Computer problems

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a few computer problems that I thought I’d document here. A couple of them were the kind that normally would have sent my heart dropping, as the PC would not start at all! But since I now have a good back up system, I wasn’t too worried. In fact, my 1st thought was, “Oh, it’s about time to rebuild this windows box anyway.” Of course rebuilding is a pain, but it’s a chance to start fresh and get rid of a lot of things I don’t use.

Anyway, here’s a run down of the problems I’ve seen:

  1. pci.sys corruption

    So i installed the “Instant Media” client which promises to download Internet HD videos. Well, apparently my video driver was too old, so I downloaded the latest and greatest from Intel, installed it, and could see Instant Media clips in HD. Great! Well, the next time I tried to watch TV via my WinTV card, it was all garbage. So I downloaded the latest and greatest hauppage drivers and installed them. It failed for some unknown reason, so I tried their “erase all” program. Upon reboot, I got the big blue screen saying the pci.sys file was missing or corrupt. Uh-oh. Trying to boot from CD to do a recover gave “setupdd.sys could not be laoded, error code 4. Uh-oh again.

    Using another PC to search around on the Internet, I found that the suggestion was to remove all PCI devices and reboot, and then put them back in one at a time. My shuttle has only one PCI slot, and that is where the wintv card is. So I removed it, rebooted, all was well, powered down, put the wintv card back in, powered up, and all was ok. The next time I installed the wintv software, it all worked. Problem solved.

  2. Partition Magic and Grub don’t mix

    I needed some more space on my music partition, so I ran partition magic to do that. When PM tried to do the steps required, the pc failed on reboot. Uh-oh! After some searching, I found that my master boot record was probably toast. I booted up with a windows CD and ran fixmbr. I was then able to reboot, but just to windows, as it basically got rid of the grub info. I hadn’t booted to debian in 6 months, so I decided to just get rid of it, though if I had booted with my debian CD, I would have been able to fix it from there. When I finally did re-run partion magic, I got error 1201, warning 1211 messages, about bad blocks and block counts. I just had to again boot with my windows CD and run chkdsk /f on each partition, and then re-run partition magic. Problem solved.

  3. Bad DVD-RW drive

    At some point in all this booting from CD, the DVD/CD combo drive stopped working completely. I had to use a paper click to get the CD out, and then ordered a new one from newegg for about $30. That came 2 days later so I swapped it out, and all was well again.

  4. Bad HD on the old iMac

    I pulled the iMac out of the basement to set it up for Riley. It’s probably been down there for 2 years unused. On boot up, I get a little finder face alternating with a question mark in a folder in the middle of the screen. Called up my neighbor who does Mac support, and he said it can’t find the start up disk. Hmm, the spindles on the HD are probably suffering stiction. I tried shaking the whole imac, but that was difficult since it’s a bit bulky and heavy. I then removed the hard drive using the instructions in the link. I tried to start the imac up with just the power to the drive connected, and then twist the drive hard and fast as it was getting power, but it would not come free. Since it’s just a 13GB, I ordered an 80GB one from NewEgg for about $40, should be here today.

I think that wraps it up, though the last day or so I’ve heard a strange clicking coming from beneath the desk. I haven’t been able to place it yet. It sounds kind of like what the old ISDN link sounded like when it was coming in and out, but I seem to see it when the shuttle’s HD is coming on. :-/

All of these issues have me thinking about what I would replace the shuttle with. I love the big imac’s, but I’m also happy with my 2 20″ dell monitors, so perhaps a mac mini. I’d run parallels and windows on it to get the best of both worlds. But a loaded mini, plus parallels, is getting close to $1k. So building another small form factor PC for under $500 would also be an option. At any rate, I need to wait a couple weeks to see if any of the current mac rumors about new mini’s are true. (And figure out what hte clicking is!)

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