Madly waving the Rubber Chicken to Kill Bad Computer Mojo

The title sums it up for you non-computer types. For the rest of you, long, nerdy, techy rant follows.

It all started with a RAM upgrade about two months ago. It wasn’t something I was looking forward to, since I moved my main computer to a CPU rack attached as part of my desk. the CPU sits nicely out of the way, also it sits nicely out of the way of being able to do anything more than pop the case off and look inside. I tried installing the RAM blindly, giving up after breaking off plastic bits from the RAM slots in the computer. {Grumble} Loosen the CPU stand. Move the CPU over, so it’s not sitting underneath part of my LCD stand. Rip all the cables off the back. Carefully slide the CPU out, not bumping the Popsicles that are actually holding the LCD stand at the right height to keep it level with the other LCD panel. Install RAM. Reverse.

Fast forward a month. Trying to copy a CD, I find I can’t on my main system for some reason. Fire up ol’ Betzy. Burn ’em on there. Load the disk on my main system. Can’t read disks on either drive. Great – I’ve jostled a cable loose in the RAM upgrade. Fuck it, I’m not dealing with this now, I don’t need to use this CD right now – I’ll get to this when I need it.

Fast forward to yesterday. (You don’t use CD’s as much as you think these days) Lets do this – rip off all the cables, blah blah blah, remove the stand – this time scatter all the Popsicles (shit!!). Open computer – yep, main IDE cable is loose. Push that puppy back in and we should be back in business. Put computer back together. Slap the computer into the stand – try not to knock monitor over. Plug everything back in. Start up computer.

Booting, BIOS messages, IDE drives all recognized now, “Verifying DMI Pool Data…” … … … Hello? Computer? … Nothing. Shut computer off. Remove power from computer (I’ve had some weird crap with this computer that was cured with this, so no worries). Start up computer. “Verifying DMI Pool Data…” … … … SHIT! Must still be a loose cable. {Grumble some more} Rip all the cables off the computer (did I mention I have another computer behind my main computer and that I have to crawl under that desk to get at the cables?) Remove the computer from the stand. Open the computer. Check all the connections. Seem good. Re-seat the connections. Wiggle wiggle. Get out the rubber chicken. Okay, this time I’m NOT putting every last thing back together. Let slap this puppy in the rack and see if it works first. “Verifying DMI Pool Data…” … … … {groan}. I notice that the HDD light is flickering like mad and I can hear one of my drives chattering in there. The floppy light is on solid too. HDD failure? (eep!) Floppy failure? BIOS flacking out?

Time to Fire up ‘ol Betzy. Did I mention that ol Betzy need a couple of boots to get ‘er going most of the time? She just started doing that one day. Boot once, hangs at a blinking cursor. Power cycle and she comes up fine. Who said computers don’t get old and cranky? Anyways, hit Google: [hangs on “Verifying DMI Pool Data…”]

Hmmm. According to DUX Computer Digest, it could be a few things. CMOS corrupt, FDD not connected properly, connecting a new drive sometimes causes this. Okay. Try resetting the CMOS 1st. No dice. CRAP! I have to remove the CPU again. This time I’m getting serious. I set the computer up underneath my keyboard tray, where I can just reach the video cable and re-thread the keyboard and mouse to drop straight down – I might be at this for a while. Let’s try removing drives and see if it boots. Remove the IDE connection for the CD ROM drives. No go. Remove the floppy drive cable. Nada. Hmmm, it’s a long shot, but lets remove the SATA connection for the slave HDD.

Booting, bios startup, IDE detect, “Verifying DMI Pool Data…” … IT’S ALIVE, IT’S ALIVE! MWHAHAHA!

Now I’m convinced I blew up my 2ndary HDD, which was my BIG drive with all my video that I don’t have backed up – drat, but it ain’t anything critical. Try hooking it up again to see…. All is well, drive works fine, WTF? Okay, lets hook up the rest of the drives and pack it in for the night. “Verifying DMI Pool Data…” … … …

KHAAAAN! KHAAAAAN! (I’m having a really bad computer night when I start channeling Star Trek…

{Deep breath} Remove CD drives & Floppy: “Verifying DMI Pool Data…” … … … … Okaaaay….

Remove slave HDD – all is well again. Add in slave HDD. All is still well. Time to have another beer and get the hell away from this demon spawn system for the rest of the night.

Fast forward to today: “Okay computer, I don’t like you and you don’t like me, but we’re in this together, so either you’re going to work for me or I’m going to rip your CPU out and stuff it down your power supply fan if you don’t start co-operating!”

So, the only thing I could up with overnight was order of operations. Try plugging things in in a different order, power cycle after each one. Unplug slave HDD. Plug in IDE cable to CD drives. Boot – works fine. Power down. Add in slave HDD. It all works! Allaluya! All praise the computer overlord! But… do I plug in the floppy drive?

{Insert trip down memory lane, background music: “When I was 17“} I remember my first floppy disk – it was a wondrous thing that plugged into an Apple ][ system and stored all my games on one disk. Over time I collected many disks, until I got my own computer and collected many disks for that. But over time I used the floppys less, my hard disks held all I needed, then I hooked up to BBS’s and then the internet and over time forgot about the floppy disk. I don’t even need one to flash a BIOS so I guess it’s time to say goodbye old friend…

{back to the present} Fuck that. I don’t even think I’ve used the floppy in this system – I’m not hooking it up on the off chance it’ll pooch my other drive connections.

So I put everything back together, tested first to make sure it all worked before I took apart my temporary configuration underneath my keyboard tray, then gingerly put the computer back in it’s rack and hooked it up, then tested again and see that yes, it all works as it should (sans floppy). Scratch that: Just to spite me, the system blinked while in the middle of writing this post the first time, wiping it all out for no apparent reason {as I hit save again}.

What lesson do I take out of this? Putting a computer in some corner where you are not going to be able to get at it means that the “bad mojo” is not going to get out. Once the bad mojo gets to a certain level, bad things will start to happen and you’ll be forced to go in time and time again fixing the computer, until such time as you manage to bleed the bad mojo out of that corner. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

About ralph

Just another blog to share some thoughts with the world.

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