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The Music Heats Up

The other day I was creating a CD on Maestro, my music studio computer, when I noticed hot air being exuded from the open CD drive. I reached down to feel the side of the PC. It was hot! Very hot! I took the side panel off and took a closer look. The power supply fan had seized up, and the power supply looked like it might melt at any time - I could not rest my fingers on it, in fact it was spit-sizzling hot if you want a graphic description. I quickly shut down the open applications and turned off the computer. I was suprised it was still running ok, but I guess the processor fan was still ok, so it didn't malfunction.

Anyway, that afternoon I made some phone calls to see if any place local had a 250W ATX power supply, and none did. I knew the place that would have it: PC Club on Sahara, or failing that, next door at CompUSA, a larger store in a popular chain.

At 4:30 I jumped in the car and drove 20 minutes down the freeway and walked in to PC Club.

Here's an aside: It must have been about 7 years ago that I made a trip from NZ to the States to see Lisa, and we drove to Vegas to visit Stan and Jeanne, and of course Stan had computer problems - probably a RAM upgrade - and he took us to PC Club which is where he got the machine from, or something like that. Anyway - my point is a) it's cool that a small hobbyist kind of place is still in business 7 years later, and b) never in a million years would I have imagined going there for my own PC needs. But I digress.

PC Club had lots of Power Supply Units (PSUs) sitting on a shelf, so I grabbed one, opened the box and checked that it was the right size, and bought it.

It was about 6:15 when I got home again. Traffic was a little stinky given the hour of the day... but I figured I had an hour before I wanted to start cooking (Farscape was on the SciFi channel at 8:00 and we've kind of got into the habit of watching it with dinner), so I lugged Maestro onto the kitchen table and disconnected the power supply, putting on the table next to the new one.

That's when I noticed that I had bought an AT-style power supply instead of an ATX one. (Basically, the connections to the motherboard are all different). Argh!

After some meditating, I decided to drive back out and see if I could swap the PSU for a more suitable one. I really didn't feel like driving back down the valley, but on the other hand, I wanted to get this out of the way - I didn't like the thought of Maestro being out of commission.

Traffic was lighter heading South on '95, and I took a slightly different route, having figured out on the last trip that there was an easier way to go. I walked in to PC Club and the clerks laughed at me as I held up Maestro's PSU saying "I made a mistake. I need one of these instead!" (This is a really newbie mistake, I was really annoyed at myself for getting confused.)

"Well, let's see," said John the sales clerk. "It looks like we don't have any 250W ATX PSUs," he observed, checking the shelves. "We do have these 350W ones, but they look like they'll be too big. We'll have some new ones delivered tomorrow, I think, do you want to call in and see?"

"Ah, well, I guess I could call," I replied, grumbling. I really didn't want to waste the second drive down and then drive down yet *again* the following day. I got a card with contact details and took my dead PSU and the new (wrong) one back the car and resigned myself to the inevitable.

It's a stupid driveway - you have to exit on to Sahara the wrong way, then do a U-turn to head back to Valley View in order to get back on the '95 Northbound freeway. After making the U turn (waiting for a gap *forever*, the traffic having gotten worse for some reason) and heading back to the intersection I see the red neon of CompUSA (which was next door to PC Club).

"Hang on," I thought. "They might have the right PSU. I should check them out." So I did *another* U-turn and headed back East on Sahara, pulling into the CompUSA parking lot.

I was still holding the dead PSU, dangling by its connector cables. They put a sticker on it at the door so that no-one would think I was stealing dead power supplies from CompUSA.

CompUSA did not have any 250W ATX power supplies. They did have two: a 400W and a 500W respectively. In frustration I opened one of the boxes to observe that they were the same size as the dead 250W one.

I discovered that CompUSA have display cases which are just the right height for beating one's forehead against.

I walked back to PC Club, still clutching Maestro's dead PSU. The sales clerks laughed a second time.

"OK, I've just seen 400W and 500W PSUs in CompUSA that are the same size as this one. Can we open one of the boxes of your 350W units to see if they are actually the same size?"

We did, and it was, and I made the exchange. OK, a bit more expensive than I'd thought, but it couldn't hurt to have a good quality and more capable power supply in Maestro anyway.

Once again, I drove out the wrong way, waited for a gap, made the U-turn, and headed for home.

There were at least two accidents on the freeway that delayed things a bit, but I did get home in time for Farscape and a wonderful dinner cooked by Lisa.

Maestro is running nice and cool now.

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