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March 2010The monthly newsletter by Felgall Pty Ltd

My Word

Hardware Problems

No computer hardware lasts forever and even where the hardware is still useable there can sometimes be problems with it that prevents it from working the way it should. Before you throw the computer away and buy a replacement there are a few things you can do to work out what part of the computer has actually failed and in some cases you may even be able to get the computer working properly again without needing to replace anything.

As an example, I recently turned my computer on one morning to find tht it wouldn't start up properly. Instead all I got was a series of beeps. Now the beeps are the computer's way of telling you what is wrong when the computer is unable to send anything to the monitor so as to display a message. In this particular case even though I was able to use a different computer to look up what the beep codes for the BIOS in my computer were supposed to mean it wasn't a great deal of help as the particular pattern of beeps that I was getting were not on the list on the web site that I usually use to check such things.

Not knowing exactly what was wrong I still decided that it was worthwhile trying to narrow down where in the computer that the problem might be.

Now in any computer there are a range of components some of which have their own independent connection to teh power and the computer should still be able to start up if most of those components were not even there. In many cases the reason why your computer will not start is because it can actually see the component and can also see that the component has failed. By removing the power from the component the computer can no longer see that the component is there. If it wasn't starting because that particular component has failed then pulling the power should allow the computer to start without it.

An obvious place to start with this is with components such as DVD drives, floppy drives etc. Simply disconnect the power from each of them one at a time and try to restart the computer. If the computer starts then you have identified the problem component. If it still doesn't start you have eliminated a possible cause. You might also consider disconnecting and reconnecting any other cables connected to each device as sometimes it may just be that a cable has come lose and that no actual component has failed. A loose data cable may mean that only some of the circuits on the connector are actually making contact and that is the cause of the problem.

On this particular occasion the reason that my computer was refusing to start was that the data cable on the hard drive had come loose. Once I worked my way through disconnecting and reconnecting all the cables in the computer and finally got to that cable the computer then started operating normally again.

If disconnecting and reconnecting all the cables from the external devices don't fix the problem then you can proceed to disconnecting and reconnecting all the cables on the motherboard one at a time to see if perhaps one of them has come loose from that end. You might also consider removing and reinserting the memory and also any cards that are plugged into the motherboard so as to check if it is the connection on any of those that has come loose. In the case of cards plugged into the board you might try the computer with them removed if the card provides an optional function that the computer can manage (at least temporarily) without. In the case of memory where you have more than one memory card you might try with just one or another inserted so as to check if a particular memory card has failed.

These simple things that you can do for yourself can (where it is a loose connection causing the problem) fix things for you and get you going again with nothing further required. Where your checking manages to successfully identify a specific component as having failed then you can look at replacing just that component in order to get your computer going again. It is only in the rare instance where you do all that and the computer still does nothing but beep at you that doing this doesn't directly lead to your being able to fix the problem. Even where you haven't found a fix you have still acquired information about the problem. If you know of a computer shop that repairs computers as well as selling them it will be worth talking to them telling them what your computer is doing and what you have checked. From the checks you have run for yourself they may be able to tell you what is wrong with the computer (particularly if the beep pattern changes for some of the combinations you try). At worst you end up back where you started with the store recommending that you buy a new computer.

By performing these simple tasks of disconnecting and reconnecting cables within your computer when it fails to start up and just beeps at you instead, you can often get your computer working again without it costing you anything other than a small amount of time. Sometimes you may identify a particular component as having failed and can just replace that component. In each of these instances you get your existing computer working again at little or no cost compared to purchasing a new one. Even where you end up with the store suggesting that the cheapest option is to buy a new computer you may still be able to get your existig hard drive transferred across if it still works so as to not lose all the data that you have on that drive (or having to restore all your data from a backup).
 

On Site

As promised last month I have started adding some articles about HTML 5. I should be able to add at least a couple more in the coming month. Another related idea that has occurred to me is to provide information on how to adjust various web browsers so that they will ignore proprietary and obsolete tags and process web pages according to the standards. This might be particularly useful for those currently developing web pages as future browser versions will eventually incorporate those changes.
 

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