August 22nd, 2009
Well, this has been an interesting weekend so far!
Yesterday I decided it was past time for my partner to get a PC update (he was still using the Athlon 2400+-based system I built him over four years ago), so I headed off to Netlink armed with a list of parts and some price match sources, and returned home a few hours later the happy – ignorant, but happy – owner of (among other miscellaneous components) a Gigabyte GA-MA770-UD3 motherboard and a G.SKILL F2-8500CL5D-2GBPK RAM stick pair (2x1GB DDR-II sticks).
Here is some advice, free at point of delivery, from one who has paid for it in full: do not become the owner of said combination of computing equipment. It will bring you only misery and pain. I, fr’instance, was – at 5 a.m., one hour before I had to wake up and play a tournament tennis match – still awake and trying approximately the night’s seven bazillionth combination of BIOS tweaks, hardware swaps and livestock sacrifice in an attempt to make the damn thing run stably for more than fifteen minutes. Suffice to say, it was a losing battle. That motherboard and that memory just _really_ don’t get along with each other.
So today I returned to Netlink armed with a couple of different SKUs and a hastily-reboxed motherboard and pair of memory sticks, and after some wheedling and strategic pointing out of what a prolific customer I am to the service tech, managed to get a straight credit for the two offending components, even though I hadn’t _technically_ ruled out the CPU or hard disk as the source of the trouble (I knew they weren’t, but I hadn’t proved it…) and they’re usually quite strict about that sort of thing. I plumped for an MSI 770-C45 motherboard and a slightly different pair of G.SKILL memory sticks (these ones are the newfangled DDR-3). These have so far proved to make beautiful music together, thankfully – if that hadn’t actually sorted the problem I’d probably have hauled off and killed someone by now. 30 hours of screwdriver hell (I switched out power supplies and graphics cards with other systems I had lying around to see if those bits were the trouble, and did the usual connecting / disconnecting hard disks and memory and other miscellaneous bits dances – if you don’t maintain your own systems, trust me when I say that swapping PSUs between two fully-hooked-up systems is not a bundle of laughs) punctuated by a single hour of sleep and two tennis matches will do that to you.
I am now going to have a beer. Possibly even two! Then clean up the mess…
The system in question is running Windows 7 (he plays a few Windows games, obsessively, and they don’t run too well in wine). It does seem like Microsoft have done a fairly decent job with it. It hums along quite quickly and seems surprisingly robust for a Microsoft operating system (watch out, that faint praise’ll have someone’s eye out!) – I was pleasantly surprised when it managed to run the Experience Index performance rating thingy, and consequently enable all the whizzy Aero effects, without clobbering the 3D game that was running in the background. The user access control compromise they’ve come up with just seems…odd – on a regular basis you get warned that doing something needs administrator privileges, and asked if you want to let it happen, and then you say yes, and it happens. You never actually enter a password at any point. Heck, I wasn’t asked to _set_ an administrator password, nor did I have to grant my user administrative rights or anything. I’m not entirely clear on what the model is there, but at least there appears to be some kind of model, and it’s not as eye-stabbingly annoying as Vista’s was, by all accounts. Hey ho.