My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song.

And so, after almost four years of faithful service, my PC decided to retire from this world in a concussive fireball that took out one side of my house.

Or so I imagine it would have dearly wished, but instead it only managed a feeble putter and then refused to produce any activity other than hard disk drives chuntering to life along with the case light and fans; as tools-down picket lines go, it was pretty comprehensive, however. Not even a series of blunt POST beeps greeted me when I pressed the power button, that PC equivalent of R2-D2 flicking two fingers at you in what should be unintelligible parps, boops and beeps, but which you categorically know would translate to certain objectionable four-letter words if you could run it through a Babel fish.

Simply silence, and the faint blue glow of the power LED, staring out at me like the eye of HAL 9000 – “I’m sorry, I can’t do that Dave”.

I went through the various stages of PC rejection: Confusion, Shock, Panic, Anger, Distress, Regret, Despair. Moved on to quietly pleading to various deities which I remembered reading about at school, then pressing the power button while I kept my eyes closed, and waiting a short while before popping one eye open and scanning around with it to see if a miracle had occurred. Strange thing about miracles: not many of them ever recorded against the resurrection of dead PC components. I reached the final stage of PC rejection fairly quickly – sulking, gave up on joining my friends on our once-per-week Lord of the Rings Online gathering, and instead finished reading a book.

I carried on with the book reading the next morning, all the while my mind settled into that melancholy state where it considered the time involved in diagnosing whether it was power supply, RAM, motherboard or processor that had failed, and the effort in trying to locate replacement parts for an aging four year old system; balanced it against the cost of purchasing the best part of a new system, which although not entirely an issue, was depressing when one considered that the carefully selected hand-rolled system that I’d put together four years ago was still able to run most modern games with the settings whacked right up. My mind, as it is wont to do, then flittered from despair to rage, with thoughts of “To hell with it all!” and “I’ll just stop gaming!” and the corridors of my cortex bloomed like a time-lapse flower with wild fantasies, where I fancied I could spend what time I used to dedicate to gaming instead doing exercises and weight training and reading, whereupon I would become some sort of intellectual iron man, surrounded by adoring nubile college girls, who would coo and marvel as I bench-pressed a car while breathlessly reciting Gerard Manley Hopkins at them. Each fantasy would break apart as soon as my eyes inevitably wandered back to the black monolith sitting silently in the corner of my living room however, a magnetic anomaly, a thumping pulse radiating from it, a regular beat, drumming at the primitive gamer in me, drawing me back with its promise of other worlds and dimensions to explore.

So the order for new components will be placed in the next few days, and then I’ll spend time performing surgery on my old faithful companion, carefully parting the neatly tied vascular system of cables, replacing vital organs with upgraded versions, singing Daisy Bell all the while; eventually sitting back and hoping that, when the thermal compound sets and electricity once again flows through its veins, I will find myself with a loyal servant once more ready to give me another four years of exploring strange new worlds and new player populations.

I guess the nubile college girls will have to wait, it turns out that I’m a gamer yet, through and through, all the way down to my quad core.

9 thoughts on “My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song.

  1. Caspian

    I mourn for your loss, chap, I trusty that said monolith will receive a suitable send-off? Perhaps surrounding it with apes that could learn to worship it, set to a soundtrack of The Blue Danube would do the trick?

    In the meantime, if you’re looking for somewhere decent to procure PC bits and pieces (and you want to build from the ground up), I always find Dabs to be a great place to start. Overclockers are pretty good for video cards as well.

  2. Melmoth Post author

    @Caspian: Indeed, despite their variable reputation, I tend to find Overclockers to be fine. In fact, I looked up my last major order on their site, and it was back in 2007 for my now defunct machine.

    @Ganalicious: I’m still trying to work out what the other hand is supposed to be doing…

  3. mbp

    Sorry for you loss Melmoth. It is some years since an unexpected outbreak of entropy left me for several weeks without a machine to game on but I still recall how distressing it. At the time I managed to hold on to the last vestiges of my sanity by assembling a computing engine machine from various pieces of detritus found in the back of my attic which was capable of playing video games from the early 1900s.

    Overclockers and Komplett are my two main sources of computery bits. Overclockers give the impression of knowing more about what they are doing but Komplett often have better prices. Most importantly I have gone through the RMA process with both of these companies and can vouch for the fact that they did not put me through hell to do it.

  4. Melmoth Post author

    @mbp, @Brandon Tilley: Ho hum, it’s just one of those things, alas. But as m’colleague and I are fond of saying in such situations “Ah well, it’ll make good blog fodder”. Although in this case I rather needed to find a machine to write the post on…

  5. Jim

    I had six hours to assemble a functioning computer from the small budget given me by my wife three years ago. I assembled the highest quality pieces possible from my local Fry’s on our kitchen table as the clock ticked…A misstep with the copper finned heatsink caused a long gash on my hand to infuse the moment with blood…nevermind running to the store with $19 to find a usb keyboard to finally boot Windows because my motherboard purchase allowed no other option.

    Anyways, it ran…and ran fine, wonderfully fine…a song of high frame-rates that left me a gasp and not wanting of any nubile college girl only a game that could push my immediate new rig to its limits. Good luck to you on your new system, may it remind you that heaven is no substitute for the earthly delights of a gamer.

  6. Jason

    My condolences as well, and I must say that with the errors on Intel’s Sandy Bridge motherboards, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. Now you’re stuck with using an older Intel, or holding out for one of the new boards to come out in a few weeks or however long it takes. If you can swing it, I’d recommend waiting; the new Sandy Bridge chips are pretty phenomenal, price for performance wise.

  7. Melmoth Post author

    @Jim: Indeed, I find that the blood bond is always the clincher: if you manage to blood yourself on your PC while constructing it, then you’ve formed a deep pact that cannot be broken until one of you dies. Must say, after four years of near constant use, I was starting to panic that the PC was going to be the one to survive.

    @Jason: I tend not to go with the latest and greatest even when I’m upgrading, as purchasing slightly behind the curve is generally much cheaper for only a marginal power loss. In this instance I’ve gone with an Asus X58 Sabertooth board. Paired with a decent processor and RAM, it should last me a while, and I tend not to worry about future-proofing and upgradeability because, as evidenced by my current machine, I can usually keep it happily playing the games I want to play until something major fails. Thankfully I like my MMOs and RPGs over FPSs, so bleeding-edge technology and frame rates aren’t really an issue. I haven’t even got around to sticking in a pair of graphics cards in Crossfire/SLI yet, which as I understand it is pretty much heresy in the FPS computing scene.

Comments are closed.