Dad-the-Geek and His Hardware Hijinks

IMG_5007.JPGAt night, no one can hear you do a happy dance.

And I must stifle my
victory whoops, so as not to wake up the rest of the family.  But I can
still pronounce my geeky successes through my blog. A computer that was
dead lives again.

I don’t usually do hardware.

But last weekend, I invited a boy from another homeschool family over to help pull apart an old PC that the previous owner of my house left in the garage. As fate would have it, one of my computers had a hard drive failure around the same time. Not a spectacular crash, just a steady degradation of performance that finally made thing unusable. 

So it seems only fitting that I should start this weekend resurrecting a broken PC. (Hence the geeky joy.)


About two years ago, Seton Hill’s web guru, Jess Turner, had some money
left in his budget and proposed teaching a two-day summer workshop
where he would walk faculty and staff through the process of building a
computer.

We each paid $200, and at the end of 2 days got to carry home a pretty
decent all-purpose computer. Not quite the gaming powerhouse that I’d
like (for research purposes, honestly!), but far more computer than my wife needs to surf the web and write letters.

Jess has since moved on, but I’ve used the computer reliably to teach my son a little bit of BASIC and a little bit of Scratch, and we have a full suite of JumpStart and Reader Rabbit educational games.

The kids have several different games going, including Fate, Black &
Whit
e, Morrowind, and a game of Starship Titanic that I started playing
around the time my son was born and which we still haven’t
finished.

But the game both kids like the best right now is definitely Lego Star Wars II.

As the hard drive on that computer started dying in the past week, my son expressed some
serious concern that I rescue his Scratch files (he recorded a “Silly
News Broadcast” with his sister, and was very proud of the result, and
created a fairly complex catch-and-avoid game that I’m going to publish
as part of his graduation from fourth grade).  But his biggest concern
was the loss of his Star Wars saved games. 

I tried running the disk defragmenter, updating the drivers and virus
blockers, and after leaving chkdsk running overnight (with the thing
frozen at 13%) I figured the thing was dead.  (It will be fine for hours, and then suddenly it will just blink off.)

On a scale from “Oh well” to “Totally crushed,” he said he would be “Disappointed” if he had to play that game over again from the start.

Yesterday I picked up a new hard drive at an office supply store. I’ve put in hard drives before, but that was in the years BK (Before Kids), when I could actually commit my evening hours to various projects of my own choice rather than supervising piano practices, running baths, and reading bedtime stories.  After the kids were in bed, I started putting it in, and made some good progress installing WInDoze and personalizing it to my liking before I had to hit the sack. It’s a wonderful feeling, seeing it all come back together.

About an hour ago I hooked the old hard drive back up, poked
around in it at a leisurely pace, and wouldn’t you know it, I found the place where Lego Star Wars II puts its saved games. I copied and pasted them into the corresponding location on the new hard drive, and It Just Worked.

I crept up to Peter’s room, imagining that he might be lying awake, worrying about his saved games… but he was asleep.  I confess that I thought about waking him up just so I could tell him I found his saved games.

But that’s okay.  Right now, I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m pretty awesome.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to destroy the Death Star.