I hate computers
I really do. Just like I hate cars and think that 95% of people are not mature enough to drive one.
But in both case I need them. My need for them is greater than my hate so I guess I just have to deal with it.
What’s becoming ridiculous with computers though is that when they bug, if you consider the time you have to invest to fix the problem there are times just getting a new one would be cheaper. Specially if you have to pay someone to fix it for you. For example at my job we charge $125-$100 per hour (we only work for companies). Do you really want to spend a whole day trying to fix a computer when you could buy a brand new for about $500 (unless it involves data you need back of course).
Friday I had the afternoon off. That was to be a great Friday. It was sunny outside, we opened the door to let the fresh air enter the house (there’s still some snow but very little and it’s now at a point where we can open windows without freezing too much in the house), beer was in the fridge and I’m working on a nice little game project that is really fun to build (more on that later, no it’s not Ereptoria, that one is still in design). Everything was perfect …
Then the computer froze and let a continuous beep fill the silence. Hmm, maybe I did something wrong. I rebooted and then became awfully careful when typing on the keyboard (go figure). It froze again … Someone just took my Friday and flushed it down the toilet.
I always have my anti-virus updated and running so I thought it had to be hardware. I’ve seen a lot of my computers having hardware problems (including seeing actual smoke coming out from the power supply) and it sounded like yet another problem of this kind. Just when I bought my current computer I had to replace the hard drive 3 weeks later. Just my luck but the Dell tech came home quickly, gave me a new one and I was done.
My first thought was the memory sticks. It doesn’t take a lot to burn this ridiculous piece of hardware so I started with this. I removed 3 sticks to leave only 1 and tested. Computer froze. I removed the current one and put another one and did this until all memory sticks were tested. Computer was still freezing.
Arggg … I don’t mind bad memory sticks. I can fix that quickly but now … Maybe the video card? I had some problem of freezing while playing Mass Effect 1 (not 2 though) and I knew my drivers were of the latest version so I removed my GeForce 8800 GT and plugged into the onboard video. The stupid piece of crap froze again.
I then proceeded to check the hard drive, using chkdsk and default dell diagnostic tools and found nothing wrong. I became nervous at that point. What was left? The CPU, motherboard, … maybe power supply. I checked the temperature, nothing was wrong. I still cleaned all fans (there was quite some dust there), tried again but no luck.
At that point I had to leave for the birthday party of a friend. I wasn’t really in the mood but there was nothing more I could do. My Friday afternoon was already wasted.
Saturday morning, problem is worse it seems. Tried many stupid things in safe mode (was still crashing), received advice from a player of Golemizer working with computers (thanks Kanjisan) but no luck.
I regoogled my problem and found this thread: http://www.overclock.net/intel-cpus/486062-windows-xp-freezes-1-continuous-beep.html
Exact same description of the problem I was having. Many people with the exact same problem. I kept reading and then found the magical solution.
A poster told to use RootRepeal to spot any rootkit and fix the issue. I did exactly that and 3 seconds after starting the scan a rootkit was found in the MBR … No idea how I caught that. I do know though that when I’m coding and not browsing I turn off Spyware Doctor because it’s slowing down a lot compilation in Visual Studio. Maybe I forgot to turn it back on one day …
Rebooted on the recovery console of Windows, launched fixmbr, rebooted again and now the computer has been running smoothly for over an hour. It was previously freezing every 5-10 minutes so I’m guessing the problem is now gone.
It took me around 8 hours to finally found this solution. Paying someone to fix that would have been ridiculous. I paid my computer under $1,000 and I knew my memory and video card were ok so I could have purchased a brand new tower for about the same price it would have cost me to have someone check the computer. That’s why I hate computers.
Of course maybe someone fixing computers all day would have known of this problem and would have fixed it in 5 minutes (that’s all it took to fix the problem once discovered) but what if not …
So basically this post is here to help people encountering something similar and to also waste time to check if my computer will freeze again. I had to do so many hard reboots that I don’t quite feel like having to restore corrupted code or something.
If you ever have a similar problem just know that even if it looks and smell like a hardware problem that it might be in fact just software. Also you should probably not go on the Internet anymore as there’s all kind of nasty stuff out there. I don’t consider my browsing habits to be at risk and I still managed to bring this stuff on my machine so unplug your computer from the net right now!