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Computers & Software

The Death of SuperSluggo

The guts of SuperSluggo -- its PSU -- ripped out
The guts of SuperSluggo — its PSU — ripped out

SuperSluggo, my main computing machine (a self-built ATX monster tower with a Asus Striker 2 Formula motherboard running Ubuntu 12.04) died yesterday.  As is often the way with computers, it was fine the night before, but when I tried to switch it on yesterday there was no response.  No beeps, no lights, nothing.  SCD — Sudden Computer Death.  Technically this was a failure to POST, POST standing for Power On Self Test.  Frequently if there is a problem with software or a peripheral that has failed or bad memory, the computer at least gets through POST: a few beeps, something on the screen, then freezes.  Failure to POST usually means something serious, though it could be trivial, such as the computer is not plugged in.  Aside from no power, I believe the differential diagnosis is a loose power cable in the case (nice if it was that simple), a failed power supply unit (PSU), or a failed motherboard (ouch).  Less common would be a failed CPU (bigger ouch).  Opening up the case, I found that there was a reset light that lit up on the motherboard when I powered on.  So the PSU was not completely dead.  On the other hand the fan on the PSU did not start, and nothing else happened when I tried to power up.  Maybe a faulty PSU, but I still suspected something wrong with the motherboard.  My next move would be to either test the PSU’s output with a power tester, or just replace it.  I didn’t have a power tester.  According to their website Best Buy had an in-store replacement on sale.  I left to go pick it up.  Halfway to my car I made a decision: it would be better to let SuperSluggo stay dead.

Why?  I had a sneaking suspicion that the PSU was actually OK, and that a new motherboard would be required, in which case I should probably invest in a new CPU, new memory, etc.  Big bucks!  More importantly, I realized I didn’t really need it anymore.  Nowadays I use my computers mostly for development of my EP Mobile app.  I had been using a Mac Mini for the Apple iOS version, and SuperSluggo for the Android version (with the two computers linked by a KVM switch).  I didn’t need two separate computers to do this.  It is perfectly feasible to do Android development on a Mac (but the reverse is not possible — no Apple development in Ubuntu).  And as far as data on SuperSluggo’s hard drives, I already had all my pictures backed up on Google Drive, my programs on GitHub, my eBooks on DropBox, and my music on Google Music.  The stuff I hadn’t backed up I probably didn’t need and should have deleted anyway.  I can keep SuperSluggo’s drives and copy what I want from them at some point in the future.

So I’ve gone Mac-ward.  There are things I don’t like.  I can’t find anything using Finder.  I hate the ugly attempts to make an address book look like a physical address book with a cover and pages (so called skeuomorphism).  I don’t like using the “Apple” key to copy and paste and undo.  I don’t like having to click on a window first to change it and then click on a button to do something.  In Ubuntu and even in Windows, if you click a button on a non-active window, it both becomes and active and the button works at the same time.  But there are things I like.  Emacs key bindings are used by default when editing text.  I don’t have to switch between computers when developing EP Mobile.  I can make changes in both versions very easily at the same time.  Very efficient!

And without SuperSluggo’s 5 or 6 fans churning away constantly, my power bill will be lower too.

By mannd

I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.

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