Friday, October 30, 2009

PC Troubleshooting 101 : Check the obvious first

A friend wanted me to look at his PC because it wasn’t working correctly. He wasn’t too specific. It would shutdown at random and wouldn’t start all the time. He gave it to me to take a look at it at home. I didn’t have time to check it out when he gave it to me. He said he heard a noise like something was loose inside. So when I brought it home and looked inside here’s what I discovered:


First we meet our patient, a Gateway PC about 4-5 years old with a Pentium 4.


Maybe you can spot the problem?


A little closer. What’s missing? The video card of course.



I wish all PC repairs were this easy. I’m not finished though. I reinstalled the video card and I thought I was home free. Upon restarting the PC would power up for a second or two and shutdown. I checked the power supply and that was good. I reseated the memory and that checked out OK. Checked the hard drive by unplugging it it had no effect. I was a bit stumped by this one. A bit defeated sort of started to fear the worst that the motherboard had bit the big one. I priced out motherboards and such so I could have as much information as possible when I talked to the owner. I left it at that for the day.

I came back about a day later thinking about how to go about this problem. I hadn’t talked to the owner yet so my options were still open. Just for the heck of it I turned the PC upright and I’m not sure if I adjusted the video card or not. I turned it on again expecting more of the same. To my surprise the PC continued to boot up. I was in shock and elated at the same time. Sure enough it booted to Windows XP and worked normally. I restarted it a few more times to be sure it wasn’t a fluke. So far to this point it still starts(as of writing this).

Of course I made the mistake of assuming I had seated the video card correctly. I ate a piece of humble pie and felt a little stupid. It’s a lesson in not overlooking the obvious things in troubleshooting a PC problem(or any problem for that matter). I still have the issue of preventing this from happening again. The PC is missing the plastic hold down piece for expansion cards. It won’t take much for the card to fall out again. Of course it can’t be a normal PC and just require a screw to hold down the card. A proprietary piece hardware is required. Meaning I’d have to find the exact same model(or very similar) Gateway PC to fix it. Unless I get lucky in finding one I’ll have to fabricate something. If anyone has any ideas let me know.

Well thanks for coming by and have a great day!

A Day at the Office

Who say's all office work is boring?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

【Dale Carnegie】 How to analyze and solve worry problems

I've just finished reading this book and I thought it was great. Here's a short video I found that summed up some good points about it. I'll be writing more about this in the future.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

With Windows 7 just released you may be wondering if you’d like to upgrade your current PC. You may consider using the official Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor Tool from Microsoft. Though I don’t really think I’ll be upgrading soon I downloaded it and gave it a shot. Here I’ll give you a look at what to expect. This is on Windows XP system, if you have Vista it may look a bit different. First you’ll have to download it from here and install it.

Screenshot - 10_25_2009 , 11_09_04 AM

Screenshot - 10_25_2009 , 11_09_38 AM

After you install it click “Start Check” button in the corner.

Screenshot - 10_25_2009 , 11_09_54 AM

The program will start checking your system for compatibility to Windows 7. They weren’t kidding either when it says “This will take a few minutes”. Though I didn’t exactly time it I believe it took at least 10 to 15 minutes to complete. I’m not sure if it was because of my system or that’s the nature of the program. Maybe someone else can tell us of there experience with this.

Screenshot - 10_25_2009 , 11_24_52 AM In the end you’ll receive a report that looks like this telling you if your system and software is compatible. Just from a quick look at this I’d have to upgrade my graphics card at least. Also I’d have to”perform a custom installation”  of Windows 7. This short for clean complete installation of Windows 7 from since it cannot upgrade directly from XP. I didn’t click on the links because I was running short on time when I did this. I imagine the links bring you to pages on the web to assist you.

Good luck and I hope this would help you out. Please chime in and tell us of your experience with this and Windows 7 in general. I may run this on my wife’s laptop which has Vista and see what it comes up with. Thanks for coming by!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bob’s Favorite Free Utility Software

j0385703 This is a list of my favorite utility software that I use to keep my machines running. Like your own body if you don’t take care of them they begin to slow down. These are all free to use but, be aware there may be pay versions you may want to use. I’ve tried many out over the years and some of these have stood the test of time while some I’ve only begun using recently.

  • CCleaner – This is one of my favorite utility software applications. It has stood the test of time and is quite useful. It cleans out temp files, cookies and other items that clog up your PC. It also has a registry cleaner, startup program editor, and add/remove programs. It’s interface is intuitive and is a snap to use.
  • Spybot Search and Destroy – This is another application that has been around for quite awhile. This cleans out malware that can slow down your PC. If you suspect your infected with spyware this is the tool turn to first.
  • Belarc Advisor – If you need a quick snapshot of what’s running inside the computer this is a handy little application. It will give you information on both hardware and software running in your machine. It’s not the most in-depth tool of it’s kind but, gives you a quick look into the machine without installing a huge program with information you don’t always need.
  • Auslogics Disk Defrag – As you use your PC it leaves around little bits and bytes around your machine. If not reorganized(defragged) occasionally it will make your drive work harder(and slower) and possibly shorten it’s lifespan. If you want something else to use to defrag your machine besides the built-in Windows version this is a good choice. It’s hard to tell if it’s quicker than Microsoft’s but, I think it does a good job. It has a friendly interface and even give’s you a percentage of how much you’ve improved your machine.
  • Panda Cloud Antivirus – This is may current choice of antivirus software. I’ve only started using this recently after it was suggested by someone. I’ve also used Avast! and AVG(Free versions) which are also very good choices if your on a budget.

These are my current favorite utility software applications. All are free for personal use. Read user agreements if you intend to use for commercial or business applications. If you have any suggestions of stuff I may have missed or comment about your experience with the above feel free to let me know. Thanks and have a great day!