Saturday, there was a Market Pro Computer Show and Sale at the Maryland State Fair Grounds. I went to it.
I hadn’t been to one of those things in years. In the past, while growing up, it was Nerd Mecca (insert terrorist joke). A place to meet all your BBS “friends.” Over and under weight throngs pressed into thin corridors squeezing past each other in an attempt to look at the latest hardware, desperately trying to understand the thick accents of those pushing their wares. Teens and old men arguing over why micro channel bus is dead or whether it was worth it to spring for that 28.8 modem (but it has dual HST!).
Saturday’s show was but a shadow of it past splender. The nerds gained or lost weight in the right directions. The merchants spoke better English. The tables lined with hardware were replaced with tables lined with junk, cds, and porn. There were even some girls there.
I came for a case and power supply. I get most of my stuff online but a case is something you should pick up and feel. Plus shipping on those things is a rip off.
My brother’s computer was in several parts around my house. It was dropped off about a year ago - ‘cause it didn’t work. The power button was mangled, the power supply was dead and there was a short somewhere so that the motherboard only posted while it was on my floor – nothing attached - power pins shorted with a screwdriver. For his birthday, his girlfriend just bought him a new video card (good girlfriend). It was time to fix his computer.
Mean while my box, which was aging, recently started blue screening. I swapped out the Power supply and ram and it worked MOST of the time. Some new apps were barely running on the old AMD XP2000. Still it was a good workhorse. Did what I needed it to do. No I couldn’t play any of the cool games. But I didn’t care. I browse the web, use Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Fruity Studio. My box could handle this.
But… I wanted more.
I wasn’t going to buy anything. Just look. After all I didn’t need it, and I was saving up for other - more important things.
In the back of my mind though, I had the itch. I had researched everything. I do it every couple of weeks. Been doing it for years. What hardware is best, who makes the fastest card? I’ve day dreamed, but I wasn’t going to buy anything.
I found a decent case pretty quickly. I wanted to wander, so I left it be. Didn’t wanna carry the big thing around. The crinkle of anti-static bags drew me on. Only two people were selling the chip I wanted, but didn’t have the MB I wanted. Sure I could have got them seperatly, but for some reason that was a deal breaker for me. I was safe.
Then I heard this voice. Thick accent, Eastern European. “Dat is very nice motherboard you are luking at.” I know, that’s why I was looking at it I thought to my self.
“It’s a shame you don’t have the CPU I want” I replied.
“Vhat is it you need, I get it for you!”
I’ll be damned if he didn’t.
So I sprung for it. I got an AMD64 4400 Dual Core (total of 2 megs of L2 cache), with two one gig sticks of pc4000DDR ram, an ASUS AV8-MVP crossfire ready MB and … I kind of regret this…it cost a lot… a Radeon X1900XTX video card (plus a new case, PS, and HD). What’s one pay check.
For the first time in 3 or 4 years I was able to rename my computer “Cheese” again. You know, as in “BEHOLD THE POWER OF CHEESE.” I’ve always called my new kick ass computers… Cheese.
I lug my loot back to the house. I went to the show to get my brothers machine up and running, so I put my stuff off to the side and started on restoring his box.
I proceeded to work on that god damn computer for the next 36 hours. Just couldn’t get it to run stably. It worked most of the time, but games always crashed. I drove all the way out to CompUSA twice for that damn machine. I replaced EVERYTHING in it except the MB and Video card. I installed Windows 2000 three times. I went to my office in the middle of the night to get a Windows XP install disk (no Microsoft, I only wanted it as a test. I didn’t activate it). I flashed the freaking bios. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH FUN IT IS TO GET A FLOPPY DRIVE WORKING AND FIND A WORKING FLOPPY DISK? No fun. None at all.
In the off times, while I waited for a format or a download to complete, I pieced my machine together. There was a period of a few minutes when I actually felt sick when my new box wouldn’t POST. All that money and something was dead and the Russians I bought most of it from were on their way back to New York. Luckily I realized I put a stick of RAM in the wrong bank.
But I wouldn’t play with my machine until this other one was working. For a time, I had a couple of games playing. Playing ok. Then the crashes started. I just stared at that stupid case for hours. I really felt freaking depressed. WHY wouldn’t you work? Even fell asleep on the floor next to it for a while. I think I must have some form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I just couldn’t stand it not working.
My brother came by last night. After discussing his options, I think we are going to buy a new CPU and MB. Return the RAM I bought and use that money to by new RAM. I just think his new video card is a little much for that old motherboard.
So with that little bit of closure I went upstairs to mess around with my new machine. This is the reason I started this post. This was my main point, the only idea I wanted to get accross. I can sum it up in one sentence.
Half Life 2 is really scary.