Aug. 11th, 2006

oneirophrenia: (Mr. Rogers)
What have I done to deserve this?

My computer is almost dead. Seriously....Last week, I lost a keyboard and, later, a mouse.

Today--just this evening, in fact--I lost a monitor and a soundcard.

When I left for work today, my computer (the Sony Vaio that I bought last year at exactly this time) was running just fine. I'd been listening to music and just generally working on stuff as usual...and when I departed the screensaver was doing its thing, and nothing was out of the ordinary. Nothing.

When I got home...my primary monitor (which came with the computer: a 19" Sony LCD monitor) was...flickering. The screensaver emblem was floating on one side of the screen with all sorts of weird lines and shit running through it. When I nudged my mouse around to bring the screens back to life, Big Monitor and Little Monitor (the 17" Sony LCD that I picked up at Staples back in December) both lit up as usual...but only Little Monitor was working right. The big 19" monitor was just a haze of weird lines.

Wondering if maybe the monitor cable had somehow gone bad, I dug out a standard VGA cable for it and plugged it into its VGA port (it had both...umm, S-VID or whatever it's called and standard VGA ports on the back) and just shut off the smaller monitor and plugged it in to its port. Same thing. I took the Big Monitor over to my file server and plugged it in there. Same thing.

The monitor blew. I have NO idea how, or why--but something happened to it that affected only it and not the other one. Of course, I dug out the monitor's warranty info online, and guess what? It ended three days ago. And when I bought the computer, I couldn't afford the Best Buy extended warranty coverage.

So my 19" monitor is now a useless piece of slag. Lovely.

Luckily, the smaller monitor still works fine, so at least I could see what I was doing. As I was looking for more warranty information and stuff, I decided to play some music to calm my absolutely raging nerves.

JRiver Media Center popped up a dialogue that I'd never before seen saying: Direct Sound cannot output through current device. I nearly put my fist through the surviving monitor at that point, but figured maybe the program needed restarted. So I restarted it. Nothing doing. I restarted the entire goddamned computer. When it booted back up, the same thing happened. I checked the Device Manager and, yep, the SB Audigy ZS 2 was there and everything seemed functional. Except if I tried to click on the volume button in the taskbar, I got an error telling me no device was there for the volume button to control. I opened up my Control Panel, and clicked on sound, and guess what? It told me there was no sound device at all installed.

To cut a long story short, I uninstalled and reinstalled the soundcard three times. It just would not work. I eventually even restored my entire computer back to the fresh-from-the-factory blank slate, thinking that maybe there was some kind of software corruption that had mysteriously taken place. (Don't worry: I didn't lose a single shred of data--all that stuff is backed up in a million different places.) In the end, the verdict was just: my soundcard, which was itself only a year old, just...stopped working.

This motherfucking computer has killed, or otherwise damaged, nearly EVERY peripheral that I have ever plugged into it. I have had hard-drive failures, innumerable keyboard/mouse failures, router failures, CD-R/DVD-R failures...you name it. When the C: drive failed late last year, I learned during the restore process after I replaced that drive that there was something mysteriously wrong with this machine's entire USB bus, and I've had all manner of problems with USB devices, but generally not destructive problems. WHatever the hell is happening here, I can now reasonably state that the problem is not that I have been purchasing shitty peripherals, but that this computer has something very, very badly wrong with it. I simply cannot think what else it could be.

This cannot go on. I paid $1600 last August for this computer, and since then, it has cost me nearly $3500 in drive recovery costs, replacement costs for blank drives, new DVD-R drives, etc.

When I'm heading up to Pittsburgh tomorrow, I am going to stop at Best Buy and begin looking at prices for fairly simple barebones systems. My only real requirements are that:

1. They use SATA drives (because all the internal drives I currently have are SATA);
2. They use the same memory that I have in this cursed piece of shit (PC3500 or whatever--I'll take a chip with me to be sure);
3. They have a powerful enough processor to be able to handle all the music stuff I do.

Number 3 is really the only major concern here, but even fucking eMachines have AMD dual-core processors these days. I can easily harvest the video card, memory, DVD+R, and assorted other stuff from this Sony Albatross...so I needn't actually spend a LOT of money on a basic system, since I've got all the extra stuff to trick it out properly.

Oh, wait. That's right. I don't have any goddamned money. And I won't until October.

But I'm honestly scared to continue using this fucking thing. What if it kills another of my external drives? I haven't ANY clue what could be happening here, but believe me, not even my luck is so bad that I could be the lucky owner of a defecting external drive, three defective keyboards, three defective mice, a defective CD-R drive, a defective DVD+R drive, and a defective LCD monitor--it's statistically impossible. The problem HAS to lie with the computer itself...though what could possiblyoutside the computer, because all of the devices that have failed have been plugged into the exact same power strip--and I've purchased three new power strips over the last year (just getting better ones). If there were power surge problems, EVERY device plugged into the different power strips at the same time would have been effected...and I've even tested each strip with a voltimeter to be sure its outlets weren't coughing out varying amounts of power (none of the strips failed that test).

The last--and I do mean the LAST thing--I want to do is break out the old Best Buy credit card and put anything on it. I have too much debt to worry about now as it is without dumping even $300 or so onto it...but I honestly think I might have to do it just in the interest of saving myself god-only-knows how much money in the future.

I can't win with this shit. I literally cannot win. I'm fucked no matter what I do.

...

Fuck it. I'm going to see Poison and Cinderella tomorrow. I'm going to get ridiculously drunk at the show.
oneirophrenia: (Brain Surgery)
First of all, thanks to all the folks who posted suggestions and tips on the previous entry. Many of them revolved around power-supply issues, and that's been the approach that I've found most likely for these problems since they all started. But by this point I've eliminated power issues as the problem.

First, the wiring in my house is actually more or less new--it was put in around 2001/2002. When I moved in here, I used a friend's voltimeter to check the various outlets around my house to be sure they could handle my power needs, and they were all fine. All of my hardware is plugged into two power strips, both of which can handle LARGE spikes in power (up to 1600 volts or watts or whatever), and they both have diagnostic lights that indicate if they've intercepted a surge, how much of a voltage fluctuation there was, and so forth. They've been tripped a few times by fairly moderate power spikes, but each time they intercepted them perfectly fine and nothing was harmed.

Also, both monitors were plugged in to the same power strip. If some kind of power surge hit one, it would've taken BOTH of them out. But the smaller monitor is perfectly okay. And the two external drives that are plugged into that same strip are fine as well. None of the individual outlets on the strip were tripped in any way...so there isn't a power issue coming from either the wall socket or the power strips.

If there is a power issue, it would HAVE to be coming from the power supply in the computer's case. But, again, I don't know how a voltage spike from the power supply could've, say, killed the monitor without killing everything else. Consider: the spike would've had to pass through the motherboard and then through my video card to reach the monitor via the monitor cable plugged into the card. There's no way a voltage spike could've kicked the monitor without frying the motherboard and the video card.

Unless the problem is not with the case's power supply at all, but somehow involves the motherboard's own wiring. But I don't even see how that could be possible.

All I know is that I've already eliminated the wall socket and power strips as sources of damage. I'm definitely taking everyone's suggestions and getting a UPS as soon as I can afford one, just as an extra measure of safety, but....

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