It all started with Adobe Premier.

It has a nasty habit of slowly developing problems over time, and a week ago it got to the point where Smudge couldn’t do anything with it. So this last weekend we wiped the C: drive of Micca and started over from scratch, which is the only way to get Premier working again.

That means re-installing a lot of software. I actually made a checklist to make sure I got everything, and it took nearly the whole weekend. Premier was installed nearly last, so there’d be fewer things to upset it. The only things that turned into an adventure was WoW, which took several tries over four hours to get going (first time it’s been a problem) and the sound card, where I’m still trying to understand just what it takes to get the external box working correctly.

Yesterday, Micca developed a problem. Windows reported hard drive failures and crashed, and then the machine stopped booting. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the problem, and it does seem to occur right after a major software rebuild (I seem to remember last time it was three incidents over two weeks just after doing a complete rebuild to dispel Roxio.)

Before, opening up the case and fiddling with the drive cable seemed to fix things, and I’d been planning on replacing the cable if it happened again. Well, it happened, but that didn’t help. The machine just stuck at “Verifying DMI pool……”, right before it should start launching Windows.

So, I started experimenting. I disconnected the hard drive, so it could boot off of CD if the HD was interfering. No luck. I reset the BIOS. No luck. No matter what I did, it always halted at the same place. I finally calledfor a second opinion and he suggested experimenting with the RAM as ‘DMI’ is ‘Dynamic Memory Interface’. We went over and borrowed some RAM in case ours had gone bad, and a floppy as a final try to boot from an alternate device (all my floppies disappeared during The Move, I know they’re around somewhere). Still no luck. That left one final device that was a common thread: the motherboard.

I had been trying to avoid that conclusion. Replacing the motherboard isn’t that expensive on this type of system, but it means taking everything apart. But, it was the only thing left.

So, instead of trying to cram a rebuild into an evening or leaving Smudge computerless for the rest of the week, I stayed home today and went motherboard shopping. Socket 939 boards are no longer common, and I ended up with two choices, a cheap one, and an expensive one. The cheap alternative, was pretty close to exactly what Micca had, just by a different company. The expensive one had a completely different chipset, and some nice features. It had SATA-II, a Firewire port and extra PCI-Express slots, including Crossfire capability (2 video cards for one monitor – really high-end gaming video stuff – doesn’t help animation rendering as that’s on the CPU); oh, and it had cables and slots that would glow under UV, it’s meant for a case modder. In the end, I went cheap. The parts that I cared about on the expensive board weren’t worth the $50 difference that the rest of it pushed the price tag up to.

So, Micca goes from a Abit AN8 (um, yeah, the same one Tracy might be having problems with) and now has a MSI K8N Neo4-F. Thanks to the wonders of modern Windows, it accepted the new motherboard with barely a hiccup. (I remember Win95, where it was easer and faster to reinstall windows than to wade through everything it needed when the motherboard changed.)

Which leaves a question: What caused the motherboard to go bad? There’s a possibility that the power supply isn’t very good (it was cheap) and damaged the motherboard. So… I need to ponder getting and installing a new one before it kills this board too.