Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Technical Difficulties

My computer has been very reliable since I got it . . . when was it . . . two years ago?  It came as a package, including the computer, monitor, keyboard and mouse, which my husband picked up as a surprise while at a large box store.  He replaced the video card and the power supply (the latter swiped from my other computer), and handing off the keyboard and mouse to the kids, in favor of my more spiffy supplies, I was good to go.

Until yesterday evening, that is.

The raid was slow to get started, as several of our healers either had family commitments or computer issues (or *ahem* wanted to read a book . . . you know who you are . . .)  We talked a moonkin into healing and took a jaunt over to Baradin Hold.  Afterward, we started on Firelands trash.  It all seemed like a fairly normal raid night.

Then my computer screen went blank.

I stared at it in shock, wondering what was going on.  I powered off the monitor, then powered it back on, and I saw a message that Windows was restarting.  Oh, ok.  Very odd.  Not terribly comforting, but ok.

Windows' problem solver suggested I needed to update my video drivers.  Ok, I thought, I'll do that after raid.  I logged back on.

And a couple of trash  mobs later, my monitor went blank again.  This time, it refused to acknowledge any signal.  My computer was still on, and I knew some signals were coming out of it, because my keyboard was still lit, and the screen on it was still displaying who was talking on Vent.

I called to my husband.  He checked the VGA cable and wondered if we should try connecting it with an HDMI cable (which took a little effort to find.)  But no luck.  Changing the connection didn't help.

So we hard-rebooted the computer.  (I texted the GM to let him know what was going on.)

The display came back off.  Instead of filling the whole screen, it left about an inch of black space around it.  Willing to deal with a smaller display for a while if necessary, I logged back into WoW.

This time, I found that the raid had, predictably, brought in a healer who had finally shown up and booted me out of the raid group.  (Probably so my character would leave Firelands.)  I traveled from Stormwind to the Firelands and hovered outside the instance.  And . . . . my screen went blank again.  Another hard reboot was required.  (More texting . . .)

My husband did some more work to my computer, cleaning up some stuff, updating drivers to both the monitor and the video card, etc.  He managed to work with the settings to allow the display to fill the entire screen.  (Although for some insane reason, my desktop icons were all out of order.)

I told him I'd mess with it and log onto an alt just to test the arrangement.  This time, the screen went blank before I hit the loading screen after login.

We decided it might be a WoW problem.  He suggested I open WoW in a window, instead of full screen.

"But how can I do that unless I can actually log into WoW first?"  I asked him.

He replied, "There are always ways.  Take a look around and see what you can find."

Accordingly, I started searching, but my search yielded nothing useful.  The only way I could see of opening WoW in a windowed mode required me to actually be in WoW to start.  I started perusing the forums, seeing if other people were having an error similar to mine, but nothing was showing up.  (And, in fact, a lot of very frustrated people were showing up, getting no answers to their problems, so I wondered exactly how helpful the Technical Support forums would actually be . . .)

And suddenly my screen went blank.

That shot that theory.

It was rather late in the evening by that point, so my husband decided to finish up his movie (or, rather, the first half, as it is a four-hour movie), and deal with my computer the next day.  So we sat down and enjoyed once more dramatic footage of Col. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine charging with fixed bayonets down Little Round Top.  (Although it's not actually filmed on Little Round Top, as there is a paved road right there, and the filmmakers couldn't do it well.  It's also extremely rocky.  My favorite part is Ellis twirling down the hill . . . back when officers had to lead from the front.  I could talk about this movie forever, actually, as well as the book upon which it is based, The Killer Angels.  If you haven't read it or watched the movie, you have no concept what a pivotal moment this was in the battle and, therefore, in the entire Civil War.)  Good way to end a very frustrating evening.

The next step is for my husband to swipe the girls' monitor, which was mine and fairly new before I got this computer, and see if the same error is repeated.  I know we've got a spare monitor lying around somewhere they can use if it ends up working out all right.  If the same error is repeated . . . well, I don't know the answer and will have to rely on my husband's expertise.  (As I've been doing throughout this entire episode.)

And if worst comes to worst . . . oh, boy, I hope we don't have to start replacing parts . . . because, as you know, we live in a rural area, so we can't just go hit Best Buy or something and pretty much have to order everything over the Internet.  (And this being a week with two of my healers completely out, it's a very bad week for me to be out, too.)  On the bright side, we're heading on vacation next week, so at least the parts would have time to travel from whatever warehouse to our home before I would be scheduled to return, anyway.  (Or we could possibly pick them up at our destination.)

I wonder if my daughters' computer has enough juice to keep up with Firelands, if I go ahead and install Vuhdo on it.  Very iffy . . . I hope it won't come to that.

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