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"I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past."

— Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

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Monday, January 17th, 2005

Spent all day today on putting together a computer for a friend and setting it up... Her old machine had decided to stop booting, and I deemed the cure to be a new(er) machine. This should have made things easier, but it didn't...

I did fairly well at first by paying attention to the advice of Laura's friend Nix - If it takes you 30 seconds to check out an option while troubleshooting, do it. Things went well when following this rule; some avoidable grief and pain came as the cost of flouting it.

An example of the former arose when the hard drive I had selected as the primary drive could not be recognized reliably by the BIOS, which is usually a sign of a bad cable or serious hardware fault with the drive. Swapping the cable didn't help. Before I discarded the drive, I took a few seconds to switch a jumper which I didn't think likely to make any difference - and it did; the drive worked perfectly thereafter. (For the technically minded, I had had the drive jumpered as Master and I switched it to Cable Select.)

An example of punishment for ignoring the rule - I had decided to use my friend's old sound card in the new machine, but it wasn't working. I considered whether I had given my friend the driver disk years ago when I gave her the card, and decided I had not. I then had to pull the card to get the model number, and go through a convoluted procedure to try to download the driver via the broadband connection on my friend's mother's machine. After a half hour of frustration and finagling, I found that a) I HAD given my friend the driver CD, and she had kept it in her CD box where I could have found it in 30 seconds if I had troubled to ask or to look, and b) when I put the card back in, it started working with no need to install the driver anyway.

My plan for the future...? Keep the 'ounce of prevention' rule in mind. And stop trying to fix old machines when I can buy a new one for half the time and trouble... %?)

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