I'm not planning to post further continuous updates on my move to the new computer, but at least one correspondent commented that she hadn't seen any further updates in a while and hoped the new machine was working, so I thought I'd better wrap up some loose ends.
The new machine works. It will be a long time before I'm fully "settled in" on it, and a lot of software that used to work, doesn't work now because of the change. I will be fixing things as they come up, one at a time. But I've moved over my home directory, email is flowing in both directions, and a snapshot of the old machine at the time of the crash is now archived to DVDs, independent of my other backup measures. I'm basically back in business. A few loose ends and other comments, below.
If the mail I just got is to be believed, TigerDirect is refunding the full price of $274.99 on the RAM modules that didn't work. The mail's wording is not entirely clear. I'm not sure whether they'll also refund the tax; I'm pretty sure they won't refund the shipping in either direction. So I may end up unreimbursed for about $60 of taxes and shipping (my estimate from the actual amount of shipping back to them, plus the total amount of shipping and tax on the entire order scaled to the fraction of it that was returned). Meanwhile the replacement RAM from Canada Computers cost me $198.86 including taxes. I think the G.SKILL RAM may be considered more of a "cheap" brand, but the Corsair modules aren't high-quality for me if they don't work, so the switch to G.SKILL can't be called a downgrade. On a dollar basis it looks like I end up ahead of the game by $15; but of course there's the inconvenience of an extra day of down time, and the running around resolving the solution, so I don't feel like I won.
In the final analysis (assuming the payment does come through) I'd say I am satisfied with TigerDirect's handling of the situation, and I'm content to continue doing business with them. I wish their site had made more clear that the "for Intel" modules wouldn't work with my AMD board, but it's possible that's not even the real reason they didn't work (motherboards and RAM are often finicky about each other), it could be to some degree my fault I didn't guess there would be a compatibility problem, and TigerDirect acted reasonably about the situation.
There's a lot of software I'm going to have to recompile, because very much of what I do is stuff like computer science research that isn't within stock Slackware, nor any other standard Linux distribution. I could just copy the binaries over from the old system and hope, but I want it to be really right. First order of business in this category is probably recompiling the kernel.
My online astrological chart service is still down, and it will be probably a week or two before I get it running again, because it requires a bunch of fairly large software packages (LaTeX, Apache, and Swiss Ephemeris) to all be fully operational. LaTeX and Apache came with the new installation, but will each require careful reconfiguration; Swiss Ephemeris needs to be reinstalled. But I do intend for the chart service to survive.
My apartment is now a disaster area, with little bits of working and non-working computer stuff all over everything, because my priority in this adventure was getting things working soon rather than keeping the space tidy. I have to go through it all, figure out what's worth keeping for spares and what's really garbage, put the stuff I'm keeping in some better form of storage, and figure out how to dispose of whatever I'm not keeping. The decommissioned sphere case, for instance, contains a couple pounds of aluminum and it'd be a shame to dump that in the regular garbage; but I'm not sure I'm up for spending all the time removing the steel screws holding it together and the plastic bits glued to it, and once I do that, I don't know where one actually takes a couple pounds of scrap aluminum for it to be recycled.
I've designated a logical volume on the new system specifically for the SVN repository, and it's my plan to move my major creative projects (both software and writing) to that. One of my friends, a software engineer, was shocked when I said I didn't have the book in SVN; but the thing is, for that or any project, including software, on which I'm the only worker and I work on it in just one place, SVN only seems to get in the way. The response to "But what if you make a mistake and want to go back to an earlier version?" is that I try to make very few mistakes; and I make backups, which cover that kind of scenario. The response to "But what if you want to fork it and maintain parallel versions?" is that I never do want to do that.
However, I think the situation may have changed in such a way that now SVN does make sense. The big thing is that now I'm working on the book from two different machines, the laptop and the desktop, without a constant network connection between them; it'd be nice to have something smarter than rsync for keeping the working copies up to date with each other. When dealing with publishers and editors it may even be appropriate to do branching, for use cases like "Okay, you insisted I take out the catgirl bondage chapters, but some day when I'm famous, readers will want to see those, so I'll maintain another branch in the repository." But getting the SVN server installed as I want it to be means a dependency on Apache, so I have to get that up and configured first.
I also hope to do more academic collaboration in the future, and since I may be moving around a lot, it's valuable to have an SVN repository that I control myself and can give others limited accounts on; and for use with the laptop, I want to be able to connect to it securely, even on wireless connections that block SSH. That's the reason for setting up an Apache/SVN server instead of a simpler option.
I have to go through and re-do all the international (mostly Japanese) configuration again, because I'm on a new version of KDE now. I'll probably also upgrade KDE to the latest and greatest, because the one that came with Slackware has annoying bugs like not being able to adjust the size of the icons in the panel. And of course, I have to re-install I Hate the Cashew!. I have mixed feelings about KDE4 in general. It seems like there are an awful lot of new annoyances like the cashew, this icon business, the huge-ass tooltips, the impossibility of manually hiding the panel, and the forced adoption of this "Semantic Desktop" bullshit. I also don't like the KDE developers' attitude, which seems to be new with version 4, that of course all users want a dumbed-down interface with exactly the configuration the developers like best for themselves, and users should not even be given the option for anything else. You should have seen what KDE4 tried to do to my laptop's UI!
And I really, really hate the general assumption that it's okay for mouse cursor position to be significant without a click. That is never okay. Nothing should ever pop up because I moved the mouse, except maybefor very small, unintrusive tooltips; no menu should ever go away because I moved the mouse off of it; focus should never be selected by mouse position alone; the corners of the screen should not be "active". KDE offers a special utility to make it so that if you stop moving the mouse for a certain length of time, it will automatically click. Putting that on the "accessibility" menu is a sick joke. It's a simple, basic, easy rule that the mouse does not exist when I don't press the button. Why is this so hard for developers to wrap their heads around? I am talking about the standard PC/Mac-derived user interface I'm using, to which "mouse position is significant" is a foreign, inconsistent, and extremely unwelcome recent addition. I'm aware that other user interface paradigms exist, including the very old X Window System tradition; but I don't think that's where these annoyances descend from. Maybe it comes from people who don't actually type on their computers, and so they think that they can move the mouse where they want it, then move their hands to the keyboard and use that, while leaving the mouse where it is and having it stay there. My reflex is to shove the mouse out of the way when I'm going to type - I do that, without thinking, easily a couple hundred times every day - and the "mouse position is significant" assumption means I end up cursing frequently, because now shoving the mouse out of the way breaks everything. Maybe these people, in turn, don't type because they've stopped using command lines. Just a guess.
Unfortunately, enough applications I want to run require KDE version 4, that I don't think it's tenable to just stay on KDE3. And if I'm to use KDE4 and have a reasonable chance of fixing the worst brain damage, that means I have to be running the latest and greatest version, which is the only one for which patches and support are available.