Thursday, November 17, 2011

HP DV6500 LCD Screen Jumps and Flickers with Lines

I received a HP DV6500 laptop from a client with the complaint that the screen was corrupted. The display looked offset and flickered and jumped, sometimes showing white and black blocks and lines.

This is often a symptom of a faulty NVidia chip, for which the easiest cure is to replace the motherboard. (Some solutions involve heating the chip to melt the solder and re-establish its connection to the motherboard.) Before taking such expensive and troublesome steps, it made sense to do more troubleshooting.

I connected an external monitor and the display looked fine on that, so I figured that the problem in this case lay with the LCD or its cabling and not with the chip.

I opened up the laptop (you can download a service manual from HP's website) and checked the LCD data/power cable at several points. Nothing changed when I reconnected the cable at its attachment point to the motherboard or when I wiggled it, so I went inside the laptop lid. At the point where the cable joins to the LCD itself, it was loose! I reconnected it and taped it more tightly. Problem solved!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Out of Disk Space Due to Adobe Reader?

A client asked me to investigate why his old Dell Windows XP computer was so slow, and mentioned that his hard drive was almost out of space. Indeed, only about 2 GB were left on his 80 GB drive. I figured that it would be a straightforward hard drive upgrade, or indeed a replacement of his old tower with something new, until I checked around. I quickly established that his user profile contained over 45 gigs, but then found that his Documents folder (the usual culprit) only had about 3 GB. Application data? About 42 GB. Hmm.

I quickly narrowed it down to the Adobe folder. Inside was a folder called plugs, and inside that were two 20+ GB files, apparently the fruit of some repeating update process or another. I found that he was still using version 6 of Adobe Reader. I deleted the files, updated Adobe, and removed a startup entry that seemed related to Adobe updates. Now we'll see if the problem reoccurs...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Extra Floppy Entries in My Computer on Windows XP

After upgrading the motherboard in a Windows XP system, I noticed that several new "Floppy Disk" entries had appeared under My Computer (the system had only one legacy floppy drive). I had installed a media card reader, and those entries appeared normally (as "Removable Disk X" etc.), but they were shifted down by several drive letters, so that what should have been "Removable Disk F" was showing up as "Removable Disk H". It seemed clear that the card reader had something to do with it...

The motherboard (Biostar A880G+) had an AMI bios which was autodetecting the card reader drives on startup. I had to search a bit, but under Advanced > USB Configuration > USB Mass Storage Device Configuration, I found a means to control how the card reader was handled. I couldn't turn off the autodetection, but I changed them all from "Auto" mode (in which the drives might be labelled as floppy drives) to "Hard Disk" mode. Saved, rebooted, and all the spurious floppy entries were gone! I then just had to go into Disk Management (Right click on My Computer, select Manage, then open Storage > Disk Management) to reassign the drive letters. (In the lower half of the window, you right click on the name of the drive you want to change, select "Change Drive Letters and Paths", and the rest should be obvious.

Friday, July 1, 2011

0x00000024 NTFS.SYS Blue Screen Error

I got this message on a Windows XP computer which would get partway through the XP splash screen (XP logo on a black background) before blue-screening. Booting to safe mode gave the same result.

I booted onto a Windows CD and ran a "chkdsk C: /f" command. This entirely solved the problem.

The CD I used was the Active Boot Disk. The Hirens Boot CD or a Windows XP installation disk will work just as well.

Error EC950025 or 36000 When Using Dell (Norton Ghost) System Restore

I had a Dell Inspiron E1505 laptop which I was attempting to restore to factory default to prepare it for another user. I successfully booted into the recovery partition via Ctrl+F11, but when I tried to perform the factory restore, I got "Error EC950025: Cannot find a factory recovery point on this computer." I tried to do it manually, but when I went to select the factory image (it's in the 'img' folder on the recovery partition) via Ghost's interface, I got "Internal Error 36000 - An internal inconsistency has been detected".

When I ran Dan Goodell's excellent DSRFix tool (using the '/PBR4' switch to indicate that the recovery partition was in the fourth partition, not the third), it reported that it could find nothing to fix.

I found that there were a number of Norton system restore files on a partition called 'Backup', taken back in 2006, and that I was able to access these and restore them with no trouble. After restoring the earliest of them, I went into the c:\Dell\Utilities\DSR directory and ran BOOT_DSR.exe (the icon looks like a triangle with a ! in it). It restarted the system into recovery mode, and after that the factory restore worked perfectly.

What caused the issue? I'm not sure. It seems that the recovery partition needed the C:\Dell\Utilities directory to be available to work properly, or that the boot_dsr utility was able to correct whatever issue was holding it back. It could also be that the C partition was just corrupted and that merely deleting it would have solved the issue. Once I got it to work, I did not investigate further.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stopping an idle (background) scan in Norton 360

I was just in the middle of installing a service pack on a Windows Vista machine when Norton 360 thought it would be a great time to run an idle scan. I had turned Norton's autoprotect mode off before starting but I hadn't expected this.

I was then rather frustrated by the lack of an easily accessible "stop scan" option. AVG, for instance, lets you right click on the system tray icon to show a menu that includes a "stop all scans" option. No luck with Norton. I also tried opening the main windows and clicking "Tasks" at the top, but this only showed me options for starting a scan, not a list of scans already running.

After poking around for a bit, I found the answer. Here's what you do:

1) Open up Norton 360. You should see the overview window with four circular buttons labeled "PC Security," etc. In the lower right corner, there's a little icon that looks like a set of vertical lines. Hold your mouse cursor over it and it will show the word "Tasks". Click this icon.

2) You will get a window called Norton Tasks that shows a list of background jobs in the bottom half. Any currently running scan should be highlighted in green.

3) To the left of the running scan entry is a little button with a stop symbol on it. Click this to halt the scan.

That's it! This won't prevent the scan from starting again, but it lets you control the scans once they start.

You can set the idle time delay under settings / administrative settings - this will make Norton wait longer before performing idle tasks (up to 30 minutes).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Firefox 4 - "Undo Close Tab" grayed out

After upgrading to Firefox 4, the Undo Close Tab feature stopped working.

My solution was to close Firefox, then enter the profile directory and remove the "sessionstore.js" file (not sessionstore-1.js, etc. - just remove the one without a hyphen and a number). This immediately fixed the problem.