19 November 2006

Friday Up To Par

With the addition of a CD-RW burner this weekend, my Friday 'puter is finally up to par. When I found it on the street about a month ago, nestled between a trashcan and a TV, ready for pickup by a Department of Sanitation truck, it had only 256 MB of memory, no network card, and only a DVD reader. I named the computer Friday because I found it, sort of like Robinson Crusoe found his Friday, well, on a Friday. I went through my collection of electronic spare parts and found for Friday a SCSI card, the Jaz 1 GB external SCSI hard drive, a network card, and another hard drive (a puny 4 GB compared to the existing 20 GB). Elsewhere I also found an additional 512 MB of memory to boost its total memory to 768 MB, still not the 1 GB I would like, but memory is so expensive and I wasn't going to spend a few hundred dollars on a machine I found for free on the street. The last piece of the picture is a burner. I try to keep my data backed up but without a burner Friday's data won't have a safety net. I have a friend who is in the computer retail business and asked him if he would have some spare computers lying around. Sure enough he had some spare optical drives, but maybe because he needed the space, he just threw out a bunch of them! If only I asked him a few months earlier. He offered me an external Firewire DVD burner, but Friday isn't equipped with a Firewire card. Adding one will set me back maybe $40, whereas if I cash in the two $5 Best Buy gift cards I got from two past Electronics Recycling events, I could get myself just the internal IDE CD-RW drive I need for about $15. Sure, it doesn't burn DVDs, but all I want is a CD-RW burner. Then this past weekend, I came across an old computer with a burner. Took it home and plugged it into Friday but alas XP didn't detect the new hardware. After checking the IDE cables and power cables, then swapping around the DVD reader and the CD-RW burner in the two drive bays, I managed to accidentally knock loose one of the memory modules. The computer wouldn't boot up at that point and I thought I somehow killed it. All that work in outfitting it with spare parts and getting rid of the viruses and spyware! Finally, after re-seating the loosened memory module, I discovered that one of the pins on the IDE interface was bent all the way down. There was no way to tell if it was like that before I removed it from the host PC, or if I damaged it while freeing it from the host. I managed to pry it into an upright position and amazingly the thing actually worked! I tested the "new" burner by copying a bunch of VCDs and haven't encountered a single error with all the burning. What a relief!

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