Remember that one time I BUILT A COMPUTER? – Part 3

Part 3, otherwise known as The Neurotic Pally and the Evil Windows. If you want to get caught up on the earlier parts, the beginning of the story is here and the middle of the story is here.

Software; or How I discovered that I prefer Hard Things

I’m out of pictures, so I’m going to recycle the “Computer is complete and running” photo.

Pretend you haven't seen this before.

Last post we ended with me powering up my computer for the first time, after a smooth hardware assembly process. I’m the queen of hard.

What you want to do as you power up your computer for the first time is access your BIOS. To access your BIOS, you hit “delete” shortly after you turn the computer on.

I give it a try.

I hit “delete”.

Nothing happens and my computer stalls, trying to find an operating system.

I restart my computer.

I hit “delete”.

Nothing happens and my computer stalls, trying to find an operating system.

I restart my computer.

I hit “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete” “delete”.

Nothing happens and my computer stalls, trying to find an operating system.

I’m freaking out here. Panicking, crying, threatening to throw my computer through the wall. I turn to Twitter and 5-6 people scramble to find a solution to my problem.

They link me tech support thread after tech support thread. They share their own computer building problems history. They do everything they can to lend me some insight into what’s going wrong.

It took about an hour of ripping my hair out (hey, I promised hair-pulling drama!) to find the solution. In the end, I found it on my own. Not because I was smart, but rather because of the opposite. No one else thought of the solution because they overestimated me.


As I was browsing through a tech support thread (that I pulled up on my own), I came across this: “I’ve tried everything,” the poster wrote, “delete, F12, even escape…




I blame it on the long day (or if you want some encouragement: if someone who confuses “delete” with “escape” can build a computer, you can build a computer too. If you don’t get the joke, you forgot to read part 1).

More Problems with Going Soft

The next step is installing Windows. I set my BIOS to boot from CD, I pull out my Pirated copy of Windows, plop it in the CD drive, restart my computer. And nothing happens.

Off to Twitter I go.

Fannon gives me a call. “When using a Pirated copy, you need to make an ISO image you can boot from. Copy it onto a DVD and use that as your boot disk.”

I own no blank DVD. It’s 8:45pm. Walmart closes at 9pm. I can totally do this.

I get home with my blank DVDs (after getting pulled over by a cop… he must have sensed I was about to engage in illegal computer activity). I do the disk copying. It doesn’t work. Fannon calls again. After a 50$ conversation (I have a pay-as-you-go phone. Long distance calls are about 6$ a minute), we come to the conclusion that illegal software isn’t for me and that I should go out and buy Real Windows.

Walmart opens again at 9 am. I’m there, ready to purchase my Real Windows.

I plop Real Windows in the CD drive and it all works brilliantly. I’m overjoyed.

Until Windows couldn’t find my hard drive.

Stupid Windows. My hard drive is RIGHT THERE. You know, like, right under my CD/DVD drive. How can you miss it?

I try to fix it on my own. First, I look in the Windows manual.

Have you ever looked in the Windows manual? One would THINK that most of it would be about “How to install Windows“. And it would include a section on “How to install Windows when Windows doesn’t want to be installed“. And it might also have a section about “What to do when Windows is about to cause you to throw your brand new computer out the Window, then rip off all your clothes and run out onto the street screaming.

But noooooooooo. The Windows manual is all about “Windows is wonderful and lovely. Look at all these happy families sitting together, looking at Windows 7 and its heartwarming new features.”

It’s frustrating that there are so little options when it comes to operating systems. Rich non-gamers can use Mac systems. Programming geeks can use Linux. And for the rest of us, there’s Windows. Windows, which kind of does what it wants, when it wants.

It was someone on Twitter (I can’t remember who for the life of me, which I’m hugely apologetic for because I probably owe them my life) who found the answer for me. I had to do this “part disk” command to make a partition on my hard drive. Now, WHY that’s not in the Windows manual or on the Windows website, I have no stupid idea. But, yeah, “part disk”.

After that, Windows booted up just fine.

No, wait, I lie. Windows found my hard drive, but refused to do anything with my hard drive. I solemnly make my way to the closet and close my hand around the hammer hilt. Thankfully, at that moment, Vosskah calls me on Skype.

Vosskah: Take a deep breath, it’s ok, lets go through it together.
Me: *sob* Ok.
Vosskah: Let start over from the beginning so I know exactly what you’re doing at each step. I don’t want you to feel like I’m underestimating your-
Me: You realize you’re talking to someone who mistook “escape” for “delete” right?
Vosskah: … It, um, happens, now lets take it from the beginning.

Obviously, AS SOON AS I’M ON THE PHONE WITH SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP, Windows works just fine. It installs itself, I can use my computer, I download SWTOR (yay!) and I redo my WOW UI.

Don’t Worry, The Soft Tails Tales Go On

I bet you thought I was home free, you did you did you did!

I did too. Until I turned my computer off for the first time. Ok, no, that’s not true. It turned off just fine. Turning it ON again…

Apparently Windows lost my hard drive again. Desperately wanted to boot from the Windows CD. No matter what I did to my BIOS, it wanted its CD like a baby wants its mommy. Yet, when I gave it what it wanted, it tried to install Windows again.

Install Windows again, AFTER I spend 2 days downloading SWTOR and getting WoW ready?

I think not.

As usual, I turn to Twitter. “Very weird,” the experts tell me.

Some suggest disconnecting my CD/DVD drive, other recommend fiddling with my harddrive connection.

My dad was a computer geek and computer destroyer. After watching him wreck several machines in attempts to “fix them”, I learned that the solution rarely involves disrupting sleeping wires. Deep in my soul, I knew my CD/DVD drive AND my hard drive were fine. Google led me to believe that it was a partition priority problem. However, I did not know what partition priority was, or how to fix it. My thoughts returned to the hammer in the closet.

Before I could destroy my property, it was time for work. I turned off my computer again, and marched out the door.

The End

When I came home from work that day, I tried turning my computer on again. And Windows loaded normally. As if it hadn’t taunted me to destroy it earlier.

I then realized that my computer was male. Because when an inanimate object gives you grief and seems to do what it wants, when it wants, it is a sign. A sign that said object is of the opposing gender.

I don’t usually name things, but I’m thinking of “Joel”. It’s a guy, so it needs a guy name. My latest infatuation is JL – Jaime Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire (most of the crushes I’ve had in my life have been on fictional characters. Fake people are so much more alluring than real ones). JL sounds a little like Joel. So Joel it is. Even if my internet connection thinks the computer is named Eloise, after my WoW mage.


I never got my computer bug free. It still refuses to load sometimes.

But, you know, when it happens, Joel and I sit down and have a talk about our feelings. Usually, all he’s asking for is to be turned off, to be allowed a minute to prepare himself to be turned on again. And I’m ok with that. Our relationship. It isn’t perfect, but it works. I listen to him, and in return he lets me run WoW and SWTOR with the settings on ultra.

I’d say our relationship is pretty healthy, would you not?

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26 Comments on “Remember that one time I BUILT A COMPUTER? – Part 3”

  1. Windsoar Says:

    I’d definitely keep in touch with a Joel who let me keep my settings on Ultra.

  2. Smacker Says:

    Thanks for sharing your pain, it was worryingly enjoyable to read! This is my first point of call for pain like this:

  3. AliPally Says:

    You have killed any ambition I might have had to build my own computer. Totally and utterly dead. As a dodo! But kudos for sticking with it to the end. I don’t think I could have coped with the stress.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Oh no! Don’t let my troubles with Windows get to you! Building the computer WAS pretty easy, and the Windows problems I experienced are unlikely. Even with my troubles, I’d totally do it again. It’s definitely worth it.

  4. Fannon Says:

    I swear to god that I had no idea that I was costing you that kind of money! I felt guilty about it for days afterwards!

    I’m glad that you finally got it running, though! Welcome to the world of ultra graphics settings and the constant technology race to keep those settings as software gets ever more ridiculous in it’s system requirements. 🙂

    • Ophelie Says:

      Aww. The only reason I mentioned it in this post was because you asked me to.

      You were trying to help, no need to feel bad. If I had been really bothered, I would have just told you to move to skype. The beauty of pay as you go phones is that they just hang up when you run out of money. No surprise crazy bills at the end of the month.

  5. Maruka Says:

    I have to say, that despite your problems, I feel compelled to try and build my own computer. Out of the box systems are overpriced and overloaded with crap software that I don’t need or want. I think that I could use your experience as a reference and be able to muddle through. If I do decide to be a masochist and give computer building a try, I’ll keep a hammer handy for the frustrating, hair-pulling moments I’m sure to have.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Definitely go for it! It’s totally worth it.

      The actual building part is easy, and the chances that you’ll have trouble GETTING the parts or end up with an uncooperative Windows are slim.

      And, as I keep saying, if someone as clueless as me can do it, ANYONE can do it!

  6. Dang Fool Says:

    I built my own in 1980, 1989, and several times since, back much less frequently. Two years ago my older boy decided to upgrade a computer and I tried to sit back and watch. As it turned you, I was useless. Anything he couldn’t figure out, I couldn’t help (except with static grounding). Our travails pre-echoed yours.

    Last year, we considered our upgrade options…

    My wife enjoys her new store-bought computer! I’m happy to be keeping what little hair I have left!

    • Ophelie Says:


      From what Vosskah and CWB tell me, computers were actually waaaay harder to build back in the day, so you still get tons of bragging rights!

  7. Somnar Says:

    Yeah.. Pretty much sounds like my first time building one as well O.

    And the second.

    The third?

    Went perfectly until…

    I went to partition my hard drive. Easy right?

    As long as you don’t select DELETE when you mean to PARTITION.


    I’ll use my backup.

    Which.. I just deleted.


    • Ophelie Says:

      Yikes! Hopefully you didn’t have a whole lot on it yet. (I think my hard drive partitionned when I installed Windows, but this software thing is still way over my head)

      • I learned a long time ago to keep the important stuff on the non-tinkerers computer… So, it wasn’t too bad of a loss. And hey, at least I knew the full WoW installation is on the Cataclysm DVD this time around!!

  8. Saif Says:

    I’m glad your rig is finally up and running. 🙂 Congrats.

  9. Oestrus Says:

    The mental picture of you sobbing on Skype with Vosskah made me crack up laughing at my desk at work.

  10. Xsinthis Says:

    Computers can be fucking assholes can’t they? Lol

    Glad to see you got it all sorted out, great story!

  11. Rauxis Says:

    First of all – let me thank you for an enjoying read. I always wonder how “normal” people react to the problems I face on a daily basis.

    I have to disagree though – computers are female. But maybe you have the odd exemplar.

    As to your “sometimes my computer does not find it’s hard disc” problem. This sounds very much like you hard disk is not spinning up fast enough, and not ready in time for the BIOS and OS. Try to search in your BIOS settings for a “delay timer” that can be increased and see if the problem persists.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Nope this computer is a dude. He totally has a penis. Dude dude dude.

      I’ll check that out, thanks! I suspect the “does not find disc” occurs after Windows updates. When it happens, my BIOS screen takes longer than usual too.

  12. Rauxis Says:

    Windows updates occur on Tuesdays. But under normal circumstances there is no impact from the Windows update onto BIOS. In theory this can happen via the so called IPMI interface, but most motherboards in the consumer market don’t have the necessary BMC.
    Anyway – if the BIOS screen takes longer, you might be lucky and in a corner numbers are flashing. If a number stays for a long time, you can cross reference this number with the exact step in the BIOS boot cycle.

    good luck

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