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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:50 pm   

Damn Power Supply!
 
I was right in the middle of answering posts over in the CMUD Beta Forum today when I started smelling that bad "electronics" smell of something burning. Then my computer just turned off. And it wouldn't turn on again.

So great, for the SECOND TIME in less than two years, I seem to have a dead power supply. This time, instead of sending my computer down to the repair shop and causing the hard disk to crash (since it didn't do a proper shutdown), I tried to carefully open the computer and remove the power supply myself.

I went down to the local computer shop and bought a new power supply. Fortunately, after installing the new power supply, the computer seems to be ok, with no hard disk crash.

But that's NOT what I planned to spend my time on today! Not with all of these 1.16 bug reports that I'm getting swamped with!

I've been working with computers for over 20 years and I've never seen so much trouble with power supplies. Especially since this is plugged into a UPS (a different one than last year) that should be isolating the computer from any power issues.

Apparently I'm still cursed and someone wants to do everything possible to try and screw up the public CMUD release. It's very frustrating!
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Guinn
Wizard


Joined: 03 Mar 2001
Posts: 1127
Location: London

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:59 pm   
 
I think it's a bit of a lottery. My Shuttle only has a 150W rated PSU and it's happily keeping my AMD Barton 3200+, two SATA disks, DVD writer and a GeForce 6800GT going fine. I'm sure the CPU and GeForce alone should take more, but Shuttle just seem to make decent PSUs. Odd really, given the motherboard inside this thing is a piece of crap ;)

Anyways, don't get too demoralised by the CMUD release, I was using my laptop earlier today and it still had 1.0something and going back from 1.16 to an old one you *really* notice a difference, so things are definitely improving. And as others have said, zMUD seems a bit old and clunky already, so CMUD is doing good things.

Guinn

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CMUD Pro, Windows Vista x64
Core2 Q6600, 4GB RAM, GeForce 8800GT
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 3:52 am   
 
Oh, it just keeps getting better and better Evil or Very Mad

So the computer starts making more noise and vibration than usual. I pulled it out of the desk for about the 100th time today and find that the main fan in the back of the case is no longer working, and the CPU fan is going so fast that it's vibrating the entire case. Of course, the stupid case doesn't have a standard fan mount in back. It has this silly plastic bracket that the fan fits into that fits into some slots in the case. This was vibrating many months ago so I put some super glue where the bracket meets the case to stop the vibration. So now I have to break this to get the fan out.

I found a spare fan, and put it in, gluing the bracket back into the case. So now at least the fan is working. This is probably why the power supply died.

I also decided that the place in my desk where the computer was just wasn't getting enough ventilation, and was too close to the heating vent in the floor. So I decided to move the computer to the other side of the desk where it would get more air.

After moving everything and getting the wires rerouted, I tried to turn on the computer and it just gives me 8 beeps. That's bad. Yep, the curse is still in full effect.

So I pull out the computer and put it on the bench to try and figure out why it's dead again. I looked up the 8 beeps, and there doesn't seem to be any standards for POST beep codes anymore. One of the web sites indicated a possible video problem, so I plugged a monitor into the on-board video card (which is normally disabled) to see if I can at least get into the BIOS.

Well, the beeps went away and now it worked. I unplugged the VGA and plugged my DVI monitor back into the main video card and it still worked. So what the hell was wrong with it? I moved every back into place and rerouted the cables again, and now it booted fine. I have no idea why it didn't boot before.

Once I got it booted, I decided I wanted some way to monitor the system temperature. I went to the MSI site and looked up this motherboard. There were various utilities, but no information about which utility worked with which motherboard. I downloaded their "Core Center" and ran it. BSOD!

OK, I guess "Core Center" doesn't work with my board. Nice of them to check for that before running...NOT! Idiots. So I reboot. BSOD!!! The morons installed Core Center into the Startup so that everytime Windows starts I get the blue screen crash. Idiots!! Into SAFE mode I go. But in Safe mode you only get 800x600 video resolution. And the idiots at Microsoft figured that nobody would ever have very many programs installed, and the Start/Programs menu doesn't work when you have too many items in the menu. So I couldn't select the Uninstall program link for Core Center.

Fine! I ran MSCONFIG manually and disabled the Core Center entry in the startup. Then I rebooted back into normal Windows. Once I got into Windows, I tried to Uninstall Core Center. "Error uninstalling". Great. OK, fine, I just went in an deleted the files in the directory myself. It probably left behind a mess in the registry. Once again, MSI are idiots. Don't buy an MSI motherboard. Buy ASUS or Gigabyte (I like Gigabyte the best). But this is the cheap computer that I was forced to get a year and a half ago when my last computer died. And I didn't have enough money to buy a good computer then...I just needed to get my development system up and running. So now the cheap-ass power supply, cheap case with cheap fans, and cheap MSI motherboard have come back to haunt me.

So here I am, hours and hours later. The main fan seems to be fixed, although the other fan on the top of the case seems to be sticking, so I'm going to need to buy another replacement fan for it tomorrow. But the computer boots and I can get back into Windows again.

But I'm done for the night. I'm not touching another computer today. I'm going to go sit in front of the television like a mindless blob of goo and watch dumb tv until it's time to go to bed. I'm so completely burned out that I wish I didn't have to look at another computer for months.
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Tech
GURU


Joined: 18 Oct 2000
Posts: 2733
Location: Atlanta, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:30 am   
 
I'm sorry to hear your having such a rough day. For power supplies I've become an Antec fan as the two I've had have proven to be very solid.

As the temperature monitoring, theres a utility ( I think it's kinda old now ) called Motherboard Monitor that always seemed to do the trick for me. Another one I messed around with was SpeedFan and that was pretty useful as well.

Enjoy TV and keep up the good work.

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bortaS
Magician


Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 320
Location: Springville, UT

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 3:19 pm   
 
Zugg,

I build my own PCs by following the guides on Sharky Extreme. Ever since I started doing this, my PC/Servers have lasted a LOT longer. The page with the guides is here:

http://www.sharkyextreme.com/guides/index.php

Look for the links that say "PC Buyer's Guide." They have 3 budget levels, but I never follow that. I hardly ever buy a whole system now, since I recycle old parts, when I can.

Hope things get better for you!

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bortaS
~~ Crusty Klingon Programmer ~~
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 1:03 am   
 
Tech, the Motherboard Monitor seems to work well for this motherboard. Better than any of the MSI stuff, so thanks for the link.

Today the temperature was getting up to 41 C (cpu) and 45 C (case) with the cpu fan at 5800 rpm (which was vibrating a lot again). I went and got a "PC Slot Cooler" made by MadDog at Circuit city. It takes up a back-panel slot and has a big fan and exhaust port to draw the air out of the case. I also replace the main case fan that seemed to be sticking. Now there is a lot more air being drawn out of the case. And currently the temps are 36 C (cpu) and 41 C (case) and the cpu fan is only going at 3800 rpm and is much quieter.

Of course, as soon as I replaced the fans I got the annoying 8-beep error code again and the computer wouldn't start. I guess I should just stop touching it! According to the AMI web site for the bios, 8-beeps is some sort of video error, which doesn't make a lot of sense. I reseated the ATI video card and it still didn't work. But after about 3 more attempts then it booted. So I don't know what is causing this flakiness at boot time. But at least it's running again and is much cooler and quieter. I'll see how it does under more of a cpu load.

I hope I'm done with this...I'm getting tired of working on it.

bortaS: Yeah, I'd rather build my own too, although I didn't find that the info on the sharkyextreme site to be very up-to-date. It doesn't review very many Gigabyte or ASUS motherboards, and I have a Gigabyte Silent-Pipe motherboard in my gaming rig downstairs that I'm really happy with. I tend to get my information over at www.silentpcreview.com. That's where I got the Gigabyte recommendation and the Seatronics power supply recommendation.

Anyway, I normally build my own, but when this development machine died a year and a half ago, I needed something up and running quickly and just went and bought a cheap system. Same with Chiara's system when it died earlier this year. I just don't have the time to build systems when it interfers with programming time. My gaming system was a bit different since there was no real deadline and I could build it in the evenings in my "spare time", and treat it more like a hobby and less like work.
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Rainchild
Wizard


Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 1551
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 5:02 am   
 
I always build my own (and works, and friends) computers... it was fun the first 20 or so times, but it's good to know how.

I used to swear by MSI, but they have really gone down hill in a big way since about the 1ghz machines came out. I think their biggest problem was they started using VIA chipsets which suck. Nowdays I buy Gigabyte. Older motherboards can get dry joints in the solder which can cause weird things to happen. I had a motherboard which wouldn't detect the installed RAM for about 5 mins, then it would boot up normally after you hit the reset button, so it could be that when you moved the case it knocked something out. That's why hitting things sometimes makes them work ;)

For power supplies you get what you pay for, and usually the ones you get bundled when you buy a case are pretty budget... often rated at 450 watts and only putting out 200 or so. Usually I get an Antec, although I've bought a few Thermaltake ones which I've been happy enough with (I buy Thermaltake cases since they usually have a ton of fan vents). Since it sounds like you've been running the case pretty hot, that's probably why the PSU didn't last as long.

Another thing is nowdays the fins on the CPU coolers are often very fine so get clogged with dust quite quickly making the machine run hotter. I tend to clean out my heatsink every 3-6 months I guess, although about 2 months ago I tossed it out completely and bought a water cooling rig instead.

Maybe next time you refresh your dev machine, get a Dell or similar with the next-day on-site replacement warranty option. I haven't tried a Dell desktop, but we have their laptops at work and they've always been prompt getting things fixed when problems arise, and since you have the warranty you don't have the headache of working out what's wrong, so long as you keep daily backups to a separate machine you should be able to continue working from a laptop or chiara's pc while they fix any issues with your main machine.
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Guinn
Wizard


Joined: 03 Mar 2001
Posts: 1127
Location: London

PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:15 am   
 
Generally I build my own machines, but wouldn't recommend building one for work - mainly because if something goes wrong at home I have the time to fix it, if it goes wrong at work I like being able to just swap out with a spare machine and then phone Dell/HP/whoever and get a replacement through the next morning. I don't think you save money on low end machines, Dell buy in such quantities that the money you save by assembling it yourself is balanced by Dell buying components in their thousands/millions.

For your next dev machine then a Dell or HP workstation will just work, which is what you need. Grab a USB disk and a tape drive and you're set for quick backups to disk and proper backups to tape. Relatively cheap too.

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CMUD Pro, Windows Vista x64
Core2 Q6600, 4GB RAM, GeForce 8800GT
Because you need it for text... ;)
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Fang Xianfu
GURU


Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 5155
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:11 pm   
 
I'm using a 100 ASUS motherboard and it really is the best thing I've never used. It came with every utility you'll ever need (including automatic, on-the-fly overclocking and temperature monitoring) and other goodies. And it's got passive northbridge cooling. With replacement CPU and GFX fans from Zalman, my case is whisper quiet and the cpu NEVER goes above 35C.

As for PSU, I managed to get a 450W PSU with my case for 30. I thought it would need replacing pretty soon, but it's been going wonderfully.

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Fang Xianfu
GURU


Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 5155
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 4:06 am   
 
Since I didn't really want to create its own thread in the CMUD Beta section about this, I thought I'd post it here (and forgive the double-post, but it'll flag it as new :)

Where did you get the artwork for CMUD, Zugg? Did you create it yourself from stock images, or what? I've kept being curious about that and then forgetting all about it for a while now.

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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 6:26 pm   
 
I joined the iStockPhoto.com site and found a couple of stock photos (the girl watching the computer, the girl with the sword, the castle, the knight, etc). Then I spend several of my evenings using Macromedia Fireworks and Paintshop Pro putting them together the way I wanted and tweaking everything. So yes, I created it myself using stock images.

I looked into hiring a professional graphics design person to do something like it for me, and they wanted a *lot* of money. So, using stock photos was a good way to keep the cost down and yet keep it legal for commercial software. I hope people like how it turned out...I've been pretty happy with the results myself.
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Fang Xianfu
GURU


Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 5155
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 7:20 pm   
 
Yeah, I was actually struck by the prettiness of CMUD versus zMUD, and that extends from its splash screen to its UI and just about everything else. Looking good reflects well on the whole program and makes it seem like the lovely, polished improvement that it is.

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