This blog is a continuation of “Started my New Computer (Day 1) – Booting

After all this the install of windows did complete and there was a happy ending to the story. Well that part at least… There is more mayhem to come but I think I will save the crazy antics of Day 2 for another blog post!

You will probably glad to hear that the rest of this story is just about a few more successes I had and about some of the plans for the future :)! This is not one of those sarcastic sentences whereby I am lying to you just so that I can tell you in the next sentence that you would be stupid to believe anything bad was yet to happen. I had done what I wanted to do for Day 1 and so the rest is just other additional bits and bobs which I did to upgrade hardware!

After using the windows XP computer for about an hour (I hadn’t played with Windows XP in so long… well not one that I was an administrator on :P), I looked at the specifications for the computer and thought about what other upgrade I could make. I then remembered about some DDR400 RAM that I had bought about 2 years ago and never used (pretty much still in the packet). I ripped open the computer, checked the specifications of the motherboard and what do you know? Not only would I be increasing the Ram to 2GB but I would also be improving the speed of the RAM. For some reason there was DDR333 RAM installed in a computer that could support up to DDR400? :S

This upgrade was simple and was done quickly enough to a good level of satisfaction! Would have been nice if I had another stick of RAM as the 2x 1GB sticks I put in only filled 2 of the 3 slots. Before any of you smart-arses say, “Why don’t you put in one of those old 256MB modules?” there was a very good reason not to. Not only is 256MB not really worth it but the older modules were DDR333 and since all 3 of the RAM slots where on the same channel that would result in the 2 DDR400 having to run at a 333Mhz bus speed.

The final upgrade I made on day one was replace that old NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 with a nicer (but not amazing by any stretch of the imagination) ATI Radeon 9250!

All that was left to do now was plan what I would do next.

[cb type=”product”]Windows XP[/cb] [cb]NVIDIA[/cb] [cb]ATI[/cb]

This is a continuation of “Started my New Computer (Day 1) – Case Modding

After I had done all the superficial bits of putting in the lights, it was time to get down to business! I first had to get the computer to successfully boot! Without that, the computer could do nothing (that is debatable to be honest… I mean you could sit there staring at the BIOS for a few hours… Yeah, that sounds like fun :P)!

The problem when booting was that the computer would complain about some .ini file being missing. To me the simple solution to this was to re-install windows… well… supposedly, that would be an easy option! I put in the Windows XP disk, turned on the computer, waited and was ended up back in the same position. I then presumed that the boot order was different to how I normally have PCs set-up (which is with HDD as the last thing to boot) so I manually selected the CD Drive as the drive to boot. I got exactly the same thing. This baffled me… From previous installs of XP, the screen should have blacked out and a message saying something along the lines of, “Press any key to boot from CD/DVD…” You would then press any key and the installation would start. From what I could see, this was not happening so my next presumption was that the CD drive was not working.

I thought to myself when deciding to swap but the drives, “If it is the drives then we have hit 2 birds with one stone and if not, I was going to have to replace the drives anyway because beige and silver, really do not go!”. I knew I had one drive that had interchangeable faceplates of which I had the faceplates store in a box in my loft and I thought that the drive matching these faceplates was in an old Asus barebones PC that I bought a couple of years back! This however was not the case; when I got downstairs with the faceplates and the drive I discovered that the drive was not the one that went with the faceplates.

At first my thought were, “Oh no!” as I had already gone to the effort of removing drives but after returning to my loft, digging around and finding the correct drive, I was quite please and I now had 2 drives to put in! I changed the faceplate on the soon to be silver drive and slid it in; the perfect colour! I now knew that when I get round to buying the BD drive I want for this PC that it would have to be silver. The black drive didn’t fit in so well but it was satisfactory for my needs which was to get the computer going again!

After all this I was almost certain it would work but if you are catching the trend in this blog you will realise nothing is ever that simple! I was getting the exact same problem… but then… I noticed something!!! The message I had been looking for that goes something along the lines of, “Press any key to boot from CD/DVD…” was appearing, but just not on its own page! It was appearing on the second page of the BIOS boot screens. Quickly I hit the “m” key (well I dunno which letter it was for sure but you get the idea; I pressed the first key i could get to).

Was this it? Had I finally got the Windows XP CD to boot up?

No… of course not! I tried this again, and again! It must have been at least 7 times that I tried  and nothing was happening. My thought process at the time was this:

  1. I can use the keyboard on the first page of the boot and in the BIOS settings as well as the boot selector so it cannot be a problem with the keyboard.
  2. The only thing that has changed on the second page is that the system has detected the the Hard Drives and is about to try and boot it
  3. So it must be some sort of issue with the Hard Drive!!!

I then had a little think and remembered about another 120GB (well this one was 122.9GB for some stupid reason) that I had in my bedroom! It was being used in my Media Player (which I rarely use anyway) so I went and got that, swapped over the drives and prayed it would work. Once again the same thing :(! At this point I was getting quite frustrated with the computer and was nearing the point where I would give up for the night when I went back and looked at the thought process I had used and tried to work out where I could have gone wrong!

Then suddenly it clicked! I made a big mistake by ruling out the keyboard as a problem in part 1 of my thought process! The keyboard I was using was USB and for some reason the system could regonise it on the first part of the boot but no on the second :S. All I had to do then to correct this was go and get a PS/2 keyboard! How hard could that be? Right?

Very hard actually! I spent 20 minutes searching for one that was not being used when I gave up and decided to nick (if you want to get all technical about it, it was borrowed because the keyboard has now been returned) the one from my loft sever! I gave the server my roll-up keyboard (which I recently discover was also inflatable) and stole the PS/2 keyboard.

Was that the solution I had been looking for? Yes! It worked, hooray :D! Well, it was clearly plain sailing from there onwards. If you beleived that last sentence I really do not think you have been paying attention to the sarcastic tone of this blog post where nothing can go right or be simple!

I followed the installation and it all looked like it was going well. Windows copied the files extremely quickly and efficiently and then restarted with no trouble at all! 🙂 The next part of the automated installation also went surprisingly well. But then, from out of nowhere, like a brick wall hitting me in the face I reached the product serial page. If you have ever installed windows or any other software that uses these sort of serials, you will know how easy it is to make mistakes. I read the code of the faded sticker, and typed slowly, “ABCDE-FGHIJ-KLMNO-PQRST-UVWXY” (what? you think I would actually give you my real serial? haha!). Quite pleased with the progress I had made I click next.

Then the computer said, “The serial you have entered is not valid!”

I tried again and as you may have guessed the computer said, “The serial you have entered is not valid!”

It took nearly 45 minutes to work out the serial and enter it and in the end it was all down to the letter “Q” – that bit isn’t actually made up, it was definitely “Q” causing the issues as I had typed it an “O” – I had been playing with ever other letter for the last 45 minutes except for this one “Q”! I even restarted the install twice thinking that was the problem.

After this I continued the install and go to the networking section of the install. I naturally chose for the computer to be part of a domain, entered all the information then realised, “I have no network connected to this computer, how will it find the server?” Doh! I am such a wally (or “pleb” as my good friend @MelissaAmbrose_ would say)! To be honest this was not a major problem, just an inconvenience. I carried on the install without a domain but set-up so that I would have to add one later (or just use the system-based Administrator account).

If you are wondering why I had no network it was due to the fact that I was working in my front room (I know… the front room has always been the best workshop) and that I live in a home where hard wiring is impossible and I blown 4 Advent Powerline Ethernet adapter a few months before, but that is another story (the thing you have to remember is that I blew all 4 within a week of them arriving :S).

This blog continues with the the Final Modifications

[cb type=”product”]Windows XP[/cb]

This is a continuation of “Started my New Computer (Day 1)

When I started working on this, the first thing that had to be done was kind of obvious… You cannot have a glass window without some cold-cathode strips (which I had conveniently bought months ago with the plan of getting a computer with a glass window). I had an assortment of colours but I did not want to pick anything too garish as that was not the look I was going for. Instead I went for a pale purple. It took me a bit of time to work out the best position (especially when my dad did not like my initial idea) but after an hour, I put the strips in the place I had originally planned for them to go! One strip on the top and one on the bottom of the glass side window, hidden behind solid part of the casing. The effect of these, can be seen in the photos which are further down in this blog.

Attaching these lights actually became more of a problem than I expected. The reason it took so long was because my dad said that he thought I should try and attach the lights, inside the case so when the side panel is removed it is not attached to the main computer through a wire leading the PSU. I looked at every conceivable possibility and there was no way of doing it to get the effect I wanted!

The next problem I encountered with the positioning was where to put the inverter. The location of the inverter, to me this was obvious; there was a is a section of the window where it dips in so that a handle could be put on for sliding the panel open and closed. I instinctively went to put this here but once again, my dad made a comment about the location. Don’t get me wrong, my dad’s suggestions were valid but there was no way of logistically being able to fulfil them and they ended up wasting time.

The final problem I had with the cold-cathode lights was how I would attach them and the inverter. The actual strips of cathode came with little bits of double sided sponge on them, but as a soon found out, the glue that was on these bits of sponge was not the best glue. I resolved this issue by simply putting small cuttings of double sided tape on the bit of sponge. Next I had to attach the inverted in its chose place and this was done, once again using double sided tape, however without the aid of the sponge, the inverter would not stick, until my dad came up with a good idea! By using 6 layers of the double sided tape, I was able to create a little cushion/sponge to allow for movement and moulding of the glue around the shape of the inverter!

After I had done this i booted up and watched the lights come on with a small smile on my face. Unfortunately my sister decided to go out with her friends on this Friday night and she also decided to steal my camera so the only 2 photos I could get at the time I took on my phone and uploaded to Yfrog. Here they are:

A quick pic of the computer I am building with the ambient lights on (links to the Yfrog page)
A quick pic of the computer I am building with the ambient lights off
A quick pic of the computer I am building with the ambient lights off (links to the Yfrog page)

My dad gave one last suggestion which I have no idea if it will help at all, but I have still done it because in theory, it kind of makes sense. There are two fans on the back of the computer which were both running in the same direction (dragging air out of the case) but my dad suggested that one should be reversed so there is an inward flow and outward flow.

Phase one of the build – Complete! The next step now was to get the computer to boot.

Last Friday, I started to build my new computer (which if you follow me on twitter, you would know). However, I was not able to write a blog as my hosting account had been suspended (which you would have already known, if you follow me on twitter or tried to get on any of the FTTGroup’s sites which are hosted on Server 1). So I finally bring to you, my most amazing blog about Day 1 on working on my new PC!

To start of with I will explain what I was working with to start off with! I had inherited an old computer from my Aunt. She was no longer using the PC due to issues with overheating and a corrupted OS but knowing that this could be fixed and that some of the hardware that I would get with the PC could be very useful, I happily accepted the computer. The basic spec of the PC to begin with was as follows:

  • An AMD 3000+ Processor (with a poxy looking little heat sync)
  • 120GB Hard Disk Drive
  • 512MB of DDR333 Ram (2x 256MB)
  • An NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 (64-bit, 128MB DDR and a TV out)
  • A Dial-Up Modem (How hi-tech :P)
  • A Corrupted XP Operating System
  • A cheap motherboard and PSU
  • Some basic DVD-Rom drives (Beige)
  • A boring old floppy drive (Beige again)
  • A half decent looking case
  • 2 Tri-Coulor Led Fans

The rest of this blog has now been split into the following sections:

  1. Case Modding
  2. Booting
  3. Final Modifications
  4. What Next?

[cb]AMD[/cb] [cb]NVIDIA[/cb] [cb type=”product”]Windows XP[/cb]