December 28, 2006

A Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Oh what a Christmas this has been. First off, my wife misses her mother dearly around the holidays, and it's only been about a year since she died. And then, in Iraq, a co-workers son was killed in action (Paul Balint Jr. - who died with honor, serving his country). So, Christmas has been kind of dampened around here.

That hasn't completely stopped me from gadgeting up this Christmas. I bought a Wii back the beginning of the month, as reviews kept pouring in about how much fun it was to play. Not being a hard-core gamer, I elected to try to get the whole family involved by purchasing something we could all play. I fully enjoy the Wii Remote, the Wii Sports titles like Tennis, Bowling and Baseball. I had a few weak geek days where I wanted a PS3, but with the unavailability and the sticker shock, I figured that it isn't for me. I'd love to play with the capabilities of the machine, but honestly know that I don't really have time for it.

After Christmas I took my cash and gift-card laden self down to Best Buy and bought a replacement file/print server (also my email box and it runs a Virtual Machine Linux box for MUD development).
After spending about 10 hours loading and reloading the OS (Windows MCE) and having the machine reboot itself every time I tried to use Virtual PC (2004, 2007 Beta 1 and Virtual Server 2005 R2) on the box, spending 2 hours on the phone with tech support, who put the blame on the software [I've NEVER had a problem with Virtual PC on any other platform], reloading a BRAND-NEW, non OEM Windows XP Pro on it, reloading network drivers from the manufacturer of the NIC, and still having the exact same issue.....[run on sentence, but it gets the point across]
I found the solution...return the Emachine T5212 to Best Buy and replace it with a $30 more expensive Compaq/HP machine (50GB larger [SATA] HD, Pent D 820 vice Pent D 805), and my troubles were over. I spent less than an hour setting up the machine and I think I'm just about done with it..

I thought about whether I wanted to call out that Emachines are bad on my blog, but I figured...a) Noone reads the stupid thing anyway, b)Their 'tech support' decided they didn't want to help me fix the problem because the machine worked with all the software that came with it, compatibility be damned, c) I'm not claiming all of their products are bad, just THAT one (The T5212).

Most likely, the issue is a BIOS compatibility issue. I disabled the onboard NIC and put in the NIC from my old machine that I was using, a Linksys. That move didn't fix the issue...exact same symptoms - rebooted itself while loading Windows. The issue smacked very much of a motherboard/driver issue, but the tech support (who were nice, but certainly not very knowledgeable) told me there was nothing they could do to help me.
Back to Christmas. The tree is down, and we're not planning on spending a lot of money on New Year's Eve - maybe hit up the bowling alley like we did last year...Starting to think of New Year's resolutions, which include losing the 30 pounds I've regained in the past year and a half. Hope you all have had a happier holiday than to you later.

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