Thursday, 19 March 2015

Oh, Computers!

So, no posts in a while, no gaming in a while, no computer in a while. It's been one of those months. A few weeks ago, my trusty Sony Vaio that's been my gaming machine for over 10 years finally died. I think I killed the hard drive in it (there was a pretty horrible burning smell emanating from it) and it gave up the ghost. Did I have everything backed up? Ha, of course not! I don't think I had anything backed up. All my mails, all my photos, all my documents and, of course, all my games. Gone. Ah well, c'est la vie. I was talking to my Dad afterwards and it turned out he'd recently bought a new PC, so he gave me his old one. It was pretty old, but still a better spec than my old Sony, so that wasn't too bad. He wanted a couple of boards out of it, so I did a bit of minor surgery while at their house, then brought it home. And when I turned it on...nada. Turns out in removing those boards I must have touched the memory sticks and zapped them. So, two new sticks of memory later and we're back in business. It's running Vista, but hey. I clean it up and it's running well, so no great shakes. We're off. As I say, it was a bit more powerful than my old computer, so I tried out a couple of new games I couldn't play before. I was just off the back of watching the first Star Wars trilogy, so got stuck into a bit of Knights of the Old Republic, which was great. I then tried to put my old hard drive (from my Sony) into the new computer to see if I could get any of the data back. In doing so, I discover that this computer is horrendously badly designed. There's loads of space for expansion bays, but you can't access a single one of them without removing at the very least the memory sticks and the CPU heatsink, and you'd be better off removing the whole motherboard. This frustrates me...a lot. "So", I think, "why don't I just move all the internals from the new computer into my old Sony case, which has a lovely design with lots of easy-access slide-out trays". So, I proceed to remove all the bits from the new computer and begin loading them into the Sony. I start with the power supply. The power supply doesn't fit into the nice slide-out tray. Great. I then proceed to put all the bits back into the old case, thinking I'll just have to buy a USB case for the hard drive to test it. Not a problem, they're quite cheap, or maybe just buy a nice new case for the computer. I put all the bits back, turn on the computer and...nada. No nice reassuring POST beeps, nothing. I start removing components, stripping it back, hoping that I'll find the one that's causing the error, but it stays stubbornly silent. I take it back to the bare metal and still don't get a single beep. The only answer is that I've fried the motherboard. I try resetting the CMOS, but still nothing. Great, two computers down. So I definitely want a new case, and I need a new motherboard. The old CPU won't fit on a new motherboard, so I need a new CPU. That new memory that I just bought won't fit on a new motherboard, so I need some new memory. I'm going to need a new copy of Windows (I was thinking of getting 7 anyway so I can snag the free upgrade to 10 later in the year). I stare at the list of parts I need and decide to bite the bullet and go for a completely new build. And it's here, it's done, and I'm relieved. I was nervous as hell putting it together, especially with the amount of parts I'd recently fried. I've changed plenty of bits and pieces in my time, but never done a complete build from scratch. It didn't go perfectly, some of it my fault, some of it due to sellers sending me the wrong parts, but it all works. It's all with the cheapest - fairly new - parts I could get my hands on, so it's not state of the art by a long shot, but it's the most modern system I've had my hands on in a long while, and it should finally be able to run all those games in my Steam library I've been acquiring over the last few years.

So, I'm finally back in the saddle and looking forward to playing a game or two. There are a few things - I haven't yet tried my old Sony hard drive again, but I think it's probably a lost cause. I did find an old back up of my DOS games, but they're definitely not all there. That means there may be some games in the list I don't have any more, which might delay things while I acquire them. The new system also isn't as legacy-friendly as my old XP machine, so I'm guessing a lot of my old CD games aren't going to work any more - especially the Windows ones. I might be able to rip them and run them through DOSbox, but I'm not sure how well that will work. On the subject of ripping things, though, I did test one of my old PS2 games, and they run beautifully straight off the disk, so there's no need to rip those when I want to play them now. Of course, the other thing is that I lost all my save games, so it's back to the starting block in Ultima. I'm not sure I can face that right now, so I might pick something else up - maybe something modern that I couldn't play before. I'm not sure if Knights of the Old Republic supports Steam cloud, so I may have lost that save game, too. Ah well, we'll see. It's been a pretty depressing (and depressingly expensive) month, but things are looking up now. Oh, and I lost all of my email, so if anyone's sent me a message recently and I haven't replied, please send it again!

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