Thursday, 11 February 2010

Techie troubles

It started with an innocent text message. Something along the lines of "My mate's PC has a virus & I'm struggling to sort it. Can you help?".
99.999% of the time my answer is a simple yes, and this time was no exception.
My mate dropped the errant PC off at my house (given that it is a tad too bulky to simply go in my backpack on the cycle home). I was quite confident we'd have it virus-free in a jiffy!
I removed the hard drive, plugged it into my USB adapter and scanned it. Sure enough, I found several nasties, and dealt with them. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!
In no time at all I had the drive back in the PC and started it up. When it got to the logon screen, all it'd do is log me right back out, regardless what user account I used.
No worries - a simple automated Windows repair would sort it! EXCEPT the machine uses uncommon hardware and the Windows repair keeps failing because of that.
It gets better: the BIOS is badly out of date, and there are problems with it. There are no less than six newer versions available! After downloading the lastest, I tried flashing the BIOS - something which a) I don't like doing and b) is typically over in minutes.
An hour later it is still blinking the "Please wait!!" message at me, and I reset the machine. While doing so I'm hoping and praying that the failed process didn't leave me with a corrupted (and therefore dead) BIOS.
And then the machine wouldn't boot! DUCK*!

(*I tend to write DUCK as a replacement for a popular and similar-sounding expletive!)

Ripping out the power cable, I walk off in a huff to make coffee.
Once suitably caffeinated, I go back and try again, and hallelujah! the damn thing fired up! 

After finding a different and slightly older BIOS, I tried flashing it again, and this time it worked. Soon after I was cursing again as the clean Windows install I decided to do was failing with CRC errors. CRC is short for Cyclic Redundancy Check and basically mean you're getting duff data from the disk. Clearly the DVD drive had an intermittent failure. 
After scrounging in my pile of spares I plug in a replacement drive and start again.

FINALLY the things does as it's told to and XP installs without a glitch!

Times like this I SERIOUSLY regret not having become a tree surgeon.