BIOS & Conclusion: Multiple Causes

Welcome to Comcast browser greeting

unwelcome Welcome to Comcast (click image)

This concludes the saga of “BIOS Won’t Boot“, a most unfortunate sequence of events occurring on April 1 (yes). The story was posted here April 8.

On April 11, Sunday afternoon, the second day of my return from Phoenix, you couldn’t tell there had ever been any issue(s) on my Castro Valley machines, and I didn’t have to spend a nickel to replace any hardware, either. It’s always nice to have the spare 3V CR2032 BIOS battery I bought for this occasion in Phoenix, wouldn’t you think? But I didn’t need to use it.
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BIOS Won’t Boot!

I’m in Phoenix at the moment, returning to the Bay Area tomorrow. I’m staring at my newly rebuilt Windows 7-64 PC, which is working great. It’s dawning on me that when I shut it down tonight I won’t need to say good-bye. Taxes are due in a week and my PC up north died.

I’ll be packing the car tonight for the drive north. In addition to the usual travel stuff,  I’m packing (1) a CR2032 3V Lithium CMOS battery, and (2) this PC. I just lugged this PC down here to Phoenix last month. Since I’m moving here soon anyway, lugging the PC back north with me just seems counter-intuitive.

Yes, I also have a fast Mac Pro up north, but all my tax stuff is on the PC.

Usually, when I post one of these “this happened to me” articles, there’s a moral to the story. In this case, I don’t know what it is yet. The PC failed just when I had to get a night’s rest for an early morning drive south. If I had to guess what the moral of the story will turn out to be, NOT forcing Windows shutdown with the Power Button would be high on my list!

Here’s the story (or what I know of it so far), excerpted from a letter to a friend. There’ll be a follow-up post once I do the diagnostics and fix the problem with whatever it takes.

I have a new Windows7-64 up north too, and I love it, but I may have to do all that over again too, if not very lucky, as soon as I get back next Friday.

Less than 12 hours before I had to leave for Phoenix, I was on the phone with Comcast cable/internet to get them to reset my new modem again. Some browser intercept feature of theirs was hijacking my browser on all 3 CA machines – a Mac and two PC’s.

Their tech guy reset the modem, got customer service to update something or other that should make the “hijack” screen go away, and he had me shut down and reboot the machines. This fixed the problem in the Mac and the old XP machine. The Win-7 machine refused to shut down. After several minutes, I forced it off with the 5-second Power Button trick. I don’t like to do that, and normally don’t.
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Back In The Day

“The more things change, the more they remain the same.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

My mom used to irritate the heck out of me with this old quote, attrtibuted to caustic French critic, journalist and novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-1890). I will grudgingly admit that, with the passage of time, it seems as true as ever.

Digging through some old notebooks, I found a forgotten printout from ten years ago. I bolted from the Mac platform to the PC in 1997. I upgraded my first PC hardware in 1999. Principally, I replaced the original Micron motherboard with a newer, faster ASUS board. My letter to a friend follows below.

To: Richard
From: Alex
Subject: Back On The Air


The motherboard upgrade went very well. The mechanical part was a piece of cake, and I took my time.

Windows took awhile (several restarts) to get used to the new motherboard. It wanted to install a few drivers that should have already existed. It didn’t help that I got confused about which drive letter it had assigned to the CD-ROM with the Windows disk and drivers. I put in a different Ethernet card, and had to reconfigure the TCP/IP to get back onto PacBell DSL.

And that’s about it. Total time was about five hours. The machine does seem faster. With the 100MHz bus, the 500MHz CPU should seem roughly twice as fast. I can see a difference in the apps. Startup never seems any faster no matter what machine or platform, although no Mac has ever been as slow on startup as any Windows machine I’ve ever used …


I think we must all admit we’ve come a long way in the past decade of technological breakthroughs. With 45-nanometer chip architectures and 3.0+ gigabyte CPU clock speeds, Windows startups do seem slower than ever.

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Short and Unhappy Life of RegCure

After removing RegCure and reinstalling the drivers, my system works perfectly. If this doesn’t prove that RegCure was removing needed registry entries, I don’t know what does.

I had some problems on my machine in Phoenix. But I’ve always had them, at least since the XP service packs SP2 or SP3, it seems. Clicking a link in Outlook, or in some of my applications, would cause the link to hang and, ultimately, the app would crash.
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Human Interface Guidelines

Back around the dawn of history, when the ghostly flickerings of DOS still cast long dancing shadows upon the primeval forest, early mankind was still searching for a way to get through the forest while bypassing the medicine men and witch doctors.

This was at places like Xerox/PARC and Apple. We fix the year at roughly 1984 AD.

The idea was that a user ought to be able to navigate the depths of the operating system, and its attendant user applications, with a consistent, intuitive, learnable set of conventions. Since the interface was graphic, not text-based, the new GUI dashboard was populated with graphic icons, menus and consistent keyboard shortcuts (copy, paste). No longer did the stop sign get to be red and hexagonal in one county, and yellow/triangular when you crossed the line into the next county. Apple came up with a pioneering set of guidelines, their famous Human Interface Guidelines – surely not the first, but the most comprehensive and consistent.
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Windows CD Software

I had occasion to have to re-burn a family photo CD I had mailed to a nephew a year ago.

I prepared to use Roxio EZ Media Creator 7 to burn a new CD. It already had the serial from whenever I installed it, but now, it wanted to re-register. Roxio reported back to me that the serial had been “disabled”.

I paid good money for this software. Fraud? Dishonesty? An overly manipulative method to coerce me into upgrading?
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Windows in Mac “wrong direction”

Parallels Desktop 3.0 for MacIf you’re a Mac owner, there are some pretty cool products for those times when you have to run Windows.

As I understand it, those products include software that comes with the Mac OS itself. Pictured here is a third-party product, Parallels. There is certainly enough top-quality software for most Mac needs, including Office for Mac, but there are additional thousands of good programs that, for better or for worse, are only written for the PC.
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Things I learned, Windows XP Pro, Vol. XXIV

  1. If installing a new SATA drive that is also going to be your system or boot drive, make sure you first use another machine, or DOS, to make it your C drive. If you let the XP installer do it, it will become your H drive. This will actually work, after a fashion, but causes obvious complications in a world that looks for drive ‘C’.
  2. If you get an ‘H’ drive, boot into DOS, and delete the partition under FDISK.
  3. Make a new primary DOS partition. It will be drive C. Do not waste time formatting it.
  4. Insert the Win XP Installation CD.
  5. BIOS will try to boot into your new DOS partition, which is not a system disk. So,
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