Friday, April 2, 2010

Sometimes the Voices in My Head Are Right

You know, it's my own damned fault.

I usually ignore those voices in my head, they tell me things I dare not repeat. But damn it all, this time, they were right.

"Don't do it, CJ," they plead, "You're just gonna screw it all up!"

"Nonsense!," I exclaimed, "We meet the system requirements, there's no reason this shouldn't work!"

Famous last words. Especially when a Windows product is involved.

Sure enough, the Blue Screen of Death popped up on my laptop screen... and the system shut down.

And wouldn't reboot.

The monitor's "soft-adjust" app conflicted with something else I had running (likely my webcam suite) and caused the BSoD... which in turn wiped the boot sector of my hard drive.

Thus my $10 laptop became a $10 paperweight.




But let's backtrack a bit.

I bought the laptop in question (a Compaq Armada 1750 I soon nicknamed "iBludgeon") for ten bucks back in the fall. I spent a couple of weeks locating a few things I'd need to get it going (hard drive caddy, power cord, etc), all of which were found easily and inexpensively. A couple of days later, the unit was good to go.

Since then, the laptop has been used for the sole purpose of controlling my Ten-Tec RX320D software-defined radio. It performed the role admirably, and using this combination I was able to pick up shortwave stations I am normally unable to receive on some of my other radios.

After a while, it seemed that the laptop was being wasted in such a role. I could easily cobble together a more powerful desktop system to take its place, and free iBludgeon up for more portable use. With my schedule the way it is, and with Nadia a long way from being fixed, I decided to use iBludgeon as my new mobile office, photography, and blogging machine.

Indeed, I've spent the last month loading iBludgeon up with my Office suite, camera software, photo printer suite, GIMP graphics editor, and a few other apps I felt I needed. I bought a Wireless-G wifi card on closeout for $30 at Staples on Thursday, and I even found my old webcam and installed that!

Life was good.

This morning, while checking on an eBay auction, I came across a docking station for the laptop. I snagged it for a fiver (plus $30 shipping), and sent payment as soon as the invoice hit my inbox.

"So," I thought to myself, "This is good. I can leave my photo printer, Ten-Tec radio, and USB 14-in-One card reader hooked up to the docking station instead of constantly connecting and disconnecting everything from the laptop whenever I want to go out."

Which is cool, because it's a pain in the ass to constantly connect and disconnect everything... I know from experience.

I was in the process of cleaning off my office desk when I had an idea. The docking station has an external monitor port... and I have a nice widescreen LCD monitor that's been sitting on my other desk unused since my Linux box died.

I checked the monitor's manual, and sure enough, iBludgeon met the requirements... 200MHz processor, Windows 98 through XP. I'm running Windows 2000 SP4 on a PIII 850 (running at 700MHz).

This should work!