The Rant to End all Rants

I cannot remember when this was originally posted, but I have decided to preserve it here nonetheless.

I wrote this rant a few weeks ago, thinking that it would give me time to review it and make sure that I remembered everything (something I invariably forget when retelling the story “live”), and that it was in the right order. However, I have found myself hesitant to publish this little story. Why, you ask? Because operating systems will cause WWIII. Now, I know that there will be at least a handful of you out there who will read my miserable little tale of angst, and your knee-jerk response will be something along the lines of: that wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t using Windows. No! NO! Bad!

If I ever decide to learn more about my PC than were to locate the power button, then maybe – just maybe – I will one day foray into the worlds of Macs and Linux/Unix/etc. Until then, keep it in your pants please.

So, on with the story…

It happened again. I relived the “events” around my disastrous PC again. It seems that every time I make a new friend, I have to retell the whole gory story over again. So I have decided to write the Rant to End All Rants. That way, if someone asks “what happened?” I can just send them a copy of this. This way, I can also get everything in the right order, with some semblance and sense, which is totally lost when I start ranting about this real-time (yes, the pain is still very real for me).

It all began with a laptop. Long before I started playing WoW I only wanted a computer for word processing and spreadsheeting. I was at uni at the time, so I wanted a laptop. After uni, I still loved the idea of a laptop, so I got a super-adorable tiny one and took it to DnD sessions I was DM’ing. When I started playing WoW, I was trying to game on a 14” screen, and frankly, laptops weren’t built for that kind of thing. The silver finish on the left side where your hand rests while typing has been forever ruined, and the keys are so gunked up that they need replacing, I don’t think cleaning will cut it anymore. And that’s not even mentioning the lag and lack of processing power.

So the time came that the BF wanted to upgrade his computer, and knew that there was no way in hell that he would be allowed to while I continued to play on my laptop. So we arranged with a friend of his mother (major mistake 1) to arrange to have two low-end gaming systems built. Now my BF, bless him, doesn’t know anything about computers. For what little I know, I still look like a Technology Prima Donna next to him. So, he asked for what he (major mistake 2) thought was good.

So, first of all, the company jerked us around making us wait on them to build the system. We checked back with them every week until they finally moved their asses and assembled the damn things. When they were eventually delivered by friend-of-BFs-mother, we got them booted up and discovered two things: first, everytime we loaded WoW, the system would hardlock. Second, there were no drivers installed on one of the PCs, none, not a single one. We reported this to the guy who was acting as our go between and waited for Friday when he would be able come look at them. During this time, I started using mine to play music, and maybe a bit of the Sims. I noticed that it was hardlocking for no reason, I was logging the occurrences, on one afternoon it locked 13 times.

So the guy installed some drivers on the one PC and took my PC to monitor it for a few days to see what would happen. He said that no matter how long he left it running, it never hard locked. We asked him if he was doing exactly what I have been doing with it (sometimes it would lock while just running the media player and nothing else). He said that he hadn’t connected it to the net. So we advised him to try that and call us back. Sure enough, as soon as it was connected to the net, it started hardlocking.

He contacted the company, who told us that the RAM they had installed was not tested with the motherboard they had given us, and whenever the system tried to access their third and fourth gigs of RAM, it hardlocked. So the company took the systems back and installed new motherboards. We got our systems back, but MSOffice, that I’d already installed (I was stupid enough to believe the systems would work – major mistake 3) needed to be reactivated, but I’d run out of activations. So, score another one for “ways in which the whole deal screwed me over”.

I was at work the following Friday when our systems were returned, but when I got home, my BF had a PC (we had arbitrarily assigned who would get which, but had personalised them immediately and could tell them apart after that), but I didn’t. Turns out that the go-between had plugged mine in, and with a sound that could only be described as the sad trumpet wah-waaaaah of something going wrong, the power supply failed; so mine had been sent back again.

While they were replacing the motherboards, the tech had at least done us the courtesy of adjusting whatever mysterious things in the set up of the graphics card (ATI I hate you, hate you so much) to make WoW work, so we were able to play. But within days, my BF’s PC got some bad viruses and spyware. Mine was running all right, though there was a codec problem with Windows Media Player that meant I couldn’t watch videos, and the DvD drive didn’t come with any software to watch DvDs. This was in addition to the expected problem with the graphics card and trying to play a certain map region within WoW.

To address the majority of problems, which seemed to be linked to the damn graphics card, we tried a number of things. We tried installing the graphics card from my BFs working PC, but for some reason the screen utterly refused to work, and there is no onboard port to plug the monitor into. I tried reinstalling the drivers. I tried uninstalling the drivers. I tried uninstalling the drivers and using Drive Cleaner Pro four or five times before reinstalling the drivers, all to no avail.

The go-between came back to look at them again. I clearly remember setting up the PC and laptop next to each other and showing him the video Ragnaros Speed Kill video on both to demonstrate how the laptop worked, but the PC was inverting all the colours. He told me there was nothing wrong, sometimes that “just happens” (oh I wanted to punch him). He also told me that DvD drives didn’t come with DvD software (liar! dirty damn liar). He took my BFs PC away and did a system restore and brought it back saying that it was fine now. Fine except that whatever he did, undid what the techs had done to make WoW work. So one of the PCs was right back at square one.

I had also noticed that for some reason, my PC was displaying a specific shade of grey as green. It was driving me crazy, because for the longest time I couldn’t work out why internet pages looked funny. One day I went to a website were the background was in the exact shade I was having a problem with, went to same site on my laptop, and realised that I was seeing a completely wrong colour. Fortunately, one of the windows updates I downloaded from Microsoft cleared that up (at this point I had basically given up hope and it was sheer coincidence at this stage).

By this stage, our go-between was sick of running around after our computer problems, the jerks that had built the PC had washed their hands of us, and I was ready to beat someone to death with my much-hated graphics card. I enforced the PC-ban (I refused to discuss my ongoing PC dramas with anyone and tried to live with the oddities of my badly-built system). It still fails to boot sometimes. It still hardlocks just about every fortnight, and I still can’t go anywhere in WoW that has red lava (green doesn’t seem to bother it).

Recently, my BF got a recommendation from a friend and took his PC to a repairer. They advised that they system was FUBAR’d on a pretty big scale and the best they could do was clean it up, replace the graphics card with an equivalent nvidia, and recommend that we take half the RAM out if it continues to hardlock. His is running smoothly now, with all the graphics love that I had, minus the painful hardlocks (though he did have to take out that RAM in the end).

So, I’ll have to start saving for my own graphics card. Pity that due to major technical incompetence by the builders of my PC, I can’t install this myself; that would save me a lot of headaches. I’m sure that I haven’t even covered everything that happened, that’s just all I can remember.

Moral of the Story:

1. If you’re going to get a computer, deal with the company yourself, no matter how much money your mother’s friend is offering to save you. That way, even if you get a case full of junk like I did, you can have the satisfaction of screaming at them, something I was denied.

2. Don’t leave important decisions such as what video card to buy in the hands of someone who – bless his technologically incompetent heart – needs help finding the “on” switch. Make sure they consult you first, even if you don’t know much more than they do, you can still check to make sure they are using good reasoning when selecting a graphics card.

3. Don’t assume the damn thing will work until you have had it in your possession for at least a week.

and most important of all:

4. Never deal with Altech. They are retards.

It is probably also worthwhile to note that I have no sound on the computer currently, as the sound card has stopped working. Just another thing for the list.

Much of this story is now moot. As of 2009, I have finally bought myself a new computer.

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