July 25th, 2009

weird science, Eye: RCA Magic Eye, tech

The Computer Is Your Friend: Eeesh.

Back in May, you may recall, quelonzia got me a toy: a refurbished Asus Eee 900a Netbook.

And then I said nothing about it.

Well, the reason why I said nothing about it was because, after a couple of weeks, the thing started locking up in mid-boot. It came with a recovery DVD that could make a bootable USB Thumb Drive or SD card -- but the software on the DVD demanded Windows, and, well, there's not a Windows machine in the house.

Please note that the Eee runs a Linux variant, yet did not come with Linux recovery tools. *headdesk*

So, I talked to technical support, and, lacking the ability to make a recovery drive, they had me send it back for a replacement.

When the replacement arrived, it pulled the no-boot trick on the first day. This time, however, I had an SD card* with Eeebuntu loaded on it.

(Eeebuntu, as the name suggests, is an Eee-specific version of Ubuntu, the Linux distro I use on my desktop. I'd been planning to put Eeebuntu on the Eee all along, since I wanted more flexibility than the dumbed-down Linux that's loaded by the factory. The stock Eee OS won't even let you install new applications, at least not easily.)

This was a Monday. The thing ran happily on Eeebuntu until that Friday... when it locked up in mid-boot again.

Eeebunto, however, is a bit more verbose than the stock Eee OS. It actually told me that there were bad sectors on the Solid-State Drive (SSD).

I tried a few more things -- including using someone else's Windows machine to make a Recovery SD Card. That actually worked -- once. I was able to install it and get it to boot -- but not to REboot.

So, I sent a very detailed description to Customer Service, and they had me send it back. They confirmed the problem... and said that they couldn't replace it right away, and would we accept a refund instead?

At this point, I'm gun-shy about old, refurbished Eees with Solid-State Drives. A refund sounds a lot better than getting another 900A and just waiting for the drive to fail again.

So I have no toy, and I am a sad dragon. =(

On top of that, I failed yet again in upgrading my old wheezer video card.

*While both the packaged and online instructions insist that the Eee can boot from a USB thumb drive, I was never able to make that work.