Well, I’ll be headed over to an old friend’s soon, wrapping up a bit over a week spent at my parents. You’ve already gotten to hear about my initial adventures. I forgot to mention that there was more tech support upcoming.

My dad’s system isn’t perfect but continues to do better. I even got it to the point where Civilization 4 runs… kinda acceptably on it. Still has all sorts of odd graphics issues, and is a little slow graphically speaking for it (that’s what you get for graphics system built into the chipset). The next job was getting my mom’s ‘new’ laptop up and running.

I say ‘new’ because she had bought it, started it, looked through the documentation, run it out of power, and had some trouble, and so put it aside for me to take care of… back in April. So, maybe, “unused” is the right word.

Powering it up gave problems. At first, it just wanted to go to a blank screen with a text-mode cursor in the upper corner. After a bit, that went away, and it did nothing at all. So, something went bad, do a system restore: insert bootable CD, put in the first recovery disk, put in the second recovery disk, complains that it can’t find a file it wants to copy. Hit “continue”. System reboots, starts the process all over again from the beginning, until it hits the exact same problem.

This starts a small crisis. Too late to return to Staples, and we’re not sure what Acer’s response will be. The eventual decision was to call Acer, see what they want to do, and get my mom’s previous system up and running again. That one had started running Norton scan disk every time it started, so I had an idea what the trouble there was….

I called Acer, which had like three different recorded messages run before it even let me at the queue. Once they were done, the phone was immediately picked up by a fellow who started by apologizing for the long hold time…. ^_^; He listened to the story, diagnosed the problem as a faulty hard-drive (likely) and told us to ship it in. He sent two emails, one was to print out and include with the laptop, which will tell them what the problem is, and the other was detailed directions on how to ship it. Pending getting the machine back (7-10 business days), Acer is getting a A (I think we’re still stuck with recovery disks that don’t work, so not an A+).

I was right about the old machine, the hard drive on that was failing fast (5-6 bad sectors found, and there were already a bunch flagged around the drive). So we bought the cheapest drive we could to replace it, an 80 GB ATA-100 (on a P-II system; I need to remember to loot this before the machine is eventually tossed). Next problem: the BIOS hangs when trying to detect the new drive. Looking up the motherboard, I find that indeed, the BIOS is too old to recognize anything over 75 GB. They do have an unfinished beta BIOS that can support that though. So, I load that on (quite smoothly), and install Win 98, and get it up and running.

Networking was a bit of a pain. I had to go hunt for the drivers for the card I used when I put it together many moons ago. (Where did I get that card? And why did I use it?) After getting that sorted out, the struggle to get it running was more protracted than it had to be: I forgot to check that I had plugged in the ethernet on the computer’s side (I just assumed I did that with all the other cables).

Anyway, up running, and can see the internet. Just run Windows Update a few times, and home free, right? Wrong. Win 98 (first edition, all I had to hand) comes with Internet Explorer 4. This breaks badly on Windows Update (good job guys), leaving me with a blank white page. Some digging gets me to the page for IE6, but that page is unreadable in IE4 (rendered in about 1 point type). I eventually, had to download the tiny web installer on my machine, use the network to drop it on the other and run it there. After that, it was simple.

And lest you think I was just down here to play tech support, I will admit to doing a bunch of other things while down here.

I did get to play a game of A Victory Lost with my dad. Didn’t go very well for me, he got around my south flank early, and I couldn’t quite pull myself out of the problem that caused, and while I was spending all my attention trying to save that, the rest of the line was crumbling.

Games-wise though, most nights were spent with Age of Wonders (which I hooked my dad on), and Civilization IV (which I tried out on my machine). So I guess we know what to get each other for Christmas….

Visited a Archeology and Paleontology museum. Yes, really. In Hemet. A new reservoir was recently built here, and while they were building it they had as much information about the valley collected as they could. It’s a small museum, but it’s very nice. I could wish for a little more on the archeology side, but that’s me.

We also went for a small trip to scenic Idyllwild. It’s nice art community/rustic tourist trap. Very pleasant and scenic.