by Clem Kohl

Some days you know at once that it just isn’t your day. The world is against you, your wife is against you and the dog won’t let you touch her. Well, it wasn’t my day last Monday when I was putting what I thought would be the finishing touches on a new computer I was building.

The New Monster
This new computer had more devices than any computer I had ever owned or built — it even had a SCSI hard drive and 128 MB of RAM and 266 MHz processor! I turned it on. The monitor stayed black. I checked everything and tried turning it on again. Nothing. What a let-down!

I had another 233 MHz processor which I had to take out of another computer. I put it into the new machine. It worked. In fact, it worked great. That did it! I knew I had a bad processor and a bad day. I returned the processor and stated it was no good. The tech at the store checked it out and said: “It’s good.” I had a sinking feeling – now what do I do?

If the CPU were a hard drive, I would know what to do. I would FDISK it. FDISK is a computer term that means you wipe your hard drive of all information and you start all over from scratch. This is a drastic and punitive measure, but it does guarantee there won’t be any stray files at the root of your technical problem since you have to re-install everything, including all your programs and your Operative System, from scratch!

Okay, so I went home and checked all the DIP switches and jumpers on the motherboard and reinstalled it. NOTHING. Now I was sure the motherboard was at fault. It probably would not support the faster 266 MHz processor. That must be it. I took the motherboard back to the store. The tech said he would test it. He did. It worked.

Dead in My Hand
I went home again, head in hand, and rechecked all the jumpers and tried it again. Black screen. No CMOS, just a black screen. Oh, if only it were a hard drive, I’d FDISK it and start over!

For some unknown reason, I pulled one of the two 68 MB DIMMS and it worked. I then pulled that DIMM out and put the other DIMM in the other socket, and it worked. Hmm. FDISK-ing leaves no strange doubts like these about working or not working. You FDISK and you know where you are. You’re nowhere except back at the start.

So here I am with both memory banks working and both DIMMS working, but they won’t work together. The motherboard is fine. The CPU is fantastic. Maybe I should just FDISK the whole dumb thing? Who knows? I might get lucky. After all, FDISK has never let me down.

I am working on it and will report back my success or failure.

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