Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Fixing a laptop

I get a cry for help yesterday from a friend who's having trouble with his laptop; it won't shut-down properly, is acting sluggish, the trackpad isn't working, it's showing odd messages at boot-up, etc. His brother who is a minor computer bod tells him it's irrepairable and he should just buy a new laptop, this one being two/three years old now. Anyway I take a look at it.

First up it's an Acer running Windows XP with two partitions both formatted to FAT32, so that takes care of the 'error' message on start-up; it's not shut-down properly so needs to run checks.

During BIOS and briefly during the OS boot everything's fine, then the trackpad fails. Amusingly a USB mouse plugged in works fine, I go to check out the device drivers and find the keyboard's failed too. Hmm a short perhaps? No it's consistently working during the boot-up it's only when Windows XP starts that everything fails.

I try to remember where msconfig resides and run it. Seems the Kaspersky AV service isn't starting properly. I attempt to disable it and am told that despite being an administrator I can't. I try and uninstall it and it freezes up.

Back to msconfig and I run the minimum boot-up profile. Everything works. I start the windows installer service and remove Kaspersky and re-boot with the normal profile. Everything works.

He's been running Kaspersky for a couple of years with no problems yet suddenly it decides to fail on him. Ah well I install AVG for him.

While I'm there, he says, can I take a look at Word for him he keeps getting ~name files being created. I explain what they are and he's mollified, but I take a look at it anyway. Ah it's the wonderful Word 2007. Despite being all set for the UK it is of course using the US spellcheck etc. Okay easy enough just change the default template so that it starts up with a UK etc. set-up.

So where's the default template? Can't seem to find it to load, can't save a template over it. Where the hell do you find the settings that will even tell me where it is? Yeah it's off the top-left logo under "Word options" and then dig around in there to find that in Word 2007 templates have the .dotx extension; except for the default template which is .dotm, thanks for that. Saved.

I wonder how many UK Word07 users out there are using US settings without realising it?

Finally he likes having bookmarks for Firefox showing on the Bookmarks toolbar; except they aren't. Brother can't solve it either so I take a look. Turns out he's got an add-on that hides them, I disable it and it still doesn't work. I delete it, and it still doesn't work. I try to drag a bookmark to it, and ping they all reappear and stay showing.

Well that was a fun time ;-) Next up is switching from FAT32 to NTFS if he wants to.


Orphi said...

…and this is why I try to avoid doing tech support for other people's PCs. :-P

FlipC said...

It gets better as it stopped working again in almost exactly the same manner. Including this time a keyboard/pad failure during diagnostic boot.

I disable yet more services and it starts to work again over subsequent boots goes away and then I get a call that it's failed again.

When it goes sporadic like that I call it a day; he's backed up oh and lives on a boat so moisture might be playing a part.