The Silver Lining
When last we spoke (er, wrote/read) things were not going well for the electronics in my house. My frontend (client) motherboard had died, my backup/development system was having a tough time picking up the slack with video and audio issues, and my fallback system (my wife's laptop) was suffering a midlife crisis. Well, today I'm gonna give you a quick followup.
First off, I finally got my motherboard back from MSI. Since this was the second time that I have sent this board in, they decided to replace it with a new one it appears (atleast the MAC address of the ethernet is different). After putting the board back in, the frontend started right back up. Hopefully a new board will resolve whatever the issue was. I never really did hear what was wrong.
Second, issues with my test system have been alleviated because my wife was very good to me this Christmas and got me a new video card. Since it's an AGP based system, it's nothing super fancy, but I got upgraded from an Nvidia Geforce 4 MX440 to an Nvidia 7600GS. This has allowed me to upgrade from legacy video drivers to current video drivers. The new video card allows me to playback HD without stutters. This was not possible with the old card. The sound issue I don't really have need to do anything about. I will live with stereo speakers. I don't need to have S/PDIF outputs on that system. Plus, since the frontend is working again, I shouldn't have to worry about it for (hopefully) quite some time.
Finally, Dell was never able to figure out what was wrong with my wife's laptop. Since it was purchased through work we are considered a business customer so they were trying to be very helpful to us. As part of the purchase price, we had a 4 year in-home warranty. We've had to make use of it twice. Earlier this summer the LCD on the laptop started displaying red dots, generally after doing a little web surfing. If you tried to scroll or anything at that point, more dots would appear until finally the system just locked up. I connected my LCD monitor to the VGA port and that just accelerated the issue one hundred fold. Dell finally decided to replace the screen and video card. Seemed to help.
Then this time around the system would start to boot for about 3/4 sec and then beep and lose power. Maybe one in ten times it would actually boot up and work for a while before randomly turning off. Dell had no idea what the problem was but thought the motherboard might be going bad. So they sent out a new board (next day) to the local repair guy who put it in the system for us. Same result. So then Dell sent out another new board. No change. When they wanted to send out a third board, my wife told the tech support guy that either it wasn't a problem with the motherboard or else they had a serious quality control issue there. They decided that perhaps it was something else but they didn't know what. In the end they decided to send a new system to replace the one we had. Apparently it was "so old" that they weren't even going to take a look at it; it was going straight into the dumpster when they got it back (it's barely even two years old). As a result, they replaced the laptop with a very nice system. The only issue we had with it was that it came pre-installed with Vista Home Premium and my wife has decided that she really doesn't like it (it took us about 30 minutes to find the command prompt so I could figure out what the MAC address was so that I could put it on the network) so we put WinMCE on it instead. But since the original laptop was top of the line for the time (we sunk a decent amount of money into it) they replaced it with a very nice system. We didn't even have to pay to have the old system sent back.
The only real problem we had with the whole deal was that it took almost a full month for the new system to get to us (should have been about a week) because someone dropped the ball according to their tech support. After asking them where the new system was for about two weeks, we finally talked to someone the Wednesday before Christmas who said they had no idea where it was but was trying his best to help us. He must have done something right though because we got notification on the 22nd (Saturday) that the replacement system had shipped and the DHL guy dropped it off on Monday the 24th. My wife was very excited to say the least.
So now life is good again here for us. It was a very good Christmas. And for the most part WAF is back where it should be, mostly up there but still nagging me to improve things even more.