So, instead of "a nice quiet three day weekend" where I sit around and watch movies and do nothing ... I basically went all out and hit the "honey do" list - and my own list.
I wanted to share the "computer" side of things - my family doesn't appreciate the magnitude of what I've done ... I had to share with SOMEONE.
Our house consists of 5 desktops;
- Whitebox (TV capture box, digital hub)
- Shanebox (my desktop)
- Christinabox (my wife's PC)
- Gamebox (my MAME cab/kid's computer)
- Filebox (central file server - backup repository - overflow)
Several issues were plaguing the household;
- Filebox and Gamebox; noisy as hell. The CPU/case fans were like listening to twin Xbox 360s. The filebox power supply was going out too.
- Upgrade the Whitebox; more hard drive space, better video card, better CPU. The current one is in a Dell box
- Redistribute the wealth of the roughly 2.5TB of hard drive space more appropriately.
Let's start with the Filebox. Decently powered box (largely wasted on a file server). I started off cleaning the CPU fan. Quieter, but still loud. Got a CPU fan on the side for a future project. More in a minute.
The gamebox was in this big scary "alienware" looking box I got from a friend for free (lots of blue lights and crap) - and it's so big, it was like WEDGED into my MAME cab. I decided to go with a mid-size tower case and cut it down a bit in size and make it easier to access from the back.
So I transferred all the internals from the alienbox to the new box. Overall, it worked out well. Only missed hooking up the DVD drive before putting the whole thing back in the MAME cab. Since it's the girl's box, I rarely hit it and do updates. So I did Windows/AV/etc updates on it.
That was the easy one. After junking the case, and seeing how good it looked, I decided to buy a new case for the whitebox. It's HIGH visibility in the living room and the old Dell case looked like ass. That, and I needed more room for hard drives I went out and got a very nice case - in fact - it even looks like a speaker! (I'll post pics later) Naturally, the Dell internals couldn't be moved out (forgot all about that).
What to do ... I was set to buy another MB/CPU/RAM combo, but just didn't see the need ... maybe, there would be another way.
Right, the filebox .. it's LOW visibility (under my desk) and pretty damn overpowered (P4/3.2Ghz). Let's gut it - build a new whitebox out of it.
Now, the whitebox has a LOT of configuration; Beyond TV, Media Portal, Firefly - lots of settings ... lose'em and the family will revolt. LOTS of backing up, copying.
Lots of little problems along the way.
First off; distributing hard drives without copying 200+GB per drive around. I wanted to INCREASE the size of the whitebox, leaving an adequate amount for the filebox.
Couple this with the fact that I inadvertantly broke one of the CPU fan clips, causing the meshing of the CPU and fan/heatsink to slip, making the CPU overheat constantly (took me a LONG time to find this - it wasn't apparently). I wasn't able to get a replacement right away, so I returned to the "new" filebox - the old Dell box.
Now, this should have been easy - right? Just adding drives, creating a new windows install (never use an old XP install on new hardware), restoring the config, etc.
Well - normally - yeah. I DID forget, however, that IDE2 on the systemboard was flakey - which is why I'd put in a PCI-to-IDE card. I figured, I could put in 8 drives all total, but suffice to say, after a lot of drive swapping and BSing, I remembered the issue and started using IDE1 and the PCI IDE card. A couple of drives went kablooey (didn't lose data, one was empty, one was dying, but I got the data off). A couple of drives gave me some troubles on the PCI card (I see jumpers in my sleep now).
I got 5 drives into the system - now with about 1.5TB. Got a FRESH XP on it. Fresh copies of all the necessities. The configs restored beautifully - except the capture cards had to be redetected by BTV and I had to change like 40 paths in Media Portal for my content.
Another great problem... The onboard Ethernet port wouldn't detect, and they didn't offer it at MSI's homepage. I have a great service called DriverAgent.com (the best $30 a year I spend) that will automagically pull down ANY drive for ANY device (pretty much) without knowing CRAP - all browser based, super intellgent. Great stuff. Even works in Opera. But how do you get an ethernet driver from the internet without a working NIC? ... Steal from Paul to pay Peter. I snagged a NIC from my wife's computer, it was detected by XP, I got on Driver Agent, got the other NIC online - pulled the other one. Heh. What a pain in the ass.
As a bonus, during all the moving around and hub bub, my internet seemed to go down (as did my cable). After awhile, it turned out to be a combo "who'dve thunk it" problem; bad cable and a shorted out coax. Real pain.
Finally, the whitebox went up.
Got the Dell up now - only a couple of drives in it - but will add more later when I get some good deal on a phat drive.