Thursday, September 29, 2005

would you believe...?

[subject line is a tribute to inspector gadget himself, don adams, who passed away recently]

would you believe that my boot problem is back?

after i fixed it last time, it stayed fixed for a good 4-5 weeks or so. but this is a stormy season in the midwest, and we've since had more power flickers. i think some of the damage was actually done during a big storm last week, but only yesterday did it reach the point of spontaneous reboots and boot errors. i should probably go to fry's and buy an uninterruptible power supply so that i don't have to worry about power stability. a basic $40-$50 UPS should be more than sufficient, as i only need it to power my computer for long enough that when we have brownouts or power flickers, my machine won't reboot. a couple minutes of power should be plenty.

so when it crashed last night, i located the windows cd and grabbed a ps/2 keyboard. i booted from the cd and ran the recovery console. i typed in fixmbr and it warned me that my master boot record looked kind of funky; was i sure i wanted to fix it? damn right i did. and i rebooted back into windows, set it to run a scandisk on c:/, and rebooted again. scandisk came up and slowly combed through my c: partition looking for disk errors, bad sectors, and the like.

only when it finally finished, i discovered that i still had my boot problem. and i had already taken the windows cd back downstairs and unhooked/returned the ps/2 keyboard.

last time, when i went into the recovery console to fix it, i performed both fixboot and fixmbr. of those two commands, fixmbr was the only one that told me that my mbr looked like it had some problems. so i assumed that that was the command that worked, and fixboot had been unnecessary. and last night, i didn't even bother to run fixboot.

now i'm thinking that was a mistake. maybe it was the 1-2 punch of fixboot and fixmbr that repaired my computer last time? i guess it's possible that it was never really "fixed" and it just went into some sort of remission for awhile, but the symptoms really did go away until last week, so that strikes me as unlikely.

i guess tonight when i get home i'll run fixboot and see what that does for me. i'm still confident that it should work, but it's annoying to have to go through the whole boot-from-cd process again, even if it is only a 5-minute process. stupid usb keyboards...

in contrast, barry finally got his computer fixed after a year of inoperability. everything would power up but he would get no video signal, so we got him a new video card for xmas last year. that didn't help. then he took it to one of our neighbords (a computer engineer), who told him the problem was that the motherboard was fried. so after much shopping online he managed to locate an old motherboard that supported RDRAM and a socket 478 processor (not an easy task since nobody has used RDRAM in new systems for a couple years now... DDR SDRAM has been the standard for some time). that was $40+S/H; he hooked that up but it didn't work. then he found another socket 478 processor. that was $20: he plugged that baby in, & it didn't work either.

finally, after buying a good half of the parts to build a "new" computer, he finally tracked the problem: it was the power supply. all his other hardware was fine. so now he has a bunch of spare parts lying around... he's halfway to building a "new" computer with all those parts, but who would really want to build a computer now with circa-2001 parts?

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