My desktop computer has been playing up for months now. In fact it hardly gets switched on; there are random crashes, black screens, strange noises. Luckily I learned from a previous hard drive failure never to keep anything valuable on it and I now have an external hard drive on which I keep anything important.

I think it’s the processor that is the problem but I can’t be sure. When it (finally) reboots it loads the bios and tells me that there was a problem with the hardware, and it is on the bus speed of the processor; indicating that this is the problem.

I’ve had blue screens of death too, and these indicate a memory problem according to the searches I’ve done with the numbers provided, so there may be more to the problem that just the processor.

But this is only the half of it. There are two pieces of software on the computer that are hardware dependent (excluding Windows itself) and these are Antics and Sophocles. Both were installed long before any problems started appearing.

In fact, apart from hardware faults (the previous hard drive went up in smoke, actual smoke) there have been no problems whatsoever with this computer. I put it down to not going on the net with that computer and only installing software that is going to stay on the hard drive. In the four years I have had it it has been on the net a total of about half an hour.

And this leads me to the first problem. I slotted in a modem when I needed one and took it out when I didn’t. The first being rarely and the latter being the rest of the time. So, when it starts to randomly switch off and other parlour tricks I need a modem to de-activate Antics. Guess what I can’t find?

I finally get a glut of modems from friends and last night I wage war with the computer for hours.

Firstly getting the thing to stay on for longer than five minutes. This involves switching it off and unplugging it then leaving it for five to ten minutes. After about an hour of this it stays on. But I have to switch it off as it isn’t recognising the modems. This involves another half hour of slotting in and out various modems.

I get one that windows likes and AOL doesn’t work with it. I get into a constant loop with AOL checking for available numbers, telling me there aren’t any numbers for my area, giving me the numbers that aren’t available, then going online to check for the numbers.

A few more reboots and I give up, installing another dial up.

By this time it’s close to or after midnight but I am online!

So I load up the Antics activation utility and, after I hunt for and find my activation key, Antics is deactivated from that machine.

This leaves Sophocles. I’m not too concerned about this as I have the 2007 beta on my laptop but it would be nice to have Sophocles available. Perhaps something about the fate of this software will turn up one day.

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