After my last post in which I talked about my computer crashing woes. I had a couple of really helpful responses suggesting that the problem might be bad RAM. This was quite useful because I’d been thinking that everything inside the box was cleared as good, when that was not the case. The symptoms pointed to a hardware issue. So this morning I took my crash log and my computer over to Mireya at JPL Computers. She opened it up and helped me test all the RAM inside individually. This mostly consisted of putting each piece of RAM in all by itself and then seeing if the machine would boot. We found one stick of questionable RAM and one slot that was dusty. We reassembled it and checked it twice. No troubles booting.
I brought it home, plugged it in, and it crashed. I pulled out all of the old RAM, leaving only the brand new RAM. It crashed. I tried to think what could possibly be different in my house from when it worked fine in the store. Then I tipped the computer over to lay on its side. We had done all the testing with the panel open and the computer on its side. I restarted the computer and it has run without crashing since 5pm.
I’m not done with the trouble shooting, but my current theory involves a short or loose part. This afternoon I hurried to get my accounting done. Every momentary pause in response made me fear another crash. So I plowed through, getting as much work done in the window of time while the computer had decided to work. I didn’t get through all of it. I ran out of brain, so hopefully the computer will also work tomorrow.
As a tangential note, this whole experience has taught me not to think of a computer as a magic box, but instead as a conglomeration of bits any of which might break. I feel more competent now, but I would like to move on to the part where my magic box just does the work I ask it to do without causing me stress.