December 16, 2007

Planning A Vacation? - Visit Spain or France

As holiday season is fast approaching, some of us is already planning to spend christmas somewhere else.Some are maybe thinking of spending christmas abroad, and if you are one of them, maybe Spain or France is the place for you and your family.

Spain is popular in their artworks and architectures, this is manifested in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Alhambra in Granada.And if you are not a cruelty to animals advocate, bullfigthing is must see event when you are in Spain. And at night, you can unwind in a bar with your favorite tappas.

Barcelona is one of major tourist destination in Spain, some of its major attractions there is the Antoni Guadi design which is popularly known the Parc Guell. The large park has numerous buildings and sculptures featuring Gaudi's well known broken tile style, and elegant organic curves.There is lots of beautiful sigths and events you surely wont miss in Barcelona, from the paintings to the fiesta's,everything will be a wonderful experience.If you are interested visiting Barcelona,visit:Cheaper Than Hotels

Madrid is another major tourist destination and the capital city of Spain. Its also popular on culture and architecture,Madrid is famous for its so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ where you can find three of the most impressive Art museums in Spain all within fifteen minutes walking distance of each other. The Reina Sofia boasts a superb collection of 20th century art, and is best known for Picasso’s painting, ‘Guernica’ that depicts the bombing of the town of the same name during the Spanish Civil War.If you are interested visiting Madrid,visit:Cheaper Than Hotels

If you want to be a little romantic you may opt travelling France after Spain.The capital city of France is Paris which situated in the River Seine.When in Paris you can visit the world famous cathedral- Notre Dame, amaze yourself with the beautiuful artworks at The Louvre or fall in love all over again in front of the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the great view at the top.If you are interested visiting Paris,visit:Cheaper Than Hotels...

October 12, 2007

Sign of an ailing harddrive!

More often on the field we encounter unusual problems, one problem I just encounter a couple months ago is an ailing 40GB HDD.

Actually,the hard drive is working fine, no bad sector etc... only there are times that the hard disk can not be detected by the system BIOS and that you have to re-socket the IDE cable to be detected again by the system, sometime the partition get corrupted and that you have to re-format and re-load everything.

At first you have to suspect the IDE cable or being infected by a virus,but as the problem keeps coming back you have to start thinking that something wrong with the hard disk.

The strange thing here is that when you reformat the disk or check with a utility program, everything is fine. Only to encounter the problem after a month or so of operation.

Next time when you encounter similar problem such as this one, try replacing your existing hard disk with a different or new one.It will probably solve the problem.

Happy Weekend!

October 2, 2007

Useful freebies for downloads(Part 2)!

Here's the continuation of my useful software utilities for downloads!

Speedfan Utility

Operating System:Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows 9.x, Windows Me, Windows XP, Windows Vista

SpeedFan is a program that monitors voltages, fan speeds and temperatures in computers with hardware monitor chips. SpeedFan can even access S.M.A.R.T. info for those hard disks that support this feature and show hard disk temperatures too, if supported. SpeedFan supports SCSI disks too. SpeedFan can even change the FSB on some hardware (but this should be considered a bonus feature). At the lowest level, SpeedFan is a hardware monitor software that can access digital temperature sensors, but its main feature is that it can change fan speeds (depending on the capabilities of your sensor chip and your hardware) according to the temperatures inside your pc, thus reducing noise.

Click the link below to download file:

September 27, 2007

Just a short note!

Just a couple of days ago I encountered a problem from a CPU that keeps on rebooting after 1o or 15 minutes of use and the culprit is a dirty edge of its memory card module. So next time if you encounter similar case, clean the memory card edge first, before suspecting a software or a hardware problem. It may save you a lot of time in your troubleshooting.

Useful freebies for downloads (Part 1)

Its been a busy weekend for me and I did not have much time to write anything. Today I am introducing a new feature in my blog, its about introducing useful Windows utilities available for downloads. These utilities are featured based on functionality and useability in enhancing system performance.
Note: All featured softwares were tested functional and virus free.

Download No.1: Auslogics Registry Program
OS: Windows XP, Windows Vista

Its a registry defragmenter utility, it tells you if your registry is fragmented or not, its user-friendly and it automatically create a restore point before it will attempt to defrag your registry .The developer claims that it will provide significant speed in accessing your system registry after defragmenting.

Click this link to download file:

Download No. 2: Spyware Terminator(Highly-Recommended)

Spyware Terminator includes Real-Time Protection, HIPS, and antivirus. Effectively remove spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, home page hijackers, and malware threats even dangerous threats like Look2Me, BetterInternet, VX2, and CWS. Spyware Terminator is easy-to-use, requires minimal PC resources, and performs ultra fast scans. Protect your computer with powerful real-time protection shield, advanced system scanning and safe quarantine for found spyware. Scan your computer manually or schedule full system sweeps. Perform in-depth scans of your computer's hard drives, memory, process, registry and cookies to seek out and remove all known spyware threats. Includes optional Web Security Guard which displays website reviews and threat level to help identify potentially dangerous Web sites.

Click this link to download file:

September 22, 2007

A no-power NTC Monitor!

Problem Encountered: No Power

Service Done:Check fuse and power regulator transistor at primary of power suppyly section, I found out that everything is ok. I check the horizontal power transistor(supply signal to flyback transformer), it is busted(shorted).I remove the defective transistor from the pcb and test the unit again, the power is now restored. In this case, power was pulled down by the short circuit created by the transistor when still connected in the circuit. After replacing the defective transistor(Part no:C5521), monitor now funtions normally.

Take Note: When troubleshooting a particular no-power monitor unit (any screen size), make sure to check the horizontal transistor or disconnect your flyback out of the monitor circuitry first, before testing other components of your monitor.A shorted flyback or power transistor will pulled down the power of your monitor to zero thereby creating a no-power situation.In this way it will shorten the troubleshooting process, in case you have a defective flyback or horizontal transistor.
So thats all for this week! Happy weekend to all!

September 19, 2007

Difference bet 20 PIN & 24 PIN Power Supply

The ATX standard has two different versions of the main power cable: the original 20 pin cable, and the newer 24 pin cable. The 24 pin cable is just the 20 pin cable with 4 extra wires added to the end to provide extra current. If your power supply main power cable and motherboard main power connector both have the same number of pins then they'll (of course) fit together just fine. But what happens if they don't match? If you plug a 24 pin power cable into a 20 pin motherboard then it will work fine but you often can't get them to physically fit together because something gets in the way. If they don't fit together then you can get an adapter cable which converts a 24 pin power cable into a 20 pin cable. You can always plug a 20 pin power cable into a 24 pin motherboard but whether it works over the long haul depends on how much current your motherboard draws. Those extra 4 pins provide more current carrying capacity. Plugging a 20 pin cable into a 24 pin motherboard can strain the 20 pins that you're using. If the motherboard draws too much current then it will overheat the connector which can burn or melt it. There are adapters which convert 20 pin cables into 24 pin cables but they don't solve the problem and can cause problems of their own. Many newer power supplies come with a 20+4(last 4 pins is detachabel)power cable which has a 24 pin connector which can be split into two pieces: a 20 pin piece, and a 4 pin piece. This kind of power cable is fully compatible with both 20 and 24 pin motherboards. If you're buying a new power supply then try to get one with a 20+4 power cable.

The 24 pin power supply was created to address additional current requirement on newer motherboards, these 4 pins are supplied with the following voltages; +3.3V,+5V,+12V and Ground.It is also use to power-up the PCIe slot of newer motherboards, pcie cards may not function if you are only using a 20 pin power supply.

Picture courtesy of

Problem: Windows cannot be installed directly within its system!

Unit Description: A Pentium II Laptop(Twin Head), 128MB Memory

Problem Encountered:You can't directly load an operating system within its system

Troubleshooting/Repair Done: I reformatted the Hard drive and started to install Windows98, when intallation reached just in the verification process it all stackep up.I tried to use Windows ME and Windows XP still no success. What I did is connect the hard disk to the standard desktop IDE (using a converter) and load windows 98 from there, then connect back to the Laptop.After detecting all the necessary devices, Windows now runs normally and I just added the necessary driver for its sound, video and modem.
Possible Causes: As I observe before the laptop hangs-up I notice that it seems it is trying to find a device that is not present, causing Windows installer to wait forever. Or maybe the unit can be easily installed if I use the bundled recovery software during installation( which is not available anymore). Whatever the reason it maybe, I am glad that I was able to find a way in having the unit back in working condition.

September 17, 2007

One of my most unforgettable moments in pc servicing?

The year is 1997 and I am just starting on my new job in one of the leading IT companies in our country, one of my task that day is to replace a not fully functional keyboard in one of our clients. The company is one of the biggest tire manufacturer at that time and the unit was an Acer Pentium 1 CPU used to run their company's quality assurance software. Considering the degree of work to be done I am not expecting I will experience some problems on that particular task.

When I arrive on site, the unit is turned on and its running the application mentioned above. One of the QA engineer informed me that they cannot shot down the unit because they are running some tests and it will take some time before the tests is done. Since I cannot wait all day long, I suggested that I will just pull out the old keyboard and plug-in the new one while the unit is turned on. At first they are hesitant, but after consulting in one of their in-house programmer they let me do the thing.

Technically speaking it is possible that you unplugged and plugged keyboard even if CPU is turned on(but not safe if CPU is performing a task) , so I am confident that everything will be just fine. So I unplugged the old keyboard and plugged the new one but after the new keyboard is plugged, the system hangs-up and I started to feel nervous. The operation was halted and I have no choice but to restart the system, but the worst is yet to come because after restarting, the system already indicates a disk boot failure and later I found out that the hard drive crashed and all their precious data is gone. The department supervisor got mad at me claiming that they have no back-up of that application and it will be difficult to rebuild the database. Later I was brought to their IT manager for questioning and threatened to have me pay any loses I have made. I explained my side and insists that I was given a go signal in one of his staff.

Finally, after almost 3 hours of questioning and redundant explanations I was allowed to left, with the promise that I will do everything to recover the data. The next day I was called by my Department Manager to hear my side and after hearing my explanations I was freed from any liability, but he emphasized that next time I have to be extra careful in dealing PC's that runs application with very important functions.

I tried everything to rejuvenate the disk but to no avail, it was a Seagate 540MB hard drive and base on records at that time, that particular model is sensitive on a lot of factors and often problematic. I may point it to an ailing hardware but still I have to accept the blame considering I may have triggered the whole situation.The company was forced to replace the defective hard drive for free and I was lucky that it was not deducted on my payday.

The lesson learned here is doing some shortcuts can sometime brings us trouble and if you are not willing to take the risk, just perform the proper way to avoid disaster.

September 13, 2007

What's a PCIe?

PCIe is the abbreviation of PCI Express, it was developed to replaced the PCI and AGP architecture, in fact almost all motherboard that's sold in the market today are all PCIe ready.Some of the advantages of PCIe architecture are its versatility,considering it can accomodate other devices(ex:sound card,LAN card);it may also runs 4x faster than and AGP card thereby giving the user realistic 3D performance in any PC games and graphics presentation;lower production cost of its physical slot(lesser pins and smaller slot structure).PCIe slot comes in different speed, these are the 1X,2X,4X,16X,32X slot. PCIe video cards used the 16X and 32X slot.

Picture courtesy of

September 12, 2007

Tips when troubleshooting a dot matrix printer!

I just give a few reminders regarding troubleshooting a dot matrix printer, specifically if the problem is a missing dot or line. Perform the following step before you swap printer head to a know good printer or a good printer head to a defective printer.

  1. Make sure to verify that there is no short circuit in one of the head coil in the particular printer head(in case you don't know, printer head on all dot matrix printer consists of small coils inside),otherwise it will damage the driver transistor(s) of the logic board in the good printer. Tests all pins of the printer head by using a multi tester(analog), try to find out if there is no two pin that is short circuit(zero resistance), or if you have another good printer head, try to compare the reading with the suspected one.

  2. Test all head driver transistors of the logic board, before installing a good printer head, otherwise it will damage the good printer head and you will now have two defective printer head.You can check the head driver transistor by comparing all reading by way of a multi-tester(Analog) each one of them should have the same reading. If you suspect that one of them is defective, remove the transistor from the pcb and perform a standard transistor test to confirm if its bad.

If no short circuit exists on both head and logic board, it is now safe to proceed in swapping printer head to and from a good printer unit.

Note: Head driver transistors are the one supplies electricity to each one of the coil in your printer head, these transistors are normally located in one place within your printer logic board, the number of transistors corresponds to the number of your printer head pins.


Since the internet becomes so popular all around the world, an era of the so called cyber criminals was also born and until now it continue to mess on someone's online activities. In fact as individuals, banks, private establishments and government institutions relying more often and doing business via the internet, cyber criminals also grows its numbers.And inspite strict measures in certain countries to go after these criminals, still its not enough to stop these people from committing such crime. One cyber crime I would like to discuss in particular is called Phishing(in case you dont know).

Phishing is the act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information.

One example of this is my own experience, at one time I received an email from the admin of Yahoo(as to what I know that time) saying that congratulations you are one of those who win on our daily raffle worth $500 to claim the price please click on the link, if you still don't know what is phishing all about, you will really say that's the email is genuine and and you will jump to click on the link.After clicking the link it opens a site that resembles just like yahoo, and it will instruct you to further click on the link to claim you price via an e-currency company(if you have one, otherwise you will be obliged to open an account) and the last part just about you are finish transferring the $500, another message pops-up saying that you are not yet a premium member of Yahoo games and you have to register in order to claim your price, the cost is just a little over $8 so you will not suspect thats its a hoax, you will pay the said subcription price and found out later that no $500 goes to your account, and its just a work of a phisher but I thank God I only lost 8$. Phishers can steal password and user name to a site that you log-in regularly even in a Friendster or Yahoo mail account. Lots of E-bay members was also victimized by these phishers.

If you received an email, requiring you to upgrade your password, user name or something dont act on it, call or email the involve company to verify if it comes from them.Normally legitimate businesses will not let there members upgrade vital information via an email link, especially if password and user name are involve. You can also verify the given link on a domain verification site like , in most cases it will give you the details of the particular link.
In IE7 there is already anti phishing features, while Opera and Firefox will warn you if the site you are about to open is not safe or bogus.

September 11, 2007

Helpful tweaks on Windows XP !

This tweaks will not make your PC runs so fast, but it may help in improving Windows performance.

1. Speed up showing of your start menu by doing the following changes of your registry. Go to the Registry key HKEY_Current_User\Control Panel\Desktop\Menu Show Delay the default is 400. Set it to your desired value, the lower the value the faster the menu will show.

2. Setting your Windows Kernel to run via RAM by setting the DisablePageExecutive DWORD value to 1. EditRegistry key Hkey_Local_Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\DisablePagingExecutive to 1 to disable paging and have the kernel run in RAM. Remember, any applications will run faster in RAM compare in a Hard drive or a virtual memory. After making the tweak, exit registry and restart windows. Take note that do this procedure only if your system has a 256 MB or higher RAM.

3. Disable the 8.3 naming convention in Windows XP,expert says that this naming convention can degrade NTFS drive performance, unless you are still using a 16 bit applications dont perform this tweak. Set the Registry DWORD Key Hkey_Local_Machine\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem\ntfsdisable8dot3NameCreation to1.Exit and Restart.

Reminder: Back-up registry before you perform the following tweaks, so that you can reverse to an earlier state in case something happen.

September 9, 2007

Bulging capacitors on your motherboard!

The next topic that I would like to discuss in troubleshooting is how a bulging filter capacitor(s) on your motherboard mess up your troubleshooting work. Capacitors that is mounted on your motherboard are called filter capacitors(refer to image), this type of capacitors are called electrolytic capacitors. The purpose of this capacitors is to smoothen the voltage within a particular circuitry, you can see lots of this beside the area of your microprocessor. As time passes some of these capacitors pops up causing an unfiltered voltage within your system, thereby making the motherboard to perform strangely. Some of the common problems you will encounter if you have a bulging filter capacitors are, system blackout ; resets intermittently; blue screen or system hangs-up while in the middle of your work.Often times this problems(except on blackout) are mistaken as a software problems prompting you to format your hard drive and later you found out that its not the software that is causing the problem. If you encounter problems I mentioned above, I suggest that inspect first the physical conditions of your motherboard filter capacitors before you reformat your hard disk, it may save a lot of time in your trouble shooting. If bulging capacitors are just too many, more often you will have a system black-out. Replacing bulging capacitors on your mother board will sometime do the fix but its a tedious process, motherboard replacement will be a lot easier but expensive. You decide what is best for you or to your customer.
Note:Filter capacitors are black tubes like shapes with silver on top; the appearance on top of this capacitors should be flat and clean otherwise its a already defective.(Please refer to the image above- the capacitors at the right are the good ones)

Common PC Glossary (Part 2)

Continuation from last week,"Common PC Glossary"

  1. Dot-matrix printer-An impact printer that prints characters composed of dots.Characters are printed one at a time by pressing the ends of selected wires against an inked ribbon and paper.(Ex. Epson LX300,Epson FX1170 printers)
  2. Encryption-The translation of data into unreadable codes to maintain security
  3. FORMAT-The DOS format program that performs both low and high level formatting of floppy disks but only high-level formatting on hard disks.(High level means at the software level only)
  4. Full duplex-Signal flow in both directions at the same time.
  5. Giga-A multiplier indicating 1 billion of some unit,abbreviated as g or G.
  6. Gigabyte- A unit of information storage equal to 1,073,741,824
  7. GUI- Graphical User Interface. A type of program interface that enables users to choose commands and functions by pointing to a graphical icon using either a keyboard or a pointing device such as a mouse.Windows and OS/2 are the most popular GUIs available for PC systems
  8. Hardware- Physical components that make up a microcomputer,monitor,printer, and so on.
  9. Head crash- A rare occurrence in which a read/write head of your hard disk strikes the platter surface with sufficient force to damage the magnetic medium.
  10. Heat sink- A mass metal attached to a chip carrier or socket for the purpose of dissipating heat.(Can be found on all PC systems,use to protect processor chip and chipsets of a motherboard)
  11. High-level formatting- Formatting performed by the DOS FORMAT program.Among other things, it creates the root directory and FATs.(DOS formatting only for Windows98)
  12. HTML- Hyper Text Markup Language. A language used to describe and format plain-text files on the Web.It's based on pairs of tags which enables you to mix graphics with text, change the appearance of text, and create hypertext documents with links to other documents.
  13. HTTP- HyperText Transfer Protocol. The protocol that describes the rules that a browser and server use to communicate over the World Wide Web.HTTP allows a Web browser to request HTML documents from a Web server.

Installation tip when installing device drivers on a fresh formatted PC!

I have notice that during installation of device drivers on a new PC(mostly IBM PC compatible),you always have to restart for each driver that the software install(bundled software with your motherboard).To save some time, instead of restarting you can just click "I will restart later...", then click start > click logoff instead of shutdown> click logoff again> and click the user that appears on the screen and you will redirected back to your desktop and it will continue installing the next driver.Repeat the process until all drivers are installed.

Note: This procedure is also applicable even if you are simply loading a device driver on your PC

September 8, 2007

Utilizing XP and Vista to protect your data from cyber intruders!

We are amazed by what the internet brings to our daily lives, but in some cases the internet was also used by some people to be the channel of their wickedness.One of these is intruding other people's PC via the internet to steal important documents or data, they are the so called hackers.And If you think that you got confidential data to protect in your PC, I suggest that you utilize the EFS(Encryption File Sytem)bundled in your Windows XP and Vista software.Basically(in case you don't know), EFS(data encryption) is like jumbling the content of ones files for internet hackers not to read a certain files or data legibly within you PC.There are also lots of powerful third party data encryption softwares in the market, but you got to purchase it.Remember,this feature is only available on Windows XP(Professional or Media Center Editions) and Vista(Ultimate or Business Edition).To encrypt a files or folders in XP, just right-click the folder or file you want to encrypt go to properties ; click advance button; check "encrypt to secure data" and click ok.The particular files or folders is now encrypted. In Windows Vista they called it Bitlocker, and Microsoft claims that files are more secure compare to EFS of Windows XP.

Take note though that data encryption is only one way to protect your data from these intruders;spywares can also steal important impormation from your PC such as your credit card account or your password....etc.Or maybe the hacker is just your officemate and that he will take over your PC while you are in a break.So consider all this things if you want to secure your data from this crooks.

Lastly, I suggest that make it a habit to backup your encrypted data regularly, because the moment your operating system bogged down so goes with your encrypted data as well and it is very difficult to recover encrypted data, unless you are willing to pay the price of recovering it.
Happy weekend!

September 6, 2007

Common PC Glossary (Part 1)

  • ANSI- American National Standards Institute. A non-governmental organization founded in 1918 to propose, modify, approve, and publish data processing standards for voluntary use in the United States.
  • ASCII-American Standard Code for Information Interchange. A standard 7-bit code created in 1965 by Robert W. Bemer to achieve compatibility among various types of data processing equipment.
  • Bad sector-A disk sector that cannot hold data reliably because of a media flaw.
  • Boot record-A one-sector record that tells the computer's built-in operating system(BIOS) the most fundamental facts about a disk.Instructs the computer how to load the operating system files into memory, thus booting the machine.
  • Boot- To lead a program into the computer. The term comes from the phrase "pulling a boot on by the bootstrap."
  • Buffer- A block of memory used as a holding tank to store data temporarily. Often positioned between a slower peripheral device and the faster computer.
  • Bug- An error or defect in a program
  • Bus - A linear electrical signal pathway over which power, data and other signals travel.(Ex. Memory Bus, Address Bus)
  • CMOS-Complimentary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor. A type of chip that requires little power to operate.(Ex: CMOS chip set of your motherboard)
  • Crash-A malfunction that brings work to a halt. A system crash usually caused by a software malfuntion.A head crash, however, entails physical damage to a disk and probable data loss.
  • CRC-Cyclic Redundancy Checking. An error-detection technique use to check integrity of data being sent or received.
  • Defragmentation-The process of rearranging disk sectors so that files are stored on consecutive sectors in adjacent tracks.

Why defragmentation is a must?

Over time, as you delete and save files to a hard disk, the files become fragmented. This means that they are split into many non contiguous areas on the disk.One of the best ways to protect both your hard disk and the data on it is to periodically defragment the files on the disk. This serves two purposes. One is that by ensuring that all of the files are stored in contiguous sectors on the disk,head movement and drive wear and tear will be minimized.This has the added benefit of improving the speed which files will be retrieved from the drive by reducing the head thrashing that occurs every time a fragmented file is accessed.The second major benefit of a fragmented disk is that in the case of a disaster where FAT and root directory is severly damage, the data on the drive can usually be recovered very easily if the files are contiguous.

Note: Cleaning your registry and your temporary internet files folder is another way of optimizing system performance.

What's a Power-on Self Test (POST)

When IBM released there first IBM PC, they included a safety features that had never been seen in a personal computer,one of this features is the POST. POST is a series of program routines buried in the motherboard ROM-BIOS that tests all the main system components at power-on time. This program series causes the delay when you turn on an IBM-compatible system;the POST is executed before the computer loads the operating system.

Whenever you start up your computer, it automatically performs a series of tests that check the primary components in your system. Items such as CPU, ROM, motherboard support circuitry, memory, and major peripherals are tested. These tests are brief and not very thorough compared with other disk based diagnostics. The POST process provides error or warning messages whenever a faulty component is encountered.It is the first line of defense on your PC,if the POST encounters a problem severe enough to keep the system from operating properly, it halts bootup of the system and produces an error messages(ex. unreliable HDD, memory error, FDD error or sound beeps).

How important Power_Good signal to your PC?

In this post I will discuss the importance of the Power_Good(Pin 8 Gray color wire on your ATX PS unit) signal in a PC system. The Power_Good signal is a +5v signal generated in the power supply section when it has passed its internal self tests and the output stabilized.This normally takes anywhere from 0.1 to 0.5 seconds after you turn on the power supply switch.This signal is sent to the motherboard, where it is received by the processor timer chip, which controls the reset line to the processor.

In the absence of Power_Good, the timer chip contiouosuly resets the processor, which prevents the system from running under bad or unstalble power conditions. When the timer chip sees Power_Good, it stops resetting the processor and the processor begins to run BIOS(you can now see a display on your monitor).
In short Power_Good signal is supply voltage that is to be supplied to your processor for your PC to start, if Power_Good signal is absent upon turning on your PC, no way that it will initialize.On the opposite, cheaper PS units may also supply Power_Good signal to your processor even in unstable voltage ratings thereby damaging your peripherals or motherboard later on.

So next time when you plan to buy a new PC or replace your PS unit, consider buying a known good brand, it will difinitely give less trouble to your PC.

Note: A defective Power Supply unit can be one reason of a Blackout(No Display) CPU.

Common BIOS combo keys to enter setup!

Different combo keys to enter BIOS setup of a particular PC or Laptop!
  1. Acer - Ctl Alt Esc
  2. Dell- F1 or Del or Ctrl Alt Enter
  3. Zenith-Ctrl Alt Ins
  4. Toshiba- Press Esc at switch on
  5. Sony- F3 at switch on,then F2 or F1
  6. Sharp-F2
  7. Packard Bell- F1 or F2
  8. NEC - F2
  9. IBM Aptiva-F1
  10. Hewlett Packard/Gateway 2000-F1
  11. Compaq-F10
  12. DTK BIOS - Esc
  13. AMI BIOS - Del, F1 or F2
  14. Phoenix BIOS - F1 or F2,Ctl alt S or Ctl Alt Esc ,Ctl S or Ctl Alt Ins
  15. Award BIOS - Del, Ctl Alt Esc

Note: Keys presented above may not work of a particular model or brand

September 4, 2007

What's a hybrid hard drive(HDD)?

A hybrid hard drive is a new generation hard drive which will eventually in the future replace the old conventional design. Hybrid hard drive functions thru the use of a large non-volatile flash memory(Up to 1 gb) integrated in the circuitry of the harddrive, when you runs an application or a files, the harddrive temporarily store everything on the non-volatile flash memory and will be save later when you shut down your PC or harddrive needs to move data to the platter.In this way the harddrive will performs past and save power considering that the spindle motor and actuator of your drive is not performing while processing data, it will also allows past startup of your system.Exception to the rule is when your harddrive is processing a file that is bigger than its memory.

Note:Non-volatile flash memory-is a kind of memory that is capable of keeping data even if there is no more power on your harddrive, it performs similar of your mobile phone or digital cam memory.It was release first for commercial use on laptop computers.Just recently Japanese firm released its DRAM version instead of a flash memory.

Tips in taking care your PC (Part 1)

Here's a few tips to make your PC trouble free:

  1. Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that can conduct electricity and cause corrosion of computer parts.The smoke residue can infiltrate the entire system, causing corrosion and contamination of the electriclal contacts and sensitive componensts such as floppy drive read/write heads and optical drive lens assemblies.You should avoid smoking near computer equipment and encourage your friends or company to develop and enforce a similar policy.(Dont sound good for smokers!LOL)
  2. Be careful with ESD(Electrostatic Discharge), which can damage components when cleaning electronic components.Take extra precautions in the dead of winter in an extremely dry, high-static environment.An antistatic grounding wrist strap is recommended or if you dont have a wrest strap touch a metallic frame or your PC chassis before touching any components of you PC. It is easier to ensure proper grounding while the motherboard is still installed in the chassis, so it is a good idea not to remove it.(Unless you feel necessary)
  3. If you do not leave a system on continously;at least give it 15 minutes or more warm up after a cold start(means you just turn it on that day) before writing to the hard disk.Power up the system and go get a cup of coffee, read the paper, or do some other task.This practice does wonders for the reliability of the data on your disk, especially cheaper units.

Developing a Preventive Maintenance Program

Developing a preventive maintenance program is important to everyone who uses or manages a PC. There are two types of preventive maintenance procedures exist-experts classified it active and passive.

Active preventive maintenance includes steps you apply to a system that promote a longer, trouble-free life. This type of preventive maintenance primarily involves periodic cleaning of the system and its componest(every 3 months is the usual).Examples of active preventive maintenance are resocketing and cleaning of card edges, removing dust on your Mainboard and related peripherals, check up of software conditions.

Passive preventive maintenance includes steps you can take to protect a system from the environment, such as using power-protection devices, ensuring a clean, temperatured controlled environment; and preventing excessive vibration. In other words, passive preventive maintenance means treating your system well.

The importance of Preventive Maintenance & Backups

Preventive maintenance is the key to obtaining years of trouble-free service from your computer system.A properly administered preventive maintenance program pays for itself by reducing problem behaviour, data loss, component failure, and by ensuring a long life for your system. In several cases, I have "repaired" an ailing system with nothing more than a preventive maintenance session.Preventive maintenance also increases your system's resale value because it will look and run better.

Creating backup files of data in one's PC is sometimes taken for granted. And the sad reality in the computer repair and servicing world is that hardware can always be repaired or replaced, but data cannot.Most hard disk troubleshooting and service procedures, for example, requires reformatting.This procedure overwrites or deletes all your important data.So next time, make sure to have your data backed up regularly.

September 2, 2007

Mouse Problem

Problem Description: While you are in the middle of something, your mouse pointer just run havoc all over your desktop and messing up all the settings of your document.Mouse is uncontrollable. You reset your PC and everything is working fine again, after a while the problem came back.

Suggested Solution: Replace your mouse device first, before attempting different troubleshooting approach.

Trouble Shooting Tip (Part 1)

Proper way to troubleshoot a particular problem!
Problem: No display appears on your monitor screen upon turning on your PC

Performs the following:
  1. Check both power indicator of your monitor and CPU it its lit? If it's lit observe HDD LED if its actively blinking or press Numlock or Capslock keys to see if keyboard responds. If keyboard responds, it is possible that the problem lies in your monitor(try also adjusting brightness control of your monitor-applicable for older models only).If none of the above works,chances are that you have a defective monitor.
  2. If you hear beeps (usually 3 beeps) just after you turn on your PC, keyboard is responding and HDD LED is active, the problem maybe cause by a defective or ailing VGA Card, try re-socketing the card and clean its contact edge by a pencil eraser. Try replacing a known good VGA card when you feel necessary.
  3. Check for loose cable connections.
  4. If Keyboard dont responds and monitor displays "No signal", its possible that the problem lies in the CPU unit,try removing the memory chips and clean contacts by a pencil eraser. If still nothings happen continue your isolation test in your micro processor, mainboard and power supply.You may also try removing other devices attached to you PCI slot, until the defective part is identified.

Note: When attending a specific pc problem, always perform basic troubleshooting first,before suspecting a defective hardware device . Ask,Is the power cables, keyboard and mouse connectors properly connected? Is the power rating going to the PC sufficient?Performing this simple task might save you time in fixing a particular problem.

August 31, 2007

Modify an old CD to read DVD Disk

If ever you have an old CD-ROM drive and want to experiment on something, you can try this stuff. CD ROM above 40x has an easier procedure compare to CD-ROM at lower speed.Practically mostCD-ROM's can be modified to read DVD disk.

Procedure for CD-ROM 40X and under:(Trial and Error Procedure)
  1. Open your CD ROM cover, locate the lens assembly, behind it there is a small trimmer(you have to use a jeweler set to rotate it),Adjust it randomly until your CD read a retail DVD Disk.The concept behind it is to fine tune the size of the laser beam to be able to read the pit of a retail DVD Disk(DVD5).Do not use a DVD9 format it wont work.Be patient on this part it might not work on a few tries.

  2. Once you got the adjustment right disable the 12 volts supply of your CD-ROM(cut or remove the yellow wire from the molex connector of your power supply),tape it to avoid short circuit. The purpose of this is to lenghten the life of your CD-ROM while playing DVD Disk.

Procedure on CD-ROM above 40X:

  1. To avoid extra cost in production,CD/DVD manufacturer produce the same circuit boards for both CD/DVD products, they only disable the DVD function for circuit boards installed in CD ROM. Now locate the label that says "DVD Jump" at the back of your CD-ROM printed board.

  2. Once you find the label, jumper it using a thin wire, make sure that there is no short circuit with other connections.Now try it, if it can read a retail DVD Disk.

  3. Follow step 2 above in disabling 12 volts of its supply.

Note:Modified CD ROM cannot be functional at DOS.It cannot read DVD 9 format.I suggest that do not experiment on your existing CD-ROM,it might mess up the whole thing.Get a spare CD-ROM to experiment. This technique might not work on all brand of CD.


No Sound Outpot(Unusual Problem)

Problem was encountered in Windows XP

Problem Background: Just installed a new OS (Windows XP) everything is working fine, except when you play a sound nothing is heard. I check the audio properties at control panel, it is properly installed. We suspect that it has a defective onboard audio chipset, so we replace a PCI sound card, still the same problem. What I did is reformat the harddrive and repeat the whole installation process, and there you go sound comes back.

Cause of the Problem: Upon studying the case, it was found out that end-user tests Windows Media player in Windows XP without the sound driver installed yet. Windows loads a default sound device which is not its current audio device. Even if you installed the sound driver afterward, it wont revert to the actual sound device.

Note: To avoid this kind of a problem make sure to load the driver of your audio device first, before running Windows Media player

August 29, 2007

Cannot Install Windows (Indicates CD Disk Problem)

Case: The unit was just purchased a week ago.
Problem(s) Encountered: Cannot install Windows XP, it indicates cannot read specific files on your CD disk during initial installation. When you reboot and try to re-install windows it will indicates another files that it cannot read.
Solution(s) Made: We replace a different installation disk and a different CD-ROM drive, problem still the same. We replace another memory module, it installed windows properly.It was found out that it has a defective DDR memory.

CD-ROM Stacked up!(Money Saver)

One day you noticed that your DVD/CD-ROM drive is hard to or do not eject at all even if you already spent lot of times pushing its eject button. You checked at "My Computer" the CD is detected by the system. Before thinking of replacing your DVD/CD-ROM device, I suggest trying this simple trick I have found.

  1. Turn off your CPU, eject your CD tray by inserting a paperclip/small pin on the manual eject hole infront of your CD panel(locate the pinhole at the front panel of your CD)to push out the CD tray.
  2. Once the tray is ejected insert it with a known good disk and push the tray back to return to its base.
  3. Now turn on the power and browse "My computer" to check if the disk you inserted is being read by your CD/DVD.
  4. If it functions normally, try to push the eject button if it will eject normally.
  5. The trick is that you always have to put a disk on your CD/DVD ROM, if by chance you can eject your CD tray while your CPU is ON, you can bypass steps 1 to 4.

The reason behind the problem is that the spindle motor of your CD/DVD ROM developed a strong magnet causing it to stacked when attached to its upper holder,disallowing the cd tray motor to push the tray out.When the CD disk is inserted, the gap between the two parts widen, making it easier for the CD tray motor to push the tray out.

Note: If none of the above mention works, its possible that your CD/DVD ROM is already defective.

Unit is black-out after moving in a new location

You just move in to a new place or location, when you turned on your PC it power's on but it did not initialize(No Display).Dont panic, performs the following:

1.Check the output voltage of the AC outlet if its in the especified voltage, it you dont have a multi tester try plugging to a known good AC outlet.
2.Check the power cord if it is inserted in the proper outlet of your AVR, some AVR has 110 and 220 outlet(Applicable only in countries when the voltage rating is 220V).If you happen to insert the power cord in the 110V outlet CPU will not initialize(No Dsiplay) or it may initialize but CPU will resets continuously.

If you happen to encounter such problem in the future,make sure to perform first the steps above before suspecting a defective CPU.

Installing a new CD-ROM or Harddrive

1. Make sure that jumper setting of your existing and new CD/HDD are not the same, otherwise both device cannot be detected by your system. Jumper settings is located at the back of the device.

Leftmost Jumper: Master
Center Jumper: Slave (left open in HDD)

2. Make sure that IDE cable is inserted properly, remember that pin 1 will always be positioned beside the power supply connection of the device. If your system wont boot or blacked out after you insert a new CD or HDD, try checking the cable position.

August 27, 2007

Self-test on Epson dot matrix products!

This topic will be helpful if you are encountering printing problem in your PC with an epson dot matrix products!

1. Power on unit (It should initialize and a steady green power will indicate)
2. Insert paper on the manual feed paper bin
3. Turn off unit, press hold LF/FF or Load/Eject button while turning on the power
It should start printing by now a combinations of text and characters.
If printer prints normally it means that it is in working condition. The problem may be caused by its printer cable or by your CPU.
Note: Make sure to printer finish printing for at least 1 page.

August 26, 2007

PC reset/shutdown intermittently!(Processor Overheats)

The problem may occur to almost all type of PC, especially on processors with higher speed(AMD Duron700 to Intel P4 Proc).There are a lot of possible causes why a system reboots intermittently, it maybe a software or a hardware problem, But sometime there is an area we often neglect in troubleshooting and that is the cooling system of your processors. Processor temperature must be maintained to a certain level, when it rises higher to its usual temperature it may reset or shutdown your PC intermittently.Please do the necessary steps below before you suspect of a hardware or software failure, it may save you time and money.
  1. Check and observe if your processor fan is running smoothly, it may be running slow. Replace your processor fan right away if it is defective.
  2. If you think your processor fan is running just fine, try to check the air passage just beneath the fan it maybe clogged up with dust, denying the air to reached down to the bottom of your processor heatsink, causing the processor to overheat during operation.
  3. Remove the processor heatsink and inspect the area around the processor, if maybe covered with dust.

Note: AMD Duron/Athlon processors for socket 462 generate lots of heat compare to its Intel counterpart, making this kind of processors more vulnerable to damage. Regular checking and cleaning of your processors cooling system will avoid this kind of a problem.

August 24, 2007

Restoration of backed up data from Outlook Express

You have a new OS, its time to bring back the data, address book and your internet settings account to your harddrive.In the case of your address book and internet account settings just simply follow step 1 and 2 of my previous post, but instead of clicking export click import, then go to the path were your back-up files is located. The last step is restoration of all your mailbox folders.At the file menu(refer to graphic above) click file>import>messages>select program "Microsof Outlook Express 6" then click next> select "Import mail from OE6 store directory" then click OK> Browse to the outlook express you backed up> click next to restore all your OE data(inbox, sent items, drafts ......etc).You may opt to restore your folders selectively.

How to back-up your Outlook Express Messages & Address book (Part 1)

Today I will feature procedure in backing up "outlook express" data, address book and its mail settings account. This procedure is very useful if you are planning to reformat your drive and dont want to loss a single data.
Step 1: Procedure in backing up Address book:Open outlook express >(at the menu bar) click tools > click address book >click file> click import> select address book(wab) > then it will prompt you were to save the files(you can name it whatever you want)

Step 2: Procedure in backing up Internet accounts settings:The next process is backing up your internet account settings.(These are the user name,password, pop and smtp settings..etc)Click tools again of your outlook express> click accounts>click Mail Tab>click import> enter a file name and save it to a folder.

Step 3: Now we are almost done,the last part is saving all your folders at outlook(inbox,sent items...etc).Be careful on following the procedure to avoid wrong saving of data. First identify the path where's the mailbox of your outlook is located.Open outlook express,at the left side of it,you can see the "folders"window.Put you mouse pointer on the "inbox" folder,then right click on it then click properties> at the property window click the mouse as indicated on the illustration(Refer to graphic above) and scroll sideward until you reached at the end, take note of the exact location of the folder. Now using windows explorer follow the folder path until you reach the exact mailbox location of your outlook express. Take note that before you follow the path of your mailbox location be sure to set your files settings to "view all files at the folder options" otherwise you cant see it since its a hidden folder.Once you found out the folder, save the whole folder to a specific location(Normally its labeled "Outlook Express").Now you can save those 3 data to a backup harddrive then reformat your hard drive. Take note that the procedure in backing up those mentioned data can be in any order. I will discuss the procedure in restoring those data on my next post.

August 23, 2007

Unit is Blackout(Case 3)

Unit Description: P4 3Ghz (socket478)
Asus Motherboard
Problem(s) Encountered: Blackout
Problem(s) Found: Reset switch is shorted causing the system to be on a continous reset mode.We found out the problem after we test the mainboard out of the casing without installing the button switches.
Solution(s) Made: Reset switch was disconnected from the mainboard
Note: When isolating a blackout unit make sure to remove button switches or devices attached to the mainboard.

August 22, 2007

Printing slows down after printing 1st page

Unit Description: Pentium III-600
128 SDRAM,Windows98
Problem(s) Encountered: Printing(Canon Inkjet Printer) slows down after printing one page
Problem(s) Found:A problematic soundcard device(We discover the problem after a lenghty troubleshooting process)
Service Done: Replace Sound Card Device
Note: When isolating a certain problem try to remove other device attached to your pc

August 21, 2007

Unit is Blackout(case 2)

Unit Description: P4 IBM Compatible PC, Dual type memory slot
256 SDRAM Mem
Problem(s) Encountered: Unit is Blackout(No Display), do not POST(Power-on-self-test)
No Beep, Numlock at keyboard not responding when pressed
Problem(s) Found: Dirty memory card edge
Solution Made: Remove memory and cleaned card edges using a pencil eraser. Operation of Unit back to normal
Note: If problem still exist try replacing a known good memory.

August 20, 2007

Internet Explorer Indicates Page Cannot Be Displayed

Unit Description: P4 IBM Compatible PC
OS: Windows XP
Problem(s) Encountered: Page cannot be display indicates in the browser, Even if Internet Connection is active(dial-up connection).
Problem(s) Found: System is loaded with Cookies and Temporary Internet files
Service Done: Clear cookies and temporary internet file. At the menu page of your internet browser click tools>internet options> delete cookies and delete files, then restart PC.
Note: If still wont work after restart, then its a different case!

Unit is Blackout(Case 1)

Unit: IBM Compatible PC
ATX-AMD Duron700
64 MB SDRam Mem
Problem(s) encountered: When unit is turned on,No Display-No Beep.But when you resocket mem or reset CMOS Batt unit, it intermittently starts up, but blacked out when you restart the PC.
Problem(s) Found: A defective Motherboard, ATX switching circuitry is not functioning properly
Service Done: Replace Motherboard
Note: We test all the other pheripherals on a known good motherboard before coming up a conclusion.

What's this Blog all about?

Welcome!my journey as a PC repair technician started March of 1994 where Apple and IBM8088 computers is still dominating the market, it was also the time where IBM just started the release of their X86 PC series. What I like most of being a PC repair technician is the constant challenge it brings through different problems I encounter almost everyday. But PC repair a decade ago is a bit complicated compare to todays setup.Now, ordinary hobbyist and end-users can assemble or troubleshoot his own PC. I have created this blog to document my present and previous experiences on different computer problems I encountered at work, and hope someday it will be a source of useful reference to technicians, students, hobbyist and end-users alike who are eager to learn the science of computer repair.Its my own little way of sharing my expertise to the world. I am not a good writer, but I will do my best to make my post simple and easy to understand. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome and everyone can contribute thru a forum I created( link is at the buttom of this page).