"24" is a deeply stupid Tv show about Jack Bauer, the man who singlehandedly saves Americafreedomanddemocracy from Muslimextremistterrorists - by hitting them repeatedly. The gimmick is that each season of the show takes place over a single 24 hour period.

In tribute to this iconic show, of which I have seen two and a half episodes, here is my 25 hour period.

My friend Simon M needs a computer. Over the years I've built three for him out of antiquated spare parts, and last week the latest stopped working. After a night's work I got it working perfectly - for ten minutes until the power supply blew up.

So, starting at midnight, the day's simple challenge is to fit a new supply and fix any other problems that crop up.

Problem: The old 150W power supply is burned out.

Solution: Replace it with a new 350W one. Mother happens to have two lying around.

Problem: The BIOS won't recognise the 18GB hard drive.

Solution: change around the six power connectors, four ribbon connectors and jumper switches until you find a permutation that works.

Problem: The BIOS won't recogise the DVD drive.

Solution: Replace the DVD drive with another one. I have a box containing six slow and obsolete DVD drives.

Problem: The BIOS thinks it's a CD drive.

Solution: Change to a different power socket, and plug in the ribbon connector upside down by accident. Why this should work, I have absolutely no idea.

Problem: The BIOS will recognise either the hard drive or the DVD drive, but not both at the same time. Seeing as I need to install the operating system from the DVD drive to the hard drive, this is slightly vexing.

Solution: Replace the 18GB drive with an old 6GB drive that's been sitting under a pile of discs for a month. The BIOS recognises both at the same time! Yay!

Problem: When installing Windows XP, the keyboard locks up. It happens every time at the same point and I can't work out why.

Solution: Install Windows 2000 instead.

Problem: When installing Windows 2000, the whole computer locks up. It happens each time at the same point. And I can't work out why.

Solution: Try several installation discs, including ejecting one just before a lockup and inserting another. This has worked before.

Problem: Still locks up.

Solution: Try another hard drive - There's an old 40GB one lying at the bottom of a cardboard box.

Problem: Nope.

Solution: Try the 18GB drive again.

Problem: Now the system won't recognise the 18GB drive at all.

Solution: Replace the whole motherboard. I happen to have a spare.

Problem: The new motherboard won't fit into the old case.

Solution: Connect everything up outside of the case, laid out on a table.

Problem: It won't switch on.

Solution: Go back to the previous motherboard. Maybe the real problem is that the ribbon connectors connecting the motherboard to the drives are old and broken. So, try new ribbon connectors.

Problem: No. It looks like the issue really is that I have three elderly and nonworking hard drives plugged into a working motherboard.

Solution: Visit Simon M to disembowel the other computer I built for him - as a temporary replacement for the one I'm currently repairing - and use the hard drives from that. This has the bonus that he cooks me lunch and we watch some splendidly crappy murder mysteries on cable TV.

Break: Get home exhausted and sleep for two hours.

Break: Wake up then sleep for two more hours.

Break: Wake up just in time to watch the UK premiere of he final two episodes of season three of House. Two hours.

Problem: Refreshed and alert, with the new (old) drives installed and seeming to work perfectly, the CMOS develops problems because it's battery is low. This may have been the underlying problem all along.

Solution: Replace the sodding battery.

Problem: Windows XP still crashes when I try to install it.

Solution: Try Windows 2000.

Problem: Some of the installation files won't copy from the disc, presumably because the disc is damaged.

Solution: Switch around my four copies of the installation disc, on the assumption that even if all four of them are damaged, between them they have all the installation files undamaged.

Problem: Windows 2000 eventually installs, and then locks up.

Solution: No idea.

Problem: The power supply seems to have just blown up.


  1. You are getting better by the minute, I'd say, dear Kapitano!
    Again, some more good laughs! Thank you!
    As to «24», which is obnoxious, I'd suggest you paid - with this same post - a tribute to «McGyver» instead! It's so much more appropriate, isn't it? Lol!
    Best wishes, dear friend! :-)

  2. ... Just by the way:

    «De Viris Pulchris et Aliis ("Of Beautiful Men and Other Things", I think. Hi Ric!)»

    It is correct indeed. Thank you very much for knowing/remembering that, and hi to you, too!

    Oh I just love that definition of American music! I couldn't have ever said, but that's what I actually think of it... Lol!

  3. Highly amusing, as always ;)

    Other things to try:
    Battery on motherboard duff.
    Check www for HD pin config. They are all different for some reason.
    I have a copy of 2000 if you need it.
    Remember it likes SP 1,2,3 and 4!
    Tell Simon M that Aliens took his computer, and require him to get a new one, otherwise High Emperor Xarguff will be cross.

    Fresh out of ideas,now. ;)

    Camy who is actually N x

  4. Ric:

    Captain McGyver - I like that. The all-American action hero (with quiffed blond hair and winning smile) who could diarm a bomb with bootlaces and paperclips.

    As I recall, his arch-nemesis was a criminal mastermind in the habit of dressing up as a woman.


    The motherboard battery was duff - but it seems that wasn't the major problem.

    One of the drives came with instructions about pin configurations - that turned out to be completely wrong.

    I'm installing 2000 as I type - with SP4. Largely because XP produced a CRC error. Gah.

    I suppose I could get out of this by converting to Scientology. "It's a million to one chance, but it just might work."