6 Jun 2011 nutella   » (Master)

[Hah, it looks as if someone has broken the front page of Advogato with a misplaced HTML bold tag. Just like old times.]

With my S.O. abroad it didn't take me too long to revert to my old habits. I now have a disemboweled computer spread all over the bedroom rug. It's not as if she would disapprove if she were here, it's more that we've been busy doing things like measuring for curtains so that farting around with misbehaving hardware has been a low priority. Anyway, she gets to stay over there on a well-earned vacation and enjoy delicious XLB whenever she likes, while I get to fix a misbehaving box. This was one I built about five years ago with the main aim of being something for playing media (DVDs, CDs, photos, files etc.). It has a SmartPower power supply, smart fans and a silent (fanless) but fast video card. Recently it refused to boot and so after gutting it to a bare minimum I found that the motherboard (Asus A8N-E) wouldn't hold its CMOS settings. I fitted a new BIOS battery and reflashed the BIOS but still it forgets everything, even during a warm reboot. I don't see any damage to the motherboard but it seems likely that the NVRAM is dead, and that's beyond my fixit-fu. The board is about five years old, which means several generations have passed at computer evolution speed. It would be a shame to simply ditch it, as everything else works, so I looked around and found somewhere local that specialises in new end of life parts. They didn't have an A8N-E but they did have one of its cousins, an A8N-SLI SE, at a good price. So now I am reassembling the box and at first look it seems to work. Actually, I was surprised that it booted to the OS as the motherboard is not identical. Now I'll have to take care of some of the minor incompatibilities. The main one at the moment is that it doesn't have sound. I'll try and fix that or wimp out and drop in an old X-Fi card I have in the garage. When I popped the case I had forgotten how messy I had made it inside. The hard drives are some old SCSI disks so there's a long ribbon for them as well as the regular ones for the ATAPI DVD drives (I had two lying around). The reason it has survived is that the case is an Antec Sonata II which uses the magic of ducts[TM] to keep the airflow where it needs to go. That's essential as it does look like something that Harry Tuttle would delight in dealing with. I am glad that my life has changed so much that there's a time limit on how long I can scatter parts hither and yon, as the sane half of my life will be back soon and would treat my efforts with the dreaded raised eyebrow and half-smile.

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