Just to get you excited I'll hit you straight up with the exciting news: my computer started smoking!

Now I'm not going to do a George Lucas and not start at the beginning, so prepare to hear a saga of love, hate, sorrow, and passion. From the beginning.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away... uhh... back a couple of years ago, (2002/2003 I think) I went out and bought myself a brand spanking new computer that only had the top of the line components. The CPU was a 3.06GHz 533MHz FSB Pentium 4 and the motherboard a Gigabyte GA-8INXP which had got 9.5/10 reviews wherever it had been reviewed. It also brandished 1GB of DDR RAM using that newfangled (back then) dual stream tech. 120GB of brand spanking new SATA HDD. And EMCA (Even More Computer Acronyms)! :) It was state of the art, top of the line gear that kicked some major butt (especially over my previous P3 800MHz machine). I was happy.

The galaxy was in peace... uhhh... computer worked like a dream for just over a year. Then the Sith made their move. The motherboard died. The computer just refused to turn on. I would press the "ON" button and it would whir up... and do nothing. No POST. No screen output. Nothing.

So I rang Dodgy Brothers (aka Computer World) where I had bought my components and got kicked in the teeth. Apparently the board's warranty was only for one year. And one year had just past. "Damn, no warranty," I cursed. Of course, being the young inexperienced padawan that I was back then, I bought this sweet new tech just before it became redundant. P4 533MHz FSB was outdated to 800MHz FSB a few months after I bought the computer and the whole Socket 478 not long after that.

So getting a different motherboard was out of the question since mine was the best. So I said, "use the force Luke"... uhh... "I'll just get the same motherboard again; mine must have just been dodgy." 350 bucks later (because the initial price was so high ($450) Dodgy Brothers couldn't sell it any lower or they'd make a loss) I came happily home with a new motherboard.

Peace reigned in the Republic for just under a galactic year. The computer worked like a dream. Then the motherboard kicked the bucket again. Same problem. "Aha!", I thought, "Inside the warranty this time!". So I sent it in to Dodgy Brothers. They took it and around a month later (I almost died waiting. You just don't separate a Jedi from the Force. Its just not cool.) the replacement came in. I installed it and it worked no problems.

Then, not long after, around the middle to the end of 2005, my fellow Jedi (cousin) Patrick, who had bought the same components for his lightsaber... uhh... computer as I had, was caught in the gaze of a Sith Lord. His motherboard (the same as mine) died in the same way as mine. He sent his in for warranty, with Dodgy Brothers telling him that the warranty on our boards was three years (they told me one year). So I had bought that second board for nothing. Those damn Neimoidians at Computer World (Dodgy Brothers) had ripped me off!

But the war with darkness was not yet over. Six months passed and this time the Sith were better prepared with a counter-attack, and they had something new up their sleeve. In December 2005, my motherboard developed leaky capacitors (Image). For those who don't know, this is where the acid inside the capacitor leaks out. Not good. However, the board still worked. Mostly. Like Anakin, it was given to small tantrums where it was simply refuse to boot, beeping motherboard error codes that said whinged randomly about broken graphics cards and motherboard faults. However, a few simple restarts would get it going again.

But the dark side had infected it, and there was no going back. By the end of January 2006, it would only boot 10% of the time. So, just before I went away skiing in Canada on the exotic planet Earth which lies in the Outer Rim, I sent the motherboard back into Dodgy Brothers for warranty.

Buying a new model of motherboard at this point to avoid warranty and get a new model of motherboard was out of the question. Motherboards of the same socket (Socket 478), which became redundant soon after I bought it, weren't being sold, let alone made any more. So I was stuck with waiting for warranty.

Around one and a half months later I got another motherboard back. Same model, and according to Dodgy Brothers, apparently new. It worked when I installed it, but around a week later it started not booting, and I'd get weird graphical corruptions and freezes in Windows... sometimes. *Sarcasm* Sure its a new motherboard, Dodgy Brothers. I spent lots of time probing with the Force (aka my screwdriver), trying to find the problem.

Software, hardware, I tried it all. It seemed like both the graphics card and the motherboard were stuffed. Sometimes the motherboard sometimes decided not to boot. The graphics card randomly froze the computer with graphical errors (Image) and refused to reproduce the problem when put in someone else's computer. It often would work fine and I would get happy, stealing precious half-hours of Oblivion or Star Wars Empire At War. But always, it would eventually die.

So I turned to Jedi Knight Patrick. After his motherboard also died he ended up buying another model of Socket 478 motherboard. He was able to do this because he bought it far enough back in time there were still some on the shelves. He was forced to buy an entire new board because Dodgy Brothers has yet to (even to this date) send him a replacement board for the one in warranty. But again, the Sith were not far behind. His computer also just started stuffing up for no reason: BSODs in Windows, underperforming graphics to the point of unplayability. Eventually he was forced to destroy his dark-side turned Padawan... uhh... computer. Shutting away his grief at such potential in the Force lost, he bought a laptop.

So he lent me his graphics card (now a spare part) so I could play Oblivion. And it worked... until the Sith got wind of our plan. His graphics card started having corruptions, worse than my card (!), to the point that they were evident in the BIOS and on other people's computers when it was installed in theirs. We will never know the full extent of the Sith's involvement with that tragedy: whether my motherboard killed his card or it just died on its own.

So I installed my old GeForce 4 from WAAAY back so I could at least use the computer for storage. And everything was peaceful for a few weeks... then disaster struck.

This week, studying for my University exams, I set up my computers so that I had slides from lectures at the Jedi Academy... uhh... Swinburne on my laptop and was using my main computer to type notes. I dragged my sorry carcass through days of Introduction to Business Information Systems (IBIS: possibly the worst subject in existence) study and today I hit 9000 words and 33 pages of notes. All saved on my computer.

The Sith's plotting never ended, and I, relaxing, was taken off guard when my computer froze while I was typing notes. "OK", I thought, "I'll just restart." Nothing. No boot. Recognise the situation? I started disconnecting things, hoping that would fix the problem. Then I turned on my computer.

FIRE! Or perhaps just smoke. Whatever, the Sith struck their final blow to the Republic. My computer smoked and I screamed and turned off the power. The room was full of an acrid haze and I found that one of the power cables for the floppy disk drive had come out of its plug and shorted on the case, the wire going red hot and burning through the plastic covering it.

The computer still doesn't turn on. The shroud of the Dark Side has fallen and all has been lost. Well, I don't think the short damaged anything, but I can't tell because the computer didn't work anyway.

Here are some pictures of the destruction:

  • Image - You can see the wire loose from the floppy power connector where it ought to be.
  • Image - A nice overexposed photo of the burnt wire
  • Image - The plastic on the wire is completely deteriorated

So unlike in George Lucas's stories, this saga ends on an unhappy note. My computer doesn't want to boot, and my files are lost (the main thing that wasn't backed up was the 33 page 9000 word IBIS notes, and other stuff like all my Steam apps (CS:S, HL:2 etc)). My hard drives are SATA and in a striped RAID configuration so I can't just slap them in another machine to get the data back.

But its OK. I was never going to read those IBIS notes again, anyway. The learning was in actually typing them out. Even though I still don't know most of that stuff. All my other stuff is either backed up on my laptop, a copy available from Jedi Knight Patrick, or is less important things (still annoying, however) like save games and images of Office 2007 Beta that I can afford to lose.

"But George Lucas... uhh... DC," you ask, "How did the Sith manage to destroy each board you and Jedi Patrick ever got, even though some were new?" "A good question, my young Padawan," I reply. Since I can't find any reports on the Internet of anyone else having problems with my motherboard model, I think that Dodgy Brothers got a dodgy (geddit!?) batch of my motherboard, and so every single one they sold had the flaw that eventually killed it. The one that got repaired in warranty actually didn't die the same as all the others, and instead died of leaky capacitors, another stroke of the Sith (or bad luck).

But its all OK. Soon, in a few weeks, I'll get an entirely new lightsaber... uhh... computer. And then perhaps the Sith will leave me alone.

*Scene zooms out with a nasty Sith laugh echoing away into the background and then cuts to credits with a circular wipe and loud Star Wars music*