Friday, August 21, 2015

Computer Troubles with a Capital "Troub"

I spent a good chunk of time this week trying to troubleshoot a problem with my laptop. Starting last week, a BSOD -- Blue Screen of Death -- began popping up with precise regularity. If it didn't boot in Safe Mode, it wouldn't boot at all. As a result I had to dig into the "guts" of software, the bios, and all those things that I've largely detached myself from.

Not since the "good ol' days" of DOS on our family's trusty XT and later our 486 (which sported a "Turbo" button), have I been forced to understand the operation of my computer any deeper than pressing the button to turn it on or possibly downloading a specific hardware driver. This was full-on poking around in stuff that I didn't fully understand but kinda, sorta thought that changing settings here, there and everywhere, might goad the computer to boot up properly. It was a voyage of discovery as I came across settings and options that I often thought I should tweak, but never had the gumption to sit down and just figure it all out. (Of course, if everything was working fine, why would I start tweaking things?) There were completely unexplored areas and diagnostic options that I had no clue were present.
And only moments ago -- after backing-up my files then setting the laptop to its 2011 factory settings, getting the needed drivers installed, hours of rebooting, and "turning off" the graphics card, which turned out to be source of all these troubles -- I managed to get the wifi/network adapter working. It means that my laptop is functional again. I have not tried to play a game with the integrated graphics processor but at least I can type things and the PC boots like it's supposed to.

What it brought into sharp focus for me is that I've had it easy for a long time when it comes to fiddling with computers to get them to work. Most everything actually does live up to the now-ancient promise of "plug 'n' play." The software and hardware function together to sort themselves out after diagnosing a problem. That wasn't the case with my problem util a built-in diagnostic tool shone a spotlight on the problem. It was just finding the right option from the correct menu to kick that off that pointed things in the right direction.

The only thing left to do now is figure out the best replacement for the video card... Feels a little like I'm starting from scratch on this point. Wish my luck!

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