This morning when I went to use my laptop, everything seemed a bit kaput.
The wireless adapter was associated with the access point, but nothing was
happening. I went to my wired desktop PC and tried to bring up the web
interface for the access point, and it wouldn't come up. This struck me as
weird. Then I noticed that the stack of computing gear I have crammed into
the wardrobe of the study seemed a bit quieter than usual. This was because
caesar, my PC which is my "everything" (firewall, ADSL termination point,
file server, fax gateway) box was off.
I checked the power to it, and couldn't get it to switch on. If I pulled the
power cable and reinserted it, it'd flash some power lights briefly but then
I pulled the lid off, and poked around and concluded that perhaps the power
supply had died. Luckily there was a computer fair today, so
I headed out there to try and find preferably a new micro-NLX case, as I
didn't like my chances of getting just a power supply of the right size and
Lucked out on the case, so I bought a $25 ATX power supply with the
intention of using it and leaving the lid off and generally doing lots of
dodgey power stuff to power the box from the ATX power supply externally.
Got home, tried that, and a pop and a bad smell later, I declared that if it
actually wasn't the motherboard that had been dead before, it probably was
now, as the box was still exhibiting the same behaviour with the external
So I raced back to the computer for a second time, and managed to get there
within the last 30 minutes before closing time and bought a 1.7 Ghz Pentium
IV Compaq Evo with 256Mb of RAM and a 20 Gb hard drive for $350. I got home,
slapped the old hard drive in it, and everything just worked, which was
I've got to say that apart from the stupid proprietary screws, this box is
so nice to work on. You can get the lid off without using any tools, and
then the CDROM, floppy and hard drives are on a tray that flips up and lets
you get at the CPU and DIMM slots. The hard drive takes some wide
proprietary screws that allow it to just slot into a holder for it, that has
a quick release catch. I really liked that, and was prepared to put up with
the stupid screws for that feature.
The PCI slots are on a riser card, and that is attached to a separate
chassis, and you can just rip that straight out, riser and all, and seat the
PCI cards comfortably and then reseat the whole box and dice when you're
All in all, I think it was a good buy, so if I can get another one as a
sacrificial play box at the next computer fair I probably will.