So, here I am at the public library using the internet like some kind of homeless man.

It all started when I plugged in my scanner, thinking it might be a hoot to put a picture or two on Facebook. The only reason my scanner hadn’t been plugged in was that, from where it was sitting on my desk, the cord was too short to reach my computer tower. But I moved it onto the floor, plugged it in, and fired up the scanning software, only to have it crash on startup. I uninstalled and reinstalled the scanning software, and was asked to reboot my computer. That was the last time my computer worked. When I restarted, I got all the normal screens as Windows XP loaded, but instead of getting the password screen, I just got a black screen with a perfectly functional mouse pointer, but nothing to click. I restarted in safe mode, and got the same thing (only safer). With no apparent way to exit, I had to flick the switch off at the power supply, which is where the trouble really started.

You may recall me mentioning a recent lightning strike that resulted in my computer refusing to start up, instead whirring and making sick tocking noises like a motor that wouldn’t turn over. The cure that time was to press Delete and reset the clock speed in BIOS, after which everything was fine. This happened again, and I was able to fix it once. (But of course, I then still had the original scanner-caused problem with the black screen.) Now, no amount of Delete-pressing will get me into BIOS. I tried to reset CMOS by popping out the battery, moving the jumper onto the appropriate pins, and then replacing the battery. No go. I tried the same thing, but with a different battery liberated from my housemate’s computer. Negative. I tried disconnecting the hard drives. Nope. I took the RAM out and replaced it. Uh-uh.

Nothing’s worked so far, and I don’t know what the problem is — or, rather, what the problems are. Even if I fix one problem, it seems like I’m still going to have the first one. Any ideas? Anybody out there know anything about computers, besides their function in making cheap dick jokes on the internet? I’m getting close to breaking down and buying a new computer, but, for budgetary reasons, I’d like to avoid that. So, apologies for this interruption in your regularly scheduled blogging services. If you’d like to see me up and running again as much as I would, your advice — or donation of equipment, should you feel moved to such magnanimous gestures — would be gratefully appreciated.

8 Responses to “Offline”

  1. 1 Marlene

    If I win the Super-7 this week I’ll buy you a fancy computer. I guess that means I have to buy a ticket now too.

  2. 2 hilly

    Wow. I googled your problem, but it sounds like any number of things could be happening. Your original problem with the black screen sounds like it could be a driver conflict (either the scanner or the graphics card); if you get working again, try installing the latest approved versions (no betas!) The other issue sounds like the motherboard (or the boot hard drive) is dying.

    In lieu of purchasing an entirely new computer, you could buy a new motherboard and restore your computer that way. You’d keep all your OS settings and such, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying an all-new one. Do you have any tech-savvy friends that could walk you through buying and installing a mobo?

  3. 3 Anonymous

    hmmm. maybe you should call your really smart dad?

  4. 4 Miker

    I have scads of hardware laying around, old hard drives, mobos, memory etc. Tell me what type of system and I’ll see what I can throw together. Can’t have you blogging from the library, that’s just… ugh.

  5. 5 Matt

    That’s what you get for making fun of Bill CMOSby.

    No, wait a minute, that’s not what happened. That was just a lame excuse to crack a stupid joke. Not unlike the fact that comparing yourself to a homeless man because your friend motherboard forced you to go to the library is a good excuse for me to suggest that you’re a hobo in search of a mobo.

    In all seriousness, I hope this works out. I’m sorry for being useless in the most aggravating way possible.

  6. Marlene: Well, get to buying your ticket then. But if you win the lottery, you might as well just sign me to a personal-services contract.

    Hilly: I actually installed my last motherboard myself. It was no big deal, aside from all the grunting and pushing to get it into place, and the terror that I might push too forcefully and snap it. I was actually leaning toward the same conclusions as you about it being either the mobo or the boot drive. The boot drive has had some data corruption lately, and is older than the mobo, so I suspect that. But jeez, I don’t really know. I’ve compared notes with my friend Tyler, who’s more tech-savvy than I am, and he’s stumped too.

    Anonymous: I tried calling my really smart dad right away, and he was stumped too. Of course, it’s not easy to diagnose a problem over the phone. I bet he’d be able to fix it in person, but he’s about a four- or five-hour drive away.

    Miker: Wow! That’d be awesome! I just use a PC, so anything along those lines would be fine with me. I could e-mail you my current system specs right now, except I took the little slip of paper that I wrote them on out of my wallet. One thing’s for sure: Blogging from the library’s a no-go. It’s impossible to do anything worthwhile in the piddly amount of time I’m allowed to book.

    Matt: What good is a frustrating situation if it doesn’t at least afford the possibility for your friends to crack dumb jokes about it?

  7. 7 Elizabeth

    My scanner is tricky, too, and shuts down the USB hub when I hook it up and try to scan something. I’m just leaving it alone for now.

  8. I have definitly used library computers and felt like a homeless man! it’s not a whole lot of fun.

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