Aesop has put me through hell this week but I think I've finally come out on top - which is sort of what I like about her - how hard she makes me work to not let her fail on me. This time her main problems were a) dragging ass in general starting a few weeks ago and b) only getting 16-25mbps download speeds this week after upgrading to a 50mbps Internet connection (an upgrade I didn't ask for but apparently won't be charged for, so what the hell).
The 'dragging ass' was bad enough but the lack of online speed drove me nuts pretty much instantly. Though my last install of XP was probably less than six months old I figured re-installing might be my best best but when I tried to I couldn't get any install discs to work - not my own ('corrupted ghoster.txt' error), not my copies ('ghoster.txt' error), not my fiance's (every error out there from 'operating system not found" to all kinds of corrupted files and folders, to installs that just hung eternally on the first "Windows is starting" screen you get right after files are unpacked but before Windows starts installing).
Thanks to him being a computer tech he literally has five different copies of XP Pro - some slipstreamed with SP2, some not - several copies of XP Home, one copy of XP Media Edition, two copies of Win 7 - including one you can install any version of 7 from Basic to Pro to Ultimate from - and a few copies of Win 8 and 8.1 (which I can't run on this motherboard). Not one of those damn discs would work, which told me it wasn't the discs, it was a hardware issue.
He was at work and I was on the phone with Comcast while trying to do the reinstall, which was going very, very badly, so I began texting him each time Comcast put me on hold about the error messages and hanging 'starting Windows' screens and asked if it was in fact the hard drive failing like the Comcast tech had suggested the day before. Finally he told me to switch the CD burner out as he was thinking that might be the problem. So I took the CD burner off his computer, took the CD burner off my computer, hooked his CD burner up, fired up my rig and the installs started unpacking a few more files before failing but every one of them still failed. Even my Vista disc failed and my Vista disc never fails (unfortunately, since I should never use Vista).
After a few hours of multiple failed installs in which I blew through five reps at Comcast (I wasn't in a bad mood over all this or anything - noooo, nuh uh, not me!) I decided to go lie down and read a John Steinbeck novel and after turning the last page a few hours later fell asleep. Hours later I got up, made dinner and after cleaning that up the fiance decided to go have a look at Aesop. On some sort of inexplicable hunch he decided to pull one of her 1GB RAM chips out and restart the computer; after that XP SP2 installed just fine. "It's your memory!" he shouted. "Oh, bullshit", I shot back. I felt like telling him he just got lucky (and no, not in the way he might have hoped).
After XP finished installing I insisted on putting the RAM back in against my computer tech's advice. I checked it in BIOS and it read just fine (and it was reading just fine right up until I reinstalled XP). I checked it in Windows under Computer-->Properties after the re-install and the OS was reading it just fine, too, but the computer was still running like shit: it was using 100% CPU the second I opened Firefox or Internet Exploder (version 6 because SP2) and freezing if I tried to run both browsers at once and IE wouldn't open a single webpage but rather than say "page not found" it gave me obscure "cannot open http://thiswebsite.com" errors.
At a loss what to do, I figured it was running like shit because SP2 so I took my computer tech's copy of SP3 (which I could not download online because of the IE errors) and ran it while I mused about a particular Comcast rep's personality failings. It wasn't done installing updates and ready to go until about 4am, at which point I went back to bed. When I got up today the computer was still running like shit but at least it had IE8, which was opening webpages just fine. But my download speed was still stuck at between 5mbps-19mbps - and I was getting pissed.
So I did what I usually do when Aesop's got my ass good: puttered around and made dinner. After cleaning that up, taking a shower, folding laundry and doing anything else around the house I could think of just to avoid dealing with her, I realized I'd run out of things to do.
Turning the computer back on, I observed it was still running like shit, so for shits and grins I pulled off the Ethernet cable that my computer tech fiance gave me a while back because it's the extra-long kind to account for where I have the computer versus where the modem is, dragged the computer across my desk over to the modem, plugged in the short yellow cable Comcast gave me and ran an Ookla speed test. Bam! 56mbps down, 11 up. Now we're talking! But the computer was still running like shit and webpages were definitely not loading nearly as fast as 50mbps would seem to suggest. Like, that would suggest 'instantly'? No, my webpages were loading like I was on dial-up.
So I started googling the issue (I think my exact search query was [how to utilize 50mbps connection speed on XP]) and hit on a Comcast forum where someone suggested using Comcast's TCP/IP optimizer, which is designed specifically for XP. My first thought was, "I didn't know Comcast had a TCP/IP optimizer - why didn't the Comcast tech we just had out here tell me this?" (Because chances are he doesn't know they have one, either.) So I got it and ran it (you have to run it from IE for some reason, which admittedly kind of blows). But other than the IE requirement it's completely awesome. It offers fine-grained TCP/IP tuning options such as:
- Performance – Up to 15 Mbps with PowerBoost®
- Blast!® – Up to 20 Mbps with PowerBoost®
- Ultra – Up to 30 Mbps with PowerBoost®
- Extreme50 – Up to 50 Mbps
It was a bit confusing because the tool is obviously getting old so now Extreme50 = Blast!® while Extreme50 is probably Extreme105 by now, but at any rate I chose Extreme50 and rebooted when it told me to. Now, not only do my webpages load almost instantly but the computer's running like a dream. Apparently the problems the network stack was having with my Extreme50/Blast connection were reverberating throughout my system, slowing everything down, so I guess I'll be keeping my supposedly fucked-up RAM stick, after all. Stuff like this is why, as always, I'd prefer to be my own computer tech: I don't do such a bad job on my own, thankyouverymuch.
As for my latest Comcast issues, I'll have to wait until at least Monday to post more on that because I never got the email confirmation on the $155 credit that the last rep promised I'd get, and for some reason there was no confirmation number she could give me for it, either (yeah, I wonder why?) so I'm going to have to start all over again with that on Monday. If they won't make this right - if they're really going to give me a hard time? I'm going to report them to every authority out there for fraud and just outright accuse them of trying to get over on me so some rep could make their numbers for the month - seriously, I have HAD it.