I’ve lost count of all the computer issues I’ve had over the past three decades. They tend to pop up every two years or so, mostly due to the relentless assault of updates and upgrades. When computers break most people just lost all their data then went out and bought a new computer. The cloud is supposed to fix that but really is only now becoming more mainstream. As for me, I’m the only one I know who has all his data going back to when computers themselves first became mainstream. For me, that was 1992 with the Apple 2C.
I have always been fascinated with computers and it is this fascination that drives me to keep up to speed with the breakneck pace of technology. However, as I’m now 43 I just prefer for things to work, and am a little tired of always having to keep up to date on everything. I use my computer and data very heavily and in using it in such a way things can often break. Recently this has been making my home a “smart home” when updates can often break everything but today I just want to talk about my recent issue.
My PC is now seven years old. Over the past couple of years there was an issue where it wouldn’t turn on the monitor using DVI. I thought I had that fix half a year ago when I cleaned out all the dust in my graphics card. However, a couple of days ago my computer randomly froze then had trouble turning on the monitor. Two problems that are most likely related but give me such a headache that I actually kicked my computer.
And you know what? It started working again.
It took me three hours of messing with it to become frustrated enough to give it a big kick, which I’ve never done. By that time I had tried all the usual remedies big and small.
I had opened it up and blew out the dust. I wiped out the dust from inside the graphics card’s fan and heat sinks. I checked the cable connections. And finally I reset the entire PC. Even though I had done all of this the monitor still wasn’t receiving any signal and so in my frustration I kicked it. Now it works.
I still don’t know what is wrong with it. Given it now works after a kick it is most likely do to a loose connection I cannot see or perhaps a malign spirit whose control I’ve loosened over my system with a bit of violence.
In the past I had become so frustrated with this issue that I had seriously considered switching to Linux. That was two or three years ago when I thought it was a Windows problem as it kept freezing on me. Now I think it must be something with the graphics card. But why, why will it work flawlessly for one or two years then have one or both issues of not turning on the monitor and Windows randomly freezing?
This time I was not considering Linux but rather buying a new PC. I took a look at the prices and was surprised to see you can get a decent system for around $1,000. I was even more surprised when I checked my receipt for my current PC and realized it was only 6 years old but also that it cost approx $3,400 (with a monitor or two)!! That just seems criminal to me now and there are thoughts I might have been ripped off?
I bought my rig from Central Computer in San Francisco which has a good reputation which is demonstrated in the fact they’ve expanded to five stores over the past couple of years. I also had it custom made with top of the line hardware at the time. But still, looking at that price I’ve got sticker shock and am amazed it cost so much!
Remembering the price has made me pretty unhappy because for that much money I would hope the computer would be trouble free for at least a decade. Yes, I am a heavy user and put it through a lot but still, that is a lot of money!
Regardless my computer wasn’t working and a computer is a vital part of my life so I took a look at new systems. I was very tempted by Dell’s Alienware and HP’s Obleisk. Those both run just over $1,000 for the base model and it is certain I’d end up spending much more with the upgrades from base model. I saw a new trend with a mini computer connected to a big monitor. I like new but my issue is that I like to play games but am not a “gamer” on my PC. So I do want my games to look very sharp when I do play but I don’t need top of the line. I do however, need something more than those little mini computers can probably provide.
I had a look and was close to pulling the trigger. However, after kicking my PC and having it working I realized it is still a very powerful PC and so long as it actually turns on and doesn’t freeze I have no need for a new computer. I could also have the same level of enjoyment by just changing up my desktop and rearranging my workspace. Furthermore, new tech can often be disappointing. The advertisements get you all excited thinking you’ll be wielding three times the power and beauty as before but I’ve often been underwhelmed when upgrading my tech. Instead of now having the power and beauty of the God’s as the advertisement promised I find I’ve just gone from a slow machine to something that no longer lags and looks only slightly prettier. This is especially the case for mobile phones.
And so, having reset my PC I already had a fresh desktop and the next step was to straighten up my computer desk. I had too much on and around my computer, it was dusty and I could use better cable management. Aside from two monitors I had: an external WD drive, a Dell Laptop docker, Alexa, a retro Genesis system, a speaker and two mice. One mouse was for PC use and the other is for when I plugged my work laptop into the docker in order to have three monitors. I put the Genesis, docker, mouse and external drive in the drawer of the desk. It had a hole in the back for the wires. I use a TV as a third monitor and from that moved the antenna to our living room TV and Chromecast to the gym TV. As for the antenna, I had recently returned our cable box to Comcast during a recent renegotiation. Comcast will always hike up your rate by about $30 every year once your plan expires and so you must call them to haggle it back down. This time around I decided we really don’t need the cable box as my wife can watch the news through the app meaning we only need the internet connection. So I increased our top download speed to 200 mbs/sec and got rid of cable. Now we don’t plan on watching TV but if I have an antenna I might as well hook it up. The reception in the game room was terrible anyway.
As for Chromecast I never used it on the game room TV and was trying to solve a “smart home” problem with our gym TV. I can get Google to turn the TV off but it always tells me the TV “isn’t available” when trying to turn it on. I looked in the forums and this seems to be a common problem. I thought that by perhaps hooking up Chromecast it would sync better with Google and perhaps help turn it on? Well, that didn’t work and is now a bit redundant as I have the TV connected through Samsung Smart Things anyway and the TV has YouTube etc built in so I really don’t need Chromecast.
As I was typing that last paragraph I thought the problem might be that Chromcast should be plugged into the HDMI ARC port. I understand that is for audio but why not give it a try. Well, I looked and Chromecast is already plugged into that port so no luck.
The time is now 7:33 AM and I started this post at around 2:45 AM. It is not that I’m an extremely slow writer but rather I got the idea to reset Windows on the extremely old computer I use for my youngest. He rarely uses it preferring his iPad but I want to have him get used to a keyboard, windows and getting around a PC. Being so old it was so slow it bordered on being unusable but at the same time he isn’t ready for a brand new laptop. The only things he would use that PC for are Minecraft and Roblox as well as talking with friends on Discord. Doing the reset and setting things up again took a lot of time. I also did some more maintenance on Kai’s computer as well as my own. So here we are, almost 8:00 AM, time has flown by and my peaceful morning over. I am glad I’ve gotten all the computer projects done, updated, fixed, organized etcetera. Perhaps now I can relax for a bit?