don't think that's the case, but it's possible. For what it would cost to fix and upgrade my computer, I could just buy a new one. So that's what I just did.

I'll probably be spending most of Thursday evening swapping things over, so this will be my last post on my old system. It's been good to me, except for these last few months, so I hate to see her go. Well, not as much as I hated to see the money I spent on a new computer leaving my wallet, but still, auld lang syne and all that...

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