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October 29, 2007

Unnecessary Quotations

The unnecessary use of quotation marks is a pet peeve of mine. I don't know where people learned to use quotation marks for emphasis, but it's downright stupid. This blog has some amusing commentary on this inane practice. Fun reading.

Don't get me started on the misuse of apostrophes in (mostly American) written language!

October 28, 2007

New, quiet 12cm fan option

I was reading the latest CPU Magazine over the weekend (great mag, by the way). In one of the DIY sections, there was an article about a new 12cm, high CFM case fan from Aerocool. Supposedly, they are using a new fan blade configuration that allows the fan to move high volumes of air without the noise typically associated with such fans. At $18 a pop, they're pretty pricey. But, if they work as advertised, they may be well worth the extra coin.

October 16, 2007

PC Speaker

Hooking up a PC speaker in a case can be a pain. Some manufactures (like Antec, for example) no longer include a speaker as standard equipment for their cases. Others place the speaker in odd places, making it difficult to cable up. I came across this clever speaker component while perusing the forums over at AnandTech. It's a simple speaker attached to a short lead that connects directly to the speaker input on the motherboard. The leads are rigid, so it stays in place just above the input. I ordered several of them for the various PCs in my house. Good stuff.

October 15, 2007

Up and Running

I received my replacement motherboard on Friday and installed it over the weekend. The replacement came with the latest BIOS, so I don't have to worry about updating it. So far, everything is running quite nicely. I have EIST enabled in the BIOS, so the system and CPU fans can spin down even more. This makes for a much quieter system. The board comes with a ~2% overclock out of the box, but I knocked it back down to stock speeds, as I don't care about overclocking.

Everything seems to be working well. Hopefully, the curse has now been broken. *knock on wood*

October 01, 2007

Yep...it's cursed

My new motherboard (abit IP35 Pro) arrived Friday, and I swapped it out last night. Everything went perfectly, especially given that I followed this excellent guide for swapping out a motherboard without reinstalling the operating system. The new board is really nice, with lots of options to tweak and optimize. In fact, the system seems to run more quietly now. All was going well until this morning. And what harm befell my newly rebuilt system?

I updated (or attempted to update) the BIOS.

Now, let me just state that I have updated the BIOS on many, many computers before. I have updated via both Windows utilities and command line without incident. I have never had a single BIOS flash fail. I don't know if it's the law of averages, fate, or sheer bad luck, but today marked my first bad BIOS flash. With this board, there are two methods by which to update the BIOS: via a Windows Flash Utility or via bootable floppy. Since I haven't used a floppy in more than 5 years, the Windows utility was my only option (I've since discovered there's a way to boot to a USB key). I downloaded the latest BIOS file from abit's website and proceeded to flash the BIOS via their Windows utility. All went well until the verification phase, where the utility locked up at 90% complete. In fact, the whole PC locked up, forcing me to do a hard reboot. Not good.

To my surprise, the system went through POST upon reboot. Unfortunately, the settings were all screwed up. The processor and memory speed were being significantly mis-reported, and I was completely unable to save any settings to the CMOS. I tried clearing the CMOS and re-flashing the BIOS (with a floppy this time), but nothing would fix the problem. Attempts to save settings to the CMOS resulted in the system not POSTing at all, requiring a CMOS erase. After spending several hours trying to fix the problem, I gave up, and reinstalled my previous mainboard. So, now I'll have to send back the IP35 Pro for a replacement. I could try ordering a new BIOS chip, but it's just easier to get the whole board replaced. God knows I won't be using the Windows with the replacement board.

How frustrating. It's times like these that makes me want to buy a pre-built machine from one of the major PC manufacturers. There, I said it.