You Can’t Always Just Replace

Dearest Rachel –

I mentioned yesterday that, after furnishing it (however minimally), I’m going to have to give up on the ‘yellow-room-as-man-cave’ concept for a while. This leaves me with one less place to retreat to as the boys effectively take over the house.

“But honey,” I hear you ask, “weren’t we always just fine hanging out together in the bedroom? There’s plenty of space in there – and twice as much as there used to be, now that I’m gone, right?” Yes, that’s true – although I wish you wouldn’t remind me about how empty the place is – in fact, it was one of the few rooms in the house that was still mostly useable (the other being the family room, but that’s essentially going to be the boys’ domain for now – and I’m okay with that) back when the place was filled with this pile of stuff or that.

That being said, there’s been something of a problem with the computer in the bedroom that we used to watch everything on. For one, it’s a bit of a hand-me-down…

We got it on the cheap when TigerDirect was closing down all of their brick and mortar stores; this was one of the ones that they actually used in their sales office, and we never bothered to (or figured out how to) change the identity on the machine.

For another, it seems to be starting to wear out. You might remember about this; it was happening even before you had to go. We would be, minding our business, just watching something (usually in full screen mode):

Never felt better, right?

And then suddenly, with absolutely no warning, the screen would wink out completely:

The television is still running, the computer is still running, but the two of them aren’t communicating with each other anymore, for no apparent reason.

The closest thing to a hypothesis I can come up with is that the old computer has difficulty with the video that runs out a frame rate of 60 fps or more. And of course, as internet video gets more and more sophisticated, this becomes more and more of a problem, to the point where it’s almost not worth watching anything on this machine, because you never know when this is going to happen – but you do know it’s going to happen soon enough.

So, I figured I’d get myself a new computer, when they could handle those kind of frame rates. And while I was at it, why not get a really big television screen, one that fills the wall, and even dwarves the one upstairs, so I’d be less likely to regret having to relinquish the yellow room and its furnishings to Logan?

So here it is, and as you can see, it takes up the entirety of your dresser’s surface area – at least, lengthwise.

Now, you might notice that the new screen shows a surprisingly familiar opening ID. There’s a reason for that, but that’s for later on in the story.

Actually, I expected that this would eat up more of my day from just waiting for it to arrive. Given its size and weight, I had to actually be home to take delivery, but the narrowest window they could give me was seven hours wide, from between seven in the morning to two in the afternoon. Fortunately, it was must closer to the former than the latter; I got the call from the trucking company shortly after seven telling me they’d be by within five and ten minutes. At the same time, they were calling from the Best Buy near Old Orchard, so I should have known they were blowing smoke. They still got it here and into the bedroom before eight, so that was impressive.

But trying to get it out of the box, and put its feet on proved to be a much bigger challenge than the one in the yellow room had been. I probably fell victim to the square-cube rule; the screen may be some 40% larger, but that means the weight and volume (making it heavier and more awkward) increased by some multiple beyond that. Doing this by oneself was not an easy task. I’d hoped to inveigle Tom the Electrician into helping me a bit on this, but after an hour of waiting, I got a text from Tim saying that Tom wouldn’t be able to make it to the house, and would I be here tomorrow to let him in? Well, since I still haven’t started packing, I let him know that was fine, but I knew I was going to be on my own at this point.

I’m not going to go into details as to how I got the thing out of the box; mostly because I’m not really sure how I did it. I know I touched the screen more times than I was supposed to (which is to say I touched the screen at all – apparently, pressing too hard on it has the potential to damage it in a way that the warranty won’t cover), but at least there was some kind of film on it, so I wasn’t touching it directly. In any event, you can see I’ve got it standing in place, looking fairly well put together.

The computer, however, was another story entirely. When I plugged it in and turned it on, the power button would blink a few times, pause, blink a few more, and then the whole thing would just shut down. I literally couldn’t do anything with it, at all. Normally, I would be vocally despairing about this – you’ve been there during any number of these meltdowns of mine – but I decided to call up the company that refurbished and sold me the computer – you would have been proud of me for keeping my cool. And as it so happened, the customer service rep had a solution right at her fingertips. She told me the RAM chips may have gotten dislodged in transit, and all I needed to do was to open the computer up and make sure they were pushed into their appropriate slots.


Now for all the years we’ve owned so many computers, and all the work we’ve done on ours, I can’t recall ever doing surgery on one myself before. But she sent me a link to a video showing how to do it, and it didn’t look too bad. Time to see how I can do it.

It was a bit of a struggle to get the sideplate off, but once that was done, the faceplate was fairly easy. And they both needed to be removed to give me access to everything – and I do mean everything, as the RAM in underneath it all – in the upper left-hand corner.
First, I needed to remove the hard drive – which means that now I know how to take it out if I ever want to replace it for something with more storage on it – yay!
Then, the CD-ROM drive has to be taken out in order to expose the RAM…
…which, as far as I could tell, are all perfectly set in their places. What’s to be adjusted?

But I dutifully pulled out the circuit board to the far right, and jammed it back in before putting everything back into place (and, truth be told, the reassembly process was considerably harder than the disassembly). And when I plugged the machine in, the light went on, and everything was running smoothly. Yay! All I needed to do now was to connect it to the new television.

And that’s where this all began to go off the rails. Because, no matter what I tried to plug into the HDMI socket, all I got was a message onscreen saying “No Input Found.” Or worse, I would get a flicker of what the computer was displaying, only for it to wink out almost before I could get to the mouse and move it to the appropriate box I was to click to set the operating system up.

Let’s just say that you would be much less proud of me at this point. I was screaming “NO!” and “WHY?!” on a fairly regular basis. Well, I really couldn’t understand what was going on, and why it wasn’t working, so I think my frustration should have been understandable, even if my reactions were rather over-the-top. Eventually, I managed to work things out, but not in the way I might have wanted or expected… and that is why you see the ‘TigerDirect’ ID on the new television. Yup, I resorted to hooking up the old computer to the new TV, and that seems to work just fine. At least, if the computer stops talking to the TV, can I switch to its standard functionality and watch YouTube from there.

Meanwhile, the new can computer it’s hooked up to the old television, just as the old computer is hooked up to the new one. Go figure.

And everything seems to be working out… for now.

Wish me luck, honey. I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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