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Category: Problem Solved

Problem Solved: Main Rig Working

This was a happy weekend.

You can review the situation for yourself in the blog post from last week, but long story short, I accidentally flipped the surge protector off with my main computer hooked up to it, and it wouldn’t boot after that. Thanks to a flurry of recommendations from personal friends as well as all your blog comments, I had a few avenues to go with in terms of problem-solving.

One of the first suggestions was that I might have blown the power supply in the system. I was perhaps a little hasty in messing around with things, but I decided to rip that sucker out before I did anything else. The problem was that once I got it out, I didn’t really know what to do with it! If it was indeed the power supply that was busted, we discovered it would be tricky to replace since it was a proprietary 1000-watt Dell power supply which they did not just sell as a standard replacement part. There were a few on eBay for purchase in the $50-150 range (which isn’t too bad), but I couldn’t really be guaranteed I’d get a solid product that way. Off-the-shelf power supplies wouldn’t be too helpful, since this one had both a 20-pin and 24-pin connector each going into the motherboard (very strange). For a better idea of what I was dealing with, and at Jeff’s suggestion, here’s a comparison between this Dell power supply and a sentinel machine from The Matrix.

cpu_alive_01

Once Jeff and I got the darn thing back into the system and amazingly remembered/figured-out how to rewire the entire thing, the next step was to check the RAM. We took out all 4 GB and planned on going through them to see if any caused the system to crap out during the boot process. Much to our surprise, we got the computer booting right up with one stick of RAM, but with no mouse or keyboard. The boot process informed us that the system configuration had changed, and to either press F1 to continue or F2 to enter the BIOS setup. Well, no keyboard was plugged in. We plugged in the USB keyboard at that point to see if it would let us continue after a button press, but no-go. We held the power to shut the system back down. We then proceeded to put the entire thing back to normal with all 4 GB of RAM and the standard mouse and keyboard combination (though a different USB mouse than I usually use, but this different one actually being the mouse that came with the system in the first place, which I typically have plugged into the Linux system). Ah-HAH! Same result as before, with it immediately shooting to about one-quarter of the way through POST, and with no beeps to indicate any kind of problem. Reusing an image here, but this is what it looked like:

cpu_dead_01

After another hard shutdown, we decided to give it a go with no mouse and keyboard, but keeping the 4 GB of RAM in the system. Much to our delight, we got through the entire boot all the way into Windows! Once we got to the desktop, we plugged in a mouse and shut it down normally. Out of morbid curiosity, I decided to try booting without the Dell USB keyboard, and a cheap ol’ PS/2 GE keyboard that I think we bought at Radio Shack a few years ago (which, again, I typically have plugged into the Linux machine).

cpu_alive_02

Bingo.

For whatever reason, the Dell USB keyboard was preventing the computer from booting.

No, it wasn’t a specific USB port. We tried different ports, and I’m using all of my USB ports for various things right now (other than that Dell keyboard, of course). The only USB issues we ran into were the back six ports not working upon those first couple reboots (only the two on the front of the machine seemed to work). I’ve had this happen to me, and whatever the problem is, it seems to resolve itself. Perhaps it’s a loose cable inside; I dunno. Speaking of loose cables, the only other small matter that we easily corrected was that the top CD/DVD drive didn’t show up in Windows; it was indeed a loose cable. We were trying to figure out what the POST process was telling us when it said “drive two” was missing, but we assumed it meant a hard drive (since “slot two” out of 0, 1, 2, and 3 doesn’t have a SATA drive in there). We quickly realized that was ridiculous, since there was never a hard drive there, and the computer would neither know nor care if a random extra hard drive was or was not there.

All of those little items were corrected, though, and rather quickly at that. With all of those minor issues out of the way (and after copying over Episode #0161 of the Daizenshuu EX podcast, which was being held hostage on one of the hard drives, to three other locations just to put my mind at ease), we figured we may as well just go ahead and install that new video card! Jeff thought it was so new and clean and pretty that we should take a picture of it before tossing it into the mix, so here you go:

cpu_alive_03

That’s an ASUS EN9800GT PCI-Express blah blah blah card. It’s $129.99 on Newegg, has a $25 mail-in rebate, and came with a free copy of Call of Duty: World at War (which I played for approximately sixty seconds in the campaign mode on easy before dying from a grenade, despite there being an indicator on the screen). Anyway, everything’s running silky-smooth now, including Prince of Persia which looks gorgeous. I was also able to finally beat Portal that Saturday evening, with the entire group huddling closer and closer to the screen during that final level and amazing boss battle. Yes, it took me a while. Yes, I’m slow at games. Yes, it was amazing.

I’ve also picked myself up a UPS to put over in the corner with this machine. It was incredibly stupid of me to not have one in the first place, and while it’s unfortunate that I had to deal with the ramifications of my own shenanigans, it at least prompted me to finally take care of it. I actually can’t remember off the top of my head which one I grabbed, but it was one of the “Geek Squad” ones from Best Buy (I’ll update and add in a link later when I’m home).

So there you have it. Problem solved, and I learned a ton of stuff in the process of fixing it all. All this nonsense due to my carelessness… and a keyboard.

… which, by the way, works on the Linux machine perfectly fine and doesn’t prevent it from booting. Rofls.

Problem Solved: Firefox Bookmarks Toolbar Not Showing

I guess I can start up a new category for the blog, now that I have two entries with similar subject matter. I had previously posted about a Photoshop crashing issue I was experiencing and how I corrected it. I figure other people will be having the same issues, and since I find the vast majority of “help” on the internet completely incomprehensible (keep reading), I may as well add to the noise with my own suggestions.

So today Firefox on my work laptop (3.0.4 running on Windows XP Pro SP2) let me know that two plugins/add-ons had updates. Sure, let’s do it! I let Adblock Plus update itself to 1.0, and DownloadHelper update itself to 3.5.1.

After doing so, my bookmarks toolbar suddenly had nothing in it.

I checked in the “Bookmarks” >> “Bookmarks Toolbar” menu option, and thankfully the four items I had set there were actually still there. They just weren’t showing up on the actual toolbar for me to click. Huh.

I did a little Googling to figure out what may have been the problem (assuming it was the add-ons updates), and came across this blog entry. Much to my dismay, it was completely incomprehensible. Sure, there were capital letters and punctuation, but the words didn’t actually make any sense. None of the comments were any more helpful, either. I tried to follow along with what they were saying, but there was a severe lack of context in every single comment.

Luckily, I happened to resize the Firefox window (I don’t know why), and found something interesting:

What on Earth are the bookmarks doing way the heck over there on the right…?! I tried a few things (like manually dragging the icons over to the left… not that it would do anything…), but I was not making any progress. They would stay on-screen now that I had changed the window size, but they stayed flush up against the right side. That doesn’t really help me much, since I have trained myself to head up to the left to click them.

I ended up right-clicking to customize the toolbar area, just to see what would happen:

Without even doing anything on the following screen, my bookmarks toolbar suddenly reverted itself back to normal:

Well, that was certainly interesting.

Problem Solved: Photoshop Crashes

So I randomly started having an issue on my work computer this week where Adobe Photoshop CS3 would crash each and every time, without fail, when I tried to open or create more than one image at time.

Needless to say, this is slightly frustrating when you live inside these types of programs and need to… oh, I dunno… actually get some work done.

First thing I did was go through the painful process of uninstalling and reinstalling Photoshop. I had done a few things recently to the system, so I figured this might just be the best option. Set it to go, went for a long walk, came back, rebooted… same problem.

I really should have done my research ahead of time, because this is a known issue with an easy workaround.

Wait, what…? Photoshop crashing with more than one image open is due to printer availability…?! You’ve GOT to be kidding.

Maybe there was some work being done around the office that I didn’t know about, and whatever my default printer happened to be was moved or disconnected. Not having printed anything for days, I can’t say I noticed. Sure enough, when I switched the default printer over to something else,  ta~dah! Suddenly able to have more than one image open at a time, again.

Seriously, Adobe? We pay how much for this? Argh. If I could figure out how to do simple things in GIMP, I might actually consider using it.

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