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Everything Broke Today. So, How Was Your Day?

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Today my computer broke. Which is not a showstopping catastrophe because I have computers all over the place. Kind of like the Mad Tea Party-- no need to wash the crockery, just move to a new place setting. But eventually you run out of clean place settings, and eventually I'll run out of computers, so I suppose I better fix it.

This is a weird failure, something I have not experienced before. I came back from a break to find my Kubuntu system locked up hard. I power-cycled, and when it came back up the display was garbled, like this:


The monitor has both digital and analog inputs, and my PC has both an Nvidia card and onboard video. So I dig out an analog cable and try the onboard video. No difference. I power-cycle the monitor. No difference, except it's getting increasingly messed up. Now it looks like this:


So I think maybe I'm looking at a dying monitor. That would be very sad, because it's a nice Viewsonic 22" LCD and it's only a couple of years old. But it's still under warranty, so it's only partly sad. But I'm getting ahead of myself, because I haven't tried it on a different PC yet.

So I hook it up to another PC and it works fine. Then I have a forehead-smacking moment-- my PC doesn't have onboard video, all I did was test both the digital and analog outputs on the Nvidia card. What can I say? It's dark, dirty, and crowded back there behind the computers. Dead video card, easy peasy, no sweat.

There is a bright side. I view this as an opportunity to find a good video card that uses genuine FOSS drivers. Fie on Nvidia and their closed-source nonsense. Penguin power!


The video card is definitely toast. There is an easy way to tell if it's the card or the driver: if your boot screen is garbled it's the card, because no drivers are loaded yet. The GPU fan failed, and because it sits underneath out of sight, I didn't notice that it wasn't spinning until after spending time poking around and going "hmmm."

Ghosts and Beasties

I've had a recurring mystery that's been going on for a couple of months now, and I have no idea if it is related, though I don't believe it is. Every couple of weeks or so I hear a loud POP. It sounds like a bubble wrap being popped, or something hard smacking into the window. It sounds like it is coming from the other computer, though sounds can fool you and come from where you don't think they are. If it is the second computer that narrows it down to computer, monitor, external powered speakers, and a UPS-500 backup power/surge protector. The idea of electric thingies making popping noises makes me nervous.

But it happens so infrequently and is over so quickly I can't really tell where it is coming from. There are no frying electronic smells, no Star Trek-type smoke and sparks. Why is it, with a crew of 400, Spock was the only one who knew how to fix the bridge consoles? So many mysteries.

What else broke today? My good mood I woke up with, for starters-- I started off with a trip to the doctor, one of those annual poke-and-probe-in-all-the-personal-places visits. Ewwww. I swear they do it for fun, and really don't need to be invasive. Then it was a cascade of dumb stuff failing that's not worth getting into, just little time-sucking annoyances, and now I am way behind, and will have to work late, and feel sorry for myself. But not too sorry-- at least I have a job!

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