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Egg on my face

I dragged my computer back over to Micro Center this afternoon. It took three of us, but we got the computer working.

It’s a long story. It would have been a much shorter story if I’d remembered my rule #1. I won’t bore you with the details, except to say the second technician, upon hearing the only thing we hadn’t swapped out was the power supply, dragged a power supply out of the back. We plugged that power supply in, and heard the sweet gimme-some-memory scream from the motherboard failing to POST. Incredible. So we powered down, reinstalled the memory, and watched the system POST.

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Socket 775 adventures, Part 2

I closed down Micro Center last night.

I wasn’t having any luck getting my new motherboard working, even after working with Asus and with Micro Center’s online support. Micro Center’s web site said that if you take a system in to their knowledge bar, at the front of the store, someone with an A+ certification will help you. So I took them up on the offer.

A nice, knowledgeable technician named Eric spent two hours working with me.
Read More »Socket 775 adventures, Part 2

Micro Center’s 18-minute pickup works spectacularly

It was like ordering Chinese takeout.

I wrote yesterday about how I needed a motherboard to try to solve my ongoing webserver issue. I don’t live or work anywhere near Micro Center. The computer store near my house closed, and I don’t like the one near my workplace anymore since they jerked my friend around. Frequently I order computer equipment online, but Micro Center’s pricing is really good right now, so I asked my wife if she would mind trying a pickup order.

It worked. Splendidly.

I went to the web site, created an account, then added the items I wanted to my cart. I’ve known for a couple of days that I wanted an Asus P5G41T-M LX motherboard, a Pentium E5700 CPU (two cores of 3 GHz goodness for 65 watts and 50 bux0rZ), and 8 GB of Kingston DDR3. I also added a 32 GB SDHC memory card for my wife’s new camera, to make the trip worth her while. I added my wife as an authorized pickup person and created a PIN for her.

Seven minutes later, I received an e-mail message saying my order was ready.

She went to the store, walked right up to a sign at the front of the store that read Internet Pickup, handed them her driver’s license, told them her PIN, and they grabbed a pile of stuff with my name on it, put it in a bag, and handed it to her.

And I know now that you can place your order and pick it up any time within three calendar days.

I already have a 40 GB SSD and a Corsair power supply I’ve been saving for the project. Now I just need to find an ATX case to gut, put my pieces together, install Linux, and I’ll have a new web server.

Best Buy has one foot in the grave?

In a highly publicized article, Forbes argues that Best Buy is not long for this world.

I can’t disagree with any individual point in the article. Some of the problems Larry Downes identifies existed when I worked there in the early 1990s–I’d spare you the joke about being young, naive, and needing the money, but it’s too late now–but in the 1990s they could get away with that, sort of, because there were competitors who tried to get away with worse.

Sears/Kmart is a favorite whipping boy, but they have one very big thing up on the land of the blue shirts. I can make a five-minute trip to Sears or Kmart–particularly Sears Hardware–to pick up a couple of things, and I do so fairly frequently. I tried a couple of weeks ago to do that at Best Buy, and, like the author said, calling it a miserable experience is putting it mildly.Read More »Best Buy has one foot in the grave?

Message says Firefox is already running when it isn’t

Earlier this week, when doing an emergency computer upgrade, Firefox gave me a weird problem. I installed Firefox, then when I tried to launch it, I got the popup dialog box stating that Firefox is already running. When, of course, it wasn’t–I’d just installed it.

There are a couple of helpful articles on Mozilla’s knowledge base.  It didn’t quite solve my problem, but it pointed me in the right direction.
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First impressions of a low-tier tablet, plus why I don’t shop at Best Buy

I received my Nook Color this week. I haven’t hacked it yet–I only just got an SDHC card for that, which is a story in itself–but to my pleasant surprise, I’m not certain everyone would need to. Yes, it’s marketed as an e-reader, but what I took out of the box is a viable entry-level tablet. It certainly wants you to read books on it, but aside from the e-reader, it also has a music player and a web browser. Out of the box, it does the basic things people buy tablets for.

I’ll hack mine, because supposedly it’s easy and virtually nothing can go wrong, and I like having maximum control over my devices. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Read More »First impressions of a low-tier tablet, plus why I don’t shop at Best Buy

PC Magazine’s sub-$200 PC

PC Magazine has reprised its sub-$200 PC. I think it’s a good guide, and a savvy shopper can potentially do a little bit better with some care and some luck. At that price, it’s running Linux, but it also serves as a good guide for upgraders looking to upgrade an existing PC inexpensively. If you have a case and hard drive you can reuse, you can either buy better parts, or just pocket the savings.

Here’s my take on their selections.

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