The Desktop PC Adventure, Part 1

You know, when I came up with this idea of wanting to feel as though life is an adventure, I didn’t think it’d apply to something as non-getting-outside as my computers.

I’ve been having trouble with my desktop PC for a little while. Slow performance, crashes, refusal to render 3D graphics properly, weird crap in the Linux distros I was running (then again, that’s not unusual). It got so bad that a mate once sent me a set of parts – processor, motherboard, RAM, video card, hard and optical drives (thank you once again, sir) – that he knew worked so that I could get my PC running properly again.

I thought I could get away with just removing the sound card and replacing the video card, but it turns out that wasn’t such a good idea – a couple of months ago, not long after I’d reformatted and rebuilt my PC’s hard drive – the display on my screen disappeared, and when I reset the computer it didn’t even get to the “Bootup OK” beep.

It seems I need to replace the motherboard out. Which I’ve been avoiding for the last year.

For starters, it’s a pain in the arse job. I need to take almost everything else out first just so that I can safely unscrew the motherboard from its mounting in my computer’s (rather heavy) case.

For seconds – you know that phrase, “if it’s not a hell yeah, it’s a hell no”? Well, “Hell, no!” is my immediate reaction when people suggest I get into IT as a career (and a lot of people have made that suggestion). I have never bothered with the sheer volume of stuff I’d need to know – the reason I did IT at TAFE wasn’t genuine interest, it was owing to peer pressure – and there is so much stuff that I have little trust in my ability to fix folks’ problems

Building my own PC? Sure, I can do that – the only person whose data and hardware I’m putting at risk is my own. Still, there is that urge to just bypass all the fiddling, wailing and gnashing of teeth that’s usually associated with building a PC from parts and just pay for something new, whether by just outsourcing the gutting of my PC to a tech company or by out and out buying a new PC box.

There are a few things against that, though:

  1. We’re low on money. While I COULD splurge on a new tower, there are other things – like a rattling in my car’s suspension, a drooping side fence – that we NEED to spend that sort of money on. Plus, it’d eat into our emergency funds some, something I’m definitely not keen on doing.
  2. It’s not really adventurous.

Sure, staying in and dedicating a day or two to replacing the main board in my PC case seems a pretty introverted, nerdy thing to do – but it is DOING THINGS, which is what this whole blog is about, and while taking the PC to a shop and negotiating with the staff is also a thing, it’s perhaps not as adventurous as trusting in my own skills and actually learning something in the process.

And getting it done myself with a zero (or minimal) expenditure of cash will most likely have me feeling a lot more confident in myself than just outsourcing the work.

So if you’re interested in photos of printed circuit boards and me taking a vac to the inside of a rather dusty, neglected PC case, stay with me over the next few weeks!

What about you?

How have you turned a chore into an adventure?

Published by

Rob F.

At times described as "an ideas explorer," "the grin with legs," "flighty" and "geek," amongst other things, Rob is trying things new and old in order to find out just what his thing/s is/are. Three things he always enjoys, though, are sleek futures, giant robots and turning the things he discovers about life and living into blog posts.

  • Peter Flatman

    My first adventure in looking after home PC’s started years ago when I gave my second Windows PC a systems cleanup by reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling the Operating System, Windows 98 and the the files I’d backed up. I was helped in no small way by an issue of Australian PC User, which gave me the idea and thankfully the instructions.

    Australian PC User came with a CD ROM loaded with software and instructional videos demonstrating how to do this and that. It was those videos that inspired to upgrade my RAM, my video card, install a CD burner, an additional hard drive and eventually a replacement motherboard. With the new motherboard came more adventures installing a new CPU for starters! I affectionately dubbed my PC “Frankenstein”.

    With my partner using the desktop most of time, I’ve created a second workstation by merging the components of two otherwise faulty laptops. In the laptop I use, I replaced the dead hard drive, added more RAM and installed Lubuntu linux as the operating system. Son of Frankenstein?

    • Rob F.

      Glad to read you on here, Peter, and nice work upgrading your laptop! We’ve got an old Toshiba laptop at home that I’ve contemplated re-working as a Linux box; the only problem is, its monitor is stuffed and the only monitor I can connect it to has a stuffed analogue port. So one way or another I’d have to spend some cash to get it up and running – and if I’m going to spend cash, it might as well be on upgrading the main beast, right?

      Then again, if the laptop screen fix is cheap enough…

      Ahh, I remember the good old days of PC magazines with discs on the cover! I subscribed to Australian Personal Computer for a while; a lot of the articles went straight over my head, though.

      • Peter Flatman

        When my daughter’s laptop screen went, we took it in to a repair shop. The cost of repair made it more economical to buy a new monitor. You might be able to get one for a decent price off Gumtree.

        I initially tried Ubuntu, but like yourself, I went an upgrade too far and for the worse. I don’t have that problem with the leaner Lubuntu. That said, if I had my druthers, I’d go Windows.