hat_plays_sims: All I did was crop-- go read Bite Me by Dylan Meconis, you'll laugh. (Default)
[personal profile] hat_plays_sims
I got my desktop reassembled!

Couple of minor hiccups with things like having to go into BIOS and change a setting I did not and still kinda don't understand so Vista installation would finish, six years worth of Windows updates having to install at once, and so many drivers, but I'm up and running and a good chunk of tomorrow will be spent installing Sims 2 and possibly SC4. ... And all my Sims-related programs. I honestly might have more programs for Sims management and customization than I do for anything else I do on the computer. SimPE and a mess of plugins, Wardrobe Wrangler, Compressorizer, HomeCrafter, Hack Conflict Detection Utility, Delphy's Download Organizer, Clean Installer, Collection Creator, NPC Replacer, and I keep thinking I should get the Lot Resizer. Shoot, a bunch of my non-Sims programs, I got for Sims-related purposes (Irfanview, Bulk Rename Utility, Audacity, frickin' Photoshop).

I am so, so ready to be able to make things properly again. Full-sized keyboard, enormous monitor (the laptop is kinda letterboxed, so I can see a lot from side-to-side but I scroll a lot), comfy sitting arrangement, all the RAM, and I know all the old mistakes I made and I'm totally ready to never make those again and instead make all new mistakes.

And after a basically-five-month enforced hiatus from Serious Sims Creation, I bring lessons you can learn from my misfortune!

1. I am not sure how often you should blast the dust out of your tower, but it's evidently more often than I was doing it. Get some canned air and don't let your computer's innards turn into the Haunted Mansion.

2. Anti-static wrist straps cost eight bucks at Radio Shack and seventy-five cents shipped from China from a lot of eBay sellers. If your computer is not currently having an issue, you're in an excellent position to plonk down some spare change and wait patiently for an I Am Not Thor bracelet.

3. I got a passport drive for Christmas a few years back, and let me tell you internets, if it is remotely possible, get yourself a nice external hard drive and back up everything. Not just your Sims stuff (but back that up, too, a lot of TS2 links are going dead), but your taxes, your art, your fine collection of cat macros, your personal photos, your IM logs, your bookmarks, the unpackers for all those programs you've downloaded, the fanfic you're working on, old fanfic you've already posted. Back up your files as you go and you'll never have to pay for file recovery services.

4. Find out all the specs of your computer. All of them. Even if you don't understand them. It will help later when you're having to buy parts and there's a salesperson or a drop-down menu asking you what it is you're trying to fix.

5. I saved my graphics card's drivers! And then I didn't put them in a nice labeled subfolder on my passport drive, so I had to hunt for them and re-download. Also, I got Photoshop CS5 working, but I USED to have Photoshop 6 installed on this machine, too. If installation was a tricky process, write down what you did, and executables rarely come with descriptive filenames, so user-end labeling is key.

6. If it's remotely possible, try to own more than one device capable of browsing the internet. I don't know what I would've done without the ability to google 'my computer is freaking out what do' on a computer that was not freaking out. It was also nice to be able to google a fix for my installation issue (had to change a thing in the BIOS. Installed like a charm after that).

7. Recovery disks are not installation disks. Obtain an installation disk for your OS. If you're buying a new computer, you should be able to get one from the manufacturer or retailer, possibly for a small fee. I had to buy a disk meant for IT folks because I didn't know that six and a half years ago, when I got this well-loved box. Write down your product key and keep it with the installation disk, because chances are good it's in a spot that'll be hard to look at when you need to type it in.

8. Put the crevice tool or the upholstery tool on your vacuum and clean out your keyboard. It probably needs it.

9. Your hard drive may be held in the hard drive bay with two screws; mine was held in with four. Two of them appeared to be inaccessible against a non-removable tower wall... until I found the secret lever that released the entire hard drive bay and made switching out the drives super-easy. Check for secret levers.

10. Open your computer and check out your RAM setup before you buy more RAM. I was going to have two more gigs... but all my slots are full, so I ended up pulling a one gig stick and replacing it with the two gig stick. Kind of a 'half a loaf' moment, right there.

11. Changing a hard drive is a completely doable thing! It's like Advanced Lego. I found a bunch of tutorials so I'm not going to tell you how to do it, but what it TAKES to do it? You have to be able to physically lift your computer tower. You have to be able to use a hand screwdriver (my computer's screws accept flatheads or a size of allen wrench I do not have in my toolbox). You have to be able to unplug and re-plug cables that may be very firmly attached. You may need to be able to spot a secret lever (it was in plain sight, honestly, it just didn't happen to say PRESS HERE. I admit I kinda wish I'd marked it somehow while I had the case open). You'll need to be able to unplug all the cords and cables from the back of your computer before you start, and plug them all back in in the right spots when you're done. And although I had an installation hiccup (a Vista thing), reinstalling Windows was easier and more idiot-proof (if a little more high stakes) than a lot of things I've fiddled with in SimPE.

The chances are very good that you can fix it, if it happens to you. The chances are also very good that you can upgrade as you fix. I have a terabyte of hard drive space now, it feels positively luxurious, and everything is SO FAST I can transfer files from the passport to the new HD at about a gig a minute.

I feel like I've got more of my life in order than usual, it's nice.

(Also we got a kitten, because there was a cat-shaped gap in the household and it's been years since we've had a kitten. Her name is Penelope and I could babble about her, but this week her most fantastic feat has been jumping five feet straight up into the air to climb onto my computer armoire. We've had cats for as long as I can remember-- sometimes a lot of cats, I'm thirty-six and the late 80s and early 90s saw a lot of unfixed kitties at my house-- and I have never lived with one as dedicated to 'find the highest point of all the things' as Penelope.)
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