I've had dial-up internet for over six years, and by now most people know better than to call my land line. So with my computer down and the connection freed up, it was still a surprise when the telephone rang. It was my Internet Service Provider, calling to say that they were dumping me!
According to their customer service rep, the number that I connect to had been turned off two weeks earlier!
I protested that I'd been online within the last 48 hours, but he stuck to his story - the number had been turned off at the end of the previous month.
They wondered if I wanted to continue using their service, but now their nearest number would be outside of my local calling area. Downloading 24/7 at 56k with long distance charges.
I told the rep to keep the account open until I found a new provider and, putting down the phone, got back to the business of setting up the newer computer.
That done, I dialed up my usual local number and found, contrary to what the rep had said, that it did indeed still work. But I knew it wouldn't last, and so in haste hit the web in search of RAM and a new ISP before my uncertain connection finally gave up the ghost.
Dead tired and in no condition to be making command decisions, it seemed that I had beamed my primary drive down to the third planet
, so to speak. During the hasty triaging I had forgotten to offload some of my most vital files: backup index databases, a text file with all of my logins, a list of games that I've beaten
, unfinished posts of every stripe, original content in a dozen different formats, and on and on.
There wasn't much to do now other than reinstall Windows, except for this: while using the Ubuntu Linux live disc I'd noticed an option in its advanced start-up menu to run a memory test. Within one split second Memtest86+ showed that 108 MB of my 512 MB RAM were returning errors.
For a while now I've been on the lookout for secondhand PCs running XP at throwaway prices. One finally turned up a mere four days before my computer had the RAM JAM
. It's a branded computer made in 2003 or '04. Initially I didn't pay much attention to the hardware; the feature of the computer that most appealed to me was that it included an XP FPP license, box and all. Apparently the previous owner had lost their branded install disc and subsequently purchased a full license. The XP disc had obviously been used little, or more likely once
; it's in mint condition. Getting it for 25 quatloos took some of the sting out of my having paid 10 times that for an XP Full license a few years ago.
Regarding the computer's hardware, it's mostly decent. Intel motherboard with a Pentium 4 processor. The 80 GB hard drive would be alright except that it's extremely slow. Worse, the PC had only a paltry 256 MB of RAM. But it looked as though, with a little work, this computer could be comparable to my old PC, maybe even a little better in some respects.
With that in mind, I moved the secondary drive from my old computer to the "new" computer and prepared to install Windows.