Technology Hates Me (long story)

way back when, my web server sat in my old room at my mom’s house. years ago, she decided to get rid of her internet and, as we all know, a server is a moot point without any access to the internet. i moved it to my dad’s house and kept it there until i got out of college. it now sits in the corner of my living room and has been downgraded to a development server for my client work. this is largely because godaddy’s dedicated linux servers have proven themselves to be a spectacular investment of a small $6.99/month. as spectacular as they may be, i cannot stand their commercials.

several weeks ago, the damn power supply on said server decided to take its last breath. i had 2 choices–1) buy a new power supply, or 2) toss the entire PC and buy an enclosure for the 3.5″ IDE old-as-dirt hard drives rotting away in there so i could get my crap off. by crap, i mean 20GB of photos (YES, just photos, from everything i ever did in my life), 80GB of old home movies (my dad ripped very VHS my family ever created and gave them to me for safe keeping), several gigs of pirated DVDs, software (OMG Photoshop 5.0 is still on there), and about 60GB of whatever crap music i was listening to in high school. to my surprise, there was actually a good collection of pantera on there. i didn’t totally let myself down.

fast forward to this weekend: i told brett i’d buy him modern warfare 2 for valentine’s day. his old xbox died and he threw it out, but kept the hard drive. he planned on buying a new xbox on the 12th when we get paid. i told him i’d front him the money so he could go ahead and have an early valentine’s day–he can pay me back later. so we went to gamestop, purchased an xbox, and MW2.

gamestop is right next to best buy… it was inevitable. originally, i was going to buy a new power supply, but this caught my eye instead. surprisingly, i don’t own an external hard drive. i need something new to use as backup, so i bought it. thank you, tax returns.

we went home and i decided to start working on my server. it has a fresh build of CentOS on it, so i wanted to at least salvage the hard drives. i had an extra power supply in the box of ancient and random computer hardware in my closet, so i gave it a shot. it was dead, too. instead of going back to best buy, i called compuzone–a local computer repair shop.

my original plan was to buy an enclosure for the drives and toss out the computer. get this–they wanted $75 to transfer all my crap to the new external one i bought, but they’d sell me an encosure for $40. i told the guy i’d buy the enclosure, do it myself, and then return the enclosure. i am pretty sure he didn’t like that answer because after telling him that, he agreed to do the data transfer for $30. SWEET.

i told him i’d go home, grab the drives, and bring them back to the shop for a transfer. then i realized–i really don’t want two 18-year-old computer shop guys doing my data transfer. i worked at tech. support for 4 years. i am well aware of what goes on. i went back inside and told them nevermind, i’ll just buy a power supply. they were $34 at compuzone, which was much cheaper than best buy. FOR GOOD REASON.

i went home all excited. i gutted the computer, cleaned it out using almost an entire can of air duster, and took out all the tacky cold cathode sticks and fans that my ex boyfriend from high school bought me. in 2003, this computer was seriously badass. i built it just so i could play day of defeat and battlefield 1942. it glowed green in my bedroom and at every LAN party in high school. ohh, memories. i am so glad i didn’t get rid of it just yet.

i put the new power supply in and right out of the box, the damn thing was dead. that’s what happens when you buy a crappy 450W power supply for $34 at compuzone.

the crazy part was when i took it out and put my old power supply back in, crossed my fingers, hit the power button, and it freaking worked. i tried it at least half a dozen times earlier and nothing happened. but somehow, by the grace of god, it decided to come back to life. my server is now being run by a zombie power supply–who knows how long it will last. i waited all afternoon for all my crap to transfer to my external hard drive.

IN THE MEANTIME, i decided to have a reformatting party by myself. brett was preoccupied putting together his xbox. i had nothing better to do until the super bowl came on. before i started reformatting, and because i was already fixing everything else i own, i decided to do a “quick” upgrade on my router. alas, in the middle of the firmware upgrade, something went seriously wrong. while i was pulling my hair out, brett was trying to get his xbox live account working. no internet == no xbox live. he kept trying to access the internet, and i was all like IT ISN’T GOING TO WORK UNTIL I FIX THE DAMN ROUTER LEAVE ME ALONE. so… the living room was very tense for about 20 minutes.

somehow the upgrade caused the modem to crap its pants (wtf?). either that, or it was just horrible timing. it took me 15 minutes of cursing and mashing the reset button with a pencil to realize it wasn’t the router giving me hell. i reset the modem, and everything was peachy keen. HOORAY.

i downloaded unetbootin to do a netinstall of fedora 12. fyi, if you’ve never used unetbootin, try it sometime. i love it. normally, it’s a painless process. since my laptop was purchased in 2007, the graphics card is (geforce go 6150) a bit outdated. i tried 4 times with 4 different configurations to get the video drivers to cooperate. it was just not working, so i went back to fedora 11. worked like a charm.

this is the only complaint i have ever had about linux and that is getting nvidia and broadcom drivers to cooperate on the first go-round. or the second. i’ve reformatted my laptop at least 30 times in its lifetime, and i have NEVER had the same install process twice.

anyway, it’s all working together nicely now. and the funny thing is, i told a guy at work this entire story yesterday. he came into work this morning and said, “i woke up this morning… AND MY POWER SUPPLY WAS DEAD”.

i totally jinxed him.

9 Comments

  • Ed G says:

    oh broadcom chipsets, always a bitch. and i feel ya about all that data, i've basically carried the majority of my files across every computer i've had in the past decade, i recently found the first mp3 i ever downloaded in a folder, made me all nostalgic. power supplies have done that to me in the past, never got why, but after i unplug shit and plug it back in it works out of the blue

  • John Brier says:

    power supplies have frustrated me recently as well. I built a new workstation recently but used my old Enermax 600 W PSU in the new workstation. In my old rig I used a PSU that my roommate got from a case his dad got him which was damaged in shipping. He threw the case out but kept the PSU. I hooked it up and put one of my two Western Digital 250 GB SATA RAID edition drives in it. the system booted but the hard drive didn't spin up. I knew the drive was good because it was in RAID 0 in my previous workstation.. so I put it in my new workstation and it didn't spin up. I was pretty upset. Later on in the week still troubleshooting the issue I put the other WD drive in and it to didn't spin up. I hooked it up in my new workstation and it didn't work. Basically I concluded the PSU fried my drives. :-( I was pretty bummed for a while until I realized they were still in warranty. I'm in the process of RMAing them. I have put RED Xes on the bad PSU to save others from making my dumb mistake.

  • @mandlar says:

    If your data is valuable, then I highly recommend setting up a backup system, a.s.a.p! If one of your hdd fails today, will you be crying tomorrow? On Linux it is as simple as running the rsync command (which copies byte for byte, so you could rsync an entire drive and swap the backup with the original if the original fails. BUT it will also sync corrupted files!!!!). And no backup plan is good if you don't test it!

    Personally I'm looking into buying (in the near future) a headless backup server running Windows Home Server (because I run Windows at home, one day I will fully convert): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N… Pop in a couple of TB drives and you're ready to go!

    You can also find a lot of good backup strategy information here: http://serverfault.com/questions/1282/your-home-b… and here: http://serverfault.com/questions/512/best-practic

  • John Brier says:

    damnit whitney your freaking comment box just ate my update. it said administrator deleted comment after i hit Submit comment.

  • Haha I remember when my 8800GTX died. And I was soo pissed since I bought that almost immediately after it was released. I also bought a new power supply that time since the new GPU needed like a 500W power supply. After i bought the new power supply, i looked at one computer forum and found out that the power supply I bought has the tendency of exploding! :O Good thing the store owner returned my money. I bought a more reputable power supply and it's still serving its purpose right now. :)

    The worst part is that I didn't fully use the 8800GTX's full potential because my processor sucked. :P

    Well, there are times that we feel like technology hates us :) Sometimes they act weird or shut down for no apparent reason lol!

  • Caity says:

    Wow I'm sorry you had so many troubles with your hardware. I hope you are able to get it all working again without any more problems! I always had problems with drivers when I ran linux which is why I gave up. Probably not the best solution but I didn't have the time to figure it all out. Hopefully one day when I have more time and patience I can give it another go.

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