Now you’ve done it

I mentioned my hard drive problem a little while ago, and after a couple of weeks of not getting anywhere, I finally bought a PCI IDE card that I thought would solve the problem. I cracked the case on the computer and installed the card. Gail had given the hard drive to her friend to see if he could salvage any of it (he hasn’t had a chance to look at it yet), so I couldn’t do much anyway, but I turned the machine back on, and it started to boot, so I figured I hadn’t screwed it up too badly and turned it off again.

The next day, I was playing my guitar and realized that I hadn’t discovered yet whether Windows could see the new card. I fired up the computer, and continued with whatever song I was playing. (Probably the guitar solo for Metallica’s “One”, and I was probably nailing it like I always do. No, really.) After a minute I realized that the computer was off. I reached down and hit the power button again and…


No power, no lights, no beeps, nothing. I put the guitar away and tried a few more times. I unplugged the power cord and plugged it back in. I put the cover on the computer, in case the fact that it was open was causing a problem (though I don’t know why it would). I took the cover off again and removed the new card. Nothing. On a whim, I unplugged the computer from the UPS and plugged it directly into the power bar, and the power supply for the computer buzzed for a second. I thought “Yes! It’s the UPS!”, but then realized that (a) the monitor was also plugged into the UPS and was working, and (b) pressing the power button on the computer still didn’t start it.

That’s when I realized that the power bar was itself plugged into the UPS, so I unplugged the computer from that and plugged it directly into the wall. Again the fan buzzed and then stopped, but this time when I hit the power button, the computer started. I thought I was home free, but after a few seconds, the computer simply turned off again and hasn’t come back on since.

Picture taken from flickr under Creative Commons.

I’m a software guy, and though I’ve done my share of card-swapping and hard drive / CD drive / DVD drive installation and such over the years, I can’t say I’m a hardware guy. In particular, I have no freaking idea what the problem is. Could be the power supply. Could be the power switch. Could be a short on the motherboard. Could be any number of other things, and I don’t even know enough to know what they might be.

As I said, this was a $10 computer that has done its job admirably. I have grown to like idea of turning it into a NAS, so now I’m looking for a cheap computer to do that with — Tiger Direct has a refurb PC for $200; I’d probably buy an extra gig of RAM but other than that, it should do nicely. Gail’s not too excited about the idea of buying a refurb computer, but it’s got a 3 months parts and labour warranty, and you can extend it to a year for $36. I don’t generally like extended warranties, but in this case I might consider it. I’ll happily pay $36 if it means that someone else will fix my computer if I screw it up again.


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