Weekend of Frustration

Weekend of Frustration


Last Friday, I ordered a RAM upgrade for my gaming rig.  I built it about two years ago and thought I was styling at 8 gigs, but since I had opted to buy an upgrade for my wife’s Mac mini, I figured that I could use another 8 gigs to bring me to 16.  I ordered both of our upgrades off of Amazon, since I had a gift card that needed burning.  I expected it on Tuesday, but they delivered it on Saturday morning, to my surprise and elation.  I did what anyone would do; I installed the RAM, ran CMOS and saved the new memory configuration and then rebooted it.

When the machine came back up with a listing  of 16 gigs and launched into Windows, I was pretty confident that I wasn’t going to have any troubles.  Unfortunately, after about ten minutes of use and the launch of various programs that I start up every day, I was met with the following BSOD:


Close, but this is from Windows XP. Also, mine specified different files.

It dumped out into the BSOD and then came to a halt, long enough for me to get down the specific STOP code, which I was partially familiar with.  I did what any good tech would do… I rebooted into safe mode and started working on it.  I ran the various checks and utilities, I reset the page file size to reflect the new RAM total (for the record, take your pagefile off of system-managed, and set it to 1.5 times your physical RAM).  And then I rebooted again into normal mode.  I got a different BSOD complaining about IRQ not being equal, which kind of raises the ol’ eyebrow.  At this point, I was getting a little concerned and feeling my frustration level rise.  What if Amazon shipped me out some bad hardware?


3 of the 4 DIMMs failed a majority of the tests.

I downloaded Memtest86 at Josh‘s recommendation, and I find out that there’s a forked project called Memtest86+, which will now allow me to use a flash drive to install it and use it to boot up in.  I run it, go to sleep that night and wake up to the screen you see at the right.  Yeah, that’s a fuckton of errors, folks.  Covering addresses for three (that’s right, THREE) of the four DIMMs that Amazon shipped me.  They failed six of the ten total tests per pass, on three separate passes.  I was absolutely livid over this.  Because, it’s not like I went over to a brick-and-mortar and picked up bad hardware that I can drive and return to in order to get a replacement or a refund… I have to RMA this box of DIMMs back to Amazon and wait for them to receive it via UPS Ground, first.

Also, it was well after 2am on Sunday morning, so I was screwed until Fry’s opened up at 9am.  I took out the RAM, put in the original DIMMs, rebooted.. and Windows worked like a champ.  No errors or BSODs.  At least I had a working machine to play with until the sun came up over the horizon.  Which I did, because nothing alleviates frustration than tearing others a new asshole on Tribes for hours on end.

I was at Fry’s only two minutes after they unlocked the doors.  Now, under normal circumstances, flagging some poor working schleb over there is kind of a crap shoot during their prime hours.  They usually ignore me unless I stare someone down, or go to the desk and ask for assistance.  However, when you’re the first person in the store, it’s like you’re a celebrity.  I was walking through various departments to get to the computer component area and sales staff were all over me, asking me if I needed help.  I guess they were all looking for that first commission of the day or something.

So, I made it to the right area.  I was looking at the DIMM prices for the one I wanted, and within ten seconds, I had one on me asking me if I needed help.  The thing about Fry’s is, never ask these guys for advice.  Never.  If you go in knowing exactly what you want, take down the Fry’s PLU number and then say, “I want one of ######.”  They’ll go right to their computer, print out your little receipt so you can take it to the cage in customer service and buy it.  If you don’t know what you want, then call a friend on your cell, look it up on Wikipedia, Google for it, do anything except ask these chuckleheads for advice.  They don’t know shit about shit, other than making a sale.  They will smell your lack of confidence and jump on you like a starving man at a free all-you-can-eat buffet.  Anyway… I got the DIMMs and picked up a couple of cans of compressed air to I could clean out the case, then left the store to return home.

Don’t get me started on the bitterant, either.  That shit is nasty.

Old Ram

The old set of RAM, the original 8GB I had installed.

I replace the RAM again, go through the whole thing.  I clean out the case, which desperately needed it.  As soon as I bring up the computer, I get a BIOS checksum error.  I go into the CMOS, save the new memory configuration and reboot.  Same thing, checksum error.  It’s Award BIOS, I use my laptop to find out how to correct it, and it turns out that I never activated the backup recovery option when I installed it.  To make matters worse, I’m running Revision 3 and the site says they’re up to Revision 11.  Another RAM swap back to the original, I download the new Rev and apply it using the Windows flash utility.  I restart the machine, the computer gives me ten short beeps and it shuts down.  I restart it again and launch into CMOS, this time it seems to load fine.  Save the config, restart.. ten short beeps and it shut down on its own.


I try restarting it, and it comes up, but it freaks out over the configuration.  So I just reset the whole thing, delete it and flash it back to default.  I don’t bother to save any of the old configuration files.  It comes up again, this time with the full Gigabyte full-screen advertisement about the board.  I jump into CMOS and reset the boot order, all the normal stuff.  Get rid of the quick-load screen, I want to see POST, damn it!  Finally, I got it back in order, I shut it down after I confirm it can load into Win7 without difficulty.  I put back in the new RAM, just to be sure, and the same thing happens again.  BSOD in Windows.


The package the new RAM arrived in.

Now, I’m thinking I have two bad sets of RAM and I’m about ready to drive back to Fry’s and replace it with a new set.  Something in the back of my head tells me to try it one more time.  I let it reboot, and I get three short beeps and then it shut downs.  I go down the hall to let my wife know that I might be heading out to buy a new motherboard when I hear the Windows 7 startup sound chime in.  While I was out of the room, it turned itself on and successfully started up.

I think it heard me.

It was running fine, now.  I logged in and started doing some stress-testing, using HeavyLoad and DXDiag.  HeavyLoad managed to get me to 75% RAM utilization and 100% CPU before I stopped it.  DXDiag ran the little floating box test and I had no problems, there.  I sat back in my chair, completely flabbergasted by the sudden development.  Then again, given my long history with Windows, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.


Julia and I went chair shopping over the weekend. The chair I had been using since last 2003 finally killed my back and so she and I traded chairs since I’ve been experiencing a lot of back pain while using my old one. Julia was using my even older black chair for sitting, and ever since we switched, she’s been bitching about my back-killing chair and wanted me to go out and buy a new one ASAP. I couldn’t blame her. So, last weekend, we went to the Office Max near the Pruneyard and waited for a really long time for them to go get the chair I wanted, only to have them come back and tell us that they don’t have it in stock anymore. Suck.

We drove to the one by our house (which I skipped because their chair selection sucked) and they had it in stock. Shock. I picked it up, along with more ink for our printer, and that was it. It was one of those EZ “green foam” chairs, and it was fifty bucks off, which made Julia very happy in the long one. I’ve included a picture of it right here, except mine’s black, not brown.  I’ve had it since Saturday and I like 10 times better than my old chair.  Except the chair I really wanted was the Aeron chair by Herman Miller.  Man, if I had 700 bucks to drop, I would buy one up so quick and never have to buy another chair ever again.  I feel in love with the Aeron chair when I was working at GNAC in 2000 and all I can say is that I could fall asleep in that thing, no problem (and I have, but don’t tell anyone).  Julia wouldn’t let me buy one, though.  She’s a party pooper.

In other news, I’ve been writing straight through my on-call week at work.  I managed to get another 30k done last week, bringing me a lot closer to my 75k goal.  I”m a mere 20k away from finishing my novel and then I’m in revisions!  I guess it’s time to start querying agents.

Now playing on iTunes: Chicago – Over and Over

Power Outage

I was all prepared to go to work on Friday morning, but the weather had other plans for me. I woke up a little later than usual, and began my morning routine only to have the power go out on me. Not once, but twice. The first time happened while I was brushing my teeth and it came back on… but it was long enough for me to know that all my computers were turned off (except the laptop, of course). Once back on, I figured I would wait it out a little longer before starting a boot up of all my other systems. So, I took a shower and while drying off, the power went out again.

It’s a little creepy being in the bathroom with the door closed, toweling yourself off in the dark.

I waited for the power to come back on, and by this time, Julia was awake and wondering what happened. The time was getting short, and I had to leave. I hopped in the car and pulled out and got to the gate…

Which could not open without power.

I got on the phone and called work and told them that my gate was locked, I was without power, and there was nothing more I could do at this point. I went back upstairs and sat in darkness. I got bored, read a little bit, watched a movie using the remaining power on my laptop’s battery. (For the record, it was Superbad, which was awesome.) And then I got hungry. When you don’t have any power, one of the rules I recall from growing up was you never opened the fridge, because it automatically halves the remaining chill within it. I didn’t know how long we would be without power, and the fact that the food could go bad if we were without it for more than a day led me and Julia to seek food elsewhere.

We wandered across the street to the mall, which only had half power. The stores on one side of the mall were all closed, while the other side were open. It was really weird. But at least Fresh Choice was still open, so we could grab a salad and stuff. I had a Caesar salad with some garlic chicken, but the preservative they used made it taste extra oily and salty. It kind of ruined the salad for me a little bit. It also kind of reinforced why when I go to Fresh Choice, I typically avoid the salads because the lettuce usually tastes wilted or about to wilt. I groove on the soups, baked potatoes, and muffins… oh, and the sugar-free Jell-O with the sugar-free whipped topping. While we were there, my mom called to tell me that they had their power restored and would we like to come over there to enjoy their company while we enjoyed the lights being on and everything. It had been a long while since I’d seen them or sat down with them and talked, so we took them upon their invitation.

Around 5:30pm, the power came back on and we weren’t there to see it. I called my apartment manager a little before 7pm and he told me. By then, we’d already made dinner plans with my mom and sister, so we all went out to the Elephant Bar in Cupertino (we figured, far enough out of the area to still have some power, as some places were dark and closed). I highly recommend the lemon herb chicken with the garlic cheddar mashed potatoes and the steamed spinach. Man, it was awesome! We came home to a powered apartment, which was nice, because we put that power to good use, immediately.

The storm has reminded me to put together a disaster preparedness kit of some kind. We had like a few candles, but no flashlight or any supplies. I know it doesn’t happen often, but I would rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.

Now playing on iTunes: Shifo – Real (acoustic)

2007: We Hardly Knew Ye

Things I’ll remember from 2007:

– The New England Patriots choking hard in the AFC Championship and Tom Brady walking off the field, refusing to congratulate the Colts like a man. Of course, that’s ancient history now that they’re 16-0… but I’m still pulling for another choke in the playoffs.

– Punch an’ Pie starting in February. Though, I had no idea where that webcomic was going in the beginning, it’s actually starting to go somewhere, now.

– Getting fired from Shopping.com and then getting hired by Yahoo in the span of two weeks.

– Starting a crap fantasy league, and then having most everyone ignore it. That sucked.

– Turning 31.

– Taking Julia to her first AX ever in July, but the lead up of force feeding her anime was awesome, too. It’s too bad she’s not going in 2008. For that matter, my going is still up in the air.

– Restarting Dorama Night. Now, if only people would actually show up…

– The Year of the Facebook: Getting hooked on it and amassing a friends list to match my LJ one. Hey, wait a minute…

– Todd packing up and leaving for Sacramento.

– Another losing season for the guys in orange and black. But hey… my Tribe seemed to be showing signs of life.

– Starting the Repository.

– Quitting Yahoo and joining the team at Teneros, all in the span of 28 hours.

– Taking a piano class at San Jose City.

– Starting up a new tabletop RPG group with friends.

– The Awful Toshiba Debacle.

– Extricating myself from Livejournal, once and for all, and moving myself to a better, free, and ad-free WordPress blog.

– Having an awesome time at Ani-Magic, and hoping they’ll bring it back for 2008. Because if they do, I’m so there.

– Autobots Assemble!

– Winning NaNoWriMo for the third year in a row.

– Experiencing the on-call rotation for the first time.

– Building the USS Excelsior.

– Doing Holidailies again, and actually sticking with it for 33 posts!

– Spending New Year’s Eve in Anaheim with my wife, and having a lot of fun.

So there’s 2007, by the bullet points. I’ll start talking about 2008 soon.


Today’s Holidailies prompt is:  “What childhood activity do you miss? What childhood activities have you refused to give up?”

Around my neighborhood, we used to ride our bikes up and down the block constantly.  So much so, that we made up a game called “Road.”  The sidewalk on our block was inset from the road with enough space for people to plant stuff like bushes, trees, planters, or what have you.  It made it unique, as each house had something different, so it was very much like points of interest along our “road.”  Bikes would travel down the sidewalk on the correct side of the path, and the path was wide enough to accommodate two bicycles at a time without the fear of crashing.  So we would ride up and down and meet each other at various places, or we would take up ‘residence’ near some planters or bushes and that would be where we ‘lived.’  It was all really absurd if you think about it as an adult, but I think it’s all of these little absurdities that children play at that made it a lot of fun.  That a group activity such as this could be a lot of fun for four neighborhood kids to just ride and play and laugh themselves silly or come up with various situations to play through.  I guess you could say that this is one of the reasons why I like tabletop gaming so much, or maybe why I chose to write a lot as a child.  We used our imaginations in an age before there was cable or internet or access to vast libraries beyond the small one we would go to on occasion.

I think the only childhood activity I still partake in is watching cartoons.  Though, my brand of cartoons tend to be far more mature than the Saturday mornings spent in front of the boob tube, and from another country, but I still watch ’em.
Now playing on iTunes: Kasahara Hiroko – Mou Ichido Love You