The Thing with the Video Card

Author’s note, I started drafting this several months back and never finished it. I share it now because what the heck else will I do with it? It’s like a story with no end. A burrito with no tortilla. A car with no gas. Enjoy.

So the other night I could scarcely sleep, and what I did instead is install a new video card in my own main home Windows machine. That machine runs Windows Server 2003 for reasons that continue to mystify me. Really I intend to convert to Ubuntu on this box, but that transition feels like it will be difficult and I don’t need that noise, jack.

I was prompted to install hardware because several months ago we ditched the last of our CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors and went flatscreen. This is better for the environment energy-consumption-wise and saves physical space. I in particular got a cheapo-widescreen Optiquest monitor ($200! less with a rebate!) — the model is Q20wb, an Optiquest.

I had used it on my aging Mac G4 computer and it looked great, but a few weeks ago I decided to switch the widescreen to the Windows box since, as the G4 ages, it gets more cumbersome to get real work done. The problem was I could not, with the video card and drivers I had set up in Windows, drive the widescreen. Instead it could do some random resolution, so that the screen, instead of looking nice at 1680 x 1050 pixels, was at something like 1280 x 1024. On a widescreen monitor, this meant that everything was scrunched vertically. This could not stand! So I switched back for a while and bided my time.

I asked my stepson Devon if he had any stray video cards, hoping I could buy one of his castoffs for $10 bucks. The young man always seems to have stray hardware from building game PCs. Sadly, no dice. However, he did provide me with this link on NewEgg to HIS Radeon 7000 64MB PCI Video Card. I hemmed and hawed for a few weeks, tried many different drivers, and never got a satisfactory result. Well, I splurged last week and bought it, and it arrived this week.

But when I installed it, I would boot and the screen was simply blank. No nothing. No dice. I could hear it booting.

I messed around with the net and eventually found this answer.

Of course, there are no permanent links on the ABSOLUTELY STUPID ATI SUPPORT SITE so whatever that link was is now lost to history.

I got it working but I was up all night and had to do some counterintuitive crap — I think I had to use Safe Mode then do some silliness. It was a big dumb nightmare and clearly I had the urge to write about it but perhaps it was too painful to revisit the steps I took. Thats’ my throry.

The lesson of this post, incomplete as it is, is this: HARDWARE SUCKS. HARDWARE SUPPORT WEBSITES SUCK. WINDOWS SUCKS.

I’m glad I could be of service.

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