Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mom! The Computer Won't Come Up!

You're right in the middle of paying bills, and you realize you haven't got the money to take your out-of-warranty computer to a shop. Maybe you don't even know that labor for computer repair ranges from $50-100 an hour. Yikes! What do you do?

 Here's my handy troubleshooting list from my days in the Systems Department of GA Tech:
1. Is It Plugged In? Check from the wall outlet to the power strip [or surge protector], and from there to the back of your machine [or side, for some laptops]. Are the plugs tight? If a laptop, are the batteries run down? If plugging it back in overnight doesn't help, you may need a new battery, or there might be another problem. Write down what you already did.

 2. Is It Turned On? Most computers have a sleep function. If the computer is inactive, it may have gone into sleep or hibernate mode. Try jiggling the mouse, or hit the space bar. If that doesn't do anything, push the on switch in and hold it for the count of four: 1001-1002-1003-1004. Listen carefully. If you hear a small 'phew'-like sound, count to 30, then turn it on. Be sure to wait! Hard drives don't like you if you turn the computer off and on quickly. Think, shattered dinner plate. Don't do it.

 3. Can You Move The Mouse And See Something Move? Is the screen frozen? Is there a blue screen [for a PC] with an error message? If you see a normal-looking screen but the little arrow doesn't move when you move the mouse, it's probably frozen. Write down what seems to be going on. What software has screens up? What window is covering up the others? It's good to leave a notebook next to the computer to take notes on.

 4. Can You Close some Windows? Sometimes we open too many windows and overload the RAM [the computer's memory of all those windows, where they are, and what to do with them]. You might be able to reboot [start over] if you can close some windows. Be sure to give it time. It might not be frozen, but running very slowly. Click an X to close a window, and count to 30. Too many clicks can make a slow machine into a frozen machine. Be sure to save files before closing them.

 5. If Nothing Works, Turn It Off. Hold the On Button In for Count of 5 and let go. Hopefully, the machine will go 'phew!' and turn off. If not, unplug it for as long as it takes [up to overnight]. Never turn it back on without counting to 30.

 6. Run the Same Software Again. Does anything unusual happen? See an error message? Hear unusual noises? If so, turn it off and call your tech support number. Even after the warranty's out, there is usually a fee service with tech support. Be sure and write down all that you observed before you call, and be right at the computer. The tech will ask you to do these same steps or similar ones. He or she will ask you what was unusual, and if you saw any error messages; so be sure you wrote down the entire message you saw, if you can. When did you see the message? When you first turned it on? Or, when your Windows or Mac or Unix Operating System came up? How many beeps did you hear while the machine came up? Or, were there any? [there should be one beep on a PC]. Did something unexpected happen when you logged in, or clicked on your name to get to your programs? Was it fine until you tried to use a software? Were you running more than one software at once, and if so, does the problem happen only when certain ones are used together?

 If your machine seems to be running normally, you are probably ok. It might've been a loose wire.

 An easy way to remember these steps:
Plug On, Mouse and Arrow, Close the Window, Turn it Off, Wait 30. Then, do it again.

 Dannis was a help desk person in the GT Library for a year and a half. Because of the short staff situation, that year and a half gave her about three people's worth of experience. She didn't become a Guru, but that's ok. She still remembers how to speak Layese.

 Look for more Layese From An Almost-Guru.

Posted via email from Adia's Posterous From DanniStories

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