PC Troubleshooting Advice Column

Computers don't always work the way we want them to, so from time to
time I like to spend a few moments answering a few of the many
tech-support questions I receive from readers. Why
they choose me, a complete stranger who
runs a website entirely unrelated to computer support and has
heretofore expressed neither the willingness nor the ability to answer
any technological
questions, I do not know. But this does little to change that these people
need help, and I'll be goddamned if I leave them out in
the cold just because of their stubborn refusal to adhere to logic.
 
So this week I'll be helping readers out with a few of their basic
computer-related questions. You're welcome!

spyw 

DEAD MEMORY?

PC Helpdesk

Hello, I recently bought another 1gb stick of ram for my
computer to
bring it from 1gb to 2gb. However when the new stick is inserted the
computer wont boot. When I say that it wont boot I mean that the fans
all come on, and the power light comes on, but the computer doesn't
beep to enter bios and the screen stays in standby etc. I put the ram
in the slots mentioned in the motherboard manual, 1st and 3rd slot. I
also tried them in 1st and 2nd slots. Neither worked. Please help.

-Mark

Thanks for writing in Mark! I see this problem a lot. What you are
going to want to do is to defragment your RAM. Pieces of RAM shuttle a
lot of data, and sometimes small portions of data can get trapped
between nodes, causing a pile-up of bits and bites.

Imagine a freeway during rush hour traffic. Suddenly, a driver is shot. He then has a heart attack, spins out of control,
and is now blocking all traffic with his dead body. Drivers could pass
if they really wanted to, but who wants to drive over a corpse? That's
right: Nobody.

The same thing happens with memory. Since no data can get through, the
memory sends a message to your hard drive that says "GLITCH OUT BAD
ORDER
" causing the PC to refuse any further requests. This can even
happen in new sticks of RAM (as you are experiencing) and it is
definitely the reason your PC will not boot.

Luckily for you, defragmenting your RAM is simple! Do a hard reset of
your computer, and as it starts up, hold down the "ALT" and "~" keys
while continuously pressing "DELETE". This will boot your BIOS into
safety mode. Then look for a setting that says "Memorys" or "Computer
Memory Area". Then, all you need to do is select the "Memory Module
" option and let it do its thing. Depending on size,
RAM can take anywhere from eight minutes to 12 hours, but
after it has completed your RAM will be faster than ever.

CRYSIS CRISIS

Crysis Glitch

So I installed crysis pc and played about 1 hour and
blue-screen with
yellow letters came on 1 milisecond (i am unable to read it) and my
computer restarts...i have never encountered this problem ...only on
crysis after 1 hour...whats the problem?

- Andi

A friend of mine was actually having this same problem a few months
ago. It actually turned out his Microsoft Keyboard was the problem (USB
latency issues which bongled the CMOS) and he solved it by buying a
higher quality elite gaming keyboard. But I understand that not
everyone has the money for this, so here are a few FREE ways you can
try to get the old girl running smoothly again.

Clean The Registry

Type "regedit" in the "run" box and the registry will appear. If you
see any bugs, viruses, or items you don't recognize, delete them.

Drape a Wet Towel Over the PC

These problems are sometimes caused by static buildup in the home. The moist
towel will cause this to dissipate. Alternatively, you can rub some
dryer sheets over the case, or put a (very small!) cup of water in
the bottom of it.

Increase the voltage on your CPU and RAM

This can easily be done in the BIOS. I usually just double the voltage
until the problem goes away, but use your best judgement!

Press "Ctrl+P" on your keyboard

If the PC doesn't print, your printer driver is likely bonked! Buy a
new printer.

Clean Spyware

Spyware is the leading cause of PC problems. Look through your program
files for any folders that look like they might be spywares. Then right
click and make these folders "read-only" this will make sure the spyware can't get out of them.

VIDEO CARD DANGER

Glitchy Game

I have been facing this problem with my brand new HP pc for
a while
now. The symptoms are the video and audio loops(sticks) for 2-3 seconds
every couple of minutes. Once a while though the screen flashes and i
have to shut it down manually with the power button. I dont have any
warranty with HP and since I am a student dont have the option to give
it for repairing for 2-3 weeks in hp repair.

If you can assure me that the problem is definitely just the graphics
card, to buy a new one and maybe replace it with the help of an expert
on our own. What are ur suggestions to my problem?

- Tad

Well Tad, first let me say congrats on the purchase of your new
HP computer! HP is a great brand and the PC should serve you well in the
many years to come. There are two possible issues you are likely facing
depending on your system configuration. Check them out:

1. If Your PC Has a CPU

If your HP is one of the models that comes with a CPU (AKA processor),
this is likely the problem. Many modern CPU-utilizing computers
experience
issues such as yours due to the fact that our modern power outlets just
aren't built to withstand the enormous draw that a CPU places on them.
This causes glitches and flashes like the ones you describe. The only
solution is to search on ebay or craigslist for an older computer which
does not rely on a CPU. I use a Compaq Presario from 2001 myself,
and I find that in most cases it performs even better than a modern PC.
It's worth a shot.

2. Non CPU Version

If you are already using one of the HPs which does not come with a
processor, your videocard is the problem. This sort of thing is hard to
diagnose, but we can give it a shot. First, take the card out of the
computer and rub the metal contact area clean with a moist towelette or
piece of felt. Then put the video card in. Make sure not to put it in
upside down (don't laugh, I've seen it before) or it won't work
properly.

If you still get the problem, try taking the card out again and filling
the slot on the motherboard with a thin bead of conductive thermal
paste. If you don't have thermal paste, a bit of household oil (WD-40)
should do the trick nearly as well. Then reseat the card. This should
help ensure all the electrons get where they're supposed to be.

Good luck.

Thank you very much, and if you happen to have any more
tech-support questions that need answering you can feel free to email
me personally at bogglefanatic@hotmail.com.

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