Computer Repairs

(Left here for their historical interest rather than practical usefulness)

I seem to get a lot of weird computer faults

Some are described in the following pages:-

Incidentally my customers don't all have ancient equipment... it's just that these notes cover a few years...

in fact I've appended a date to each to set it in its correct era

Making a RAID 1 System (14/11/2006)

The Hard Way (22/4/03)

XPletive (19/4/03)

XP Again (3/03/03)

Webspace (11/01/03)

XP, a problem (21/12/02)

Friday 13th (12/01/03)

Wireless LANs (15/12/02)

A record surely! (6/11/02)

Virus problems seem to be multiplying faster than ever! (3/10/02)

A Brief Virus History of My computer (20/10/02)

Was this a Virus? (9/08/01)

This certainly is! (11/08/01)

And this! (1/09/01)

Boot up with no options (31/5/01)

Problems with Mice (18/05/01)

CDROM Problem (15/06/01)

Page Violations (30/05/01)

E-Mail Mayhem (31/05/01)

Adding a large hard drive (12/02/01)

Virus attack (16/10/00)

Careless assembly (30/05/01)

Switch off first (31/05/01)

Windows ME a brief acquaintanceship (31/05/01)

Reliability or rather the lack of it! (1/12/02)

A really bad virus (Feb 2009)

Seagate problems (Dec 2009)

A bigger RAID drive (Oct 2012)


Miscellaneous computer tips.....

These are hints to sort out things where there usually isn't a helpful message on the screen as opposed to those when you just mutter something and follow the instructions...

The tips are arranged under the following headings:-

Boot-up Problems and tips about booting up a computer that's acting up.

Hardware Advice about hardware difficulties.

Software Very difficult problems met with software. Not easy to solve because we don't have access to the code, as some will recall we used to do with many BBC computer programs.

Fishing... or is it more technical... Phishing

Running slowly, crashing and generally really annoying

A potted history of editorial

 We are all slaves to big business!! Because everyone involved in computers wants to carry on in the computer business until they retire they have to have a strategy for the future. Processor manufacturers need to design new chips that are seemingly better than last months so they can keep demand up and their factories busy. Case manufacturers need to force us all to throw away our old cases because they won't handle new motherboards. Memory manufacturers need to keep changing the design of their chips so the old one's get to be obsolete. CDROM manufacturers need to keep upping the speed of their boxes so we think we need to change our old ones. Hard drives get bigger and bigger and the old ones that cost a fortune not long ago are worthless even though they work OK. Software gets more and more complicated and more and more memory hungry and everyone has to have "Version 5.5" even though it's dreadfully slow because it needs more and more processing power to work fast enough to overcome the inefficient code.

I remember upgrading my Sinclair ZX81 from 1K to 3K by soldering a new memory chip across the old one. When I got a floppy drive costing £250 to replace the audio cassette player on my Beeb it was amazing. We didn't have to watch black and white bars on the screen and wonder if they were ever going to stop and a cursor appear. A few buzzing noises and your program was loaded in seconds. When I got a hard drive to replace the floppies it was heaven! I do remember though it was very difficult as there was a world shortage of disk controller chips at the time because everyone was doing the same. Prices were astronomic!! When I upgraded my IBM PC to a 286 I was amazed at the speed of the machine. I had a 5Mbyte hard drive and it took up two whole 5.25 inch slots in the case. I then upgraded to a 20Mbyte drive which a year earlier cost over £1,000. Someone I knew that was very rich had just bought a new computer with an 80Mbyte drive! You had to partition it into lots of bits because the processor wasn't clever enough to see the whole thing in one go. Then there was the 386, a revolution in processing power! Then the 486 which cost the earth. A friend bought one of the first chips with a motherboard for nearly £1,000, I got the same thing two years later from a computer suplus dealer, brand new for £30. Then the clock multiplier dodges...DX2 and DX4 (really a DX3 but DX4 sounds better!!). The Pentium was another revolution, then the II and the III and the IV......I have boxes and boxes of stuff that originally cost thousands of pounds now worth precisely zero. I even put a PDP11 in a 7 foot rack, that cost £25,000 in the 70s (that was more than 10 years salary!!!), in a skip. I couldn't even lift the paper tape reader and punch units that came with it at the same time...they were that heavy.

And yet....the ZX81 with 1K of memory played a jolly good game of chess. The old PC with DOS was quick and the 286 with MSDOS was like lightning. The 386 with Windows 3 was a little clumsy to get underway. The 486 with Windows 95 was slow. The Pentium II 400 running Windows 98 takes forever to change the eggtimer to a cursor and get going. Add an anti-virus and it takes an age to get EXCEL on the screen. Computers hardly ever fell over in the old days (unless you were in the Defence Industry when nothing ever seemed to actually work). "Fitness for purpose" has absolutely no meaning in the world of computer software. What use is a message to "contact your software supplier" when the screen freezes. How and to what end???

I just bought a 700Meg Thunderbird and Slot A motherboard because they were reduced, having been declared obsolete by the local wholesaler. It needs PC100 memory so I can't use the junk box stuff.. that isn't fast enough! The cooler and fan are almost the biggest bit of the system! I've got loads of AT cases that I'll probably never use now, not to mention the 72 pin memory, the 30 pin memory, loads of 8 speed and similar CDROMs, boxes and boxes of ISA cards and dozens of hard drives that aren't even big enough to accommodate a new operating system. It's just that I remember how much they cost and I can't bring myself to chuck any away.

It seems an age since the Thunderbird was consigned to the junk box, but there it is... technology desn't stand still..

The latest acquisition isn't the fastest hottest thing around. A 3.4Gig "Dual Core" P4, 800Meg fsb, 1Gig of 533Meg SDRAM and two 250Gig SATA II hard drives.


Post Script... 2009

 It's an odd thing but this D340 processor chip seems to me to be faster than the latest Quad Core processors. I wonder if the D series were quietly dropped in favour of cheaper "Core Duo" and "Core Quad" chips??

Compared with the AMD chip above it's out of this world... until this time next year when the P4 D series will almost certainly be old hat...


Post post script... 2013

 Now I have an Intel i5, 16Gig of RAM, dual 2Tbyte SATA3 hard drives for data and two 1Tbyte SATA3 hard drives for software. The first pair are software RAID mirror and the latter hardware RAID mirrored.

Op system is 64 bit Windows 7.

I can't imagine anything much faster although the i7 is dearer and I don't have a graphics card.

Still, the computer manufacturers won't go bust so what's next?

Microsoft introduced Windows 8 but I didn't like it (so I got Windows 7) and I see now that Microsoft is making negative noises (shades of ME I think).

Post post script... 2015

 Now, I hear Microsoft is planning to give free Windows 10 to Windows 7 and Windows 8 customers. The old saying, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" springs to mind. It's funny that the word "Trojan" is also now part of computerspeak.

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