Okay, so undermistletoe assignment proves what I already suspected; I was drunk when I signed up because dear God. What. Was. I. Thinking?
John I went though three RAM diagnostics and one twenty-six hour hard drive diagnostic--dear God. Anyway, went back and reperformed the confidence test about six times and still came up fine, so I gave up and decided to see what John I could do now.
Last night, had a sudden spurt of energy and went to work on John I. Disassembled (not like I was going to get another chance anytime soon to take apart a laptop and study the guts thoroughly. It was deeply interesting, though I failed at finding a working diagram of my motherboard anywhere online to compare/contrast. Annoying. But still. Sent the pics of the gutting to svmadelyn, who made sad sounds but ignored me in favor of fic, which y'know, not bitter at all that she did not share my triumph. Removed one of the 1G RAM to add to John II later, left the other 1 G and added a 512K, took out the bluetooth and attacked the interior with compressed air and lint-free, alcohol free anti-static cloths. Weirdly, there really wasn't all that much to clean; the motherboard and the fan were, compared to my desktop, fairly clean. A few blows to the fan and clearing the vents pretty much took care of that.
After putting John back together (and yes, one screw left over, God), I booted and went in to XP recovery and started a full format and reinstallation.
Actually, this part was interesting. I know the principles of a format/reinstall but not the particulars. I'd decided since I was starting over anyway to go ahead and create partitions of my own. The computer came, oddly enough, with three--a main one, a FAT32 that from the size and use has to be recovery, and a FAT that is mostly empty and doesn't seem to have a purpose. I couldn't find any clear reference via google (though granted, I'm not sure what I was looking for), so I left those and partitioned the remaining hard drive to 20G/49G. 20G became C, where I put XP; the other part I left as unallocated space for later changing. The XP went smoothly, I downloaded the drivers from dell to my external and got the network up, and proceeded in adding in what I wanted on John. He runs *very* fast and very cool now. Interesting.
The 49 G split was kind of difficult; it took me a while to get what I wanted, which is a primary user drive for saving personal files (D) and a secondary small one for the pagefile.sys (E). Eventually worked out my proportions, and so far, everything seems to be running fairly smoothly. I created user identities for my middle sister, my father, my son's best friend, and a guest account limited and passworded the admin account so no one could screw around with it other than me. Now just getting the folders set up so all saves are done to the D drive and not C. I kind of wish I'd allocated off another space just for me, but frankly, I didn't want to push my luck. The only two problems that showed up were during reassembly I forgot to replug in the touchpad and a few screw problems other than the One Large Screw Left Over.
So John I is up and running clean and so far, few errors. I'm still rebuilding the network, but honestly, the network has never worked all that well no matter how we set file and print sharing; I really need to just set some money aside and take the damn networking classes from the community college and be done with it.
Installed 350 Bluetooth into John II. Bright side; works very well after multiple attempts to install until I realized that the cable was upside down and turned it around to make the connection. Not so bright: locked self out of cellphone and need to get PUK. Gah.
For my own reference.
1.) Get mom a gaming keyboard and mouse that are programmable and wireless.
2.) Get mom an external hard drive for backups.
3.) Call and upgrade road runner to premium; her gaming speed isn't great.
4.) Get her 2 G of RAM and cleverly install before she finds out.
5.) Format Brian the desktop, upgrade everything I can, get a large secondary hard drive, and rebuild him into a large network drive for backup, storage, and shared applications. And media.
Actually, this part has to wait a few months until I have the money, but I'm going to kidnap someone who would know the basics and have them examine Brian. He's only four years old and was always very stable, so with any kind of luck, I can use him for my experimental computer upgrading and building phase. Should be fun.
6.) Format Child's computer and partition/reinstall everything to get rid of the random networking problems.
7.) Install extra G of RAM into John II.
8.) See what all the fuss about the T internals are about.
9.) Walk around Frye's in a daze and remind myself I do not have the time, money, or need to build a quadro desktop no matter how deeply fun it would be. I don't even know what I'd do with it other than give it to Mom for gaming. If she keeps enjoying it for at least a year, and I have the time and knowledge, I'll rebuild it from scratch.
10.) Teach my father to use the laptop.
So my weekend was deeply productive and I didn't write a thing. Gah. John II and I are still--wary.