I really hate computers

And today was going so well up until then . . . .

Here's the deal - last week was non-productive for yours truly and not for any great reasons. Monday was holiday hijinks so that's understandable and Thursday got a little broken up by taking Schrodinger to the vet (no big deal - just annual checkup and booster shot), but I just never got a groove rolling on last week. Which means I roll into this week with a few leftover items - two in particular were that I need to backup the Mac (which I take very seriously these days :-)) and the monthly update to the linux box which hosts hiddenjester.com.

On the writing front I wanted to do my final grammar edit on Chapter Four of Playing Cops & Robots and I had a brain flash - all three of these tasks can run in parallel because they use different CPUS and displays. The laptop has it's own screen, the linux box can grab the shared CRT & keyboard and once I have them both cranking I'll take the hardcopy of Chapter Four and my red pen into the living room or outside depending on temperature.

Swell, flip the display over to the linux box - and it's all screwy. It looks like it's got a loose connection, but tracing all of that seems solid. Eventually I decide to reboot the box and see what happens. What happens is a black screen. Oh joyousness. OK, pull the box out and crack it open. Well there's a bunch of cat fur and dust inside it of course, but I expect that. After cleaning that out I can see there's a fan on the motherboard that isn't spinning. But that shouldn't prevent booting. I mean there's no POST beeps, there's no nothing. The DVD and the HD briefly access and then nothing.

To cut the long story shorter that fan isn't working but that doesn't seem critical. Still I get to go to Fry's today. Yay. What was really broken is the GeForce 2 video card seems to have just crapped out. No real explanation - it just won't boot with that installed anymore. Fine - I've got an old ATI Mach 64 card lying about. It's PCI but I don't really care about the graphics performance of my linux box.

Next - XWindows (the graphical system for Linux) won't start. Don't know why - the configuration looks good but the screen doesn't start successfully. The system itself is running - the web and mail server are up but the system update I wanted to do is now a graphical program - I don't think there is a character equivalent in Fedora Core 3 anymore.

I finally punted on this - XWindows has one odd/cool feature in that you can run the display on a different computer. So I fired up X11 (another name for XWindows) on my Mac, logged into my linux box and ran the updater. I'm watching it reboot post updates now and assuming that goes well I'll post this. And drive to Fry's to replace the frackin' fan. But I'm going to spend at least two or three hours on this exercise today (more if I want to actually fix the graphics problem - but I'll probably see what a cheap AGP graphics card runs at Fry's) - and I still haven't looked at the Chapter Four edit - or started the backup on Kool-Aid.

UPDATE I tried some hacking about and it's great comedy. Apparently the older card won't support 32 bit color (That doesn't sound right to me - but that's what it says in the log.) and the ATI driver won't support 16 bit color. Nice.