Building the new computer:  The Big Day

Since everybody asked how it went, here's the story.

Monday, September 24, 2007

9:00  Gate open.  Kitchen table cleaned off.  Battery backup's been charging since yesterday.  Packages tracked. They are all on the magical brown truck, "out for delivery", but WHEN??? 
While I wait, I'm reading the instructions in Repairing and Upgrading, but apparently all the important instructions will be in the manuals that come with the parts. 
Last night I finished Abigail's Story.  That's another one in the Women of the Bible series and just as good, though distinctly different from the others.  All her novels aren't cookie-cutter clones of each other, but the characters are different, the theme is different, the details are different.  The only common themes are notably feminine ones, such as finding comfort in being surrounded by other women, and a woman getting revenge and comeuppance at the end.  The story is definitely unflinching.  This is not the Disney version.  It's occasionally graphic and quite dark. 

11:00  I went downstairs to do some laundry, and Dave did something Andrea didn't like, so Andrea took his baby away.  Andrea, Dave and Mike are all the parents of fine, healthy baby dolls, you see.  That's so cute, until it goes horribly wrong.  Dave didn't appreciate his child being kidnapped and took appropriate measures for its retrival.  Mike came downstairs yelling for help, and I came up to find Dave and Andrea on opposite sides of the half-open bedroom door, each pulling on one end of a broom handle and screaming blue murder.  I broke it up, hauled Dave to the couch and gave him a lecture on the differences between humans and wild animals, and then a spanking.  I was just headed for Andrea, who didn't feel that ANY of this was her fault and was going to resist her share of the punishment, when the UPS truck drove up.  Oh, hello! 
My textbook arrived on the truck, too.  So that's good, I'm all set up.  Er... no, the setting up part's next!

12:00.  Parts spread all over table.  The case is absolutely beautiful!  The box the video card came in has this gorgeous fantasy sword and red lightning all over it.  Mobo is out of box and I'm studying the book that came with it.  I am seriously intimidated.  I read where somebody said their first computer build took two days.  It would be nice to do it that way, with appropriate pauses for reflection, but I don't have two days!  I gotta get all this stuff into the box right away to minimize possibility of damage by darlings. 
I've never seen the back of a motherboard up close before.  Wow.  That's all I can say, is wow.  That's something.  Human beings did this?  And then we shipped the manufacturing techniques for it overseas? 
CPU is the first order of business.  OMG, I have to touch these expensive, delicate parts with my clumsy human fingers?  Better spit my gum out first.  What a delight it is to do this all by myself!  Nobody here but me!  Oh, I say that now, before everything's gone all wrong and I have no clue what I'm supposed to do.  


2:00  Neither the HD nor DVD-R came with a SATA cable, and the motherboard only came with one.  Quick trip to town for another one!  No point standing there moaning about it, just hop in the truck and drive.  Computer shop charged me $1 for a cable from a box and I was back home in less than 40 minutes. 

4:00  Computer's together, except for the video card, which the computer guys advised me to put in after installing Win XP.  That's a good idea.  It's all ready, but I haven't turned it on yet!  I put the side of the case back on to protect the innards from the children, and I'm gonna make the enchiladas for dinner now and work on the computer more tonight or tomorrow. 
What a simply fabulous day!  I have to say that with all kinds of reservations as I have no clue if it's gonna work as planned when I give it power and push the button.  Today was extremely enjoyable, either way.  All the parts were so cool.  The motherboard's booklet had all the instructions I needed for everything, and all in good English.  This isn't the olden days of computers when things were cryptic and only geeks could do this.  They've made it easy for the rest of us now.  


I was doing good on enchiladas until the boys came running in screaming.  Mike said Dave pushed him into a beehive.  He still had a live bee in his clothing.  I killed it, and discovered another.  He had five or six stings.  Dave had a couple too, one just below his eye and one on his back.  More live bees!  They were flying around!  We had to kill four bees inside the house.  It was like a movie for a minute there, quite scary.  And once they were dead, the poor little boys were panicking and wanting me to do something to make it better NOW.  But there's not a lot you can do to make a bee sting go away.  It's just going to hurt for a while.  Ed said to put oregano on it, and I put only a tiny bit near Dave's eye and told him not to rub, but I guess the fumes got to his eyes and in just a few minutes he started screaming at the top of his lungs.  I put them in the shower and I changed my clothes too just because I was freaked out about the very idea of a bee coming after me right there in the house. 
Poor little darlings!  Ed came home right at that moment and he grabbed the can of hornet stuff and charged out there to spray the nest before he came in the house.  See, he had known that hornet's nest was there by the chickenhouse and "had meant to spray them one evening".  So he felt guilty for this. 

I plopped Ed down on the couch with enchiladas and X-Files.  I said, "Is it okay if I sit down on the couch and watch the X-Files with you?"  He said, "Yes."  I said, "Well, then, is it okay if I spend an equivalent amount of time working on my--" and he said, "No." 

7:00  Okay, the BIOS seems to see everything, and Windows XP is formatting the drive. 
The boys aren't suffering very much from the bee stings.  That's a relief!  They haven't complained of pain.  I don't want to ask them and remind them of it, but Dave's got his shirt off and I can barely see where the one sting was on his back. 

9:00  The status bar on the format is stuck at 95%.  It's been sitting there at 95% for like half an hour so far. What to do??  Should I assume it's a Microsoft product and just reboot?  How dismaying.  It's my beautiful new computer, I want it all to be perfect!  I guess I'll just go to bed and see if it's still on 95% tomorrow morning and panic then. 
It said in the book that people tend to assume a piece of hardware is bad, when most of the time the problem is caused by conflicts. 


Midnight.  I got up and looked, and it's on 97% now.  Well, it's moving anyway! 

3:00 in the morning.  GOOD news-- the hard drive is BAD!  That's okay, that's better than it being something else!  I'll have to run to Wal-mart in the morning to buy one.  It might cost a little more.  Or I could scrounge one?  The motherboard came with an IDE cable.  There's a 40 gb in the drawer here, but I think it probably has an old version of Windows on it.  Maybe I could start the Win XP installation from CD and format.  There's also an 8 gb in the kids' computer nobody's using, that's already blank. 
Walmart.com has a WD 160 gig hd for $65.  I'll have to call in the morning and see if they have it at the store.   That way it'll be all new and shiny for the new shiny computer. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

4:00  Why bother to go back to bed?  I went looking for motherboard specifications online, and noticed this is NOT a full-size ATX motherboard.  I thought it was a bit on the small side when I was handling it earlier!  How'd I manage that one?  What a ditz!  I guess I shopped so bloody much the numbers started blurring, and in pursuit of the details, I forgot the basics!  I definitely should have gotten a full size board with more room to work.  Oh well, all the full size boards had some bad reviews.  This is the one that had all good reviews.  It's here and installed, and seems to be working fine.  

6:00  I put that 40 gig from the drawer into this computer and formatted it, and put it into the new computer and it didn't recognize it.  Well, I tried! 
Phoned Wal-mart.  The 160 gig is $75 at the store, and they're not going to match the online price.  Ouch. 
Wait a second, the hard drive Wal-mart has is an IDE, same as the one I had here.  If the motherboard isn't recognizing this IDE drive, who says it's going to recognize that one?  Uh-oh.  There might not be any point running to Wal-mart.  The nearest and cheapest SATA drive is back at Circuit City for $80. 
I'm getting sleeeeeepyyyy...

7:00  Well, it wasn't recognizing the scrounged hard drive because I hadn't plugged the POWER into the hard drive.  What a mega-dunce!  Duh!!  It's amazing how much better things work when they're plugged in.  I'm starting Win XP installation again and go to bed. 
7:30  Some gal just called, asked for Janel and hung up.  Hm.  I really just wanted to come out here again and see how the status bar goes this time!  It's on 75% formatted right now. 

9:00  Took a shower while Windows installed.  Then blah blah screwing around with stupid computer multiple times, ending with, "Drive C is corrupted and cannot be repaired."  Not having good success with hard disks, are we!  Well, Sis is coming today, I can ask her to stop by Circuit City on the way here and get me a hard drive. 

11:00  How are we improved from the last status report?  Not much, only reassured.  I phoned local computer guys to see if they had a hard drive, and they didn't, but he wanted to know why I thought the hard drive was bad, and said to bring the computer down and he'd check it for no charge.  I figured I might as well.  Maybe it's something simple that I've done wrong!  So I hauled the shiny black box in the truck and down to the shop.  They took the new WD away into the back and couldn't duplicate the error, but agreed it should be returned promptly to Newegg.  They went paging through the BIOS which drove me crazy.  I kept wanting to know what they were doing and making sure they weren't changing anything without explaining it to me first.  They were going to send me home with the hard drive I'd taken out of the drawer, but I asked if we could get as far as I'd gotten before and see if it went any further.  XP started installing, and when it was done copying files, there was that message again about bad hard drive!  He said, "Hey, she's actually got TWO bad hard drives!" and they all stood around admiring my luck.  He went to Newegg and started shopping for a replacement.  This guy said he likes Seagate better than WD.  You gotta love these brand loyalties, right? 
The tech guy admired my power supply.  He said he liked the wires all wrapped up like that.  When I was going away he asked if I had the side, and I got it from the shelf where I'd put it and started to put it back on.  You know it's all black and glossy with this big blue plexiglass window.   He said, "Oooooh!" and I said, "Yeah oooooh!  Isn't it pretty?  And it was cheap!  Only forty bucks."  He said, "With that power supply?"  I said, "No, that was separate, but it was only thirty bucks.  I was worried it would be cheap, but..."  He said, "No. That's a nice, NICE power supply."  So I went away feeling all warm and geekly-approved-of. 
He didn't charge me anything this time, either.  He brought two office chairs out for the boys to sit on and watch the game show that was on their TV, and the boys not being used to TV, were just hypnotized by the ladies winning things on the show.  It's The Price is Right, that same dumb show they used to play when I was young.  I'm surprised to find it's still playing after all these years.  One of the gals screamed, and Kelly said, "With the same energy, too."  I said, "Free money is worth screeching about."  Later I saw one of the ladies reacting over the numbers 1000, the results being rather immodest in front of a lot of people, and I said, "But I wouldn't jump up and down for only a thousand dollars."  N said, "It's cash."  I said, "I don't know, I still wouldn't."  He said, "But it's cash.  What would you do if somebody handed you a thousand dollars cash?"  I said, "There's no jumping." 

4:45.  I got too hungry this morning, got my blood sugar messed up and had to take a little nap, and while I was asleep, UPS came in the gate and dropped off Adobe CS3 at the door.
Sis left just a little bit ago.  They went by Circuit City and brought me the hard drive I asked for.  It's 250 gigs.  That's enormous!  And it's a nice Western Digital in a fancy box with an instruction booklet ("plug in hard drive") and everything.  So I've set Windows installing again while I scramble around to clean this place up, and we'll see how it goes THIS time.


6:00 dinner is leftovers of various types heated up in the oven.  Call it smorgasbord.  Win XP installed nicely.  That was an easy Win installation less customizable than 98, and is beautiful.  It's running light and fast.  Feel the power!  There's some serious horses under the hood.  THIS is where we would have been on Monday night but for the bad hard drive.  It feels like it's been three days!  I'm going to mess with the new Windows for a bit then open up again and install the modem and video, then start installing Adobe suite. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Got up at like 3:30 in the morning and started messing with new computer.  I was mostly looking around Win XP and seeing what's different.  It's very idiot-proof at first and I don't like that.  I want all the options present for me to easily screw up.  I want the system files out where I can accidentally delete them. 
Installed video card, and the driver doesn't work.  Windows boots into safe mode and I uninstall it, and things become visible again.  Hm.  Installed driver again, black screen.  Tried downloading new driver from the website, but they've only got images of the install disk as zip files-- 500 megs later, I'd be here downloading until this time tomorrow!  Blah.  Down to the shop again? 
Gotta go to horse lessons today, for Dave and Karen both a lesson.  I don't know what boots Dave's going to wear.  Should we go try to buy boots??  Gotta go to post office, call Mom with some information she wanted desperately last night, and other letters and phone calls... hm, what's for dinner?? 

Down to computer shop again, where they're not too surprised to see me.  I got the hippie guy today but he was really nice too.  That video card has two outputs on the back which both look the same.  I didn't know if there was a difference, and the book didn't say, but I saw one picture that had a monitor only plugged into one of them, so that's the one I used.  Well, it's the wrong one!  Thanks a lot, book, for pointing these things out.  Then he downloaded a driver from the ATI website, which is who makes the basic chip inside.  HOW could I know these things??  
The shop owner said, "Is Windows happy now?"  What a great way of putting it.  Windows was happy with the video card, and he tested the modem for me quickly, so now all the hardware is in.  Now I just gotta go home and install CS3.  They think it will go just fine.  I can only hope, but I've sure read some nightmare stories about CS3 installation.  
Next, horse lessons.  Dave's horse lesson was the cutest thing ever.  That little guy perched up on that big animal--!  Dave got shy and quiet at the last moment and wanted to hang back, while Mike, who hadn't wanted the horse lesson before, started crying because it couldn't be him. 
We went to Wal-mart, where my baby boys spotted some large F14s with sound effects that were only $20 each.  Dave had $20 at home and promised himself breathless that he'd pay it back.  But what about Mike?  Now Dave's getting a jet but Mike isn't?  We can't allow that.  So I'm buying Mike a jet and it wouldn't be fair to make Dave pay for his. WHY WHY WHY???  Why do I even let them get near the toy section?  How do I get into these things?  At least I got the defective hard drive mailed back.  Newegg sent a printable postage label. 

Ed turned on X-Files again.  This episode was about evil rituals and sacrifices, and witches are suspected, but Mulder makes a defense of modern witchcraft which has a deep love of nature and respect for all life, and "They would never do something like this!"  I have to say that episode goes over the line of caring what Ed thinks and into the place where I just turn it off and take the heat, luckily Ed was disgusted too and said he wasn't going to watch the X-Files any more. 

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The class started on Monday.  Today, I signed in from the new computer.  The new computer runs the internet really fast!  How nice to have a modem designed for the OS and have the proper driver for it.  This modem was only six bucks. 
I just started Adobe CS3 installing.  It's going to take 4 gigs to put everything on there.  We'll be installing for a while.  That's okay, I have a lot else to do. 

7:00  Hey, it's installed!  CS3 went in just like a breeze.  I came back to check on the status bar, and it was all done.  That was FAST!  It prompted me to activate, which went smoothly.  Photoshop's running, InDesign's running, and I'm DONE. 
Hey, I'm here!  I'm where I needed to get!  I can do my class now! 
One class at a time is going to be enough for now, really.  I've just got to sell things on Ebay like crazy to recover some money. 
I'm not going to TOUCH that computer, I mean, I'm not going to mess with it in the happy-go-lucky way I usually mess with computers.  No customizing.  No turning processes off.  No "cleaning up".  Not even any Firefox, IE is okay for now.  No games!  No installing anything!  I promise!