A few weeks ago, my son and I started diagnosing a problem with “his” computer. He was telling me that he was having a hard time re-installing Windoze XP. I had a look at it (hey, isn’t HE supposed to be the one that is “computer savvy”, not me?). I figured out pretty quickly that one of his hard disks weren’t working. I tried it in another computer and it still didn’t work. It was dead. He wasn’t too concerned about it as he had gotten everything off of it before it died.

So I reconfigured the PC and attempted to set it up just with the one remaining hard drive. It wasn’t the best situation but it would at least get the machine running again. I spent the better part of a day tinkering and playing around with it. I had a bitch of a time with it actually. I got frustrated with it and just powered it off and left it for a few days (weeks).

I went back to it one rainy Saturday. I hit the power button to start it. All I heard was ZAP, POW and saw some sparks. I hit the power button to shut it down, but it had already done that. Something in it fried. The smell was horrible. My son wasn’t too pleased about it either as the PC was in his bedroom (he he he). I tried to power it back up but nothing worked. I had hoped I didn’t fry the mother board and only fried the power supply, so again I walked away from it.

I found myself one day in the South-end of Halifax, where, I knew there was a small computer parts seller (GreenLyph). I drove around a bit to find it and told my wife that I needed to get this power supply and that it only cost $25. So my son and I went in, I told the guy I needed a 400-500 watt power supply. He handed me one. It cost $25. Right then it hit me that I was REALLY hoping the power supply was the problem. I brought it home and put it with the not working PC and walked away again for a few days (weeks).

My wife and son had been trying to print something one day. We had two printers at the time and neither one was operational as their ink cartridges had dried up. Replacing them was just crazy! They want $45-60 for each one (just the black ones). We decided that we were going to buy a new printer based solely on the cost of the (black) ink cartridge. We looked at a Kodak printer. The ink was $10.99 for it. I had it in my hands ready to take it up to the check out counter when I thought, Hmmm does this printer work with Ubuntu (my choice of OS, NOT Windoze). So I used one of the stores’ laptops and did some Googling. I found nothing nice between Ubuntu and Kodak, so I didn’t choose the Kodak.

We settled on an HP printer/scanner. The ink for it was $20, the printer was $60 and it works famously with Ubuntu. So when I set that up I decided that I was going to give away the other two printers as I would never ever need to buy any more ink cartridges for them, so why keep them? I signed in to my Kijiji account and started writing up an ad to be placed to give them away. At the last second I decided to change the ad from “Free for the taking” to “Swap 2 printers for one Hard disk”. I was shocked to receive a phone call, not an hour later from a guy who wanted the printers and had a working hard disk to trade. I couldn’t believe it! We came to terms right away and we swapped items. All of a sudden, this old crappy not working PC was starting to look reasonable again.

As a quick test I hooked up the new power supply and tried to power up the PC. It worked! I was relieved. So I put the new hard disk in, wired it up, tied and tucked the cables and put it all back together. I gave it a good blow-out with the air compressor so it was good and clean. I powered it all up and everything worked great! I was able to format both drives and install Windoze (for my son) without any problems only to realize that there is no Internet connection from down in his bedroom. I guess I am now on the look out for a wireless ‘N’ PCI adapter so I can get it connected to my wireless hub.

Oh, previously, when my son first brought me this computer to look at. He told me that sometimes it would just freeze up for no apparent reason. I told him it was because of Windoze but he didn’t buy that. I told him that it was likely a loose part somewhere, a bad connection of the part to the mother-board. So the next day I took it apart and started disconnecting everything and re-seating them. That was when I noticed a single capacitor sitting in the bottom of the case. DAMMIT! Where did that come from? I looked around and discovered that it had fallen off the AGP video board that we put in years ago. DAMMIT! I looked at it, cursed some more, then went looking for my soldering iron. I’m by no means anything near qualified to do such things but it just seemed so simple. There were two posts coming from the capacitor and I could see the two lumps of solder on the board where it went. I had to try! So I did. I couldn’t decipher the markings on the capacitor so I connected it up solely based on the how all of the other capacitors on the video board were layed out. I aligned the markings on the top, with the others and hoped it was correct. To my surprise, when I finally got the PC working again (weeks later), the video actually worked!

Sometimes I just luck out with shit like that.


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