Author Topic: Further Adventures with a 10 Year Old Desktop  (Read 5183 times)

Offline buster

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2019, 08:17:46 am »
Chapter 5: Playing With Wires

In the beginning of our computer lives, there were a whole lot of mysterious computer parts spread on some tables we used in our attempts to put these parts together. And patiently we learned how to connect things, and even sometimes how to label them for the next time. Until we saw that things that did fit together, should go together. And as time went on, and the fires and explosions became less frequent, we developed a sort of expertise that gave us a great deal of confidence. And in conversations with the less experienced we developed a bit of a swagger, as befitted our hard learned exotic knowledge.

However, in my childhood household, if I commented on how well I had done in a race, or I mentioned that the grade two teacher had used my picture to point out really good colours, my mother, like a TV evangelist, would raise herself as high as she could with her 5 foot frame and glower disapprovingly. “Pride Goeth Before a Fall”, she would say sternly. It’s not as bad as it seems fortunately, because even as a 7 year old, I knew that my mother didn’t glower well. It wasn’t, so to speak, part of her skill set. But the image she presented has never left me.

So as I gazed into my revived computer’s innards, lying under bright lights on a table, I knew I would be able to get the ssd in and connected. The original hd and disc player were sata, so this should be a piece of cake. An image of my mother walked into the back of my mind. And you know what she was saying.

There was more of a problem to solve than I expected. I was in unfamiliar territory. There were only two sata power connectors available, and they were both in use. My ssd was a late comer to the party. And I searched all over that case and no other sata power connector existed. Failure already?

Google was going to have to be my friend. So far I knew that I had many sources of power, but none were in the sata format. I found the connectors I needed. They’re called Molex to SATA and I poked about on Google with those exact words. Something disturbing was occurring. The word ‘fire’ kept appearing in my search as I went from page to page. Burning down the house didn’t appeal to me one little bit. My mother glowered in the background.

I phoned my trusty friend who assured me they are fine. And further investigation let me see that already in the old box were 2 such connectors! I just hadn't noticed. So this left me with finding a means of acquiring one. My regular store sells them for $8.00. But that seems to go against the philosophy of this so far zero cost project.

A timely post led me to a bit of hard bargaining. Ultimately, I was forced to give up two stick of ddr3 ram for one little connector. The fact that the two together added to only 3 gig, and I had no use for them ever again (having just removed them from my free computer) shouldn’t enter into this. He drove a hard bargain and I needed that connector. So I gave in. Discretion is the better part of valour.

One set of rapids safely run. Time to find a campsite and get some sleep.

Tomorrow – Throwing Stuff Out
"With all due respect John I am head of IT and I have it on good authority if you type 'Google' into Google you can break the internet, so please no one try it, even for a joke." ( Jen on 'The IT Crowd' )

Offline Jason Wallwork

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2019, 04:07:13 pm »
I remember seeing that hard bargaining - it was like watching two well-established leaders debating the price over a great piece of ocean-front property in the far North.
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Offline buster

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2019, 08:54:11 am »
Chapter 6: Throwing Stuff Out

If you have ever put things in a backpack that are necessary for a solo overnight hike on a wilderness trail, then you are aware that the biggest problem is what you are going to leave behind. If you find the pack is too heavy to get off the ground, something has to be removed from your burden. Some things you can’t leave out, like dried food, water purifier pills, tent, tiny stove. Some others must to be left out. If you’ve never done it, know that a heavy pack on your back becomes surprisingly awkward and unpleasant.  But if you are over-packed, you will notice it within 30 minutes. Best to stay on the creeks and small rivers with a canoe of course, but that’s difficult in the mountains.

When you are going to squeeze 500 gig into 120 gig, something has to be left behind. So 2 virtual machines, VMWare, LibreOffice, qbittorrent, one music player, all media files, anything in the ‘Microsoft Uninstall’ that I could safely get rid of. Used the disk cleanup for anything it found I could destroy. Then defragmented C: Not sure if it helped but, it filled the early morning hours.

So the space used on C: was down under 50 gig. Is that a miracle or what? But there is the usual ‘but’.

The drive had 4 partitions. #1 is very small, #2 is C:, #3 is Recovery, and #4 is the recovery for Win 7.  So google, google, google.

Right click bottom left on the screen and call up Disk Management. It’s mouse time. Right click final partition, click delete. As John Candy would say on SCTV, “It blowed up real good!” Back to the third partition, and a right click does absolutely nothing.

Google, google, google

This particular rapid was getting tough. Found a little bay to the side that the craft could rest out of the fast flow.

That partition had to go away. I didn’t want it to appear on the ssd. And I wouldn’t know how to stop it when I transferred to the little hard drive.

Had a wee rest, drank not beer but water, and got ready to move out into the current again.

Tomorrow: Microsoft Promises Faithfully an Easy Solution
"With all due respect John I am head of IT and I have it on good authority if you type 'Google' into Google you can break the internet, so please no one try it, even for a joke." ( Jen on 'The IT Crowd' )

Offline buster

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2019, 09:32:01 am »
Chapter 7: Microsoft Promises Faithfully an Easy Solution

My spouse and I did a cycling holiday in Vermont sometime in the ‘80’s, with our pretty good Italian Bianca road bikes. We had enough money to stay at various lodges if we could get a room, eat in restaurants sometimes if we could find them, buy a book entitled ‘Bike Routes in Vermont’, written by a biker we just by chance met in a little town. And most importantly, we each had 21 gears. Riding up the side of even a little mountain is much like having too much in your hiking backpack. But the other side of the mountain is wonderful, and a wee bit quick.

Not exactly lost, we were riding a quiet road and came to a General Store. Outside on a bench sat a pleasant older man who was considerably farther around that the two of us. I have no problem with that except I knew he wasn’t a rider. We were hungry and asked if there was a diner or cafe we could reach without any huge hills.

“There’s Blanche’s Cozy Cafe not far at all.”
“Any hills on the way?”
“One little hill, but it’s really nothing. I go that way all the time.”

What he didn’t say was ‘I drive my big diesel truck that way all the time’.

He gave good directions and everything seemed really reassuring until we turned a corner, left the woods, and saw what looked, with our fatigue, like Mt Everest in front of us. We did get up the ‘hill’, actually met the pleasantly plump Blanche and had good food. We survived.

This long introduction is a mirror image of my experience with Microsoft’s ‘easy solution’. I needed to delete Recovery, and right click delete did nothing, but this newly discovered Microsoft solution was right up my alley. Point and click with the correct procedure.

An 8 gig usb stick had just been returned to me. (It had a copy of Harold and Maud that most of us had watched at one time or another.) That was necessary equipment.

Next click the bottom left corner and type recovery. You will find a program called recovery drive, which makes a usb recovery drive for you. Maybe a good idea. Its directions ask you to insert the stick, and you follow the simple directions and it starts to make your own, personal USB recovery stick that you can boot from.

Here’s the wonderful thing that’s promised us. When, after 40 tedious minutes it ends, you will be offered two choices: Finish, or Delete Recover Partition on computer. Makes sense as you now have a functioning recovery USB stick.

Whoever wrote this article for Microsoft was like the diesel truck driver in Vermont. Everything is different on a bicycle, and everything is apparently different on a 10 year old Compaq computer. I was given only one choice. I could click finish.

Knew what I had to do and let the canoe drift back into the fast water.

The water was relatively smooth, wide and deep around the rocks, and it wouldn’t take long.

On the bottom of the menu I typed this sequence of words:

cmd

And then

diskpart
list disk
select disk x
list partition
select partition n
delete partition override

Back to the mouse. Called up Disk Management.
Right click C:
Select expand. Go to maximum.

The hard drive has now only two partitions, tiny at the beginning, and C:

Found a really good campsite, built a fire from dead wood, ate pretty good food, and opened a little plastic bottle of lovely Australian Shiraz. Only a calm, peaceful stretch left to paddle.

Tomorrow: The Sadness of Leaving the River
"With all due respect John I am head of IT and I have it on good authority if you type 'Google' into Google you can break the internet, so please no one try it, even for a joke." ( Jen on 'The IT Crowd' )

Offline Jason Wallwork

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2019, 02:18:57 pm »
Great story. I used to bike the route daily between Combermere and Barry's Bay one summer (32 km both ways) but I couldn't handle all the hills. One of them was a ski slope!

I have to note that you used the Microsoft equivalent of the terminal and you typed a whole bunch of commands. And this was in Windows 10 no less, correct? Just goes to prove my point that sometimes you need to use the terminal, even in Windows so learning terminal stuff can be useful.
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Offline fox

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2019, 02:26:55 pm »
....
On the bottom of the menu I typed this sequence of words:

cmd

And then

diskpart
list disk
select disk x
list partition
select partition n
delete partition override

Back to the mouse. Called up Disk Management.
Right click C:
Select expand. Go to maximum.

...

Your fingers (and brain) must have been burning for days after that round of activity.  ;)
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Offline buster

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2019, 02:37:13 pm »
I was hoping no one would notice.  :)
"With all due respect John I am head of IT and I have it on good authority if you type 'Google' into Google you can break the internet, so please no one try it, even for a joke." ( Jen on 'The IT Crowd' )

Offline buster

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2019, 08:18:16 am »
Chapter 8: The Sadness of Leaving the River

Anyone who has left the real world to come back to civilization has experienced this. There are bathroom showers, good beds, and air-conditioning to look forward to, but there’s a sense of loss as well when you leave the river’s flow, the wildness, and the stillness of the nights.

Finishing improving a totally unneeded computer feels much the same. It parallels taking yet another scenic picture, solving chess puzzles, camping over 2 months with my family, kids 5 and 6, across Canada in 1970, or running a marathon. It’s not the end of it that’s satisfying as much as the process itself. The doing is where the pleasure is. I'm sorry that the work on this Win 10 machine is drawing to a close. Mostly the Compaq case will be ignored for the rest of its life and sit crying softly of loneliness in the dark room. Well, maybe not quite that.

The rest of the trip should be gentle and smooth. I need only some software, and the courage to press the button that says start.

The software I chose was Macrium Reflect, and they offer a free version. I was nervous because I have never done anything like this before. Fortunately for me it is absolutely simple to use, as many Windows programs are.

I had to delete the two partitions on the home of my good friend Linux Mint, who lived on the little ssd I needed. So it seemed appropriate that I have some Scotch on ice to toast his demise. Goodbye rituals are important.

It was all mouse clicks. The process took about 50 minutes. I turned off the computer and disconnected the mechanical 500 gig drive. And went away for awhile. There was a huge sense of disappointment that the journey was over. I knew that the computer would work just fine. But still. The trip was over.

Later I booted the Compaq. And it was quick and bright and clear and beautiful, and as good or better than most of the Win10 computers in use today. But the trip was over.

I called the driver who was going to pick up the canoe and packs, and when she arrived, she asked her 14 year old son, in Mandarin, to help load everything, which he did quite willingly.

The canoe was on the car roof, a shower and good food were available soon, and there should have been a sense of a tough job well done. But leaving an absorbing set of continuous computer problems is like lifting the canoe from the river at the end of a trip, where we go back to the usual problems and pastimes of our ordinary lives and hear the continuous chatter around us. T.S.Eliot described it with this haunting line:

‘Till human voices wake us, and we drown.’

Epilogue

I would like to thank Dougal for helping me get a free part, and two people at Benchmark Computers who gave me advice quite happily. If my mother were still alive I would point out to her that, in fact, ‘Pride Goeth Before a Fall’ seems to be absolutely true, at least in my case. Similarly, I would thank my father for constantly insisting that ‘Faint heart never won the fair maiden’. That motto is sound advice.

I realize that all I did was fix an old computer and make it pretty good. But it seemed to fulfill the human need to create, like painting a landscape, building a cabinet, planting a garden, creating a child.

That last one is rubbish of course. We don’t even think of creating at that point. That’s something entirely different. Often the creating is an accidental byproduct.

One step is still incomplete – the high speed Ethernet card. But I have it on the best authority that Mike and Dougal are working on that.

Best of luck to all who resurrect old hardware. May the force be with you.
"With all due respect John I am head of IT and I have it on good authority if you type 'Google' into Google you can break the internet, so please no one try it, even for a joke." ( Jen on 'The IT Crowd' )

Offline Jason Wallwork

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2019, 03:30:45 pm »
Great story, Harry. I liked the way you were able to impart emotions that all of us computer hobbyists feel when we're building, fixing or retiring old computers. I was a bit confused about the woman who picked up your canoe and supplies with her 14 year old kid. It seemed abrupt and I'm not sure if that was a metaphor for them picking up the computer you set up. Because, if not...

... you're missing an Epilogue where you put Linux on the machine because it runs so much faster than Windows 10. :)
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Offline fox

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #24 on: August 25, 2019, 04:22:42 pm »
If you’re not going to use it, I think you are obligated to find it a home with someone that will.
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Offline buster

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Re: Further Adventures with an Old Computer
« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2019, 05:07:13 pm »
Jason wrote, " I was a bit confused about the woman who picked up your canoe and supplies with her 14 year old kid."

Yes Jason.  I have to try to remember that you and others didn't see her in Tim Hortons, or meet her son as he bought Mike's computer. She was kind enough to write a review of this book, which can be found in the thread 'Arriving soon:Further Adventures with an Old Computer'.

Hui Yin Tao and I had become friends before this, and she said if I phoned and gave directions, she would come and get me. Her son came along to help.
"With all due respect John I am head of IT and I have it on good authority if you type 'Google' into Google you can break the internet, so please no one try it, even for a joke." ( Jen on 'The IT Crowd' )