Friday, August 12, 2016

Genericide Update: A Cocktail of Slapstick Sorrow

Note: This one goes a little long, and is basically just me whining, so here’s the important bit: No updates yet. Maybe not next week either. Blame computer stuff. kthanxbai

I considered starting this post with a big hulking paragraph of parable all just to set up for my usual joke about inconsistent updates. Then I realized if I were making a metaphor for disappointment, the cleverest thing to do would be disappointing you! Actually, that’s a lie. I just got lazy. Hey, whaddaya know, mission still accomplished! I think I’ve found the perfect excuse, guys. That’s the real reason I don’t update with a full post each week, obviously. It’s not that I can’t be arsed to kick my cerebrum into gear, it’s that the whole thing is a deep artistic statement. An incredibly convenient deep artistic statement.

Right right, real reasons as follows: Remember in my last update post how I said I was going to build a computer? Remember how I also said that I have the technical aptitude of a time traveler from King Arthur’s court, in an ingenious set-up for comedic hijinx on the big screen? Well, those two details combined into a cocktail of slapstick sorrow exactly as you’d expect. Apart from the movie thing. This den of frustration and sadness was projected only onto the grim tableau that was my last week. Admit One: Disappointment. Showing times at 4:00, 6:30 and 9:00. Okay the metaphor is starting to break down, and I confess it might be a tad melodramatic. I just wanted to use the phrase grim tableau, okay?

The grimness of my tableau aside, it really has been an aggravating and unrewarding experience. My week has been roughly split into the following thirds, apart from sleep and my day job: One third has been staring hopelessly at a mass of parts, manuals and help forums, eyes wide and weary and heart awash with regret. Another third has been spent harumphing off to do something else while pointedly ignoring the tidy debris that has aggressively consumed my room. Ignoring these things is hard, because I’ve got like 5 square feet of floor space not occupied by screws, cords, washers, boxes, bigger screws, manuals, screwdrivers, displaced knicknacks, and screws.

Last but not least, the final third. A constant war has been raging in this room over the preceding week. Two combatants of unparalleled force have waged a ceaseless battle here. The first of these mighty metaphorical martial masters was myself. The second was my incredible aptitude for stupidity. The truth is I can’t blame all my troubles on some malicious third party. I doubt there are executives at computer parts manufacturers out to spite me. No one is placing hidden cameras so they can cackle at my frustration as they sit down to their breakfast bowl of Sorr-Os.

Turns out having no knowledge of how to build a computer makes it hard to build one, even with the aid of online guides. I expected that. What I really should’ve accounted for was that this could take much longer than I thought. Or that as a person not particularly fond of physical arts and crafts/building projects, I would...well, hate is such a strong word. Accurate, however, is much easier to say!

The takeaway here is that my frustration is mostly my own fault. So no, I can’t blame anyone for the irritating journey that was this week.


...but damnit, I can try.

Though it didn’t have much effect on assembly, I just want to go on record that absolutely every piece of computer hardware on the market has been inflicted with a horrible epidemic of Fantastically Stupid Names. These twisted titles make 1337-speaking teens look like your English teacher. Even fluffy animal memes would gaze upon these train wrecks of written communication and return a paper with “wow, such seeing me after class.”

Graphics cards have it the worst, where the disease is sadly terminal. Usually the layman can wade through this literary sludge with effort, but the arcane markings that adorn GPU packages were not meant for mortal men to comprehend. Thankfully, the issues of purchasing were waylaid by my helpful companions, whose minds have been tempered by years of careful research, cultural osmosis, and generally giving a shit. I enlisted their aid to transcribe these ancient hieroglyphics, so buying parts was slightly stressful, but fine. The same cannot be said for physical assembly.

The manuals for these computer parts have varied wildly in usefulness. Some of them have clear and concise instructions with helpfully labeled diagrams. Others are about as understandable as GPU names. I once saw a diagram that featured nothing but various unlabeled plugs being shoved into appropriate connections in a white void. No context to show me where the connection is. No labels to show me what type of plug it is, or where to find it. The text for that segment, in about 40 different languages, merely said: “Connect cables to internal connectors.” Who is this for? Some parts of this process assumed that I already knew what I was doing, how everything worked, proper precautions to be taken, the correct correspondence courses that need to be taken as prerequisites, the proper color clothing to receive a 30% Feng shui bonus towards computer assembly, etc. Meanwhile, someone saw fit to waste half a page letting me know that the 24-pin cable goes in the connection with 24 slots.

The only resource less equipped to tell me things than manuals was the internet. Googling anything about computer parts leads to dozens upon dozens of reviews saying more or less the exact same things about how they perform. Then deep amidst the pit of people fussing about the ergonomic design of casings there will be a couple emaciated forum posts with sorta kinda somewhat similar problems to mine. These posts had two variants. In the first every post was by the same person, their question unanswered or later replaced by the ever reviled “Nevermind fixed it.” The second type was an unending avalanche of suffocating technical speak and performance comparisons that went miles above my head. When I eventually unraveled scarce hints of normal communication from these, they were inevitably about things far higher-level than my dumbass queries on how to plug shit in.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to affix my CPU fan. It had a confusing looking whatsit that I guess is called an x-bracket, more things to attach and connect than all the other far more expensive parts and approximately twice as many kinds of screws assembly actually required. It wouldn’t have been that bad were it not for two factors: 1. The manual was entirely in diagrams, and not particularly clear ones at that. 2. It took me hours and dozens of forum posts until someone mentioned that the screws on the x-bracket were adjustable. Turns out I just had to push them in from the underside and slide them over and suddenly they fit perfectly. This fact was not mentioned anywhere else, including the manual, not even in picture form. Hell, in the forum post in question it was an offhand comment. Thus 4 hours were spent on a twenty minute task. Trust me, I’m more embarrassed about it than you are.

So to recap: Fun times were not had. And I fully realize that most of these things don’t shift blame from me. But when you’ve had a long and frustrating experience, realizing it was all because you’re a moron doesn’t typically improve your mood. So this week, instead of real content you got to listen to me bitch and moan about my computer incompetence.’re welcome?

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