[dba-Tech] Flaky system

Perry Harold pharold at proftesting.com
Wed Aug 4 07:49:43 CDT 2004

With the power supply bad it would be helpful if you knew what caused it to
die.  Maybe a surge, etc?  With that, about any component could be affected.

You mentioned you changed the video card - how about a different monitor?
Or a combination of the two?

Perry Harold

-----Original Message-----
From: dba-tech-bounces at databaseadvisors.com
[mailto:dba-tech-bounces at databaseadvisors.com] On Behalf Of Steven W. Erbach
Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2004 7:14 AM
To: Discussion of Hardware and Software issues
Subject: [dba-Tech] Flaky system

Dear Group,

I've had trouble with my wife, Janet's, workstation over the past few days
and I wonder if anyone here has any ideas.

Started with the power supply. That's kaput. So I cannibalized our NetWare
server for its p/s, which turned out to be beefier. So far so good.

But when the system (Windows 2000, 800 MHz AMD Duron, 512 MB) starts it goes
to a black screen with a mouse cursor. That is, once past the big Windows
2000 white splash screen, the screen goes black but I see the mouse pointer.
The keyboard is disabled (NumLock, CapsLock, Ctrl-Alt-Del -- nothing) and
there are just tiny bits of disk activity; nothing like the normal boot up
sequence where both CD drives and the diskette drive are polled, or whatever
you call it, while Windows gets going.

It will start up in Safe Mode. I used that to perform a Trend Micro
Housecall on-line virus check on all four drives. Clean.

In Safe Mode I downloaded an updated driver for the video card, a Radeon
7500. I was able to install the driver and the accompanying ATI graphics
control software package. But when I rebooted I again got the black screen
and cursor after the white Windows 2000 splash screen.

I then tried the "Enable VGA" option on the F8 menu. That got me to a
"normal" login, except at 640x480 16 color resolution. Everything works but
for the resolution and color depth.

Somehow I managed to increase the screen resolution to 800 x 600 and I could
restart the system normally and get to the Windows login prompt at 800 x
600. But:

1) the first time through the keyboard locked while I was typing the
password. Power off.
2) the second time through I got past the password stage (I logged in as
Administrator) but I lost the mouse the first time I tried to right-click on
the desktop to change the resolution. Power off.
3) the third time through I was able to get the Display properties dialog
box and I attempted to change the color depth to 32-bit. The changes were
accepted and the display reset itself; but while the desktop icons looked
normal, there were other items on the desktop that didn't look like they
were at the normal color depth. Then I lost the keyboard and mouse.

During all of this there were no error messages of any kind.

I finally went back to "Enable VGA" from the F8 menu and I un-installed the
video drivers completely to get the PC to detect the video card as new
hardware. So I went back to the original video drivers off the CD; and when
I started the machine normally I was back to the black screen with mouse
right after the white Windows 2000 splash screen.

I went into Safe Mode again and re-tried installing the latest video
drivers, but now I got my first error message in all of this: "Setup was
unable to find components that can be installed on your current hardware or
software configuration. Please make sure you have the required hardware or

Then I tried another video card. My own workstation has the identical card.
The only difference now (since I apparently didn't have the complete set of
video drivers installed) was that when I chose "Enable VGA" from the F8
menu, I got a completely black screen with no mouse cursor. However, I could
tell that the normal boot operation was being performed because the CDs and
the diskette drive were polled. I then figured I could use Ctrl-Alt-Del and
type in the Administrator password. Sure enough, I heard the normal Windows
startup sound and the little "woof" sound that WinPatrol makes, and there
was all the usual disk activity -- but a black screen. The monitor is one of
the usual power-saving sort and I could see that it was acting normally: the
power light was green, not yellow. So I just pressed the Windows key, U for
Shutdown and pressed Enter to restart. That, too, worked and the computer
shut down normally.

Sorry for the length of this message. Does any of this suggest anything to
you? All of the above was stretched over a couple of days and some hours of
trying and re-trying and making note of behaviors. Is the AGP slot dead? I
put my video card back into my workstation and everything's fine on my
system. Is this motherboard related? I'm at a loss.

Steve Erbach
Scientific Marketing
Neenah, WI

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