Warning! Graphic images

What happens when your video card is dying
What you really don’t want your PC display looking like!

When I switched on my PC this afternoon having returning home from a meeting at the SEC Synod Office, my screen showed bands of vertical lines across it (see image above). It looked as though Firefox was in prison!

I rebooted and got the same problem. I uninstalled my graphics card drivers. Nothing changed, same problem. It was only as I was booting again that I realised that the problem wasn’t just limited to Windows, I was experiencing this graphical ‘infection’ on the bootup splash screen, the POST (Power-On Startup Test), and in the BIOS. Darn! My graphics card is dying.

I had an ATi Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB graphics card. A lovely piece of kit, fast enough for what I needed it to do which is mostly office tasks, some graphics work, watch DVDs, and play a few games (Battlefield 2 being the most demanding application).

When I opened up the PC I discovered that for some (unknown and bizarre) reason an elastic band had welded itself to the chips on the back of the graphics card’s PCB. I cleared off the remnants of the elastic band and reseated the card on the motherboard. The image was a little better, but still very bad.

Darn! I think I’ve melted some of the diodes on the graphics card! Solution: buy a replacement card. A quick trip to PC World — and telephone call to Jane, who was stuck in a traffic queue somewhere south-west of Stirling — later I now have my PC back up and running with a Sapphire ATi Radeon X700 256 MB graphics card.

The inside gubbins of my PC
My PC undergoing open-heart surgery. The old Radeon 9800 is lying on the case, the new Radeon X700 is already installed.

Everything is now back up and running, having installed the latest drivers (Catalyst 5.10). Although, I suspect that I’ll still have to reinstall Windows in the next couple of days to sort a reincurring soundcard problem. There’s always something…!

A sound problem (easy edition)

My soundcard isn’t working properly. Whenever I play an MP3 it sounds like I’m playing it on an old record player: it pops and crackles while I’m typing. It is very annoying.

I suspect that it’s to do with the hardware drivers — that’s the special software that allows the my soundcard to commuicate with the rest of my PC. It’s so bad that I’m going to have to wipe my hard disk clean and start again. AGAIN!

A sound problem (geek edition)

How annoying! My soundcard is back to its old tricks of popping and clicking while I’m listening to MP3s and typing. I know what you’re going to suggest: well, Gareth, don’t do those two things at the same time! … just, don’t go there!

I wondered if the problem was with my onboard soundcard interfering with the new. So I uninstalled my Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 drivers, and then my NVidia NForce2 motherboard drivers, booted to safe mode (F8 on boot-up) and ran Driver Cleaner Pro to create as clean a slate as possible for the reinstallation.

It didn’t work. In fact, it made things worse. Now my PC swears blindly that I don’t have a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 installed! Even when I disable the onboard audio in the BIOS. In the end I’ve manually installed the latest driver and I still have problems. The motherboard drivers didn’t install without their own problems either.

I don’t have time for this. But I’m going to have to find it from somewhere. Guess what I’m going to be doing this week … reinstalling Windows XP. AGAIN!!

Come on hardware drivers people, get your PC drivers working properly! It’s not too much to ask now. Is it?

All Saints’ Day

Almighty God,
you have knit together your elect
in one communion and fellowship
in the mystical body of your Son, Christ our Lord:
grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints
in all virtuous and godly living
that we may come to those inexpressible joys
which you have prepared for those who truly love you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord
who is alive and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.