It’s late Saturday night. So late, in fact, that it’s actually early Sunday morning. I’m working on the software I wrote to make Drawn to Knowledge. Also surfing the web and listening to music, as you do. Suddenly I notice these stray red pixels on the screen. Hey! What are those? They’re not really single pixels but bocks of pixels, scattered in repeating patterns across the screen. Is my program malfunctioning or… No, that doesn’t make sense. I’d be seeing it in my program, not the entire display. Ah! More of them! The mouse isn’t moving right!
Crap, looks like reboot time. Ah. Never mind. The computer seems to have shut itself off. Damn it. What did I have open? Did I lose any work? Sighing, I power cycle the computer. The boot screen appears.
The dots are still there.
The dots are blue this time, but it’s still the same thing. When it gets to the Windows loading screen, two columns of horizontal red bars appear. I obviously can’t take a screenshot at this point, so I have used Google Image Search and Paint Shop to re-create this incredible likeness:
It doesn’t boot all the way up. The screen goes blank just as Windows loads. I try it a couple more times, just to make sure. Finally I turn it off and go to bed. Maybe it will get better overnight?
Yeah. I’m sure it’ll be fine in the morning.
The next morning, it is actually not better at all, but instead is exactly the same. Incredible!
I swap monitor cables. Same result. I swear at it. Same result. Finally I yank out my too-expensive-to-replace graphics card and switch to the integrated GPU. I reboot the machine and get the error:
Cannot find NTLDR.
Press Ctrl Alt Delete to restart the computer.
You can’t find what? What the heck is “NTLDR?” What is the point of this incomprehensible error message? What could “NTLDR” stand for that has to do with integrated graphics cards?
My wife Googles this on her laptop, sees it’s a problem with missing operating system. Ah. Of course. I look and sure enough, I’d knocked out the HD power cable when I pulled the graphics card. I plug it back in and it’s all good.
To the guy who wrote that error message:
It would have been better to make the error message, “HEY ASSHOLE, PLUG IN YOUR HARD DRIVE AND INSTALL AN OPERATING SYSTEM.” Sure, it would have been offensive and needlessly hostile, but at least it would have told me what the problem was. That’s what error messages are for, you feeble-witted, lazy, irritating dullard.
In short, please exit the industry through the most direct means possible, preferably leaving your job to someone who can communicate with other human beings. Thank you.
Okay, it was only a momentary annoyance to me, but it’s a clear case of the kind of interface ineptitude that leads to hair-pulling frustration, confusion, and needless expense. A bit of sloppy work can ruin things for a lot of end users. A couple a seconds of thought and a few keystrokes is all it takes to save some hapless user a lot of aggravation.
In the meantime…
It’s dead. It’s an odd sort of dead, though. It sort of works. I would expect that any failure would be lethal, but this odd ability to display slightly scrambled images is somewhat curious.
Still, the card is just over a year and a half old. (April 2009.) I’m very disappointed that it died so quickly. The computer is very well ventilated, there was minimal dust, and I kept the machine cool in summer. (A byproduct of keeping myself cool, actually.) I had it off the floor, in a rack, and not sitting on the carpet. The entire machine is protected by a descent UPS. And finally, I don’t think I’ve moved the computer since the card was installed. I play more games than most, but it’s not like I’m some overclocking power user. My machine has received the best care I could offer it, and my weeks of Minecraft and WoW should not have been enough to kill this card.
Alas, I don’t have any means of dealing with this right now, so I’m stuck with integrated graphics for a while. I don’t suppose any hardware companies want to send me a replacement? I promise I’ll perform one of my skilled and highly technical reviews on it. If you want to know my hardware specs so you can send a compatible card, then here is what I was able to figure out:
* CPU: I can’t tell. There’s a fan covering it and it hurts when I stick my finger in to stop the blades.
* Motherboard: Yes
* Memory: Just one. There another empty slot here in case I wanted to buy another memory, though.
* Operating system: Windows. I don’t know which version. The one with a picture of four colored squares when you start it.
* Monitor: The flat kind.
* Keyboard: 95 key Windows compatible. (There’s actually more than 95, but I don’t know what they do and I never press them. Should I count them anyway?)
* Mouse: UBS mouse with red light.
* Hard Drive: Full
If I have a choice, I’d prefer a red graphics card. I heard those were the fastest.
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