Wednesday, July 09, 2008

computer woes: the conclusion!

I am now up and running again! It is good to be among the land of the living! As you probably have guessed, I finally assembled my uber machine after nights of anguish and tribulations. As Velius will attest since he listens to me whine all through it. Despite having everything already chosen for me, making this pc work proved to be surprisingly difficult! It is Murphy's Law at work. Basically everything that could go wrong went wrong and I am still shocked at all the crap I had to go through to make this uber machine load BF2142 in 2 seconds.

The actual physical assembly went relatively smoothly, especially after I figured out the front panel can be opened like a door so I can insert my harddrive in it. But then everything just fell apart from there.

Chapter 1: Hardware difficulties
So with much anticipation, I plugged in everything and pushed the power button. The light came on, there is power, the fans are on. Everything is going great. Then the Asus splash screen where it says "press Delete to enter Setup" came up and then nothing... It didn't accept input, it didn't go through hardware check. NOO! SO I had to call up Velius to whine. Fortunately, Velius is much calmer person and told me to check all the connection. That is when I realized that the CPU fan is not working. The 12volt Power plug goes directly next to it (bad design if you ask me) and it is obstructing the fan. After much assurance from Velius that my CPU did not just die from overheating. I was able to tie the power chord somewhere else. Then Power... Nothing.... noooo!!! This time, Velius suggested I remove one of the memory. Power... YES!! moved passed splash screen, did hardware check. Then I realized it is still not accepting keyboard input. Call up Velius again and ask him if I needed ps/2 keyboards. Velius informed me yes. NOOO!! I think I threw my last one away!! But after much searching, I realized i did have an extra one in the closet. So got passed that part. Next in line is XP install.

Chapter 2: XP madness
Now I have an authentic XP OS disk with an authentic key. You would think it would go super smoothly. But of course not. As soon as it got passed the partition part, it was completely stuck at Loading Windows screen pretty much frozen. You just see that annoying progress bar goes back and forth forever. NOOO!! This is right before I left for Vegas. So imagine my frustration knowing I won't be able to debug it until I come back. Velius was again the bearer of all my whining lol. So continuing after the weekend. After I perused a million online threads. I narrowed down the problem to missing SATA drivers. Since I am using the old XP disk it doesn't support SATA. Now ordinarily the solution would be to make a driver floppy and install it before Windows. Unfortunately, my PC didn't come with floppy drives!! So next solution in line is to slipstream it into my disk using Nlite. Since I am doing that anyway, I decided I might as well slipstream in Service Pack 2 as well. Nlite is actually remarkable easy to use. It is an awesome tool. So the sequence of events following is pretty much:

disk 1: burned using simple ISO burner, burn failed.. Trash!!
disk 2: success, would not boot in DVD drive, Trash!!
disk 3: burned using Nero with specific boot settings, STILL would not boot, Trash!!

Then, an epiphany occurred. I have an DVD drive and a CD drive in my PC with my DVD drive as master. I bet the DVD drive doesn't like CD-r boot disks!! ok. back into Bios, switch it all around, picks out disk #2 from trash and Voila boots!! Ok. continuing to install XP. Got passed the progress bar screen in no time. OMG so excited. Then.. failed during actual install. Error says non authenticated something or another. NOOO!! I wondered if maybe it doesn't like boot discs? But people online did it all the time. Then I think maybe I was messing too much with Nlite unattended settings and it somehow fails install.

disk 4: burned using ISO burner with no setting changes. SUCCESS!!
Finally was able to install XP SP2. Then I spent the next 2 hours installing drivers. Asus, graphics card. Oh and I put the second memory stick back in and it still worked!

Chapter 3: USB fail!
So now that Window is installed and nothing can ever ruin my day. I realized that my USB ports didn't work. Neither the ones in the front nor the back except for ONE. God, now I am thinking I have motherboard failure. I can't go on using the PC with only one usb ports! I am gonna have to use ps/2 keyboard forever! After much anguish, ( refrained from whining to Velius cause it was like 3 am in the morning). I found out that when the Asus CD says it has installed all drivers, it didn't mean the SMBus driver. I had to go to Nvidia website and install the latest driver pack for the motherboard that actually made USB work. Thanks ASUS!!

Chapter 4: Microphone setting is where!!??

Now that computer is actually working. The first thing to do is of course to install BF2142. See I got my priorities straight. After you install BF2142 for the first time, it pops up a settings dialog asking to test out the voice chat for the multiplayer. So I break out my Barracuda headphones that I won at WCG last year. It is so fancy, it can simulate 5.1 channel. The plug resembles a DVI plug it's ridiculous. Then to my horror, I realized that my microphone is not working. Now, I have done this enough with M to quickly realize it's probably driver issue. So I went to download the newest Realtek HD audio driver and installed it. It totally didn't help at all. So after another 50 pages of Internet research later, I found the answer. Apparently, even though the Realtek HD audio gives you two sets of volume controls: Playback and Recording (normal so far). Everything is actually in the Playback setting including Microphone volume! WHAT!!?? So even though there is two sets of volumes. The Recording is all grayed out and unusable. How is that even logical? So I searched out the microphone control in the playback section, and sure enough it is muted. Unmute and everything is fine again.

So in the process of creating this PC, all kinds of random problems happened but fortunately I was able to find answers somehow. Now I feel very close to it *pets PC* So I am thankful to the Internet and to Velius for listening to me whine patiently hehehe. I spelled checked this post just for you!


Kiratomato said...

Wow, this comedy of errors reminds me heavily of your biking adventure. Aren't you glad you lead such an eventful life?

I would have been interested in Velius's reaction if you had called him at 3AM though.

Tochi said...

Wow, glad you got everything working.

Your experience certainly makes me think twice about building a computer. knowing me, I'll run into even more trouble. lol.

Kabitzin said...

This brings back so many bad memories of setting up my last PC. I actually bought a ps/2 keyboard to install and then returned it to the store after I got my OS working again...

I had the same SATA problem you did and you were the one who got me the slipstream solution (along with Kungfucius)! If you had installed Vista, you wouldn't have run into this problem =D.

Realtek drivers are such trash that I eventually just switched to a USB headset.

moonfleck said...

:O I don't remember that at all!! Man, that would have saved me so much time. Maybe I should have whined to you instead!! ;)

Kabitzin said...

You totally duplicated your earlier research!

moonfleck said...

lol, ohh I think the problem is I didn't realize what "no SATA drivers" look like as a symptom. It took me forever to realize that is what happened.

Kiratomato said...

>> If you had installed Vista, you wouldn't have run into this problem =D.

Right, she would just have 20 *other* problems.

Loading BF2142 in 2 secs is quite impressive. Now we just need to find time to get team VGI together for some 2142 action.

Snoopy said...

this is like the geekiest post i've ever read in its entire entirety lol