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Requiem For A Motherboard 502

Posted by timothy
from the ill-planned-and-stupid-rock dept.
JimLynch writes "In my last DIY column, I discussed what it was like to build my first system. As time went by, unfortunately, my DIY system wasn't all wine and roses. This column tells the story of how I destroyed my motherboard through a series of ill-planned and stupid actions. It should stand as a shining example of What Not to Do for DIYers everywhere."
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Requiem For A Motherboard

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  • by XMichael (563651) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:16PM (#9635938) Homepage Journal
    This has to be by far one of the worst things i've seen posted on slashdot. Really, the fact that someone even took the time to write this article amazing me.

    How many ways can I destroy a computer... yahh

    Maybe if there were good gory pictures or something
    • by nostriluu (138310) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:24PM (#9636045) Homepage

      I have to agree. I wonder if they'll post a story about me eating a bag of potato chips. Oops, I dropped one! Better get a page or two in about that.

      I've been building my own PCs for the past 20 years. Along with my own, I help friends and have easily build more than 100 systems, plus about as many upgrades. I used to ritually buy a bottle on the way home from the parts store and get smashed while assembling. I've put cards in backwards, splashed solder, forced all kinds of parts the wrong way, worked way past midnight, rarely think about grounding myself, and only ever ruined one thing, a CPU I was trying to rig for a dual setup.

      PC assembly is meant for amateurs, so I don't know how this guy managed to do the damage he did, but maybe his next system should come pre-assembled.

      • Agreed. I've never actually been smashed while assembling a PC, but I've done it before when I was so incredibly mad about something that I probably SHOULD have been. I can't remember any component that I single-handedly destroyed from incompetence or stupidity... I once put a screwdriver THROUGH a mobo after a stupid heatsink retention clip completely gave way (someone else's PC with very much bottom basement components) and it still worked fine. I can't imagine how hard someone would have to TRY to sc
      • Wow, I'm not the only one with that tradition. For ever computer I've ever built, I've always bought a 6-pack of red strip, and a bottle of maker's mark. I was teaching a freind how to build their own compy, and I think I gave them a lesson in what not to do, like hunting for a dropped screw with a huge magnet, turning on the computer while it was completely unassembled, sitting on a card board box, smearing on the heat goop with my finger while ashing on the mobo.

        It worked though. And thats all that co
    • I agree. A twit makes one mistake after another.. while I make plenty of mistakes (not in the least in the hardware department), there's no point in reading about another twit's ones on slashdot.
    • by Niet3sche (534663) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:45PM (#9636882)
      This has to be by far one of the worst things i've seen posted on slashdot. Really, the fact that someone even took the time to write this article amazing me. How many ways can I destroy a computer... yahh Maybe if there were good gory pictures or something

      In reading this, I thought, "this guy ... is employed? In computers/tech??".

      I understand that we all have our moments ... but this really takes the cake of, "not doing any research before dropping money out of my pocket". You know the saying ... "a fool and his money are soon parted" - well ... (Mother of All) case in point.

  • Jeez. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Neil Blender (555885)
    I have seriously manhandled about 150 computers, ripping out the motherboards, making frankenstein boxes out of non-working boxes, hot swapping non hot-swappable hard disks, forcing fans onto cpus, pulling out running SCSI discs to get that gyroscopic effect because the disks are still spinning at 10K rpms. I must have had some luck though. Never once have I broken a machine.
    • Re:Jeez. (Score:4, Funny)

      by LabRat007 (765435) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:57PM (#9636412) Homepage
      I've done about the same manhandleing. My first few machines I treated like a first date but once I started getting used equipment it was time to get freaky. Here is a little list...

      1. Wore wool socks and held a cat while inserting a PCI card. Worked fine
      2. Hot swaped video cards until the damn game worked right. I don't recommend this one but nothing broke.
      3. Beat the living shit out of a stuck hard drive. It spun up and worked for a few more months, even if it did look a little odd with all the dents.
      4. Placed a hard drive in the freezer overnight to see if that could get the bastard to spin up again - and it did. Worked for years after.
      5. Stored used components in a frik'n box under other used components. The only ones that havn't worked are the one's with missing resistors.
      6. Once I had a particulary difficult processor intall. The heat sink clip was extremely tight and in a poor location with regard to the power supply (sorry, too lazy to take it out). The screwdriver I was using to push the clip down was just a tad too big. Using all my arm streangh I was un able to get the clip down. Now I was getting pissed off and sweaty and started using my full weight to push down on the screwdriver. I wieght 225 lbs. So, of course the srewdirver sliped and I sent green chips dancing about the inside of the case. I got a smaller screwdriver and had little problem manuvering the clip into place. It POST'd just fine and I still use it to this day as a Halo server.

      That being said I have a brother who can break a component by thinking about it too often. One of those poor bastards that have had more then one power supply go "up in flames" (not I smell something kinda of funny "up in flames" but full on oh-sweet-jesus-do-we-have-a-fire-extinguisher-up-i n-flames).
  • by joeldg (518249) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:17PM (#9635956) Homepage
    found out one time that an iMac keyboard can hold exactly one pint of beer...

    at least it had a use for something..

  • by nekoniku (183821) <justicek@@@comcast...net> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:17PM (#9635960) Homepage
    "I shouldn'ta broke off the white thingie."
    • "I shouldn'ta broke off the white thingie."

      You know, when I read that, I just kept thinking "He knocked out the cord to the power supply, didn't he?" Of course, he never tells us. One day it's broken, next day he plugs in a new fan and it works. Go figure.

  • Bad times (Score:4, Informative)

    by keybsnbits (711259) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:18PM (#9635966)
    I sympathize with this man's problems that have to do with computer temps. It's very hard to get the hot air to flow out, instead of having a mish-mosh of air currents within your case. If fans wouldn't work for him, you could just go the hardcore road of water cooling... none of that "hot air" is involved, although a conventional water cooling system is much more expensive then fans. Its the ever debated balance between $$ and quality.
    • Re:Bad times (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Psymunn (778581)
      umm... this guy can't get fan size right (let alone check for dust in his origional fan). i really don't think that installing a water cooling system is really the task he should be assigned.
  • Let's see... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geeber (520231) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:18PM (#9635972)
    Knocks parts off the motherboard, wasn't grounded, refused to measure fan sizes before buying them. And I am still only halfway through the article. Can be summed up in one sentence:

    Feckin' eejits shouldn't mess around inside the computer!
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:51PM (#9636360)
      > Knocks parts off the motherboard, wasn't grounded, refused to measure fan sizes before buying them. And I am still only halfway through the article.

      The meta-bug: Failure to isolate problems one at a time.

      If he'd simply concentrated on what was wrong (bad fan on heatsink), he never would have purchased the new heatsink. He would never have purchased a new case to fit the new heatsink. He would never have had to remove the motherboard and fuck it up by knocking parts off in his failed attempt to put it into the new case. He would never have needed a new motherboard, and he never did need a new case.

      > Can be summed up in one sentence: Feckin' eejits shouldn't mess around inside the computer!

      You have a gift for understatement. Describing this guy as a "feckin' eejit" is akin to describing Valles Marineris as a "ditch".

      Constructive advice: The difference between feckin' eejits and the clued is that the clued try to solve one problem at a time. CPU running insanely-hotter than normal? Solve that problem - and only that problem. After you've solved that problem, then you can think about getting better solutions like a quieter heatsink/fan, a snazzier case, or a new motherboard. Solving one problem at a time means that the "solution" to the first problem doesn't necessarily have to fix anything -- it could be that you wanted to upgrade the old box anyways, so just power off the damn thing and buy your new box.

  • so lame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XMichael (563651) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:19PM (#9635979) Homepage Journal
    Geeze, who is the author of this lame article. Should I start writing articles about my trip to the grocery store? I wounder if I could get published, well at least I could get slashdotted...

    *sigh* this articles so lame, it just makes me laugh to hard.
    • Re:so lame (Score:5, Funny)

      by saintp (595331) <stpierre@@@nebrwesleyan...edu> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:26PM (#9636076) Homepage
      You're probably not a big enough fucktard to get published. You'd have to make a really stupid trip to the grocery store.
      "So I went back to the store for the fifth time -- I still didn't have enough limes! Who would have thought that you needed more than one to make a batch of margaritas?

      "On the way back, I accidentally ran over the bag of limes with my car, but figured it probably wouldn't matter. A little gravel never hurt anything, after all.

      "I finally got back to my house, dumped all the limes in the blender, hit on -- nothing happened! I eventually figured out you have to plug it in, or something like that."

      Yeesh.
      • Re:so lame (Score:5, Funny)

        by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:01PM (#9636465)
        > "So I went back to the store for the fifth time -- I still didn't have enough limes! Who would have thought that you needed more than one to make a batch of margaritas?
        >
        > "On the way back, I accidentally ran over the bag of limes with my car, but figured it probably wouldn't matter. A little gravel never hurt anything, after all.
        >
        > "I finally got back to my house, dumped all the limes in the blender, hit on -- nothing happened! I eventually figured out you have to plug it in, or something like that."

        Turns out the power was out from the storms we've had lately. I'd forgotten about that in all the excitement over dumping the limes in the blender.

        So I went to Home Depot and got a portable generator, plugged it into the mains without isolating anything, and *BAM*, nearly killed the lineman fixing the downed wire three houses down the street.

        I offered him a gravelly margarita for his trouble. He seemed annoyed at me. Strange.

      • Well, you know, it was a really big lime. Much bigger than those keylimes they had. And I was only making like 10 margiretias. I put the limes behind the rear tires so they wouldn't roll away. Except I put everythign else away and forgot about them being there until I go home. Limes are supposed to be smashed to make mixed drinks right? So like if they were run over they were ready for the blender. The gravel would aid in the mixing down process like in the stomaches of birds that purposely swallow pebbles.
  • by cacheMan (150533) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:19PM (#9635983)
    This and many other sites like it offer a Print option that puts the whole story on one page. With the likelyhood that slashdot is going to take this site to task, it would be a good idea to get it all on one page before you start reading. That way, you won't get blue mouse trying to get to page 2.
  • I dunno, I tried real hard on a graphics card comparison to kill a board, swapping cards fast, and, oops, forgot to power off before reboot...

    That was several years ago and all the boards survived. Buy quality components is probably the best lesson!

    • No its not! A year after much manhandling and absolutely no protection, no caution, and sometimes just intentionally being dumb (swapping non-hot swappable disk drives, adding/removing memory while it was still up) with an ECS motherboard (which I got for $40 new, the brand is absouletly TERRIBLE) nothing bad has happened.

      And this board, it is the exact opposite of "quality" because it _came_ with IDE channel 0 broken and some other problems that I had to work around.

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:19PM (#9635990)

    It should stand as a shining example of What Not to Do for DIYers everywhere.

    You betcha. Here are some gems:

    When I returned, I smelled the distinct odor of something burning. -snip- Just for the heck of it, I checked the temperature of my motherboard with SiSoft Sandra.

    Mistake number 1. If you smell smoke, go for the plug, not Sandra!!

    You knocked off a "white doohickey" and didn't check to see if it was something that was soldered to the board?

    Yeah, that could be a problem. Learn the names of your doohickeys, at least. Then post here - we could use the giggles.

  • Boy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:20PM (#9636003) Journal
    I'm not sure exactly what killed my motherboard. During the process of taking it out of the old case, I knocked a white doohickey thing clean off the motherboard. It was attached one minute and then it fell off the next. "Oh well, screw it...can't be that important," I thought to myself as I ripped the motherboard out of the old case and started putting it into the new case.

    The first time I built a computer, I figured that if a few of those metal support posts were good, more would be better. That's why they gave me a whole bag, right? I assembled the system and it wouldn't start. I did some troubleshooting, succesfully booted with the board out of the case and eventually solved the problem.

    That's as dumb as I've gotten -- perhaps I should be writing for ExtremeTech instead? I know my first response to trouble isn't to ask in a forum what new heat sink will make me more 1337.

    • Re:Boy (Score:5, Funny)

      by traveyes (262759) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:45PM (#9636293)
      A friend of mine bought an ASUS P4 mb here a few months back. I walked him through installing it in his new fancy case. I thought he understood.

      Well, the next day at work, he's got the mb box under one arm, and an RMA in the other.

      "What happened?"

      "Well, I put the motherboard in the case like you said. I was a little hard getting it in, but I got it in and screwed it down. You were right, it was obvious where the screws went.... But they woudln't screw into anything so I just went ahead and plugged in all the cables like you said, and the power, etc.... But when I turned on the power it made a loud buzzing sound and there was a little smoke."

      "Holy shit." I said.

      He didn't use the little brass posts. The motherboard was flat-out grounded against the case.

      I thought it was common sense.... I was wrong. Some people should stick to playing games.

      .
  • Thank You. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Psyko (69453) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:21PM (#9636010)
    I'm so happy that there are so many people out there like this, otherwise a lot of us would have to go out and get real jobs...

    • Re:Thank You. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by randyest (589159) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:55PM (#9636970) Homepage
      No doubt. Moreover, during the lulls in fixing that which was broken by morons, we can just keep thinking up dumb "modz" to sell the lunkheads:

      I also love the see-through door. I'll never, ever own a case without one again. I like being able to peek in and check up on my components. I can check what's going on without the bother of having to remove the door.

      Check what's going on?! Not much, unless you are awed by fans spinning and semiconunductors sitting motionless on immobile printer circuit boards. What a stupid thing to say. But then again, I suppose if one is in the habit of ignoring "thingys" that one knocks off of one's mobo, that glass window might show some interesting firewroks.

      Dolt, that author is.
  • My heart started pounding as I first opened the page. I saw the exact same case I am slowly building into my dream system (well. . . ok, so I only have the case, and power supply, but one day, it will be my dream system). BTW. . . I don't like his harsh comments about the case, he should have known by the posted diminsions and specs that it wasn't a light little case.

    Maybe I should start writing articles for various computer tech sites, I have more experience (as I am sure most of /. does) than this guy.

  • My guess (Score:5, Funny)

    by daeley (126313) * on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:21PM (#9636012) Homepage
    The reason the motherboard started smoldering? The CPU maxed when he tried to load one of that site's webpages. It's impossible to pick out any actual content on that page amongst all the adverts, links, and folderol.
  • Quite often, fans on motherboard (north bridge, to be exact) are redundant. Those fans also make a lot of annoying whining noise (obviously, being small & all).

    I replaced mine with just a heatsink, and so far everything's been fine. Almost broke my motherboard in the replacement process, of course.

    So next time you are shopping for a motherboard - ensure that there is *no* fan on the north bridge. Overclocking the north bridge is so 90's anyway ;-).
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:23PM (#9636039)
    Area man who didn't know anything about cars filled up his radiator with motor oil and overheated his engine. News at 11...
  • Just take your time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fiz Ocelot (642698) <baelzharon.gmail@com> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:24PM (#9636047)
    This is just a simple case of someone not having any patience and rushing everything. But to anyone who has never built a pc, it's actually very easy if you take your time and make sure you do things right.

    There are some tips you should know, like installing the cpu and heatsink before the mobo is in the case. And making sure you screw in the mobo with the correct standoffs.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:25PM (#9636050)
    let me say this:
    [Nelson voice]
    Ha ha!
  • Long story short (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kensai (139597)
    If you don't know what you are doing, then either take it to or buy from someone who does. I mean come on, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out. I don't know how to fix cars, so do I fix my car when something breaks? No. I take it to a mechanic. Jeez, some people are really hurting in the common sense department.
    • by dvdeug (5033) <dvdeug AT email DOT ro> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:53PM (#9636377)
      If you don't know what you are doing, then either take it to or buy from someone who does.

      That's no way to learn. You probably shouldn't be missing around on a computer you need for more important stuff, or if you can't afford to burn something out, but otherwise it can be an interesting and educational progress. Much better than sitting on your ass and watching what Hollywood or even Slashdot is feeding you for a few hours.
  • by mdielmann (514750) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:25PM (#9636055) Homepage Journal
    Used to be, back in the old days, if you were feeling a little masochistic you'd do a little bit of self-flagellation. Nowadays, you see if you can get a quarter million people to laugh at you all at once.
  • Fried memory (Score:4, Informative)

    by Punk Walrus (582794) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:25PM (#9636056) Journal
    I lost a computer once after upgrading memory. I installed another SIMM and upon boot, zzzzzt*BAP! The CPU actually sparked and smoked. Unplugged system. The CPU was coated with some white powder. How the hell could I fry the CPU after a memory upgrade?

    Later, I found that when I had put the memory in, one of the plastic pegs that separated the mobo from the metal case fell off and the half the mobo was touching the metal case. I am not sure which short circuited first, but... game over, man. Lost everything but the hard drives, CD-ROM, and floppy drive.

  • From the article, as a heading..
    "More Stunning Incompetence"

    yes.. that sums up this entire slashdot article and that article and everything on that page.

    and this makes news today.. wow.. geeks everywhere must be finally getting laid..
    *sigh*

  • The ultimate lessons are "Use your head." and "Check and cross-check the specs."
  • you know (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HBI (604924) <kparadine&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:27PM (#9636081) Homepage Journal
    i've built dozens of computers since 1987 and have cracked the case on thousands of others, literally. I've never toasted a part but for once, and that was an improperly soldered CPU board on a Compaq Proliant 2500 back in 1996. A surface-mount capacitor just fell off the board. Warranty replacement - the system was brand new.

    Now, i've seen bad boards, particularly in the lower quality side of the Taiwanese parts market back in the late 80s, when if you ordered 10 motherboards you might expect 2 or 3 to fail. Never got any, though. I hear the same thing is true with some of the cheaper SiS based boards today.

    I don't think it's all luck. Quality parts selection and careful handling will take you a long way.
  • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:28PM (#9636092) Homepage Journal
    ***Like most of you, when I need a question answered, I usually hop right into the forum. The ET forum is blessed with the presence of many extremely experienced DIY people who almost always have helpful suggestions or at least a definite point of view on DIY issues.
    ***

    welll, it might shock you but if the question is "what's burning??" I DON'T CHECK INTO THE FORUMS as the first thing, I'm kind of old fashioned in the sense that in a case like that I turn off the computer and see wtf is wrong with it..

  • by cpeikert (9457) <cpeikert&alum,mit,edu> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:29PM (#9636102) Homepage
    Wow, he knocked a 'white doohickey' off his motherboard, walked around with it while his arm hairs were standing up straight from static electricity, and still expected the thing to work? What a chump. But not nearly as chumpy as someone who would do these things (i.e., me, with my first DIY system):

    1. jammed a DIMM in backwards (this is hard -- the slot is asymmetric to avoid this very thing), turned the machine on, and quickly smelled the sweet smell of burning plastic as the DIMM holder melted, then tried to turn the machine off but forgot that you have to hold the power button down for several seconds, and stinking up the entire house before just pulling the damn plug...

    2. vacuumed the dust out of the inside of the case while the machine was running, accidentally tapping the spinning CPU fan with the tip of the vacuum attachment, and snapping one of the fan blades off, making it spin out of control like a unbalanced centrifuge and making a horrible loud noise...

    3. speculated that random machine crashes were being caused by a poorly-mounted heat sink, so removed the sink and turned the machine on, heard a loud "BEEEEEEP" and no start-up, then put his finger on the exposed die of the CPU to feel what was going on--OHDAMNIT'SHOTHOTHOTHOT, and enjoying the sweet smell of burning fingertip flesh...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:40PM (#9636235)
      Your screwdriver license has been revoked.
    • by Jim Hall (2985) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:43PM (#9636267) Homepage

      3. speculated that random machine crashes were being caused by a poorly-mounted heat sink, so removed the sink and turned the machine on, heard a loud "BEEEEEEP" and no start-up, then put his finger on the exposed die of the CPU to feel what was going on--OHDAMNIT'SHOTHOTHOTHOT, and enjoying the sweet smell of burning fingertip flesh...

      I'm guilty of that last one, but my excuse is it was my very first computer job. Had a '386-SX40 (8MB memory and 120MB hard drive .... wooooo!) running with the case off, and suddenly wondered ... "I wonder how hot these things are?" Touched it with the tip of my finger - and immediately realized how hot a CPU can get.

      A good way to get a 2nd degree burn on the end of your index finger, BTW. :-)

      • by Grog6 (85859) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @08:20PM (#9637600)
        ...I once had "LM7805" branded backwards on my fingertip, by seeing 'What is hot in here?" ..But that wasn't nearly as bad as the other tech who ran his finger across the inkjet printer head while it was printing. (They design them so you can't do that anymore)( without major effort)

        The ink almost made him have to have his finger amputated; It is very toxic, injected under the skin like that.

        You could clearly read "The quick brow" backwards, fairly distorted, across the tip of his index finger, afew days later, after all the swelling went down.

  • Why has this article been published on Slashdot anyway? Just to make fun of the poor fellow?

    Or maybe Slashdot readers suddenly became a bunch of dumb wannabe geeks who really need that kind of "tips" and I haven't noticed yet.
  • Keep organized (Score:2, Informative)

    by xray_dude (705320)
    I find that having everything you might need next to you before you start building/reparing a system is the best way to avoid danger. Then ESD is not a problem as long as you periodically keep touching the case, as long as there is no potential difference between you and the case you should be fine. The more you move around the more chance of you building up charge.

    It also helps to read manuals and how-tos if you are new to this stuff.

    xray
  • by genka (148122) * on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:32PM (#9636133) Homepage Journal
    Submited by GeorgeW.
    In my last radio address I discussed how it was like to rule USA for the first time. As time went by, unfortunately, my country wasn't all wine and roses...
  • Where can I get white doohickies? I'm a EE and this is a new one on me. What is the V-I characteristic of the doohicky? Is it a linear device? Please, someone who knows, tell me more.

  • What the?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by SQLz (564901) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:35PM (#9636164) Homepage Journal
    How is the 'Extreme' tech guy just nnow installing his first mobo? I mean, that shit should be a prerequisite to having a writing gig at a site called 'Extreme Tech'. I guess they are so extreme that their people have never built their own machine before.
  • by jwcorder (776512) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:36PM (#9636181)
    If this guy works in IT he should be fired. This is a prime example of why I have a job and why I give people too much credit. Doohicky? If you don't know a resistor or a capacitor when you see one, you probably don't need to build your own pc. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
    • by demonbug (309515) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:20PM (#9636665) Journal
      If you don't know a resistor or a capacitor when you see one, you probably don't need to build your own pc


      That is a load of crap. There is no need whatsoever to know the difference between a capacitor and resistor to put together your own computer. You just plug the pieces in - it doesn't really matter what the things on the MB or any other component are unless you actually have to plug them into something. The fact that I know ecxactly what each chip, resistor, jumper, capacitor, etc. is has never once helped me put together a computer (okay, knowing the jumpers used to help, but now you pretty much never have to touch them, except maybe on hard drives).
      I mean realy, unless you go around knocking pieces off your motherboard, how does it help to know that "that thing is a resistor" and "that thing is a capacitor"? It doesn't. Just be a good monkey and plug tab A into slot B.

  • Why? (Score:2, Informative)

    So this guy who doesn't know what he's doing decides that he can tell others what to do?

    The clueless leading the clueless.

    I mean, it would be expected from somebody at THG..

    Actually, now that I think about it, THG will probably post these article soon enough.
  • Worst I ever did.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bingo Foo (179380) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:37PM (#9636195)
    The worst I ever did was put a 486 in the socket turned 90 degrees. But I did it because the motherboard manual had a picture showing to put it in that way.

    After smelling smoke, I reached for the plug, and turned to find the ZIF socket a smoldering mass melted into the motherboard. Removing the Bright green Cyrix heatsink from the ZIF socket revealed that I had shattered the ceramic block that encased the CPU chip.

    I took the melted motherboard, cracked CPU, and the faulty manual back to the store and they acknowledged that the manual was wrong. They gave me a new mobo, and a used but working CPU, even though I had only bought the board from that store.

  • by mdielmann (514750) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @05:42PM (#9636257) Homepage Journal
    And here [thinkgeek.com] it is.
  • Dumbest (Score:4, Informative)

    by Apreche (239272) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:04PM (#9636510) Homepage Journal
    I've been building many a PC in my day. The first one I ever did is still humming away in the other room with my blog running on it. The BX chipset is by far the most reliable and stable motherboard chipset ever made. And the Abit BX6r2.0 is the best board with that chipset.

    Anyway, I've never had a problem putting computers together. The reason for that is lots of research on the internet. Before I get ready to build a box I check everything. I never buy incompatible parts. I don't skimp on cost and risk getting a part by a no-name manufacturer. You don't know how many times I see people with broken hardware from no-names. Pay the extra 30 bucks and get the big name brand stuff. Abit, Asus, Leadtek, Gainward, Creative, Seagate, Corsair, Crucial, etc. If you get a video card from randomtaiwantech and it doesn't work, there's a reason.

    However, me and my roomate did make a big mistake once. The reason was that there was no documentation concerning the issue on the net, and to this day, there still isn't. The first time I built a computer with a Duron isntead of a Pentium it wouldn't boot. I couldn't figure it out. The company I bought the computer from either didn't know. But what they should have noticed on my invoice was that I had a 300W power supply and that I needed more. Eventually after several RMAs I had a 300W power supply that worked somehow magically.

    Later my roomate got a new PC and it had the same trouble. My computer died soon after and we realized something. The power supply is important and 300W isn't enough anymore. Motherboard manufacturers! In the documentation for a motherboard list how big a power supply is needed! You have no idea how long it took us to figure out what was wrong with several completel seperate machines not booting in the same fashion.

    Let this be a lesson.
    1) do research
    2) do more research than is possible
    3) don't be cheap
    4) if you know what you're doing it wont go wrong.

    Needless to say my current box has a huge expensive 450+ Watt Enermax PSU. I will never have THAT problem again.
  • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:12PM (#9636601) Homepage Journal
    I was working at ChimpUSA about 7 years ago in the upgrades department. A woman with the 'clueless drone' expression came up and asked for a new cpu and mobo.

    "Would you like us to istall it for you?" (Not an attempt at selling over-priced services, just an attempt to prevent the inevitable.)

    "No, I'll do it myself"

    After the requsite hour she called back and claimed that the mobo didn't work.

    "Did you hook up the power supply? Make sure the CPU was properly seated? Checked the RAM? Plugged in the drives? Proper grounding on backplane screws?"

    She answered yes to each question as I explained each of them to her. After a good 30 minutes of trouble shooting...

    "Oh yeah, when I was putting the motherthingy in, I poped off a brown cylinder with my screwdriver. is that important?"

    "Hmmm, yeah, capaciters can be important. They probably didn't put it on the board to look cute."

    And that is how I know the guy. I sold a mobo to his mother. "...
  • Switch? (Score:5, Funny)

    by why-is-it (318134) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:29PM (#9636760) Homepage Journal

    One night, I was upgrading my PC, when all of a sudden it went berserk. The screen started flashing and it was like beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.

    And then, like half my motherboard was gone. And I was, like, Nnng?. It was a really good motherboard too. And then I had to do it again and I had to do it fast and so it wasn't as good. It was kind of a bummer..

  • by amightywind (691887) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:32PM (#9636783) Journal

    I built my first GNU/Linux PC this spring. It worked out surprisingly well. Here is my advice:

    • Familiarize yourself with PC components. I read Anandtech for several months until I felt comfortable enough to place a complete order for components that should work together.
    • Get all of the tools you will need and a good workspace, including ESD grounding before you start assembling. I used a souveneir smock from my last job and an ESD wristband. I looked funny but it is worth it because it is easy to wreck memory.
    • Read the instructions. Assemble slowly and precisely. (It was still scary clamping the heat sink to the CPU!)
    • Check your power and wiring connections 5x before powering up.
    • There is no need to install your hard drives of CD/DVD drives to see that your BIOS comes up.
    • Get good cables. Stock ribbon cables block airflow and lead to case clutter.
    • Be patient getting to know your machine. It took a couple of weeks to get Linux kernel drivers just right on Gentoo.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @06:44PM (#9636877)
    It was hot, and there was no air conditioning in the cramped little house. I leaned over the running system (tower case turned on its side, motherboard facing up, case cover off) to grab a screw from the table behind it... And a bead of sweat fell from my forehead into the case.

    Bang. That machine never worked again.

  • by OgGreeb (35588) <og@digimark.net> on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @07:40PM (#9637319) Homepage
    A screw sticks, for example, on a side cover assembly. You check the manual to see if there might be any special cause for this screw to come off so hard, but all it says is "Remove side cover plate" in that wonderful terse technical style that never tells you what you want to know. There's no earlier procedure left undone that might cause the cover screws to stick.

    If you're experienced you'd probably apply a penetrating liquid and an impact driver at this point. But suppose you're inexperienced and you attach a self-locking plier wrench to the shank of your screwdriver and really twist it hard, a procedure you've had success with in the past, but which this time succeeds only in tearing the slot of the screw.

    Your mind was already thinking ahead to what you would do when the cover plate was off, and so it takes a little time to realize that this irritating minor annoyance of a torn screw slot isn't just irritating and minor. You're stuck. Stopped. Terminated. It's absolutely stopped you from fixing the motorcycle.

    This isn't a rare scene in science or technology. This is the commonest scene of all. Just plain stuck. In traditional maintenance this is the worst of all moments, so bad that you have avoided even thinking about it before you come to it.

    The book's no good to you now. Neither is scientific reason. You don't need any scientific experiments to find out what's wrong. It's obvious what's wrong. What you need is an hypothesis for how you're going to get that slotless screw out of there and scientific method doesn't provide any of these hypotheses. It operates only after they're around.

    This is the zero moment of consciousness. Stuck. No answer. Honked. Kaput. It's a miserable experience emotionally. You're losing time. You're incompetent. You don't know what you're doing. You should be ashamed of yourself. You should take the machine to a real mechanic who knows how to figure these things out.


    From "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig. (Chapter 24)
  • by cr0sh (43134) on Wednesday July 07, 2004 @08:47PM (#9637780) Homepage
    ...was simple - a lack of patience. Indeed, throughout life one learns that most mistakes are caused by not taking time (to think things through, to actually do them, to looking at causes, etc).

    This is as true today as it was 50 years ago. Furthermore, I think if you can't name "major" components on a motherboard, you shouldn't be messing with it - or at the very least, you should know this and *really* take your time.

    I remember upgrading the memory, as a kid, in my TRS-80 Color Computer 3, from 128K to a whopping 512K. This was about 15 years ago. I remember the instructions (which I still have, along with the computer, and upgrade - and yes, it still runs great!) warning about handling the CMOS devices to avoid static electricity (when inserting each of the DRAM chips into their sockets). I ended up grounding myself using a length of steel wire tied to the kitchen faucet, then looped around my arm as I did the upgrade.

    All in all, it took me about an hour to perform that first true "upgrade" on my Color Computer - being a 15 year old kid, impatient to get my upgrade going, but knowing that if I screwed up, my parents would be pissed (they paid for it, after all) - I took my time, grounded myself, and made sure I did everything right. So what do I have to show for it?

    Well, patience, number one - but I also can still whip out my Color Computer 3, with floppy drive, monitor, and 512K of RAM - and boot it into OS-9 (8 bit multiuser/multitasking, baby!)...

  • by The Meshback (777966) on Thursday July 08, 2004 @12:00AM (#9638977)
    I've never been to ExtremeTech.com, but I would guess by the name of the site and the writer's completely ridiculous mistakes, that this article has to be a joke. I could understand if this was some random blog, but this article is coming from a site that seems to be about upgrades/mods/etc. Did they decide to get the mailroom guy to build a PC? It just doesn't make much sense.

    As quite a few other posters have pointed out their tips for building a new system, all I really want to add in is RTFM. I'm not saying you have to read the entire thing, but everytime I've built a new system, that's my method. Open the box, ogle the motherboard, then take 5 minutes to look over the manual--that way you at least know the random jumpers on the board. And it gives you a moment to step back from it and calm down--at least for me. If I'm about to be building a new PC, I'm raring to go. I think the key to building a system is to SLOW DOWN! Think before you ram that $300 CPU in the wrong way and bend all the pins.

    That's just my advice.
    • Actually I'm the Community Manager over at ET. I manage the ET forum. Unlike Loyd, Dave or Jason, I'm not a hardware guru. I write software reviews and opinion pieces. So DIY is new to me but I'm learning fast and having a hell of a time along the way, as you can tell from the column. ;-) Please do drop by the forum and say hello sometime.

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

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