By Kyle Kulyk

Nothing can cut into productivity quite like a suddenly deceased workstation. Trying to develop a game without your workstation is a bit like Britney Spears trying to do a concert without her choreographers, songwriters, musicians, personality coaches, people to record her tracks for her and play them while she lip syncs, etc. In essence, a developer without a computer is a bit like a carpenter without a hammer. Or nails. Or wood.

Our workstations are the conduits of our genius (or what we like to think is genius). They are highly personalized instruments of everything that is cool and productive in our work days and that is why it is maddening that these fragile beasties can up and die if you look at them funny.

For me recently, it was because I dropped something a little heavier than a paperback novel on its side on top of my computer case. Having suddenly lost my connection to the internet, I did what I always do. I reached for my cable modem perched on top of my computer to perform a reset. In doing so, I knocked it over onto its side. At that very moment, my case fan at the rear of the machine lurched to a grinding halt.

“Oh oh,” I said out loud. Fans cool computers. Need fan so computer doesn’t overheat. Overheat bad. As I was at the rear of my machine anyway, I reached for the power switch and flipped it off so I could further diagnose this problem. I imagine this somehow compounded my problem, but when something goes wrong – you turn it off, right?

I checked to make sure there was nothing hitting my fan blades. I poked the blades with the inside of a pen to make sure they could still spin. I fired it back up.

The fan started right back up – the lights came on, but no one home. No happy, start-up beep that always greeted me when I booted up saying “Hi Kyle! Glad you’re back! We’re going to have a great day!” No image on the screen. Not even a white message on a black background to say “System is screwed. What did you do? Don’t expect Windows to start now, buddy.”

It was dead. My Frankenstein’s Monster of a machine, my workstation that I’ve had for over 15 years without a single original part on it other than an old floppy disk drive that hasn’t seen action since aught one was dead. What did I do wrong? Was it negative energy? Did I not treat it well? What are these machines made out of? Political promises?

So, I dragged my out-of-touch old ass down to the local Memory Express to replace the guts of my machine so I could get back to work. It was there that I quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing anymore. What do you mean I can’t use my current memory? Just dust those babies off. Who do I have to kill to get a motherboard with a Parallel ATA slot? What do you mean that i3 will run better than that i5? What the hell is an i3? Or i5 for that matter. I7? Are you trying to piss me off now, sonny?

After an epic configuration battle and some tweaks to improve overall system performance my system now lives again. Who knew that in order to have Windows 7 not freak out about memory issues and actually boot, you need to have USB legacy set to “Auto” and not “Enabled”? I certainly didn’t. I’m not even sure what prompted me to think that might be the issue in the first place. It certainly wasn’t the vague error messages I received. “Warning. Windows 7 cannot boot. Probably due to hardware issues. Maybe memory. Wanna run a test of some kind? We’ll warn you now though, the results will be inconclusive.”

I’m back up now, writing codes, collaborating with the team and building worlds to a soundtrack of Glenn Danzig playing as I work. I’ve lost hours of productivity, but I’m back at it again. At least until the next time my Internet goes down.