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Dinner fell near (and a bit on) computer - Now won't boot


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#1
adifrank

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Hi. I need help. Computer won't boot. Here's the details...

I was eating dinner while watching something on my desktop computer. I had a plate with some potatoes and salad on the table in front of me. I stupidly put the plate to close to the edge of the table and as I stabbed a piece of potato with my fork, the plate flipped over and fell face down into my lap. Slices of potato and pieces of lettuce and tomato fell all over me and whatever was around me.
I can't accurately replay exactly what happened in my head during that unfortunate second or two, but somehow the plate rolled off my lap and shattered on the floor.
My computer case is situated left of my desk, which is more or less where the plate rolled off my lap to. It seems unlikely that the plate directly hit my computer because it is pretty much hidden behind the left panel of the desk, but it could have maybe hit the near top edge. A few pieces of salad were on the front of my computer more or less where the dvd burner is. There wasn't a lot of liquid, but yes, there was some dressing on the salad - olive oil with lemon and mustard, in case anyone is interested. I found some sparse remains of that dressing on the front panel of my computer, but really just a small amount, not even dripping or anything... just a smear which I easily wiped off with some paper towel.

Anyway, after overcoming the initial shock and realizing what had become of my nice dinner, I suddenly noticed that the program I was streaming on my computer had curiously paused. I scratched my head thinking, "I didn't pause that." I reached over to my mouse and then noticed that not only was the program I was watching stuck, but so was the mouse... and the keyboard too. The computer was working, but frozen. At this point I started to worry a bit. I had no idea what could cause the computer to pause like that and wondered if it might be related to the plate-flip incident or just a really crazy coincidence. I hit the 'force restart' button on my computer and hoped that it would get things back to normal.

The computer rebooted, but instead of the Windows XP logo coming up I got some kind of bios screen. Sadly I did not take much note of what exactly that screen was or what options it listed for me. I assumed it is just some kind of faulty reboot and immediately switched my computer off. I waited about a minute and then turned my computer back on.

This second attempt didn't get me to the desired Windows flash screen I was hoping for. The bios setup screen that came up before didn't appear either. Nothing did. I just got a black screen. The computer was working, led light on the main board was lit, fans spinning. I placed my hand on the hard drives and they all seemed to be working and vibrating lightly as usual. When I pressed the DVD eject button, the tray came out and when pressing it again the tray went back in, as normal. The screen is working but remains in standby mode even though the computer is running.

I switched my computer off again, unplugged the AC from the back of the case and went over the connectors making sure that all was in place and securely connected. I can't say I went through all the connectors and wires in there, but I did go over the lines connected into the hard drives and connectors going from the drives to the power supply. I plugged the computer back to the electricity and hit the power button. But still, nothing.

So that's the situation. As usual, this happened at the worst timing and I really need my computer working again as soon as possible. I won't be able to get my computer to a technician (if that is what I'll eventually have to do) until Sunday. In the meantime, if anyone has a suggestion of how I might troubleshoot this - I'd be really really thankful. I'll even post my secret recipe for crispy oven-baked potatoes here :D

As I've mentioned I'm running Windows XP. You can see my hardware specs in my profile.

Please help... Thanks!!

Edited by adifrank, 25 March 2011 - 02:10 PM.

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#2
Kemasa

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I would guess that the plate impacted with the case of the computer and that is the cause of the problems that you are having, not anything liquid most likely causing the problem.

I would disconnect the power from the computer, open the case (which you really should use an anti-static kit, but otherwise keep one hand on the bare metal of the case) and make sure that all boards are properly seated and that the CPU is properly seated. My suggestion for the first item to focus on is the CPU, memory and video board (if it has a separate video board). You might have to take out the CPU and put it back it to properly seat it, depending on how it mounts.
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#3
adifrank

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Hey Kemasa!
Powered off computer and opened case.
I'm not sure how to remove or seat a CPU, so I just kind of pressed it against the motherboard making sure it is secure.
I completely removed the video board and put it back in.
I also pressed against the memory boards making sure they are well seated in their slots.

Closed case, connected AC, powered on.

Windows doesn't boot, but I got that bios message again. This time I wrote exactly what it says:

American Megatrends (with logo)

Please enter Setup to recover Bios setting.

Press F1 to run setup
Press F2 to load default values and continue



I didn't press either F1 or F2 yet. Waiting for further instructions.
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#4
Kemasa

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I would press F1 to look at the setup values and see what happens. I am not sure of why it would ask, but it is possible that the data got scrambled somehow. You might need to load the default values and then check to make sure things are set to what you need.
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#5
adifrank

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Ok I'll try F1. But before I do, maybe I should mention a problem I had some time ago with the same computer. It was also a boot problem. I can't remember the exact details of what happened, but I seem to remember something similar to what is happening now.
If I'm not completely confused (which very well could be), I think someone told me to remove the round battery from the motherboard, wait a certain number of minutes and then insert it back in its place.
Is this something that might be relevant to my current case, you think?...

It could be totally unrelated, but I thought it might be worth mentioning.

Please let me know if you think I should go ahead with F1 or maybe trying that battery thing. I'll wait for your reply before trying anything. THX!
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#6
Kemasa

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It could be related, but if you reset the CMOS settings before, you can do the same again. The only reason not to do that is if you made changes and you don't recall what exactly those changes are.

BTW, I have to go for a bit, so I won't be able to respond. Hopefully someone else will be able to respond if you have a question.
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#7
adifrank

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Hey Kemasa, computer running and back to normal! Thanks :D

I hit F1, looked over the bios. I don't understand most of it, but it seemed fine to me. The only change I made was to make the system hard drive the priority boot device rather than the DVD-ROM. Then hit F10, computer restarted and.... well, currently I'm typing this message from my desktop which seems to be back to its good old self. Thanks for the super quick help!

... and here's that recipe for the crispy potato wedges! :D

Ingredients
5-6 Potatoes
3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon of flour
3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
rosemary
thyme
black pepper
salt

Instructions
1. Heat up a big pot of water on the stove.
2. While the pot of water is heating up, cut the potatoes into wedges (peeling the potato is optional) and put the wedges into a bowl of water. You'll notice the water will become a bit starchy. Empty the starchy water and fill again with clean water till you get most of the starch off the potato wedges.
3. Preheat oven to about 250-300 Celsius.
4. Now let's go back to the pot of water warming on the stove. When the water starts to boil add a tablespoon of olive oil and the flour. I recommend you put the flour in a small bowl or cup and gradually add water to it and stirring. When the flour becomes a smooth paste add it to the boiling water. Otherwise, you'll get lumps of flour in the boiling water.
5. Gently put the potato wedges into the pot of boiling water and let them cook for 4 minutes (you don't want them to cook more than that and get soft). When 4 minutes are up, remove the potatoes from the pot. After shaking off excess water from the potatoes, put them into a baking dish large enough so that the wedges don't pile up on one another.
6. Throw the breadcrumbs, rosemary, thyme and black pepper into a food processor and dice them up so you get a powdery mix.
7. Scatter the mix of breadcrumbs and spices evenly over the potato wedges and lightly sprinkle olive oil (2-3 tablespoons) over them.
8. Now stick 'em into the oven. After 40-50 minutes they should start getting light brown. Turn the wedges over and mix them up a bit to get their other sides brown too if you like them extra crispy. 10 minutes more and they should be about done.

* Avoid eating over your computer

Edited by adifrank, 25 March 2011 - 04:52 PM.

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#8
Kemasa

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Good to hear that your machine is working again and thanks!!!
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#9
Kemasa

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BTW, often you want the first boot device to be the DVD/CD so that if need to boot the system, all you need to do is to put the disc in. Otherwise, you need to go and change your BIOS settings. Having it set to the hard drive does ensure that you don't accidentally boot from some disc, so there is reason to have it that way as well :-).
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