Finally, a sidebar gadget worth having

Oooh, that’s a bit flippant. The whole Vista sidebar thing has kind of passed me by, though it really does make sense on widescreen monitors.

Kitten has nothing but destruction on his little mindI set about looking for a particular gadget today, though – one of my cats managed to knock my home PC over last night (it’s a desktop which I have standing vertically under the desk, propped up on a couple of old plastic floppy disk boxes to allow airflow under).

Following Arnie’s destructive rampage, the PC refused to boot. So I had to drag it out from under the desk, and start pulling it apart to figure out what was wrong. After a process of elimination, I figured that the CPU must be the problem and sure enough, the CPU cooler had come loose. On closer inspection, the CPU itself had been yanked out of position (by the weight of the huge heatsink/fan combo) and managed to mangle numerous of the 478 pins…

… which is never going to be a good thing.

Anyway, I eventually gave up trying to straighten the pins (that’s one way to make you go cross-eyed) and decided to sacrifice the CPU from another PC that happens to be elsewhere in the house. By the time I’d taken *that* one to bits, put the CPU in my main machine, reassembled both and reinstalled the system unit under the desk, I was pretty happy.

Until about 5 minutes in to using the thing, when it abruptly shut itself down and emitted a selection of beeps on restarting… uh oh, sounds like a thermal shutdown where the system throws itself on its own sword rather than bursting into flames.

It turns out the CPU fan cable had got wrapped around the fan itself so the cooling forces were less than optimal (ie none, apart from the heatsink). After fixing that and reassembling/reinstalling the machine, I went looking for SpeedFan, a great little bit of diagnostic software that displays all the temperatures, fan speeds, voltages etc from the numerous internal sensors within the case (if your system supports it).

There’s even a beta SpeedFan gadget, which will report any of the info that Speedfan can grab, right there on the sidebar. Excellent!

More information here.

PS – another tip for Sidebar usage… Windows Key + Space bring it to the fore.

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