That you are reading this means that you and I have both figured out how to get online, which means we both know how to use technology. I have always had a fascination with all things tech; I even work in a business that is at the forefront of new technologies. I like to assimilate new technologies into my collective—resistance is futile.
I have several computers; each with a specific purpose. I use a netbook to write these blogs and my book and anything else I compose. I have a Dell XPS that I use for graphics work such as scanning pictures and we have the media computer that is tied into the home theater, which is the machine that has given me fits of late. We also have two laptops, plus I have my work laptop. I also have a few more computers at work that I have to use as well. As a direct result, I have learned much about these machines, such as the fact that they don’t like people.
Why would they? We build them out of fire, smelting the metal compounds to make the wires and contacts and frames, casting the plastics for the cases and moving parts and we charge electricity through them constantly. It can’t be a comfortable life for these things, and we constantly demand that they do more and more. In fact, we have gone from asking machines to do our math for us to having them keep track of our inventories and finances to having them entertain us. Now we expect that they will not only keep track of our groceries in the refrigerator, but that they will order restock items for us. Which actually gives us an excuse for getting that Sara Lee pie or the extra can of whipped cream: the refrigerator did it.
So the media computer has been running pretty much 24 hours a day since I built it 5 years ago, even after the rebuild two years ago. I added a blu-ray player and upgraded the video card and added memory so it would be a viable blu-ray disk player for the home theater. Well, the machine had been complaining for months about the workload. It staged strikes and work stoppages, but I always managed to coax it back to work. Once I even had to fire the whole system and reload it. I have no qualms about strike busting my computers.
Well, over Christmas 2009, the media computer staged one last strike. When we came home, we found that it had crashed and it would not reboot for anything. This strike resulted in the death of the media computer, so it was time for a replacement. Now, I have minimum requirements for a media computer. Since it is performing a specific function, it has to have specific components. Well, I noticed that no new computers are being sold with Blu-ray players in them. This confounds me, since Blu-ray is the only way to watch true High Def on 1080p TVs. Oh, I found a few machines, but they were high-end gaming systems and I do not need that kind of computer; particularly when it costs $2300. Building a machine from scratch is no cheaper these days.
I decided to harvest the surviving organs from the corpse of the old media system and transplant them into a lower end, off-the-shelf computer. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about time or refrigeration. In order to use the transplants required that I get a computer that can accept them. Organ rejection can be a tough obstacle for any computer to overcome. I found a low end HP with the required slots and I opened it up for the operation.
The installation actually went very well. The problem happened during the driver installation. It seems that Windows 7, which is a vast improvement of Windows Vista, but still not as intuitive as XP, is still so new as to have some backwards compatibility issues with older equipment. The Blu-ray player developed an HDCP issue which caused intermittent flashing of a green screen during the playback. It took a week of trial and error to find the problem and correct it. The new computer now works the way I need it to work and it seems rather stable, finally. But more to the point, it seems to like doing what it’s doing. It hasn’t given me any fits since I fixed the driver issue. Maybe this machine will like me.
I have to say that I am impressed with the Windows 7 version of Windows Media Center. It works with the TV tuner much better than the OEM software that came with it, and it integrates with all media seamlessly, including the Blu-ray. It makes computers act like they like entertaining us.