Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Computer Keeps on Restarting while loading Windows XP

Symptoms:

Computer boots like normal, Windows loading screen will appear, after a few seconds, a quick blue screen will appear and then your computer restarts. You can't even read the BSOD information because it just flash in less than a second. This will go on and on and you will be stuck in a loop. Computer will not boot even in safe mode or any other option.


Solution:

First thing to do is to disable the option that computer automatically restarts when a fatal error/system failure occurs. There is an option inside windows for that, but in this case we can't do that. So what you need to do is to press F8 before the Windows XP logo appears right after the BIOS screen (just like what you do when you want to boot in safe mode). This screen will appear:


















(this image is from Vista but it's basically the same) What you need to do is choose the option: "Disable automatic restart on system failure" (the one in the red box). After doing that, your computer will restart, and you will now see the Blue screen error message.

9 out of 10 computers that i worked on will show the BSOD (blue screen of death) message:

Unmountable_Boot_Volume

For some, the only solution when you see this error is to reformat the hard drive. But this problem can be easily repaired by using the built in Window Tool "Chkdsk" or checkdisk (same as scandisk on older windows version).

What you need is a Windows XP installer CD, put in you CD Drive, boot your computer from it.
When this screen appear, choose the Repair option:

You will now get to the command prompt. . Type chkdsk /p and hit Enter. This will launch a utility which will check for errors on your hard drive, it will take a while, just be patient. When it is finished, remove the installation disk on your cd rom drive, type EXIT and your computer will now be back to normal.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ubuntu Saves the Day - About Acer Aspire 4710

Somebody brought an Acer Aspire 4710 laptop here in my shop. The owner wants me to reformat it because she is planning to sell it. It's easy if you have the recovery cd/dvd, the problem is, she doesn't have one, because it never came with one when she bought it. FYI, majority of laptop manufacturer today do not include recovery disk, instead they put it in a hidden partition in your hard disk drive.

So I turned the laptop on, backed up any important files, restart the computer and fired up the recovery software by pressing alt+F10 (i believe this is the universal key sequence to enter recovery mode for acer laptops). Then another problem occur.

The eRecovery file has a password (Empowering Technology Password). A note under the setup of the password reads:

If you lose the Empowering Technology password, there is
no way to reset it except by reformatting your system. Make sure
to remember or write down your password!

According to some website, the default password is 000000 (that's six zeros). But it does not work in this laptop. It turned out that it was user generated password, the owner doesn't know what it is, or maybe she already forgot what it is.

I search the internet for an answer, according the some information i collected, the password is stored in a file on the hidden partition. The partition label is PQSERVICE. The best way to get at this is to use something like UBCD (The Ultimate Boot CD) that will run a complete system from a cd. Once it is booted, you should look for the file AIMDRS.DAT

Use any text editor or notepad to view this file and you can find the password there. Example:
"password" PD= "____" and "hint" HD="____"

I have UBCD but i cannot find the disk, so i look for my Ubuntu CD 7.10. It is a live cd so you can use it to load Ubuntu linux without installing it in your hard drive. You can also use any other Linux Live CD for this matter. The important thing is you can access the hidden eRecovery partition of you acer laptop (PQSERVICE).

You can edit the password, or you can leave it as it is. Remove the live Cd, restart the PC, boot to eRecovery, just enter the password and you can sit back and relax while it loads.

Note:
Some suggests that you can use Acronis Disk Director or other partition software to show up the hidden partition. You can try that one, but I haven't tested it yet.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hewlett Packard - HP Pavilion N3310 Driver and Specifications

Somebody brought in a laptop today, it was an HP Pavilion N3310. The owner asked me to do a reformat. The OS is Windows 98 and he wanted it to stay that way. After formatting the said laptop, it occurred to me that there was no driver for the video card, sound card and modem. So I look up on the internet but it was hard to look for the exact specification of this laptop.

Fortunately, I saw someone at driverguide.com uploaded the driver for the built in vga. There's also available sound and modem driver. But the problem is, after downloading, the modem is still looking for the driver. Also, the first vga driver that i downloaded was only meant for Windows XP. So i download another one, and it works. After a little research I found the correct driver for the modem and soundcard at the ESS website. I notice that the file that was uploaded in driverguide is for Win95 and Win98 first edition, so that is the reason why it didn't work.

Here's the download links for those of you who also need it:

PCI Audio/Modem Combo Device - you only need one driver for these two
Exact model: Maestro3.comm ES1980 Maestro-3 Audio + ES56CVM-PI Modem
Win95/98 vxd
Win98SE wdm
Windows ME wdm
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP

Video Card
Exact model: Trident CyberBlade i7 AGP (8420-76)
note: You need to be registered at driverguide to download these files
Windows 98 SE
WinXP