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Computer still out of operation - this is getting ridiculous - Frances Bea
Computer still out of operation - this is getting ridiculous
We had a big family reunion almost two weeks ago, and I have really been intending to write something about it, but I haven't been able to sit down to work on it without my computer.

BFG has mostly been good about my trouble, but they took two weeks to get me back a replacement for my graphics card. I had a long conversation with one of their tech people who described all of the testing that they do on cards that get shipped back to them and on replacement cards that they are shipping out. The short version is that when I got my replacement card it was almost certainly in perfect shape. The bad news is that my computer is getting absolutely no visuals at all with the replacement card in place.

This is really bad news because all of the other things that might be wrong with my computer have the potential to be much harder to fix. The possibilities as I now see them:
1. The BIOS is corrupted. This would be fixed by replacing the motherboard, but might be fixed without replacing the motherboard if I can get the computer working enough to update the BIOS.
2. Something is physically wrong with the motherboard. "Something" could be any number of things. Without any visuals it is very hard to tell.
3. The power supply is broken. I consider this to be extremely unlikely because all of the other components seem to be working. Fans spin, lights blink, the hard drive revs, and nothing smells or looks wrong.
4. The system memory is faulty. I'm pretty sure this is not the case. The BFG tech guy thought of this one. It wasn't a bad thought, but we tested it out fairly well and as far as I can tell without having some other compatible memory to switch out.

If I believe that the graphics card is truly in perfect condition, (which I suppose it probably is,) I have a strong feeling that replacing the motherboard would fix my trouble. I really don't want to do that unless I really have to. The motherboard is also a BFG product, and I have been told that they are willing to replace it if I decide I want to, but I'm dragging my feet.

Next step? I've ordered a really inexpensive graphics card on-line ($25). If my graphics card is not the problem, then it is very likely that this will not work any better, but I have some reason to think that it might. This card will attach to my motherboard using a different port (PCI instead of PCI x16), and being a far more primitive device will use different resources of the system. If I can get the computer running using this other card then I will be in much better shape to continue diagnostics. I may be whistling in the dark, but I really don't want to pull out my motherboard unless I gotta.

Learning Mandarin

I've been getting into my Mandarin studies. I've been doing the Pimsleur audio program in the car on my way to and from work. It's a good program, but it would be going faster if I had a longer drive to work. This is a good thing, but I'm thinking of taking a road trip in the fall and am looking forward to the extra study. So far I'm on lesson six, and I can ask people if they can speak English, explain that I'm an American and don't speak Mandarin well. I can ask directions to College Rd. or Long Peace Street - and will even understand the response if the answer is "it's here" or "it's there". I can ask you if you want something to eat/drink. Whole bunches of stuff!

I haven't been concentrating as much on the written stuff, but I'm going to a site that lists a Daily Character. It's a fun site, but now I've learned the character for "Irrigation Ditch" before the character for "I". I've also been doing lessons from a book on character writing that concentrates on how to write characters than the characters themselves. I spent half an hour practicing writing a vertical line. I'm looking at another book that will teach reading and writing actual common words. This will be important if I actually want to be literate, but I'm still working up to it.

I got some good recommendations for movies which might be helpful for learning Mandarin. They're from a guy in California who also went through the exercise of teaching himself. I put in an order for a few movies, so if this goes well I may be discovering the Chinese cinema.

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