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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Wednesday (3/2/05) 9:56am - ... wherein The Curse of Any Computer Owned By Peter rears its ugly head.

Hi all --

I'm mostly posting this so my brother can have a look at it, but everybody else is welcome to take a peek and feel the schadenfreude...



Some of you will recall last year, when my PC went through the following death throes:
1.  Got slower and slower and slower.
2.  Began showing random errors in various apps.
3.  Started spontaneously rebooting.

... after testing damn near everything else, I concluded (translation:  my brother concluded) that it was a problem with the power supply.


By that point, after replacing this part, then that, then the other, I'd more or less cobbled together a new computer.  The SoundBlaster Live! sound
card was the only inside-the-box component to survive the transition.

All was well for about six months, after which I started seeing an odd problem with Opera.  After the computer
was on a couple of hours, Opera would occasionally not display a graphic on a page.  Worse, the application's title bar would never refresh -- so as
you navigated, Windows would write the title of one page on the bar, then another, then another, until it was a mass of superimposed gobbledygook.

A reboot would remedy the problem, at least for the next couple of hours.


The video card seemed like the logical culprit, so I bought a new video card (ATI Radeon 9000) off of apthorpe.  It more or less fixed the problem.  I'd see similarly-erratic behaviors once in a blue moon, but it required leaving the computer on for five or six hours.

In the last month or two, those 'erratic behaviors' have gotten much, much worse, setting in after as little as an hour or two, and leaving the computer in some very whacked out states.

Below is a listing of some of the behaviors, with screenshots where possible.  Note that I took these with my digital camera, because...
0:  Screen-capture quits working.

1a.  Windows lose their titles:


1b.  The task bar loses its titles:


1c.  The start menu loses its titles:


2.  The shutdown dialog goes transparent:


3.  Certain apps substitute system (?) fonts for the correct fonts:

Right Font:


Wrong Font:


4.  A variety of apps (including Photoshop & Opera) refuse to launch:




5.  Some apps (Word, my MIDI sequencer) report a 'disk error' when I try to save the current file.
{Screenshot not available yet.}

6.  Some apps (WinAmp, my MIDI sequencer) report a 'sound driver error' when I try to play sound.  Other apps (Explorer, multitrack stopwatch) just stop playing sound.



7.  Some apps (n-track, ATI control panel) display the wrong graphics for buttons & icons
{Screenshot not available yet.}

8.  Explorer once got itself into a state where clicking on a filename made it disappear, and hovering over a filename created a large, blank, vertical tip strip:



So far, I've tried:
* Switching out the video card (see above)
* Making sure Windows is up to date
* Making sure my video driver is up to date
* Testing the memory with memtest86

At this point, I'm inclined to blame the power supply again, just because I have two 200GB hard drives and the insane variety of errors.  I should have an extra power supply sitting around that I can try putting in.

I imagine I'll post about this saga in a week or so -- if I've made any progress by then.

/me sighs.

Tags: , ,
Mood: [mood icon] melancholy · Music: Harding, John Wesley - Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues
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Comments:

From:(Anonymous)
Date:Wednesday (3/2/05) 10:24am

Question about the computer

(Link)
Peter,

Hi, This is John from JCC. I work with your brother and he told me to see what I can see about your "fun" computer. :-) My question is what is the output of your power supply? I think you might be underpowering the amount of stuff in the machine.

John
(Reply to this) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:hujhax
Date:Wednesday (3/2/05) 10:34am
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Hi John -- thanks for looking that over....

[...] what is the output of your power supply?

It's a 400W power supply -- the "FSP400-60PFN" model from Fortron

(Here's an old review from anandtech.)

Current mood: gloomy
Current music: John Wesley Harding - God Lives Upstairs
(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:Wednesday (3/2/05) 10:45am

Curse of the computer (A.K.A Curse at the computer)

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Hi I'm Jason, again one of your brothers minions... I think your problem may be in the RAM. The only reason that this should be a power supply issue is if your just barely under the wattage you need, otherwise your computer would just be rebooting everytime a harddrive spins up.

Jason
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From:hujhax
Date:Wednesday (3/2/05) 10:57am
(Link)
I think your problem may be in the RAM.

Cool -- I'll be sure to try testing it/trading it out....

Current mood: optimistic
Current music: John Wesley Harding - The King Is Dead Boring
(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)
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From:hujhax
Date:Thursday (3/3/05) 9:36am
(Link)
I think your problem may be in the RAM.

Hmm -- I ran MemTest86, and it passed.  Back to the drawing board....

Current mood: listless
Current music: Ben Harper - Welcome To The Cruel World
(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:Wednesday (3/2/05) 11:06am

Post a screenshot of processes and services?

(Link)
Peter, can you do cnt-alt-del and go to task manager --> "processes" tab and take a screenshot (you may have to scroll down and take another one to get all of them)? I want to see if you've got any weird stuff going on. Also, if you feel comfortable with it can you go to "computer management" --> services and applications --> services and take a few screenshots there? Also, if you've done so in the past can you open up regedit and take a look at your "Run" and "RunOnce" folders (if you know how to find them)? I can walk you through it on the phone if you like...
Thanks!
-Judson
(Reply to this) (Thread)
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From:hujhax
Date:Wednesday (3/2/05) 12:55pm
(Link)
I should be able to give that a shot the next time the computer goes wonky....

Current mood: meticulous
Current music: John Wesley Harding - The Triumph of Trash
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From:hujhax
Date:Thursday (3/3/05) 9:38am
(Link)
Post a screenshot of processes and services?

Okay, I gots the screenshots.  I'll probably transcribe & post the contents tonight or tomorrow night.

Current mood: listless
Current music: Ben Harper - Welcome To The Cruel World
(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)
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From:hujhax
Date:Saturday (3/5/05) 6:10pm
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Peter, can you do cnt-alt-del and go to task manager --> "processes" tab and take a screenshot (you may have to scroll down and take another one to get all of them)? I want to see if you've got any weird stuff going on.

You'll find those screenshots here and here.

Also, if you feel comfortable with it can you go to "computer management" --> services and applications --> services and take a few screenshots there?

Find the appropriate screenshots here, here, and here.

Also, if you've done so in the past can you open up regedit and take a look at your "Run" and "RunOnce" folders (if you know how to find them)?

Here are screenshots of the Run and RunOnce folders.

Current mood: quixotic
Current music: Bach - Sonata in E Minor, BWV1034: Andante
(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)
From:racingpenguins
Date:Thursday (3/3/05) 10:00pm
(Link)
Nothing useful to say really, but I'm impressed that your brother has multiple minions. I wish I had minions. Also, you made me really happy because you used the word schadenfreude. :-D
(Reply to this) (Thread)
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From:hujhax
Date:Thursday (3/3/05) 11:20pm
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Also, you made me really happy because you used the word schadenfreude. :-D

/me makes mental note to bring 'schadenfreude' card to next 1kbwc game....

Current mood: melancholy
Current music: Bach - Sonata in B Minor, BWV1030: Presto
(Reply to this) (Parent) (Thread)
From:racingpenguins
Date:Friday (3/4/05) 1:09am
(Link)
Ha ha! I already made a card for it =)
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