Saturday, September 08, 2012

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today...

...to mourn the loss of Supernaut, the valiant old 2.2GHz Pentium 4 box on which the vast majority of this blog has been written. (Better known on this blog by his alias "VFTP Command Central".)

Although twice replaced already, both proved temporary and both times the old XP box was dragged back out to soldier on, remaining powered on for the better part of nine years*.

Last night, during an electrical storm intense enough that I bid a hasty adieu to my posse in World of Warcrack after questioning the wisdom of having a copper wire running essentially straight from the wall socket, through the laptop I was using, and to my head**, the nearby power lines took a hit that staggered the wireless router, knocking me offline, and also caused poor little Supernaut in the next room to reboot.

When I went in to check on him, the Winders drive scan was hung up at 80%, so I powered him off and went to bed. This morning, despite futzing around in the BIOS, not a flicker came from the HDD light. Hopefully it's on the board and his hard drive can be rescued, but I fear that it's essentially Game Over for old Supernaut himself. :(


*As you can tell by me using the same G3 iBook from '01-'12 and driving the same car for the last eleven years, too, I tend to stay loyal to hardware, often past the point of good sense.

**Bobbi pointed out to me that, since I was playing WoW on a laptop, all I really needed to do was unplug the thing from the wall and I could have kept playing. Derp.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

He died with his prossesor on.

RIP old warrior.

Gerry

Ian Argent said...

For computers where the hard drive and motherboard, and power supply are replaced at different times, which one "makes" a new computer? Not that this had come up a lot, but still...

Joel said...

I'm gonna find some black cloth and sew an armband. RIP.

roland said...

1000 Homo DJ's version, yes?

Scott R said...

Bummer deal Tam but it happens, I have had it take out equipment that was even on a surge suppressor, I guess as in life when it's time, it's time.

og said...

I keep something like this around for emergencies like this

http://www.frys.com/product/5680821?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG

Available at Frys less than 20 minutes from where you sit, and you could have your data back before noon.

Anonymous said...

Old Reliable here is a "George Washington's Hatchet" computer: RE: the collector who has the original hatchet George used to cut down the cherry tree. Of course, the hatchet head's been replaced twice and the handle three times.

The only thing original to 10-year-old OR is the case. And, maybe the power cord.

Anyway, OR sends his condolences to Supernaut's family, and would like to make a contribution in his memory. Where does OR send the bits?

Tam said...

Og,

That's exactly what I was going to be doing, yup.


Ian Argent,

"For computers where the hard drive and motherboard, and power supply are replaced at different times, which one "makes" a new computer?"

Hard to say, isn't it? I mean, Supernaut was on his second power supply, after all. Even more interesting is his immediate predecessor (still in the attic, BTW,) a Celeron 800. In that machine, the D drive is from my PII-266 and the E drive is from my ancient Compaq Desqpro P-133.

Tam said...

roland,

"1000 Homo DJ's version, yes?"

W/Trent Reznor vocals off the Demos & Remixes bootleg, to be specific. :)

Roberta X remotely said...

He died -- to reference Milo Bloom on the death of Bill the Cat -- of excessive self-rebooting. Which is not quite as ignominious as dieing of acne.

greg said...

Well, at least you got your money's worth so you can't feel 'shorted'.

I'm just gonna go back to bed and try this day again...

Ian Argent said...

Hard to say, isn't it? I mean, Supernaut was on his second power supply, after all. Even more interesting is his immediate predecessor (still in the attic, BTW,) a Celeron 800. In that machine, the D drive is from my PII-266 and the E drive is from my ancient Compaq Desqpro P-133.
Well, that's one definition - that the machine was removed and a new one put in place.

Quellist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tam said...

Quellist,

While I still have the hard drive for the P-133 in a newer machine upstairs, alas, its predecessor (a 486-DX66 upgraded to a Cyrix 5x86) was given away.

It'd be cool to have a new board animating Supernaut's old husk, but I think that I will reluctantly make use of this opportunity to free up some desktop real estate by going with something smaller than the big full-size tower case I'm using now.

Critter said...

as i've said of so many cars over the years (hardware loyalty donchaknow), "nothing wrong with it that jacking it up and sliding a new one under it won't cure".

DJ said...

Well, you've vindicated my practice of unplugging my computer (mine and my wife's, that is) when storms are nearby.

Tam said...

DJ,

In my experience so far, if you leave them plugged in and surfing the 'net during t-storms, you'll lose one every twenty-five years or so. ;)

Thus endeth a quarter-century lucky streak.

Tam said...

(In the late '80s, my roommate had an UPS with enough wheaties to keep things running for quite some time, given the low power demands of an XT Turbo. I one time came home during a t-storm to find him finishing a file download from a BBS... by candlelight. THAT was strange to see.)

rickn8or said...

"As you can tell by me using the same G3 iBook from '01-'12 and driving the same car for the last eleven years, too, I tend to stay loyal to hardware, often past the point of good sense."

Like old jeans and old boots.

I've heard you keep an old revolver around the house too.

(From a guy pushing his luck with with XP-Pro, Office 2003 and Acrobat 6.0.)

RabidAlien said...

Ugh. Cyrix processors. :shudders: Those things were designed specifically to test the sanity and patience of owners, and to teach said owners how to fix computer problems.

Wish you lived closer to the DFW area, we'd have your drive up and running (or data restored) in no time. And if the drive is still accessible, you should have no problems slaving it as a secondary drive and running stuff from it.

Will said...

Tam:

from one of my computer building/maintenance books came this tip:
tie a knot in the power cord for lightning protection.

Think it came from Toms Hardware Guide. He swears it works. IIRC, you have to replace the cord if you take a hit, due to the knot failing somewhat like a fuse, I think. Guy lives in a high TS area.

Not just for computers, but any appliance.

Library-Gryffon said...

@Rickn8or, that sounds like my computer at work. Because of the EMR the rest of the hospital is using, we're still on XP and still on Office '03, but we do have a newer Acrobat, probably because as the library, I'm almost the only one in the whole enterprise who uses the damn thing.

I'm hoping to get them to replace my box soon, since it's about 6 years old. Two boxes earlier was replaced because I literally fried it. First it would reboot, and reboot, and reboot, and one day instead of taking four or five tries, it just never got out of the cycle. When they opened it up, there were little blackened spots of char all over the mother board.

We did lose a box to a thunderstorm at home about three years ago, even though it was on a surge protector UPS, and was turned off. We also lost the speakers (surge protected, turned off), DVR (surge protected, turned off), and the VCR (surge protected, turned off), but the TV and the cable box, (surge protected, turned ON) survived just fine. I don't have a high opinion of surge protectors these days.

Roberta X said...

I could explain why tieing a knot in the cord works for lightning, but I'll content myself with pointing out that the trick won't help with many kinds of purely power-line events. Still, it's worth doing -- or even a couple of turns of it wrapped through a ferrite core.

Ian Argent said...

I was actually able to buy a ferrite at Radio Shack a couple years back, though the staff looked at me like I had two heads when I asked where I might find one...

One thing I found interesting in an obvious sort of way - I got some quotes to have the breaker panel replaced with a 200 amp model, and both the competent quotes included putting in a ground spike in case the water company had to run new pipe into our house, apparently they use PVC for that nowadays, so you can't just wire the ground to the water service any more. Also, both of them would install a transfer switch for later attachment of generator for the cost of the part when doing the box swap, so there's that.
Note, when you're happy that the knob-and-tube was replaced at some point since 1926, having only 100 amps is a minor issue. Heck, most of the outlets are three-prong and all of those show green on the fault-tester! (Except for the one that was put in upside down - which had hot and neutral reversed, but was still grounded. Unhooked, flipped, rehooked)

Rob Reed said...

"For computers where the hard drive and motherboard, and power supply are replaced at different times, which one "makes" a new computer?"

It's a good thing the ATF isn't involved with computers or we'd have to first determine which is "serial numbered part" and then worry about 922 (r) compliance, etc.

You know, guns really are regulated strangely, when compared to all other consumer products. The only thing comparable is automobiles, with VINS and title requirements and such.

Rob (Trebor)

jetaz said...

I am curious why tying a knot in the cord would make any difference at all.

Sendarius said...

jetaz:

Thunder storm electrons are MUCH bigger than ordinary household current electrons - that's why lightning FLASHES so brightly.

Like anything with more mass, they don't turn too well - kind of like a 70s Lincoln Towncar with worn shocks - and they can't make the turn through the knot.

DJ said...

Tam, your experience of 25 years per failure is a single data point, and it might even be average. The risk is due to the spread of the rest of the data.

Back in 2003, I lost the built-in phone modem on my previous computer, a Dell Inspiron 8200 notebook, due to lightning. We lived in the mountains then, and the only internet we had was 56K dial-up. I was outside, standing on the deck at the front of my house, when a lightning strike hit the ground about 100 yards away. My hair stood up like the Ghost of Nikola was pulling on it.

This was an ordinary summer day during the "monsoon season". Every day, it would cloud up of a morning and rain briefly in the afternoon. The sky was clear overhead while light rain and lightning were making noise about five miles away. (The noise of thunder rolling about the valley is mesmerizing, which is why I was out watching and listening.)

The modem passed all its internal diagnostics, but the phone line was quite dead if it was plugged into the modem. Dell replaced the modem board, which was slightly bigger than a postage stamp, under warranty, and the rest of the computer was fine.

There was no other damage anywhere in the house. Go figure.

I replaced that nine-year-old computer only last April when the display began failing. It would have cost more to replace the failed parts than the whole computer would have been worth after the repair.

So, I am cautious. The computer is replaceable, but the data is not. I do careful backups, but the cost and aggravation of replacing a computer and restoring the data is worth preventing.

However, my home network is hard-wired (and so highly secure), and now our two computers (both new notebooks), are quite capable of Wi-Fi. I am considering replacing our router with a version that is both Wi-Fi and hard-wired capable, which would let us run on battery power during storms, risking only the modem and router.

Oh, and that mountain area where we lived? It's now being "rewired". Everywhere there is an electric service meter, there will be 100 MBPS fiber-optic internet service available.