a geeks right of passage


Caralyne built her own computer this weekend!

It is hard to contain my excitement for a moment like this, and I’ve been slowly cultivating patiently brainwashing encouraging Caralyne’s computer interests.

I also, would like to have my computer back, so this project had many benefits.

To share the experience, and to make sure we had enough perspective and patience, I had Steve and Summer (and William) come over for a BBQ as well. Steve and I took turns explaining the different components, and helping her line everything up, find and test the correct screws, connect the various power connectors and I/O…

All to fun stuff.

We also made sure she had a healthy respect for static electricity, and we had her take off her wool socks and ground herself :)

The innards. She gets my old equipment, which is nothing to turn a nose up at. The heat sink you see there is RIDICULOUSLY big and complete overkill.

Caralyne dropped a few screws, but all in all did a great job.

One thing Caralyne has, and will have to work to overcome, is a almost paralyzing fear of failure. She won’t even try to do something if she thinks she will “fail”. For example, she was stressed out about screwing in the motherboard. Both Steve and I said that we always drop a screw, and we just keep track of it. She immediately asked me if I would do it because she didn’t want to drop a screw and have to look for it. Well, she of course dropped one, but the poor girl was muttering to herself that she wasn’t good at this and she was becoming very distraught.

We helped her through it all, and like I said, she did a great job. She was pretty happy afterwards though :)

The biggest challenge was getting the OS installed.

I had settled on Ubuntu 12.04 (64bit) for a few reasons.

  1. Its free, and she should be exposed to the command-line
  2. Steam support
  3. Flash and media codecs
  4. For a nix OS, it’s pretty simple to administer
  5. Caralyne loves Minecraft, and its just as easy to find Minecraft howto’s on Ubuntu as it is Windows

Anyway, I don’t have CDR/CDRW’s anymore. I only have USB thumbdrives. The Ubuntu ISO to USB tool does not work all that well. The boot loader comes up, but the only usable boot option is memtest86.

Steve and I finally broke down, and drove to CVS to pick up the most expensive 20 pack of CDR’s I’ve purchased in the last 10 years.

Once we got that burned, Ubuntu installed just fine.

The next day, I sat Caralyne down and showed her to command-line interface. She wanted to install a Minecraft Mod, so I helped her Google for a Ubuntu tutorial and walked her through the steps.

She did a good job, she was starting to get the hang of ls, cd, cp

Most importantly, java. java -j jar Minecraft.jar is so far, the most common command she has executed :)