A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Monday, October 12, 2015

My weekend adventure with technology (aka I built a thing)

So, on Saturday morning a calamity struck my little corner of existence: my laptop died. I don't mean the “oh it just needs to be plugged in longer” death. No, I mean that even though it was plugged in the battery wouldn't hold a charge. It went from 73% to 42% to 3% in a matter of twenty minutes. Nothing I did stopped this inexorable decline. And since my laptop no longer runs if the battery isn't in it (or dies), it was pretty much pointless to keep trying to make it work. Monstrosity is five years old, so she outlived her projected life by at least a year.

As you can imagine, this left me feeling a little panicky. My laptop was my life. It held all my writing, it was my only way to talk to friends and family, and it was my main source of entertainment. I was really stressing because, well, computers aren't cheap and I didn't have the money to get a new one.

I asked a few people for some help and was given $400 to get a new computer. That didn't sound too bad to me, since I already had the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Keyboard and mouse were bought when the keyboard on my laptop started failing. The monitor came with us when we moved.

So, my husband and two of our roommates headed into a larger town than we live in now and went to the electronics store. It was huge. We were there for over an hour and we still hadn't seen everything by the time we all hurt enough that we needed to get out of there. We plan a return trip at some point in the near future.

Leaving our roommates to wander on their own, Himself and I wandered over to the computer section. We were greeted by the absolute worst salesman that I've had the displeasure of meeting. He asked us if we needed something specific. We said we were just looking. He proceeded to hover over us and when we did ask him a question he didn't know the answer. So we left him there and headed elsewhere in the building.

Himself and one of our other roommates suggested I try my hand at building a computer. I was terrified. I mean, I know how to turn it on, turn it off, and run various pieces of software. I never even gave a thought to learning the hardware side of it. But we priced out the parts and it proved that it would be within my budget to do it. So with their help I picked out a case, a motherboard, a power source, and a CPU. One of our roommates was upgrading his video card, so since it was still a good one I got his used one.

So, after we got home, the roommate upgrading his computer and I headed out to the shop where there was more space to work. As we got started, I realized I had no clue what to do. I managed to get the motherboard in but that was where I stalled out. I didn't know where to plug stuff in. So our other roommate came out to check on us. With his help, we got my computer built. He ended up putting the CPU in because of how fragile it is, and he got one of the little connections I couldn't quite get set in for me too.

Once it was done, I brought it inside and set it up on the table we're using as a shared desk. I plugged it in and turned it on. Or at least I tried to. It sat there, not doing anything. By that point I was frustrated and upset that it wasn't working. Since it was late Himself suggested I go to bed and work on it in the morning. Since it was late I agreed with him.

This morning it still didn't turn on so I was struggling with it. I looked to see if anything was unplugged inside and there weren't any signs of loose cables. So I put it back up on the desk. Himself came in and flipped the switch in the back. When I poked the button again my computer booted right up. I remembered hitting the switch last night, thinking it was in the off position. I guess it was in the on position.

Once I got the computer up and running, I grabbed our Windows 7 disk. I popped it in the DVD drive and…..nothing happened. It wouldn't run. So Himself got in and pulled the hard drive out, fixed the issue with the DVD drive and plugged the hard drive back in. Then it worked. I got Windows 7 installed. If you've ever done a fresh install of Windows 7 (or any of the Windows incarnations), you know how long that process is. I got Windows loaded up.

Then I needed to get it hooked up to the internet. Since I don't have a wi fi card, we plugged me in hard line into the router. Behemoth, as I've named my new toy, wasn't registering the ethernet port. So I tried putting in the drivers using a USB stick. Behemoth didn't register the USB ports either. The roommate who gave me his video card came in and asked me if there was a disk with my new motherboard. If there was, it would have everything I needed. I'd seen the disk but hadn't thought much about it. I went out to the area where I'd put the box I'd put all the manuals in and opened it up. Sure enough, there was the desk.

So that got put into the computer and lo and behold, I had a functional computer with an internet connection. But since I wanted Windows 10, I went ahead and upgraded to that. When that finally finished (and it was a long wait), I had to install all of the programs that I use. That was easier, though it was still time consuming.

Now I have a working computer. It's an interesting situation being on a regular desktop rather than a laptop. I've been on a laptop for the better part of five years. But it's nice too. I got a 1 TB hard drive this time, which means I can put a whole lot more than I already have on there. Who knows what I'll use the space for, but I'm sure I'll find something.

I still need to transfer the stuff from my old hard drive to the new one. I was loaned a little doohickey to do it with. I'm going to ask for help with it since I have no clue what it's supposed to do. I was upset when I thought I'd lost my work over the last few days since, like a moron, I didn't back it up to Box or Google Drive. Then I remembered what Himself has had me doing. I e-mail him status reports, including copies of what I've worked on. I was able to retrieve my most recent edits, which made me happy.

So, I have a new toy that I can upgrade as I need and not have to buy a complete new device unless I want to. I can just switch out parts. That is also a relief. Computers are expensive. But that's my adventure over the weekend. It was not something I want to repeat any time soon, but I learned a lot about computers so it's all good.

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