Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Category: Hardware

Upgraded System

I just upgraded my WinXP machine. She’s a 2.4Ghz HyperThread Enabled Pentium IV with 1 Gb RAM. I have about 230 Gb that spans across two disks (one 160 Gb and one 75 Gb). I had to get a RAID controller. All of the other hardware is the same. It took me about three freaking days to get it all working. It was a bitch. The last day was the worst. It wouldn’t POST and there was no video. I must have taken apart everything and put it back together about 10 or 15 times. Finally I took it all out – including the motherboard. There was a dust bunny beneath it. Maybe it was shorting the board. I dunno… the no video problem was pretty intermittent. Anyway… it’s all working now. I just have to back up my old stuff… it’s kinda late now though… I’ll do it tomorrow… I need some SLEEP now.

So many toys!

Woohoo! I love the Friday after Thanksgiving. I got my self two 256Mb RAMBUSes and also a 160Gb HD. All for a schweet, schweet price! Now my machine is running with 768Mb of RAM. I am so tempted to go up to 1Gb! I am going to put the 160Gb in my WinXP machine. And keep the 75Gb in there too. I still have a 512Mb SIMM lying around and also two 64Mb RAMBUSes. Maybe I should put the RAMBUSes in the FreeBSD machine and the 512Mb into the new server that I want. SCHWEETNESS!

Ugh. Back to school. I wish I was still in Cali. I built 3 computers in two days. Can’t wait for the semester to be done!

Hard Drive

I got my 80 gig Maxtor HD today. Woohoo! I’m also getting my block of IP’s today. I’ve switched over from Qwest to FastQ. I should have everything set up by Sunday… Then it’s off to Cali for Spring Break!

New Printer

My new printer is so cool. It looks like it can travel at light speed. It’s sleek and sexy. I need a life.


I was trying to scan some photos when I got an unpleasant surprise. My scanner wasn’t working! That got me thinking… My printer and scanner are both connected to my USB Hub. Then I remembered that I had installed Xilinx ISE and ModelSim. Software that I needed for my CSE 422 class. I remembered that they installed some USB drivers. I uninstalled the software but that didn’t do anything. Searching for drivers on the internet didn’t help either. I was pissed. I hate Xilix now. Their piece of crap software screws up USB ports. Screw the class, I’m not installing that crap on my system. I figured my only other alternative (though extreme, but that’s my style) is to reformat my system. But then I remembered that XP has something called System Restore. I used it to restore my system to the point in time before I installed Xilix ISE and ModelSim. It worked beautifully… Woohoo!

Dead Printers and Geeky Valley Girls

My printer died. After faithfully serving me for more than four years, my HP Deskjet 812C died while in service. Actually, shortly thereafter. I had just printed out a 30 page grading criteria checklist and after that, nothing would coax my printer to print. I probably shouldn’t say dead. Maybe it had a stroke. I can get it to print a test page. Not through my computer though. I have to play around with its buttons. I turned it off, checked all the connections, uninstalled the drivers and then reinstalled them. Didn’t work. Critics will say that it was my fault (they always do). But I never did anything. It was just time for my printer to go. They go to wherever printers go when they die. I suppose that’s Printer Heaven or something. They get endless refills of paper and lots of Toner/Ink depending on what kind of printer they are.

Well anyway, so I was talking to my buddy today and suddenly we came upon the notion of a hypothetical being – a geek valley girl. I thought one of those would speak like this:

Well, so I like bought this totally awesome 40 gig Maxtor and I was like Oh My God this is just so awesome!
Well, anyways so I like had it for like four months? And then it just like CRASHED?! And I was like oh my God!
Like I had all of my Perl scripts in there! I was all tore up! This is like soooo lame y’know?

Woah… Sweet…


I’m in California right now. Yeah… I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it, but I did. It was awesome. Thanksgiving was great. Tons of good food… The next day we went to Fry’s to buy stuff so that I could build my family a new computer. We were able to get a good deal on some stuff… but missed out a great deal on a Maxtor 80Gb harddrive that came with a 256Mb stick of RAM… It could’ve been generic RAM though… we did get a good deal on a 512Mb Mushkin. Well, anyway… built the computer… but then turns out we didn’t have an OS installation disk. Right now I’m using the Win98 installation off the old 8Gb drive. It seems to be working fine. I thought it would be pretty unreliable, but I guess the hardware profile was so different that Win98 decided to reinstall everything all over again. This is only a temporary solution until we’re able to install an OS on the 120Gb hard-drive… Still have two more days here… That’s good. Not really looking forward to going back…


How hard can installing a new OS get? Pretty damn hard. It took three hard disks and two other OS’es to get it right. Huh what? Yeah you heard me… I wanted switch from Windows XP Home to Windows XP Professional. So I pull out a pre-activated copy (muhaha) that my buddy gave me a year ago and start installing it. I selected the “Update” option. Call it intuition. But after using computers for more than 12 years, I have an idea when things are about to go wrong. Sure enough, it did. I can probably illustrate this better in a more logical format:


XP installation starts, runs for a while and then crashes with a blue screen. I rebooted and tried to install again. Same problem. Did this three times. No difference.


Forget about installing XP professional. See if you can use the Alienware recovery CD and get XP Home back.

New Problem

CD won’t boot for some bizarre reason. Later I found out that the machine had a problem recognizing signals from the USB Keyboard. The strange thing was that it would recognize the F2 keystroke for the BIOS setup, but wouldn’t recognize anything after that. It would say “Press any key to boot from CD…”, I’d press any key and nothing would happen. XP Installer would boot up (and crash).


Remove hard drives from the boot sequence. I’ll see if I can force it to boot from the CD.

Bigger Problems

Boot failure. Also, after restoring the boot sequence, it says the OS is corrupted. I still can’t boot from the Alienware Master CD.


Try to boot up with FreeBSD CD. It worked! I installed FreeBSD on the 20Gb hard drive. Tried to boot up, but kept locating the 75Gb hard drive. Switched boot sequences. It worked! Mounted the 75 Gb as an nfs mount using mount_ntfs. Tried to move everything to /. Said it ran out of space. That didn’t make sense! I knew there was a whole lot of space left on the 20 Gb. Then I realized that / was on a different partition and that I should install it on /usr. Did that. Pulled out hard drive, put it into my FreeBSD machine (I could have left it in there and just transfered it using another mount_ntfs after I wiped out the 75 Gb and installed XP Professional… but it was 3 am and this didn’t occur to me). XP Installs fine. So now I set up the network and set up a shared dir on the XP box. I try to mount it from the FreeBSD box using sharity light. It dies. Then I figured out I had changed the machine name. Tried it again with the new machine name – it worked! Then I mount the 20 Gb. I go to /usr on the 20 Gb to get my files…

Really Big Problem

I can’t find my files!! ls on /usr gives absolutely nothing!


Then suddenly I had an epiphany… I was mounting /dev/ad1s1. This means drive 1, slice 1 as FreeBSD organizes the drive into partitions, and different dirs are mapped to different partitions. I try to mount /dev/ad1 directly and it gives me a superblock error. So then I try /dev/ad1s2 – same problem. So I goto /dev and list all ad1 devices. I see a bunch of /dev/ad1s1a, /dev/ad1s1b and so on… So I tried mounting those and eventually found all the rescued files. Then I transferred everything over the home network to my XP shared dir. Problem solved! I have XP Professional and everything works fine… well almost. The BIOS and XP can see my 20 Gb hard drive, but it doesn’t assign it a drive letter… I formatted it (using FreeBSD so that might be a problem… except I don’t think so, because I just zapped all the partitions), but it still doesn’t see it… I’ll have to figure out how to fix it. Also, Qwest is sending me a Cisco 678. Then I can buy some static IP’s and set up my webserver… finally! Ahhh… This was a very trying experience, but I learnt a lot…

Sound works

I’ve got sound working on my FreeBSD box. Finally. I tracked it down to a conflict between the onboard card and the sound card from my old HP Pavilion. I thought the card was a Soundblaster Live! But it turned out to be some wierd (unsupported) sound-modem combo card called Chameleon. I read that it’s a crappy card, so I decided to go with my onboard card. Recompiled the kernel and now it works fine… Still having network issues… I can talk to the other computers on the LAN… My WinXP box is the gateway and the FreeBSD box recognizes it… but it can’t talk to anything outside… =|

A Lot

A lot has happened. As you might have noticed, and were both down for a while. That’s because Marc’s ISP decide to make the intelligent decision to change his static IP. That resulted in some problems. Marc finally fixed it. So here we are.

The Photo Album should be up probably next week… this week is hell. PHP has been compiled with gd support so it’s going to be a breeze.

421 is a lot of work. ARGH!!

I got half of my signing bonus from the Army. After taxes, I have $2,802. I’m not touching it. I’m putting it in savings. But it’s so awesome to have that much money!!

Went to Garba last night. It was awesome. A whole lot of fun. Didn’t do too much garba, but had the dandia going for well over an hour.

There are some other things I wanted to write, but I can’t remember them at the moment… I’ll write them later… Oh yeah! I bought a motherboard for the server I’m building. I only have the case, harddrive and RAM left to buy…

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