Tyler Bird If you're into DevOps, have I got a blog for you... hint: it's this one.

Goodbye Dear Friend

In which I memorialize on of the longest pieced of hardware I’ve owned for my career in the computer and technolgy industry.

Tonight marks the passing of a computer that I’ve had for 10 years!

10 years ago there was a big schism in the RAM architecture world. And when I was building my machine I got caught in the middle of this debate. Should I go with DIMM or RIMM memory? What was better technology? At that particular moment, DIMM’s main selling point (if I even remember correctly) was price. And that’s ultimately how they won. Like the argument of VHS versus Beta, Beta may have been the better technology, but VHS made it to market cheaper. Probably because Sony was being proprietary dorks about Beta, but that’s not what this is about…

Yet I chose RIMMs, why? Because you don’t know the POWER of the dark side! In hind sight I backed the wrong horse. Because even though in 2003 1 GB of ram seemed like a lot, eventually when I wanted to upgrade later, the costs to upgrade were so prohibitive it would have been cheaper to replace the motherboard and CPU, than upgrade to 2GB of ram.

Ironically it was that 2GB upgrade that was the final nail in the coffin of our tale, but we’ll come back to this…

Over the years that machine has seen every configuration and upgrade possible. I’ve had multiple optical burners, a number of hard drive configurations from single system to RAID arrays. I’ve upgraded the video card 3 different times, and even on an AGP 8x slot no less! The final card being one that could actually run modern flash sites like Hulu decently (paired with a CPU upgrade as well.)

And through it all the motherboard, the original GIGABYTE GA-8IHXP rev 2.1 has been the champion. I even eventually renamed this computer “Blue Phoenix” because it has risen from the ashes of so many re-configurations that it seemed unbreakable. (Blue was from the color of case at the time.)

This computer even survived two cross-country moves from Utah to Florida, then Florida back to Utah, and still worked fine. The only problem I had when we got back from Florida was the case had got banged up by my Aluminum Mac tower so bad, that it was really scratched up. So I decided to buy a new case and thus, the phoenix rose from the ashes, reborn again as the “Dark Phoenix” in it’s new black case.

I’ve got other computers I use now on a daily basis. Like the one I’m typing this blog post on, my iMac. But I still had uses for the “Dark Phoenix”. As I mentioned before, I had upgraded the CPU and with that upgrade I was able to have a better response with running video capture card and turning the computer into a HTPC (Home Theater Personal Computer).

Basically it could serve as a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) and record TV for us, and we could watch anything recorded on the Xbox. Or we could pause live TV. It was great!

Then my mom’s computer died on her and she needed to have a computer, until she got a replacement. So I offered her my Dark Phoenix box as a temporary replacement. She has had it for the past few months and then we just replaced it with a Macbook Air for her.

That’s when I brought the Dark Phoenix home, and had bought 2 GB of ram to put into the machine. Time had finally caught up where the RIMM prices were low enough that I could justify the upgrade. And so I began to try and put the ram in.

At first it wouldn’t boot up, so I replaced the old ram back in and tried to reboot and it came back up, but not consistently.

The next day, while I was on the phone with someone from work, a loud POP noise came from the direction of the computer. I checked to see if there were any suspicious “electronics smells” that usually accompany a bad frying of circuits, but there was nothing.

So this weekend I tore down the entire machine and cleaned everything. I built it back up to the bare minimums, using only the old ram (which should have worked because it was working before). And I even tried replacing the video card (part of a minimum boot up) with an old video card. And still… no luck.

It is with profound sadness that I must bid farewell to my friend the Dark Phoenix. To me, at least, psychologically, if I have to replace the motherboard, the machine just isn’t the same and is a new computer. The motherboard is the “heart and soul”, and all other components are just upgrades.

RIP Dark Phoenix. 8/3/2002 - 1/22/2012