Holy cow, I wrote a book!
Last time, I told of attempting to upgrade my home computer and failing.
I ultimately gave up and returned the parts to the store,
telling them that I thought the IDE controller on the motherboard was dead.
They refunded my money after a false step where they refunded me more
than I paid for the components in the first place!
(I bought the motherboard and CPU as a bundle, but the person who rang
up the return treated them as two separate items and ended up refunding
me the full price instead of the bundled price.
It's one thing to return a defective product and get your money back.
But to turn a profit doing so is downright wrong.)
Thus bereft of computer equipment, I drove down to the local Fry's
and bought a bottom-of-the-line computer which would merely serve
as a shell for all my working equipment.
I would be using the motherboard, CPU, memory, and case from the computer,
but I didn't care for the other stuff since I would be performing
an "instant upgrade" with the old computer's DVD drive and hard drives.
It cost about $60 more than the parts I bought from the failed upgrade
attempt, but the saved grief was well worth it.
Skipping ahead in the story: After I got the machine up and running,
I plugged one of my old hard drives into the machine and...
the BIOS recognized it, and the volume mounted just fine.
On the other hand, I can't access the files on the drive yet.
I don't have a domain at home (I'm not that big of a geek),
so my SID on the new computer is different from my SID on the old
computer. My new account can't access files created by the old account.
I would have to do some SID history magic to get access to the files
protected by my old SID,
but I'm just going to take the lazy way out and do a recursive
"replace ACLs" on all the files on the old hard drives.
(This requires multiple passes, though.
First I have to take ownership, then I can change the ACLs
after I become the owner.)
Now about that new computer.
It comes with Windows XP Media Center Edition,
even though the video card doesn't have a DVI connector.
I was kind of baffled by this.
If you're going to run Media Center Edition,
doesn't that mean you're highly likely to hook it up to
some awesome flat-panel display for watching your videos?
I don't quite understand why this bottom-of-the-line computer
with an analog-only video card bothered to install Media Center
Who are they fooling?
Okay, so I'm going to have to upgrade the video card, too.
That increases the cost delta over the parts to around $160.
Still worth it though.
One of the odd features of the new computer is that it has
a 9-in-1 multi card reader built into the front panel.
This is a cute feature, but it is also frustrating since it
gobbles up four drive letters.
But that's okay.
I already described how you can fix this when I talked about
the infinitely recursive directory tree.
I created a directory called C:\CARDS and inside
it created directories C:\CARDS\CF,
C:\CARDS\SD, and so on.
I then used the Disk Management snap-in to de-assign drive
letters from each of those card readers and instead mounted
each card reader into the corresponding folder I had created.
Now I can access the contents of the CF reader by going to
One thing that really frustrates me about off-the-shelf computers
is all the shovelware that comes with them.
I fire up the computer and my notification area is filled with
useless icons I don't want to see again,
with more stupid programs jammed themselves into the Run key.
No, I don't need an AOL monitor running.
No, I don't need QuickTime pre-loaded.
No, I don't need a program to monitor my card readers and
do some evil icon chicanery.
The evil icon chicanery is particularly gruesome because every
time I log on, I get a dialog box that looks like this:
Good job there, stupid evil icon program.
I bet you assume the user is an administrator.
The computer also came with
a recovery partition.
I hate those too.
Today's status is that I'm not out of the woods yet.
I have a working computer,
I can mount my old hard drives (though it'll take work to get access
to the files),
I still have to upgrade the optical drive to the rewritable DVD drive
that I had in the old computer.
I still have to get rid of all the shovelware that came with the system.
I still have to reinstall the drivers for my rewritable DVD drive and printer.
(I'm sure I have that CD around here somewhere.)
And I still have to get a new video card that supports digital output
so I can use an LCD panel.