I must apologise for my recent lack of posts – normal service is about to be resumed 🙂 The causes of my absence from the blogosphere can be summed up as preparing for two major software deployments at work and a mystery issue with the home pc. The latter has kept me very busy over the last couple of days.
The computer problem was unusual – hit the power on switch and nothing happens… Well, not for some minutes anyway! The problem was obviously related only to the power section of the machine since once it deigned to fire up everything functioned correctly. I had a suspicion that the problem was dirt/dust in the switch contacts. Our elderly house is notoriously dusty; sit still longer than 5 minutes and you too can become slightly greyer 😉
At this point I decided upon a Man’s solution to the problem… Here was a great excuse to replace the machine with a new one! The old machine struggles with the full version of Train Simulator 2014 – I have to turn off the TSX and run it in a window otherwise it slows up. For the uninitiated TSX provides very realistic rain on locomotive windows and a few other weather effects besides. This doesn’t mean that the old machine is a slouch though – it has no problems running Call of Duty Modern Warfare to a very good standard. It’s just that when you’re driving something that travels in a smooth manner like a train any minor framerate issues become very obvious. So I ordered a nice new HP Envy 700 with an Intel i7 processor and AMD Radeon R9 270 graphics card.
Then it was time to break out the vacuum cleaner and remove the old machine from the workstation. Whilst the desk itself is clean, the area round the back (where nobody can normally get to) has enough dust to populate the set of a creaky mansion in a horror movie! And when I pull the computer out of its cubby-hole I find that the air vents are masked in dust. The Dyson makes short work of this collection of who-knows-what particles and streamers some of which look suspiciously alive and also deals with the muck in the rats nest of cables behind.
By this time I have decided where the old machine is going – down to the pristine front room and under my Son’s desk. You see, a plan is forming in my mind as I work. So I vacuum the outside of the machine throughly to remove any remaining exterior dust. Note – you must never vacuum the inside of a computer as vacuum cleaners can create huge amounts of static electricity which will fry the CPU – use a compressed air spray instead.
Changing the PC is a chance to rationalise the cabling – no mouse and keyboard cables required as these are now wireless. Do I need the Seagate Free-Agent to back up key files? – Probably not. Very few of my files are mission critical – only my photographs have that status and they’re stored on a portable Seagate drive, so the Free-Agent goes. That’s another rationalisation of cables and fewer places for dust to collect in future.
Those of you who have upgraded PC’s before will know what a chore it can be but, for those who haven’t, here’s a list of the actions I needed to do after firing it up :-
Install Canon Printer Drivers from disk and connect Printer.
Uninstall McAfee Security – A personal dislike… Download Avira Internet Security Suite and load that instead.
Download and install Spybot Search & Destroy – good for dealing with tracking and advertising cookies/code.
Download and install Steam – essential for a variety of games including railworks 🙂
Download and install Simsig – Signalbox game which most of you would find boring 😉
Download and install Microsoft Office Professional 2013 – I prefer to use Outlook for my emails and calendar and I also find most of the other applications useful. (I did consider OpenOffice but that wouldn’t give me Outlook).
Install Canon EOS Solution software from disk for my Canon cameras
Install FujiFilm Finepix software from disk for my Fuji X-E1 camera
Download and install Adobe Lightroom 5.4 for photo processing
Install from disk Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 – thought about upgrading but decided not to as I have a current version of Lightroom.
From the Steam application, install Train Simulator 2014 and Plants vs Zombies (My Good Lady will kill me if I forget that one!)
I’ve probably missed a couple in all that but, with many installations requiring a restart to complete, the work took most of the weekend with breaks to watch the Grand Prix.
So what happened to the old PC? – it’s now installed on my Son’s desk and fires up immediately some of the time so I may have to take it for a repair. Apparently it is a known problem and may be possible to resolve by a reset of the power supply – I’ll try that first. Anyway, Alasdair gets his own computer for the first time which means he can do things like his MyMaths homework at his desk instead of in my office 🙂 I dug out an old monitor and bought a new Cat6 Ethernet cable to connect it to the HomeHub and he’s up and running. We’ll uninstall a few things that he doesn’t need from the machine over the next week or so. We had originally intended to get him a mid-priced laptop for his schoolwork but instead he’s got a very capable PC complete with Microsoft Office Professional 2007, Adobe Photoshop and a 2TB hard drive! It might be secondhand but it’s much more capable than he could have expected had we gone down the original route. I will probably connect up the Free-Agent later so that he can back-up his key files too.
Finally a small confession – I didn’t pay full price for the HP PC as I get an employees discount from BT. And I certainly didn’t pay the £389 for Office Professional 2013. £8-95p via BT and the Microsoft Home Use Programme for employees! So I could afford to be extravagant 😉 Many large companies are able to offer similar discounts as a result of being major users of the suppliers mentioned.