Someplace to stash my stuff
from left-over old parts.
Published on February 12, 2009 By starkers In Personal Computing

I've recently been builing my daughter a PC from old parts left over from various upgrades over the years and what a pain it has been... from beginning to end.

First off, the 450 watt generic PSU wasn't up for the job and it wouldn't fire up properly/stay fired up, so it had to be replaced. 

With money being a bit tight these days that took a while, but once it was installed we were back in business... for a very short while.  Yup, everything appeared to be working as it should, but XP kept going to a BSOD part way into the install, suggesting a hardware issue as no other software was installed.  Grrrr, I then have to remove all the likely culprits one by one to eliminate the cause... no go, XP still BSOD's after the 'network' -' time' - 'locale' setup pages. Hmmm, maybe the BIOS date settings are wrong?

Nope, wasn't that either!  Having eliminated that, the graphics card, RAM and soundcard I get to thinking it may be the HDD, given it wasn't so young any more, so I pop it into my spare rig and test it there... works fine and XP installs beyond the previous BSOD.  Right, So I put it back into the rig I'm building but still there's an issue and now XP nor the BIOS isn't seeing the drive at all... in fact it isn't seeing the ROM drive or the other (smaller) HDD, either.  WTF?  So in goes the mobo disc and I reset to factory default settings, which seems to resolve the issue and we're back in business again... or so I thought.

Now this is just a standard issue of XP Home Edition and it should just install without the need of additional files... but no.  The installation got as far as 'Installing Updates' and now it's asking for an 'aws' file that's part of SP1.  WTF, again.  That can't be right, so I try to start the installation from scratch, but that's no go, either.  The rig wouldn't allow me to boot from disc and kept going back to the interrupted installation, which I had already concluded wasn't going anywhere without the SP1 file...

OK, I'll fix this sucker and download SP1 and burn it to CD.  Yeah, right!  Back to the drawing board... and into the BIOS to check everything is AOK.  No wonder I couldn't boot from disc, the BIOS wasn't seeing the CD ROM ... again.  Apparently the 'old' plug wasn't seating properly, so a new one fixed that and again I'm back in business... XP installs without an issue.

Could have saved myself a whole lot of time if only I had known about ActiveKillDisk before I started... would have wiped the HDD completely clean, including the old 'boot sector which contained a previous installation of XP with SP1, hence the asking of the 'aws' file.

By now I'm mightily frustrated and pissed. I've spent several hours getting this rig up and running... and now I have to contend with 'naked' XP while I perform all the updates and install the service packs etc.  YUK, the Fisher Price blue of XP is totally disgusting after using WindowBlinds for so long to change it... and it's not exactly a short process to download and install umpteen dozen updates and patches to a bare-bones XP, so I was sure gonna have nightmares in Fisher Price technicolor.

Sure, I could have installed a trial version of WB to ease my pain, but my daughter doesn't see the point and she can't be educated if it's gonna cost her money she doesn't have/can not spare.  In summary, then, the building of this rig was a right royal pain in the arse, and getting XP to install was a trial in itself... but having to sit though a couple of hours of a Fisher Price UI while the updates were downloading/installing was torture.  The main thing is that my daughter has a functioning PC and it hasn't cost her anything, which is a blessing when she has two young-uns who are growing out of the clothes faster than she can replace them.

I never ever had this kind of trouble when building with brand new parts, and I may very well say "never again", but I have enough spare parts to build another 3 rigs... 3 copies of XP *shudder* to go with them... and a son who still doesn't have his own PC, just a shared laptop he can hardly get on because of the missus and 2 kids... yup, homework, etc.   So yeah, I will do it again... though I probably will wear my rose coloured glasses to numb the effects of 'naked' XP next time around.

Oh, did I mention that having to work with 'naked' XP was the worst part of this ordeal.

 


Comments (Page 1)
on Feb 12, 2009

By now I'm mightily frustrated and pissed. I've spent several hours getting this rig up and running... and now I have to contend with 'naked' XP while I perform all the updates and install the service packs etc. YUK, the Fisher Price blue of XP is totally disgusting after using WindowBlinds for so long to change it... and it's not exactly a short process to download and install umpteen dozen updates and patches to a bare-bones XP

Always handy to have an install disc with SP2 and all your drivers slipstreamed in

on Feb 12, 2009

Yikes. I think I'd rather stick a rusty nail into my eye than go through that.

 

on Feb 12, 2009

Always handy to have an install disc with SP2 and all your drivers slipstreamed in

Yes, another time saver I should have thought of before I began.... funny how all these great ideas come up in retrospect... after the event and I have all this hair between my fingers.

It shall be done before commencing the next build... there wouldn't be a strait jacket strong enough, or a padded cell secure enough if I ever have to sit through two or more hours of naked XP.

on Feb 12, 2009

Yikes. I think I'd rather stick a rusty nail into my eye than go through that.

And if I ever put myself through all that again, I will stick myself with a rusty nail... in places where it hurts the most - to dissuade myself from ever considering the idea again.

Admittedly, given time and money constraints, I wasn't as well  prepared as I could have been... and I'm no expert, either, often fuddling through things blindly until I get it right, but I have learned something from this experience and the next builds will be much easier/less problematic.

Having never encountered faulty connector leads and plugs, data from prior installations before, I just wasn't prepared for what could go wrong.  In the past I have had dream builds that worked first time every time, so this was somewhat of an eye opener for me... and the fact that I didn't have to ask anyone to help me figure it all out makes me feel like it's even more of an accomplishment... and I will never let my daughter forget it.  Every so Often I will send her an email just to say: "You are able to read this because of me!"

on Feb 12, 2009

This rant sounds like nothing other than the average day for me. Oddly enough I *like* it.

on Feb 12, 2009

I've recently been builing my daughter a PC from old parts left over from various upgrades over the years and what a pain it has been... from beginning to end.
 

 

I've still got my old P1 in the shed.. I haven't made anything out of it, but a family of rats have made it a nice new home. ... and I need stuff off that drive, I wonder if it would still work.. it's only been rotting in the shed for 9 years. hehehe, it just bought back memories of 'My Briefcase'..

on Feb 12, 2009
Or you could have just switched it to the Silver substyle, that's what I always do when dealing with naked XP. *shudder*
on Feb 13, 2009

This rant sounds like nothing other than the average day for me. Oddly enough I *like* it.

Rant??   Rant???   It's not a rant!  It's a documented experience, I'll have you know... and oddly enough, in between the problems and profuse cussing at times, I actually enjoyed myself.  It's a bit like the old saying: "What don't kill you only makes you stronger."  It didn't defeat me so I've learned something valuable through my success. 

I've still got my old P1 in the shed.. I haven't made anything out of it, but a family of rats have made it a nice new home. ... and I need stuff off that drive, I wonder if it would still work.. it's only been rotting in the shed for 9 years.

You never know your luck in a big city... even a small one.  I dunno about the rest of your P1, but the hard drive might still be good enough to retrieve the data from if nothing else.... worth a try, dontcha think.

hehehe, it just bought back memories of 'My Briefcase'..

Why?  Is there a family of rats living in it as well? 

 

Or you could have just switched it to the Silver substyle, that's what I always do when dealing with naked XP. *shudder*

I dunno, it's all Fisher Price to me.  The silver scheme might be slightly better *shudder*, but only slightly and the sooner that PC with 'naked' XP on it and I part ways the better.  

Seriously, though, I've seen worse things than 'naked' XP, and my daughter isn't complaining any about using it.  She is too overjoyed to have a working computer again to care one way or the other... and that's what makes effort and frustration all the more worth it.

And just as importantly, I have less PC junk in the box in the closet collecting dust.

on Feb 13, 2009

Yeah starkers, only because there's photo's on that drive I want.. and there all in MY BRIEFCASE!

on Feb 13, 2009

Yeah starkers, only because there's photo's on that drive I want.. and there all in MY BRIEFCASE!

Well you'd only need to salvage the drive from the old box and plug it into a rig that's working, using a spare power lead/plug and IDE ribbon... not the ones your OS drive are connected to  You wouldn't even have to fit it in properly, just sit it on your desk while you transfer the photos, etc.

Alternatively, you could pay somebody to retrieve the data and pics for you... that's if they're not too embarrassing.  

on Feb 13, 2009

The thing is, the reason that P1 died, was because that drive would freeze after 10 minutes, it was hell being on the net with that, having to reboot every 10 minutes, hehe, but I eventually got a new one.. and another one after that.. neverending. ... maybe I could get into it [oneday..] long enough to get what I want before the big freeze!

on Feb 13, 2009

My favorite experience was finding out BOTH CDs that had my video cards' drivers were corrupted. Had to use my laptop to download the drivers from nVIDIA's website...and of course those worked fine. Heck, I even thought it was my OS, so I tried XP and Vista. Oddly enough, it's always the software that gets me. I haven't fried a piece of hardware....yet.

on Feb 13, 2009

Yep, software is the worst. I lost 2 weeks to an upside down PCI cable though... utterly disabled my system until a buddy who knew better was able to make it over and enlighten me. My own stupidity there.

Glad it finally works for you. I`m planning/in the process of putting together a second gaming rig for guests using my old Q6600 as the core; hopefully things will go smoothly...

on Feb 13, 2009

starkers

Rant??   Rant???   It's not a rant!  It's a documented experience, I'll have you know... and oddly enough, in between the problems and profuse cussing at times, I actually enjoyed myself.  It's a bit like the old saying: "What don't kill you only makes you stronger."  It didn't defeat me so I've learned something valuable through my success. 

Ok ok, I'll fix it.

This rant DOCUMENTED EXPERIENCE sounds like nothing other than the average day for me. Oddly enough I *like* it.

There...

And good to know I'm not entirely alone in my morbid enjoyment of computer trouble. (Though I only enjoy the trouble that I manage to solve, I hate when I can't solve an issue for some reason... which mostly tend to be a matter of economy)

on Feb 13, 2009

Situation: Trying to install a SATA HD

Problem: Upon opening the case to install the drive, I discover my power supply has no SATA power jack

Solution: Order a 4$ power coverter cable from newegg and pay more for shipping than the product costs.

 

Situation: I'm excited I finally got the SATA HD installed after waiting for the power cable to come in the mail. I'm now trying to install Windows XP SP1. During the process, XP asks me for SATA drivers on a 3.5" floppy disk.

Problem: I don't have a 3.5" floppy drive.

Solution: /wrists