Rebuilding the computer…again

When I upgraded computers at the beginning of the year, I thought I wouldn’t have to be working on computers for a few years. I thought the new hyper-threaded AMD processors were stable enough to make a reliable workstation. While I didn’t think it was good, I’d even gotten used to turning on the computer and restarting it before logging in so that it wouldn’t hang shortly after starting.

Well, after the episode with the new flash drive (see previous post), things got worse.

The strange 15 minute “warm up” time needed to start the computer just didn’t make sense. I had a spare power supply, (an extra I bought when the original broke after only four months) and decided that the power supply was the best place to start troubleshooting.

New PSU installed, I power up the computer. Excited that it starts up immediately, I quickly lose enthusiasm when none of the hard drives are recognized and windows fails to start.
I take the power supply down to the computer store to test, it tests as good. I find an enclosure that allows me to take my SATA drives and convert them to USB drives so the old computer can read them. This gets an A+ for useful devices! (All the drives work, even the one that I broke unplugging the data connection. Note: SATA drives have more delicate connections than the older ATA drives).

Maybe it’s time for a new motherboard. Sigh…

A New USB Flash Toy
or SanDisk Cruzer (now without U3 technology)

A friend told me how she was having trouble using the browser that was provided on her school’s computers. I thought, “there must be a way to use a public computer and still get your work done.” That got me looking into Portable Apps for USB Flash drives and started my latest obsession.

I knew I would be visiting my wife’s parents soon and it’s one of the only times I’m away from my regular computer, so I was on the look out for an inexpensive usb flash drive to test out these new apps. It’d be great to be able to leave the lap top at home and still be able to work if I want. BestBuy had a deal on SanDisk Cruzer Micro 1GB USB Flash drives. For $25 it seemed like a great bargain.

Happily, new toy in hand, sitting in front of my computer, I proceed to plug the drive into an available port. Software starts automatically and before I know it, the U3 launcher is running asking me if I’d like a tour. The software installed with the drive is nothing I really need, but idea seems interesting. I go to the U3 applications website and find there were other apps I could buy. That’s great, but I’ve already found a bunch of free portable apps with the programs I already know I like to use. After playing with the device for a few hours and adding the programs I want to it, I decided to remove the device and turn off the computer. That’s when I got a little worried…

Programs hung during shutdown and I eventually just turned off the whole system by powering down my UPS battery backup. (Note: I have never turned off the computer this way before).

When I went to turn on my computer this morning, nothing happened.

Turn on battery backup, push computer power button…nada.

This never happened before, so I’m not sure what to do.

First step, make coffee.

Seems like it could only be a Power Supply problem, maybe it was just a coincidence that I had plugged in a new device that started programs that I hadn’t previously inspected before they were run. I have a new power supply an hand, so I figure I’ll spend the morning replacing the power supply and take it from there.

Coffee made, and a little more awake, I try the power button again*, and this time all the usual things happen and my computer starts up. (Note to self: Do not turn off the computer by simply shutting down the back up power supply). I wait for the log in screen to come up and restart the computer. (This is my normal routine…If I don’t restart the computer before I log in, it locks up…yes, I’m running windows…yes, you can get used to all sort of nonsense).

Before I incapacitate anyone else’s computer, I better find out what kind of trouble other users are having with this flash drive. Top of the list on my Google search is Krista Grothoff’s post where I found everything I needed to remove U3 and all it’s programs from my new drive. I needed to use the uninstall program from U3 because SanDisk’s uninstall program thought I had two drives attached.

I’ll be more careful about what I plug into my computer next time!

Here are a few of the other sites and apps I found if you’re looking for portable programs to add to your new flash drive:

* Val and I worked at Bed and Breakfast for half a year. The owner of the property had the philosophy “When in doubt, Wait.” He used this for just about everything. It used to drive us nuts…and it often worked out beautifully. While I don’t use, or even remember, this philosophy as regularly as he did, when I have a problem that I don’t have an immediate answer, I like to apply it.


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