Brought back to life

Hrothgar is back on the air!  Not the long-dead hero of yore, but my recently-dead computer.  Here’s how the drama unfurled:

Hrothgar has been slow lately.  Not for interweb-browsing or tetris, naturally, but photo-editing is nearly impossible.  In this spirit, I began to consider my options for a speed increase.  I could buy a new computer.  New computers are cheaper than ever, right?  Wrong!  At a time when hardware is cheaper than ever, the hardware I want is wildly expensive.  I can’t justify the cost of a new computer (particularly when my humble dwelling needs so many repairs).  So I started thinking along the lines of upgrade.  Hrothgar’s loyal AMD Socket 939 has fallen out of favor these days, so replacement processors are hard to come by.  Fortunately, Newegg had a very cheap AMD 4000+ socket 939 which was still faster than my 4-year old AMD 3800, for only $39.99.  Good deal.

I order said processor, and begin to think about more ram.  My current 1gb of DDR ram is ok, not great.  Here’s a mind-fuck for you: DDR2 is twice as fast and costs a third as much as regular DDR.  So 2gb DDR ram from OCZ (to whom I’m quite loyal)  costs about $140, which seems outrageous.  So I decided to wait.

A few sunrises later, my new processor arrived at the liberry.  I rushed home to swap it as fast as I could, brimming with anticipation over the dizzying speeds Hrothgar would soon achieve.   I started to dismantle Hrothgar and soon was separated by only the heatsink.  I cautiously wrapped my fingers around the base and gently pulled upward…..Nothing.  I pulled slightly harder….Nothing.  I wiggled and waxed…..Nothing.  Flushed with frustration, I gave one ginger tug, then another, and then yanked the whole heatsink as forcefully as I dare.  I reeled back contentedly and set the heatsink on the desk, only to realize that the processor was still quite firmly attached to the heatsink.  Whoops.

For the uninitiated, it should be said that the processor is anchored into the socket, and should be removed only after lifting a small release-lever, which prevents damage.  Clearly, it doesn’t prevent damage when bluntly yanked from its secure position.  My joy turned to chagrin as the implications of my brash action became clear.  I hastily set the ravaged processor aside and turned my attention to the new AMD 4000+.  I carefully placed the proc into the socket, applied a little grease, and reset the heatsink.  I sewed Hrothgar back up, feeling as if I’d narrowly avoided disaster.  But disaster came anyway: Hrothgar wouldn’t boot.  At all.  No fans, no disks.  Shit.

I’ll abbreviate the intervening action; needless to say, there was alot of swearing and thermal-paste stains, and after a prolonged struggle, I’d given up hope.

Flash forward to today.  I realized I hadn’t closely examined the processor; only a cursory glance seemed necessary to make sure the pins were undamaged.  I took Hrothgar apart one last time, and to my surprise, 2 pins were bent nearly 90 degrees on one side of the chip.  Of course pins can be straightened without dire consequences, but it takes a light touch (Which has never been my strength; my piano teacher never missed an opportunity to tell me I was playing too heavy).  To make a long story short, I bent about 5 pins trying to straighten the two I’d first seen, and probably coated a number of pins with my skin-oils.  One of the pins was so loose, I was certain it would break off if I breathed too deeply.  However, I was eventually satisfied with my handiwork, and decided to give Hrothgar one last chance.

There was a moment’s hesitation after connecting the power, and I saw the familiar Shuttle logo appear on the screen.  I’d done it.

Now Hrothgar is living once more, and a mite faster than I remember.

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