July 12, 2004

"Give my creation LIFE!!!"

[Warning: This entry rated GL-3 for level-3 Geek Language. All novice users should read only with geek supervision and/or translation]

This week started innocently enough. I was designing some web sites for a client and I needed to upgrade my old Adobe Photoshop (5.0) for the newer version (8.0 or "cs"), because it had lots of time-saving features for web designers. I explained this to my client, and he had no problem paying me $200 up front to buy it.

I bought the software on the internet and when I installed it, it took probably five minutes to start up. Even changing fonts took about 20 seconds. When I do my web designing, I need Photoshop, DreamWeaver and usually iTunes up at the same time, and it just wasn't going to happen with my current setup. So started what I call "the PC Upgrade Cascade": In order to properly run one upgrade, I had to upgrade something else.

And now, a bit of history. The first retail computer I bought was computer was a Compaq Pentium II back in 1998. The model didn't sell well because it had a black case, which was actually a big selling point to me. As all geeks and car enthusiasts do, I had to give it a name. "This computer is big, black and powerful," I declared, "so I'll call it 'SHAFT'!" (Sounds kinky, but it's just a reference to the movie character.) A few years later, Shaft was hideously underpowered, so Craig donated some spare parts and a new case, and built "Shaft 2: Son of Shaft") from the original. This was a PIII-500 Mhz, and it served me well for a few more years. But this year, it needed another overhaul.

Craig gave me some tips on Motherboards and CPU's that were on special at Micro Center. Not the latest and greatest, but all I'd really need until I wanted to be a one-man Pixar Animation Studio. I also called on Larry, who gave me some more advice, and agreed to help me put it all together Saturday morning. I planned on asking for a $500 advance for the whole upgrade from my client, instead of just the $200 for Photoshop.

Saturday morning, while Melissa was out for Tae Kwon Do, I took Matthew over to Larry's. Jennifer watched Matthew and Sydney play while Larry and I went computer parts shopping. I bought an AMD processor, a shiny new ASUS motherboard and a new stick of DDR RAM, all for $30 less than I budgeted. Back at Larry's, Larry and his friend John opened up Shaft2 and went to work. Half an hour later, John discovered that my old power supply wouldn't work, so back to the shop for a $30 power supply. (Oh well, still on budget.)

Larry and John finished it up, but remembered one sticky point about Windows: "If you have windows XP installed, and you change processors, you have to repair or reinstall XP." Annoying, but no big deal, I had my XP installation CD at home, and I could fix it up while Matthew took his nap this afternoon. So I thanked them profusely and headed home with Matthew.

Twenty minutes down the road, I realized that I left Matthew's shoes and bag back at Larry's. Backtrack, pickup and double back again home. Once home, I discovered that my RAM was bad, so back to Circuit City to swap it out. Back home, I find that the new RAM is good, but the simple repair of XP hit a snag and could not fix it.

My only option appeared to be re-installing XP over itself, losing all my applications in the process. Plus, there was a risk of deleting all my MP3's, Photoshop docs and web pages, INCLUDING the one I was supposed to have ready by Wednesday for the aforementioned client. That wasn't about to happen, so I called Larry again, and he agreed to help me back up my files the next day and walk me through the re-installation.

In the meantime, Melissa was nursing a Tae Kwon Do injury to her hand. We eventually had to take her to the Hospital (not the close one, Gwinnett Medical, half an hour down the road, since they are the only ones who take our insurance), and get her arm wrapped up in a sling. At the end of the day, Melissa's in agonizing pain, I'm ripping my hair out, and Matthew has been entertaining himself most of the day.

Sunday, after church, I set off to Larry's. Jennifer had taken Kalin and Sydney to Lake Lanier, while Larry waited for someone interested in buying Sydney's old crib to show up. He discovered that the error was from a video card driver, which we couldn't fix with XP being inoperable, so re-installing XP was the only way. The backup went well, and I was up and running with a clean install of XP. I thanked Larry profusely, again, and went home.

For the rest of the afternoon, I had the frustrating task of re-installing all my programs. The data was still there, in the same folders, but since the windows registry had been wiped clean, XP didn't recognize them. I still can't find my original install CD for Norton Internet Security, and iTunes is still having issues finding my music, but for the most part, the new computer is up and running.

Once the apps were re-installed, I had to get to work on the client's web pages. Yeah remember him? The nice man who we're going to ask to foot the bill for all of this? It wouldn't go over well if I showed up today saying "Sorry, but the work I promised isn't done, your site won't be ready, and oh yes, one more thing. I need $500 instead of $200 in advance, if you don't mind?" No, that wouldn't fly. I stayed up until 1:30 to get it done.

Melissa asked what we should call this one. Since it still retains that black DVD-ROM drive from the original Shaft, as well as bits from Shaft 2, we had to continue the theme. I dubbed it "SHAFT3 : FrankenShaft". (Again, sounds kinky, but it's not meant that way.)

No comments:

Post a Comment