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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2006
     
    So tonight around 10 pm, the second shift co-worker calls me and asks for some help QAing a midnight migration (we're running an A/B test on the homepage starting tonight at midnight, and I set it up). No problem. I'll just use the VPN and check the file on the network, then make sure everything is running smoothly after the migration.

    I go over to my computer and jiggle the mouse to get the Windows xp login to come up. It does, but the screen is badly garbled. Lots of colors, it's hard to make out, but it's definitely the login screen and I can see the mouse (which looks like a big block of multicolored boxes), so I manage to get the computer to restart, which it does. But something's wrong. My monitor keeps blinking to black and then coming back to the screen. Eventually, the computer locks up and I have to manually shut it off. Very strange. I try checking the display driver for my ATI Radeon card (it's an old, 64mb model - windows says it's the 7200, but I don't remember it being called that when I bought it) and windows says everything is peachy.... right before it locks up again.

    Boot up in safe mode... problem persists, but I'm able to uninstall the drivers, hoping that reinstalling them will fix the problem. Alas, no. Windows detected the card and installed drivers, but the same problem kept happening. I went to the ATI website and downloaded the "newest" drivers. Again, uninstalled the old ones, attempted installing the new ones manually. This, of course, caused all sorts of problems. Fun. It turns out that the "newest" drivers from the ATI website were 2 years older than the ones I used to have. Great.

    So after about 2 hours of this fun, I must have uninstalled the drivers again and windows must have somehow found newer ones (only a few months old!) Huzzah! But I still seemed to be having problems. It was nearing midnight, so I ended up driving into work and checking everything there. At least that went well. Everything appeared to be working fine.

    Back home, and now everything appears to be working fine. I hope I didn't just jinx myself, but I'm not sure this was a driver problem in the first place. I have this nagging suspicion that my video card is destroying itself. It might be time to build a new computer. Of course, I've got my trusty linux box up and running upstairs, which should serve my needs in the meantime.

    *sigh*

    I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised. This turn of the century machine has served me exceedingly well for about 6 years. That's pretty impressive, but even without these display problems, it's probably time for an upgrade. I just hope she can hold together long enough to backup all the important stuff (which is mostly backed up, but there may be some newer stuff I haven't backed up yet...)

    I named this machine Sulaco, after the colonial marine ship in Aliens (which, I understand, is itself named after a town in a Joseph Conrad novel named Nostromo - Nostromo is the name of my linux box). As I said before, she's served me well, but she needs an upgrade. The timing is somewhat problematic. I have a wedding next weekend, then I'm off to boston for a few days. I'll probably have to wait until then to get all my various parts and put them together. Since I'm starting over, I might as well make a dual boot machine (still need to use windows if I want to be able to work from home). Or maybe I should just go grab a graphics card and test it out in the current box. Just to make sure...

    ~tallman
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2006
     
    Yep, I was right, I jinxed myself. The screen still blinks out every few minutes, it seems. Nowhere near as often as it did earlier, and it hasn't locked up just yet... but still, annoying. Crud.

    ~tallman
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeOct 1st 2006
     
    Update: Thar she goes:



    I left it on all night, and when I came down, this is what I got. Bad stuff. After restarting, I get a message:

    Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
    \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM

    You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM.
    Select 'r' at the first screen to start repair.


    Great, now all I have to do is find my xp cd:P

    On the plus side, I was a little worried about being able to use my digital camera with my linux box. Getting such things to work in the past has been a nightmare, but I was able to do this pretty quickly (even though gnome didn't automatically detect the camera, I was able to find out about and install gtkam and use that to download the pictures) Score. Maybe this linux thing will work out for me eventually.

    ~tallman
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      CommentAuthorDyre
    • CommentTimeOct 2nd 2006
     
    Ahhh, that sucks. I had to reinstall Windows recently (I think I mentioned on here that the Dungeon Siege 2 expansion died on me, taking my Windows registry with it) and ended up backing everything up and outright reformatting my master hard drive while I was at it because, at that point, why not? That's the only time I've ever had to reinstall XP and it went surprisingly smoothly, although it was having some troubles downloading all the updates from Microsoft once it was loaded back on. Basically I had to let automatic updates do its thing on its own, even if it did take forever to connect for some reason, because trying to get the updates manually from the web always ended with a scan for updates that never actually ended or one that did end with an error message.

    My PC could stand for some upgrades or outright replacement as well (I've had it for a while too, not quite as long as yours but almost) but I think I'm just going to get a Mac later down the line. I'll keep this one around though. I might even get it a slightly better graphics card at some point. I used to mean to get into linux but I never had enough of a desire to do it in the time I had available and now I find myself, somewhat disappointedly, just wanting a computer that works more often than something to tinker with (although I do still enjoy that but I don't want to do it as often as I used to).