My computer is a piece of shit

New hardware! Yay! Well almost anyway.

Yesterday I bought a 2GB memorystick for my cellphone. Using 128kbps MP4-files that can fit quite a lot of music. Put the memorystick into the cardreader, copied files, put the card in phone. And things worked. Like things should. Useful, working, no hastle. These are things I like.

Move on to today and let's repeat the story. A friend of mine wants a network switch that I've been borrowing for quite a time now back, so I went out to buy a switch myself. Simple enough. Gigabit switches are cheap enough today, so buying anything less seems like a waste.

I buy and pick up a pretty affordable 3com OfficeConnect 5port Gigabit switch after work, and by 5:17pm I have removed the old one, put the new one to use, watches the cool blue lights flash a little and that's it. I'm all done! Or so I think.

Checking out connectivity, I discover that my desktop machine doesn't have a gigabit NIC, meaning I don't get to use that extra bandwidth. Given my "somewhat" pedantic nature I am not satisfied. Shop closes at 6pm sharp, so I decide to rush back down to city center and get a hold of a Gigabit NIC for the desktop as well. Doesn't cost that much anyway. I am home by 6pm exactly with a brand new Cnet ProG-2000S Gigabit NIC, based on some Realtek circuit.

Installing a NIC is simple thing. Insert, tighten, turn on PC & install drivers. At least in theory. This didn't exactly happen according to theory in any way. Let's break it down into distinct phases of fucking up.

Bad, bad noise

When I installed the NIC there was one PCI slot between the NIC and the SB! Live. For some odd reason this caused massive noise on the soundcard whenever the network was being used. Massive freakin noise.

Not that I find it plausible, but I decide the NIC might be noisy RF-wise and try to move the soundcard to the bottom end of my motherboard. Anything to get a distance. I then try booting the machine again. Now Windows XP recognizes the soundcard as a new device and I have to reboot once more.

Hoping this should work out better, I am in for a massive disappointment. When hooking up the line-out to my stereo, the only thing I can get out of my PC now is a high-frequency beep. No other sound exists. But at least I can control it with the volume control on the keyboard. "Neat".

Adjusting the wave-volume smoothly adjusts the beeping, while adjusting the master volume on produces some weird noise and randomly turns the beeping on and off.

Quantum mechanics the X86 way

Now things are starting to get interesting. I try to move the soundcard one slot up, since I know that these things for some odd reason usually has a tendency of fixing things.

Result? No soundcard recognized. Nothing. Not a slight hint of audio-capable hardware. On the flip side, at least I didn't have to reboot to find out.

I have a total of six PCI slots on my motherboard. One is partially covered by my ATI Radeon9500, so that leaves me five to play around with. I try shuffling my two PCI cards around in every single combination this allows. Include double or tripple rebooting per switch.

Result? No sound, no NIC or both gone. Awesome! Simply awesome. My patience is starting to wear rather thin by now, but I keep on trying.

Some more research

In the end I find out a few of my PCI slots are technically dead. Plugging anything in there will yield no result. Eliminating those slots and trying only one PCI card a time trying to figure things out I discover another interesting thing.

Another one of my PCI slots will make my NIC get up and running but fail at any form of network communication, including DHCP. In retrospect, this is the same slot that gave me a cute and beeping soundcard.

Results & conclusion

In the end this leaves me with a motherboard with six PCI slots and I can only use one. Unless, ofcourse, I want my system to break horribly once again. To use the gigabit NIC I will have to ditch my SB! Live and use the onboard audio capabilities of my motherboard.

Fucking piece of crap! Excluding the time I spent writing this rant, installing that NIC took me 3,5 hours and cost me a soundcard. Because I wanted gigabiit networking. Makes sense, eh?

Only good thing that came out of this is that at least now I know there is no use buying a secondary SATA raid-controller and more SATA disks. That is, unless I want to throw out the gigabit NIC as well.



Piece of advice,

- Replug that soundcard

- Use the onboard 100mbits network instead.

Motivation for this? Needless to say is that you *are* an audiofreak, which will be noticable more than you would probably notice the couple of times that you actually use the full gbit capacity.. right?

That's what I'd do though, being an audiophile (light edition) myself, in some sorta way.

Anyway, good luck.

Worst case scenario you could always buy a PCI-port hub! *coughs and runs*

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