File this one under "I wouldn't believe it unless I saw it myself."
I'm sure that many of you just expect your computer to work right and don't spend any time under the hood messing around with the parts. I'm guessing that more than half of you are using a computer that's a year or two old and has Windows XP on it. If any of you running Windows XP have less than 512MB of RAM, I would suggest you fix that if you can. 256MB is technically enough, but most days it doesn't cut it. With that in mind, here's my crazy tech support story.
I took apart a machine at the end of the business day yesterday to put some RAM in it. Our estimator at the office has been running an old AMD Athlon machine with only 256MB of RAM. He never turns it off because it's running his Blackberry redirector all the time, and uses a couple of fairly hefty programs on a regular basis including AutoCAD. He says that he has run two simultaneous sessions of AutoCAD before, even with other things running. On the down side, he's got a small hard drive that's almost completely full, and the machine took approximately fifteen minutes from hitting the power button to being able to work at the desktop. I even tried to get him to upgrade his machine last year and had the new workstation in the building, and he refused it because he didn't want to have to reinstall all of his extra stuff and sort through his files. I was able to use the workstation for one of the other users that really needed an upgrade, so no harm done overall. I subsequently decided that more RAM was the best solution for now, and I got him 2 Gigs which is plenty for Windows XP in hopes that his machine will now last until Windows 7 comes out. We shut down the machine, cracked open the case, and took the old RAM out. What I saw, especially considering that the machine was still running moments previously defies description, so here's a picture.
I was too scared to use the RAM socket that it came out of - luckily there were two other free slots to put the two 1G chips in. Like I said, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself.