Computer Meltdown Part Two

Posted on February 23, 2006 at 02:03 AM

About three months ago I wrote about how this blog's computer suffered a power surge which fried the motherboard and how I had to replace the motherboard.... yada yada yada, computer mumbo jumbo... and a few dollars later it was fixed. Wouldn't you know it, that damn thing rose up to bite me in the ass yet again.

And what a pain in the ass it has been. Let me bore you with the details.

Right around the time of this blog's birthday, I awoke one morning to be greeted by a strange sound coming from the computer room. It almost sounded like the computer was rebooting over and over as I could hear the tell tale signs of system beeps and the whirring of fans.

As I suspected, the computer was continuously rebooting. I thought to myself, "Oh JOY! A Microsoft update must have installed overnight and, in pure Microsoft fashion, must have corrupted a driver, or worse, the OS. Since the computer is in an endless reboot cycle with only a quick flash of a blue screen of death (hence forth mentioned as BSOD) I found myself having to grab my digital camera to try and capture the BSOD on video just so I could read the error message.

Downloading the video to my laptop I was able to slowly move through it frame by frame and could faintly read the error message. Looking it up via Microsoft's support website it pointed to bad RAM. I replace the RAM with a different module, which was in a known working state, and still got the same message. So then I figured windows must be corrupt. I grabbed a spare hard drive and my XP install disk and tried to install windows.

Same damn error message. Curse you BSOD, curse you.

I was always leery of that motherboard I bought to fix the last problem I had and quickly suspected it might be the source of my problems. Sure it seemed to work well up until that point, but it was a Chaintech motherboard. Who the hell has ever heard of Chaintech?

So I head over to and order yet another motherboard thinking this would be the cheapest fix as a new processor could cost hundreds of dollars. This time I chose a well known MSI board that had a few more newer features like serial ATA and the ability to support faster memory, etc... The new board arrives and I slap it in but with only the bare essentials, RAM, CD drive, hard drive, nothing else. To my chagrin I found the same problem had occurred.

You have got to be kidding me.

By this point I had replaced everything in the computer with either new or at least known working parts. I was down to either the processor being bad or possibly a faulty power supply. I rationalized that if the power supply were to blame the system most likely wouldn't even power on. So now it was off to get a new processor. But trying to find an AMD processor from around 3 years ago that would work in my motherboard and fit my wallet would become somewhat of a daunting task.

I first turned to my friend eBay.

Doing a search on eBay for an AMD athlon XP processor yielded many results, though most of the processors I found were of used quality. I quickly realized that buying a used processor off of eBay would be like buying underwear from the Goodwill. Sure, it may look fine and get the job done but I'd probably be left with a uneasy feeling in the end. (ed. note: this blog has never bought underwear from the Goodwill)

Ditching the eBay route I turned to my other friend Froogle to search far and wide for a reputable dealer that could provide a processor at a decent price. As luck would have it, had an AMD Athlon XP 3000 for $139, an unbelievable price for a great processor. As fast as I could, I whipped out my credit card and ordered it. The price was almost $100 lower than any other store on the web. This was working out almost too well for my luck.

Wouldn't you know it...

I get on-line the next day to check the shipping status of my new purchase. It was listed as backordered. "Great." I thought, I'll give them a few more days until I call customer service.

About 4 days went by and it was still listed as backordered. I called customer service at TigerDirect and was greeted by a rather rude individual. He explained that the item must have been in high demand and quickly went out of stock by the time I placed my order. He had no information on whether the processor would be in stock again, if ever, and reminded me that I wouldn't be charged anything until the product shipped. End of conversation.

At that point this blog became, how shall I say, a little less than pleased.

About a week goes by and I just happened to check the order status of my processor. To my utter and absolute surprise, it status was listed as shipped! I had been seriously thinking about canceling the order, taking the computer to the highest bridge I could find, and chucking it off the side. But with my luck, someone would have seen me and charged me with either computer homicide and/or littering. (Yes, I have that kind of luck.) Good thing I refrained.

So today the processor arrived at the world headquarters. I spent about an hour pulling out the motherboard, installing the new processor and putting all the components that had been strewn about for the last god-knows-how-many-weeks back into the box. I reconnected all the cables to the computer and, with great reluctance, I cautiously pressed the button to boot it up.

You know, I never thought I would be happy to hear that annoying windows startup sound.

The system has been up for a few hours now and has withstood the typing of this blog post (I suppose if that hasn't killed it, nothing will) Though now I have to contend with one last thing. Re-activating Windows. You see, anytime you change out a major system component like a motherboard or processor, windows makes you reactivate your windows license. If you don't, you won't be able to log into your machine after about three days. So now I get to spend a half an hour waiting on hold with Microsoft to re-activate windows. Lovely.

You know, I get paid for doing this kind of stuff during the day, it really sucks to have to do it for free at night. I think I should ask the CEO/Head of the Culinary Arts Department for a raise.

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