How did this happen


R

richard2

A friend asked me to come over last weekend to fix his wife's computer.
This is not the first time she screwed that thing up. Let me put it
nicely, but honestly. The woman has a few screws loose in her brain.
I'm not just saying this, because she is under treatment for mental
illness. Anyhow, she has a computer with XP, which she only uses to
play the 4 or 5 games that come with XP. That's all she uses it for.
But whne it breaks, she goes into the bios, gets into the system, and
even takes parts out of the computer.

The last time it broke, she went bonkers, and he asked me to fix it to
calm her down because she was pacing the floor and bitching, and
threatening to throw the computer thru a window. That time there was a
legitimate problem, the cpu cooler fan died and was causing it to
overheat and shut down. I replaced the fan and it worked again.

This time I go to look at it and all that appears on the screen is text
that says himem.sys is missing, and several other dos-like messages
complaining about missing memory. Windows does not load. When I type
DIR, all I see is command.com. That's all that it shows is on the hard
drive. I'm thinking that somehow she deleted everything except that one
file. I ask her is she removed or unplugged anything, she says no. I
ask if she did anything in the settings, she says no, and says all she
did was turn off the computer.

I go into the Bios and discover that the settings show no installed hard
drives. I reset them to "Auto" and reboot the computer. It boots up,
XP loads, and everything is fine except that she has a bright red screen
with red text, so nothing can be read. I change the display to the
standard default XP settings and everything works fine again.

Well, obviously she was screwing with the thing to make the screen
unreadable, not to mention she has the START button text-font so large
it's chewing up 10% of the screen.

Anyhow, my question is this:
If the harddrive was not being accessed, due to improper bios settings,
how the heck did it show a DIR of C:\command.com (and nothing more). How
was it reading the hard drive at all?

By the way, I considered the system battery to have failed, but she
insisted she replaced it "around christmas".

I should also mention that this Dell computer is a Pentium 4, dual core,
with 4 gigs of Ram. All that power, just to play the games that comes
with XP. Yet, the computer runs slower than a turtle. My own 1000mhz
Pentium 3 with 500megs Ram, running Windows 98se and Win2000 (dual
boot), runs 50 times faster, and it's loaded with programs. Why her
computer runs so horribly slow is beyond me, but I was not going to mess
with it. As long as she can play her games, she's happy. From what I
saw in the bios, things appear to be set normally, and while I was there
I disabled the password requirement that she had set and did not need or
want.

Just for grins, to show how goofy this woman is, she asked me to install
another game. I told her to give me the CD with the game. She said she
dont have one. So I ask if she has it on a flash stick, or floppy....
NOPE. So I say "how can I install it if you dont have it?" She
replies, "cant you just make it?"...... DUH !!!!!
(And she insists there is no way to get internet, not even dialup,
because her satellite tv company told her its not available)....
 
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P

philo

This time I go to look at it and all that appears on the screen is text
that says himem.sys is missing, and several other dos-like messages
complaining about missing memory. Windows does not load. When I type
DIR, all I see is command.com. That's all that it shows is on the hard
drive. I'm thinking that somehow she deleted everything except that one
file. I ask her is she removed or unplugged anything, she says no. I
ask if she did anything in the settings, she says no, and says all she
did was turn off the computer.

I go into the Bios and discover that the settings show no installed hard
drives. I reset them to "Auto" and reboot the computer. It boots up,
XP loads, and everything is fine except that she has a bright red screen
with red text, so nothing can be read. I change the display to the
standard default XP settings and everything works fine again.

Well, obviously she was screwing with the thing to make the screen
unreadable, not to mention she has the START button text-font so large
it's chewing up 10% of the screen.

Anyhow, my question is this:
If the harddrive was not being accessed, due to improper bios settings,
how the heck did it show a DIR of C:\command.com (and nothing more). How
was it reading the hard drive at all?

By


All I can think of is ...was there a win98 floppy in the machine???
 
B

BillW50

In
A friend asked me to come over last weekend to fix his wife's
computer. This is not the first time she screwed that thing up. Let
me put it nicely, but honestly. The woman has a few screws loose in
her brain. I'm not just saying this, because she is under treatment
for mental illness. Anyhow, she has a computer with XP, which she
only uses to play the 4 or 5 games that come with XP. That's all she
uses it for. But whne it breaks, she goes into the bios, gets into
the system, and even takes parts out of the computer.

The last time it broke, she went bonkers, and he asked me to fix it to
calm her down because she was pacing the floor and bitching, and
threatening to throw the computer thru a window. That time there was
a legitimate problem, the cpu cooler fan died and was causing it to
overheat and shut down. I replaced the fan and it worked again.

This time I go to look at it and all that appears on the screen is
text that says himem.sys is missing, and several other dos-like
messages complaining about missing memory. Windows does not load.
When I type DIR, all I see is command.com. That's all that it shows
is on the hard drive. I'm thinking that somehow she deleted
everything except that one file. I ask her is she removed or
unplugged anything, she says no. I ask if she did anything in the
settings, she says no, and says all she did was turn off the computer.

I go into the Bios and discover that the settings show no installed
hard drives. I reset them to "Auto" and reboot the computer. It
boots up, XP loads, and everything is fine except that she has a
bright red screen with red text, so nothing can be read. I change
the display to the standard default XP settings and everything works
fine again.

Well, obviously she was screwing with the thing to make the screen
unreadable, not to mention she has the START button text-font so large
it's chewing up 10% of the screen.

Anyhow, my question is this:
If the harddrive was not being accessed, due to improper bios
settings, how the heck did it show a DIR of C:\command.com (and
nothing more). How was it reading the hard drive at all?

By the way, I considered the system battery to have failed, but she
insisted she replaced it "around christmas".

I should also mention that this Dell computer is a Pentium 4, dual
core, with 4 gigs of Ram. All that power, just to play the games
that comes with XP. Yet, the computer runs slower than a turtle. My
own 1000mhz Pentium 3 with 500megs Ram, running Windows 98se and
Win2000 (dual boot), runs 50 times faster, and it's loaded with
programs. Why her computer runs so horribly slow is beyond me, but I
was not going to mess with it. As long as she can play her games,
she's happy. From what I saw in the bios, things appear to be set
normally, and while I was there I disabled the password requirement
that she had set and did not need or want.

Just for grins, to show how goofy this woman is, she asked me to
install another game. I told her to give me the CD with the game.
She said she dont have one. So I ask if she has it on a flash stick,
or floppy.... NOPE. So I say "how can I install it if you dont have
it?" She replies, "cant you just make it?"...... DUH !!!!!
(And she insists there is no way to get internet, not even dialup,
because her satellite tv company told her its not available)....

Wow! Amazing story! I'll just comment on the DOS part. How it saw DOS
without seeing any hard drive... the only thing I can think of is that
this computer has a ROM. Lots of computers did this years ago (but not
IBM-PC clones), like IBM-PC, Apple, Commodore, etc. The IBM-PC case, if
it couldn't find a floppy or a hard drive, it would boot Basic from a
separate ROM on the motherboard. But this was the 80's and by the 90's
those ROM based OS sort of disappeared.

IBM like machines (x86) all use BIOS (so does CP/M btw). This makes a
common OS to run on many different kinds of computer configurations much
easier (which is just like a ROM, but today is flashable). And a BIOS is
like a mini OS. And it is indeed possible to include a mini DOS in with
a BIOS (although I never saw one like this). And if the BIOS can't find
a drive to boot from, then instead boot a DOS found in the BIOS instead.
And I would be curious what drive letter that Command.com was found
under? And I would have typed a VER command to see what kind of DOS and
version it was.
 
P

philo

arive... the only thing I can think of is that
this computer has a ROM. Lots of computers did this years ago (but not
IBM-PC clones), like IBM-PC, Apple, Commodore, etc. The IBM-PC case, if
it couldn't find a floppy or a hard drive, it would boot Basic from a
separate ROM on the motherboard. But this was the 80's and by the 90's
those ROM based OS sort of disappeared.

IBM like machines (x86) all use BIOS (so does CP/M btw). This makes a
common OS to run on many different kinds of computer configurations much
easier (which is just like a ROM, but today is flashable). And a BIOS is
like a mini OS. And it is indeed possible to include a mini DOS in with
a BIOS (although I never saw one like this). And if the BIOS can't find
a drive to boot from, then instead boot a DOS found in the BIOS instead.
And I would be curious what drive letter that Command.com was found
under? And I would have typed a VER command to see what kind of DOS and
version it was.

Don't think I saw anything newer than an 8088 boot to ROM BASIC
 
P

Paul

The last time it broke, she went bonkers, and he asked me to fix it to
calm her down because she was pacing the floor and bitching, and
threatening to throw the computer thru a window. That time there was a
legitimate problem, the cpu cooler fan died and was causing it to
overheat and shut down. I replaced the fan and it worked again...
I should also mention that this Dell computer is a Pentium 4, dual core,
with 4 gigs of Ram. All that power, just to play the games that comes
with XP. Yet, the computer runs slower than a turtle. My own 1000mhz
Pentium 3 with 500megs Ram, running Windows 98se and Win2000 (dual
boot), runs 50 times faster, and it's loaded with programs. Why her
computer runs so horribly slow is beyond me, but I was not going to mess
with it.

OK, you replaced the fan, and now the system runs slow. Since it's
a P4 era dual core, it's likely overheating and thermally throttling.
(Throttling happens at a temperature of 20C below the shutdown point.)
You should use Speedfan (almico.com) to measure temps, and check
you did a good job of repairing the cooling.

http://www.almico.com/speedfan446.exe

Dells like to use a single cooling solution, a large fan that
pulls cooling air through the CPU cooler (cooler has a heatpipe or
two). The air movement is also intended to cool the chassis. So
one fan does all the cooling. The fan typically has a very high
rating, like somewhere around 110CFM or above. Normally, the
fan is not run at full voltage, and the motherboard has some
control over the fan speed. The fan connector could have four or
five pins. It could even be a PWM type, rather than one using
simple voltage control (i.e. 12V fan running at 7V). Exact replacements,
using the fan part number, can sometimes be located on the web.

If you swapped out that fan, chances are you didn't use a
factory part. You may have even defeated the automatic thermal control
with your changeout. Check with Speedfan and see whether you're
in the right temperature ballpark.

Throttling on those computers might start at around Tcase of 70C or
so. So they need attention to cooling, to work properly.

You can use RMClock, to check the throttle bit. This article,
shows an Intel processor cooling itself off by using throttling,
which results in reduced performance.

http://ixbtlabs.com/articles2/cpu/intel-thermal-features-core2.html

RMClock 2.35 can be downloaded from here.

http://cpu.rightmark.org/download.shtml

Paul
 
B

BillW50

In
philo said:
Don't think I saw anything newer than an 8088 boot to ROM BASIC

You could be right, but I think a IBM 286 still booted to Basic. There
is something that some BIOS boot too that I don't recall. Like if you
remove the SSD from an Asus EeePC 702 something else pops up. I Googled
it and it appears it happens on a lot of machines.
 
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R

richard2

And I would be curious what drive letter that Command.com was found
under? And I would have typed a VER command to see what kind of DOS and
version it was.

I said in my original post,
C:\command.com

I'm now wondering if that drive is setup for NTFS, with the drive not
being installed properly, was it reading it as a FAT32 drive?

I never did look to see if it's NTFS, but since XP tends to install to
NTFS, I'd bet it is. I know she said some out of state relative,
intalled the software and setup the computer for her, when he was
visiting some years ago.

I never thought of this till now, and I *never* use NTFS myself, nor
have I ever really screwed with it much. But I now bet the computer was
reading that hard drive as a Fat32 partition????

Just a guess, since I dont really know how the bios reads a NTFS format,
V/S Fat32.
 
R

richard2

If you swapped out that fan, chances are you didn't use a
factory part. You may have even defeated the automatic thermal control
with your changeout. Check with Speedfan and see whether you're
in the right temperature ballpark.

I used the EXACT factory replacement. Bought it on Ebay, from a guy who
was parting out an identical computer.

The fan does vary in speed, when it starts that fan runs real fast for a
few seconds.

Yea, there is a air scoop from the fan to the CPU to cool it. When the
fan died. the computer would boot up and shut right off. That CPU was
hot enough to fry an egg on it. Knowing the fan was dead, to test to
see if the computer would stay running, I put a window fan where the
dead internal fan was located and that kept it cool and it continued to
operate.

I do wonder if that CPU was damaged by the excessive heat, which now
causes it to run slow.

I'm just glad it's not mine. I'll stick with my older P3 computer which
performs much better than that piece of shit. Of course it's a Dell,
and I have never thought much of Dell anyhow.
 
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B

BillW50

In
I do wonder if that CPU was damaged by the excessive heat, which now
causes it to run slow.

I wouldn't doubt that one bit. As I have one machine that runs well and
all, except the CPU reads 10°F lower at idle and 40°F lower when the CPU
is maxed out. So the fan never changes to a higher speed because it
thinks the CPU is cool enough.

Well playing 3D games on it for 6 weeks caused the CPU to overheat many
times. And lots of strange things would happen before the CPU wouldn't
even boot up XP anymore without BSOD. Replaced the CPU and all is well
once again. It is still a very good machine, just don't push the CPU a
lot. Like browsing the web and email it works just fine.
 

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