Sibling Parity, Take Two

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality

Once again, one of my sons’ computers took the spotlight over the weekend. This time it was the older son, who until recently had a more powerful machine than his younger brother. The older one got a little testy when he lost his “top dog” status, and made sure everyone in the house knew it in no uncertain terms. What he didn’t know was that I had already been working on a solution.

I had anticipated this conflict, and determined there were two things left I could do to his machine to make it more like his brother’s – change the processor and change the video card (the memory is already maxed out). The processor was simple enough; I found the most powerful one his machine could handle, and fortunately for my wallet it was at a rock-bottom price, so I jumped on it and got one shipped quickly. The day it came in I swapped out the old for the new, and made sure everything still worked after I had made the switch. Fortunately for me it did. Every analysis I could find indicated he should see an improvement in the machine’s performance by 30 to 40 percent, which by any measure is significant.

He wasn’t home at the time I made the swap, so I asked his brother to test it for me. His brother found that while it was still a measure behind his in performance, it did run certain things more smoothly than before. Then, when he did get home, I had him try it out. He quickly pronounced that what I had done didn’t make any difference at all; in reality, I think he said that more because he was upset that HE didn’t get to try it out first.

Since that didn’t seem to placate the situation, I moved on to the second upgrade – a new video card. I found one at a reasonable price at my favorite electronics store, and on Saturday I made the long drive down and back to pick one up. What followed that was four hours of the most frustrating nonsense that I’ve ever experienced in working with any computer. The card would go in easily enough, and the computer would recognize it and run just fine as a “generic” video card. When I tried to install the files that would let the computer recognize it as a specific model, the computer went berserk. Most of the time it would get to a certain point in starting up and then reboot itself, and repeat the cycle over and over. Every time I tried something different, it would fail. Searching through online forums and trying other’s suggestions didn’t work either. In the end, I gave up and put the old card back in.

It’s a rare time when a computer completely baffles me like that, but it does happen. At this point, there is nothing left to upgrade short of replacing the motherboard, and that’s currently out of the question. The good news from all of this is, he could see that I was trying, and while I had some success the machine itself set the limits of what I could do to it. He’s a bit more sympathetic now, which is a far cry from where things were a week ago. He has a very solid computer now for doing his school research and class assignments; it just doesn’t play video games quite as well as his brother’s.

He’ll have to get along with what it can do until he graduates from high school in a couple of years; after that, he’ll want a newer laptop to use at college. Will he outgrow the video games by then? Probably not, but at least he knows I did my best to make things work better. Hopefully in his mind that will count for something; it does in mine.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 12th, 2010 at 7:47 pm and is filed under Today's Reality. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment

Julie Carriker

Ah kids, they do try our patience sometimes! You’re a very good dad, and far more computer skilled than I.

I’m eager to read your next adventure in blogging.

April 13th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

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