Showing posts with label XP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label XP. Show all posts

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Antique Laptop revived, XP lives

Couple a weeks ago, getting ready for a trip, I pulled antique laptop out of his carry bag and fired him up to charge his batteries and update his software.  You know how it is, leave the laptop on the shelf for a little while and every piece of software needs an update. 
   Arrgh.  he would not fire up.  LEDs blinked but the screen stayed dark.  So Antique Laptop stayed home and then sat out on the table for a couple of weeks 'til I got around to him today.  Antique goes back quite a ways.  I gave him to youngest son to go to high school with.  That was maybe ten years ago.  Youngest son is hard on his gear, and it shows.  Scratches, scraped off paint, ding marks.  Somewhere along the line, youngest son bought a hotter new laptop to make his games run faster.  Antique Laptop came back to me.  So I cleaned the games and craplets off the hard drive, zapped endless virii, applied my list of Windows fixes, and he ran pretty well.  Ran my C compiler, Office, and my CAD programs.  What's not to like?  And he runs XP, which is higher performance that the follow ons, Vista, 7, and 8.
   Thinking back over Antique's life, I remembered youngest son showing me an electronic module behind the screen bezel that had given trouble in the past.  Why not?  I  pulled two screws and popped the bezel loose.  The module was right there where I remembered.  So I unplugged it, blew some dust out of it, and plugged it back in.  Voila, screen lit up, XP booted, and happiness roams the land.  I don't have to learn Win 8, replace elderly software that won't run on 8.     Motto of the story.  The most likely failure in electronic stuff is connectors.  Over time air gets in, oxidizes the pins and sockets, and they stop conducting electricity.  Connecting and disconnecting often wipes the oxidation off, and it works again.  If it just stops working, take it apart, and put it back together.  You have a pretty good chance of fixing it.
   It's an HP Pavilion ZE4900.  Still looks pretty good.  In fact I bought him a new battery this winter. If you are looking at buying a used laptop, this one is durable. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Windows bug causes sound stuttering & SLOW computer

Over Christmas,  trusty, aging Compaq 1750NX got into trouble.  First darling daughter, home for the holidays, websurfed somewhere evil and infected him with a rootkit.  After blowing said rootkit away with TDSSkiller,  and a second one with Combofix, poor old desktop still ran SLOW.  In good shape he used to boot up in 45 seconds.  Now he was taking two minutes.  And every thing ran SLOW.  The audio stuttered while doing the Windows warmup "Ka Ching" sound. Task Manager was showing 80 90 percent CPU usage when nothing was running. 
   I finally tracked it down and fixed it.  I ran Process Explorer, a fancier version of task manager.  Process Explorer showed me that hardware interrupts were sucking up all the CPU time.   A quick google (Hard ware interrupt virus) got a lot of hits, from which I learned that Windows was shooting itself in the foot. 
   The disk drive is supposed to transfer disk data to main memory using "direct memory access" (DMA) whereby blocks of data are moved into memory without CPU work.  For nostalgia sake there is a primitive mode called programmed I/O  (PIO) whereby the CPU has to move disk data byte by byte, (one move instruction per byte) and interrupt the CPU when each byte is ready to move.  PIO was used back in the dawn of computing, and the PIO mode is a historical curiosity.   Somehow, the disk drive software had  put the disk into PIO mode, slowing the entire computer.
How to fix.
  Start Device Manager.  (Start->Settings->ControlPanel-. System->Hardware->Device Manager).  Click on IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers. Click on "Primary IDE Channel".  Click on "Advanced Settings".   If "Transfer Mode" shows as "PIO", that's your trouble.  The three boxes ought to read "Device Type  Auto Detect" : "Transfer Mode DMA if available" : "Current transfer mode Ultra DMA mode 5".

If the boxes are wrong, you can fix it by forcing Windows to remove and reinstall the driver.  Click on the "Driver Tab".  Then click "Uninstall".  Windows will then ask to reboot. Let it.  That's it.  All fixed.

  You don't need to get into Process Explorer, that was just the aid that tipped me off to what was happening.  Just go to Device manager and inspect the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers.

This is NOT a virus, it's a bug in Windows.