Holly Re-Hop

Remember the infamous Mother’s Day media center PC? It’s back, it finally works…and it’s not an eMachines media center PC anymore!

The story goes like this: I got a dirt-cheap but supposedly functional eMachines media center PC (running XP Media Center Edition) for my wife for Mother’s Day. The eBay auction listed it as having a video card that’d do SVGA, HDMI, S-Video, the whole thing…only there was no such card on arrival. The seller was apparently “confused” (though the thought occurred to me at the time that his confusion was awfully specific where video output formats and connectors were concerned). I had to buy a new video card to go in the thing, which was an unplanned expense.

The problems began almost immediately and I honestly thought it was the video card’s fault. I had to use the machine’s restore partition a gazillion times. And then it worked – albeit a month or so after Mother’s Day – and all were happy.

Until it started hanging up so bad that you’d have to cut the power off at the power strip to restart it. Repeatedly. Somewhere in late July, the damn thing just stopped working altogether. Granted, total investment on this thing wasn’t even at the $300 level, but for someone who’s out of work, that’s a good chunk of change to sock away secretly. My wife was, needless to say, quite upset. This was beyond my ability to fix it, so, as with nearly every other computer in this house sooner or later, it went to visit Kent for a while.

Kent is a friend of ours who comes to OVGE with me every year (so some of you reading this will be seeing him again in a few days!), and he’s much handier with purely-hardware problems than I am. I can nut out a software issue and most driver conflicts, but this machine’s problems were beyond that. Kent’s diagnosis was worse than I’d feared: this machine, in its present form, wasn’t going to be back in service anytime soon if at all. He did, however, have a Dell chassis laying around – virtually identical to my own main desktop machine – that had a perfectly good mobo and needed a power supply…and the still-functional eMachines power supply was one of the few that was compatible. Problem solved! Having been burned by this machine numerous times (and a similar sudden decrease in performance of my own eMachines media center PC, though that was purely a malware issue that was solved by a system restore and some vigorous scrubbing), I asked Kent to throw a tiny hard drive in as drive C – maybe all of 10 gigs if even that – to serve as the “app” drive; the old eMachines 200 gig drive would become the “data” drive. (The good news is that the drive was fine – hooray for zero document loss!) If this machine tanks on us, all we have to do is move the second drive to a different machine.

The speed with which the new machine was ready for prime time this morning was telling: apparently the original PC that I’d bought for my wife was hosed from the word go (thanks, eBay seller). So now we’re back up and running on all cylinders.

Not that my wife would notice, of course – after playing it at a friend’s house (despite the fact we’ve had ours since July), she’s suddenly addicted to the Wii. 😆

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