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I hate Hewlett-Packard's software.

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Edit: I'm working on a logo which will not be used for a while,
so the ugly gray will be there.

Wondering where I've been? Well, probably not, but I'm going to tell you anyway. My computer has been completely borked. I don't mean borked like "OMG windows with boobies on them are popping up everywhere!!1," I mean borked like, "The file Hal.dll could not be found. Please insert the windows CD to re-copy this file and ensure stable operation of this computer."

The problem was, the only windows CD I had was the one that came with my computer five years ago was one of those Dell reinstallation CDs (you'd never know it was a Dell after all the part changing I've done to it, in fact, the only part that it still has in common is a stick of RAM). At one point I bought a new motherboard to install a 939 processor, and I used that Dell reinstall CD as a way to reinstall windows. Little did I know that OEM CDs can only be used on one hardware configuration. I ended up having to buy a new copy of windows (I didn't make the same mistake this time, and convinced my parents to get me a retail CD).

So why did "Hal.dll" get removed? Well, recently I got a new printer/scanner/copier/faxer, a Hewlett-Packard PSC 1410. It was really cheap, like seventy bucks from newegg. Well, in order to install it, you have to install at least 400MB of HP bloatware (the other option is 800MB) in order for the thing to function. I finally settled for the less bloated option, made sure to uncheck the "Install Special Features" button, and installed it. Upon install, the scanner wouldn't work. It just wouldn't. Like, I would click scan and a screen that said "HP Scanning" would appear, and then it would freeze that way. I found nothing about this on any forum online, so I decided to reinstall everything. Well, upon uninstallation some HP software engineer thought it would be a good idea to remove important windows files.

That wasn't the end of my trouble. After installing my new windows XP, I started having problems after two days. Windows would start, and then restart endlessly. Well, I thought that my power supply was getting old , so I conviced my dad to go to a local computer store (almost as cheap as newegg with no shipping, I'm going there all the time now) and let me buy a new power supply. The guy there quickly got me a nice new one that felt good and heavy. As soon as I got home and opened the case I noticed three swollen capacitors, which Asrock motherboards are notorious for.

A new motherboard, $350 (100 for the mobo, 200 for windows, 50 for a PSU) and a fresh install later, I can now talk to you.

Ironically, the printer works now and is the best printer that I have ever owned.
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I'll be purchasing a new PC soon. I can't decide whether or not to build my own or just buy a dell. My only reservations against building my own is that when stuff (like what just happened to you) goes bad, you can just ship it back and have them replace the bad part. I don't know if i have the money to risk installing faulty or incompatible hardware. I've never built my own PC =\ ... any tips or suggestions?

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If you do build your own PC, get retail parts instead of OEM. They're usually under some kind of warrenty, and if you use newegg like I do and something gets damaged in shipping it will fall under newegg's warrenty.

The best way to make sure that everything is compatable is to get populated motherboards and cases that have power supplies that come with them. All you have to do is make sure that the case's powersupply has 24-pins (most modern mobos need 24-pin supplies instead of 20-pin ones, and a 24-pin supply is backwards compatable), and that you get the right kind of graphics card.
Oh, and make sure that both the case is an ATX full or mid tower, and the motherboard is an ATX.

I'd definately recommend going this rout, as it means at least you know that everything can work together. As it starts getting obsolete just replace parts and you'll eventually have a pretty much new computer, and will have learned everything you need about building them from scratch.

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