It has been decades since I’ve been intimately involved with the technical side of IT, but every once in a while I like to reestablish touch with my inner geek. Usually this involves writing an Excel or Outlook macro to accomplish some mundane task, and I get that thrill one experiences when a couple hundred lines of code work together to accomplish something useful.
Recently, my Dell desktop computer went on the fritz, and as these things usually happen, it occurred well out of warranty. The motherboard is a proprietary part, and no longer cost effective to replace, so I elected to build a custom desktop, something I haven’t done in several years.
In my teens, building a computer was usually more economical than buying, and I would map out the number of lawns I needed to mow for that hot new graphics card, or speedier processor. Now, any of the major brand-names beat home-built PC’s on cost, but building allows one to customize the computer to their particular needs, and allows the use of standardized commodity parts that can be quickly replaced. With overnight shipping nearly free, this allows for better service than most available warranties while allowing me to build a powerful computer that is also virtually silent.
At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon (who walked to school uphill both ways) modern computer builds are much easier than my middle school days. No longer must one source all manner of expansion cards, wrestle with the nuances of IRQs, and spend the better part of a day connecting component, hitting the power switch, and sighing as nothing appears on the screen for the umpteenth time, or a floppy drive spins endlessly due to an upside down connector.
While not for everyone, assembling a custom computer takes about the same level of effort as most household projects, no more tools than a screwdriver, and is a neat way to reconnect with your inner geek.