Friday 18 November 2005

I hear about software rotting a lot, but not a lot about hardware rot. But rot it does. No sooner had Andrew and I got back to Australia about this time last year (354 days ago, actually) and slowly but surely coaxed our desktops back to life over the course of a week or so of patiently reseating cables and whacking them hard on the side, it seemed, did we moved house (five and a half months ago) and somehow destroy them again.

Being laptop enabled, I didn’t find this out until I wanted a Windows machine to do my tax return. Booting my old faithful produced nothing more than a loud and upsetting pop. My intimidating hardware acumen lead me inevitably to diagnose some kind of bang in the motherboard thingie. Or actually, probably in the power supply, because it smelled weirder. (On a tangent, I still count the day that I showed my father how to plug the CD-ROM back into the motherboard and the adventure went to his head and he ended up taking the case’s power supply apart and carefully vacuuming it as one of the odder experiences in my life. Thanks for the memories Dad.)

So then I tried Andrew’s slightly less faithful desktop only to find that it booted into a completely broken Windows 98 install by default and couldn’t be fixed because it didn’t work with PS/2 keyboards anymore, so the BIOS is uneditable.

So I did my tax return on paper and resigned myself to using up perfectly good airspace in our house by filling it with completely useless computers (I’ve never worked out how to dispose of computer bits). And that was all fine and good until Andrew’s laptop was stolen and we were down a computer, a key element of our lifestyle. Surely between two broken desktops we could put together one working machine? Unfortunately, neither has such an accessible setup anymore: my BIOS is kaput, his is not editable. But we eventually did it by shoving the hard drive in another machine.

Incidentally, a big boo-hiss to Ubuntu for requiring a key-press to boot their live CD (apparently, Andrew was the one who waited for it, but not me). Andrew’s BIOS doesn’t like USB keyboards, so he needed an operating system that could be booted with no key-presses.