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George Washington’s PC?

May 12, 2011

In early 2007 I decided my Windows XP Home PC had to go. But I hated Vista. I managed to buy one of the very last Acer Aspire desktop PCs running Windows XP Media Edition. I used it until two weeks ago. I always felt it was a good purchase and a good, reliable and decently performing computer.

But it started blue-screening sporadically, complaining about disk and memory errors.

After some frustrating attempts to narrow down the problem by alternately removing memory cards, updating the video driver, changing video cards, changing disk drives and unplugging each of the USB peripherals in turn, I came to the conclusion that it was almost certainly the motherboard at fault.

So I contacted Acer. Acer’s support has proved to be good in the past. But this time, instead of actually reading my message, which was, “Can I buy a replacement motherboard?”, they simply sent me the standard, “Since it’s out of warranty, ship your PC to us, at your expense, and we’ll charge you £55 to look at it and tell you what’s wrong, and then charge you more money to fix it.”

What’s wrong with that? Well, a new motherboard will very likely cost less than £55 and I can replace that myself without having to ship my PC anywhere at my own expense.

But the computer’s more than four years old, and now the spectre of Windows Vista is no longer stalking the land, I decided it was time for another upgrade. I bought myself a decent spec, quad-core, 64-bit Windows 7 PC for a fraction under £400. But that’s another story, and as those few who follow my rants will know, I’m already familiar with Windows 7.

Having transferred all my stuff to the new computer, I started to strip down the Acer Aspire for any useful bits. It was then I realised that it wasn’t that great a PC after all. As I dismantled it, I realised that I’d upgraded the memory, replaced the faulty DVD-RW drive, replaced the faulty power supply, upgraded the disk and added more USB ports ’cause there weren’t enough. And now the motherboard is faulty.

So in fact, other than the processor, the case and the PCI-e graphics card (which I’ve put in the new Windows 7 machine), there was none of the original PC left for me to salvage. In reality I almost bought a new PC in pieces over the intervening four years.

Reminds of George Washington’s axe.

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