Now here is an odd “unfixable” problem.
A business customer was supplied (from “head office”) with a pentium 4, 1.7Ghz, 384Meg ram, 40Gb disk, system.
I was called in, because the CD was not working (even after it was sent back to be fixed), I just installed one of my spare CD drives & then they started installing their software.
I did notice the PC was fairly slow, but didn’t worry too much, as PCs are often slowed down for many reasons (which I can fix with some tuning).
I get called back the next day, as they are having problems starting an application they installed, and they cannot get the printer/scanner/fax to install.
I cannot find a solution to the application error… the error message is: “your system is not formatting dates correctly. qikkids cannot run until this is corrected. Format Error 03/01/2003 <> 01/03/2003”. I try changing the timezone from brisbane, to someplace in the US, but nothing changed.
The printer was plugged in to the usb port before the drivers were installed (many printers don’t like that), so I got a custom uninstall program from the Brother web site & uninstalled the drivers.
I then did a virus/spyware scan (found 2 infections… nothing major). Then did a full windows update, defragment, empty temp folders & ie cache, disable indexing service, disable some silly services (upnp, webclient, etc)… but oddly it was still quite slow… hmmm.
The PC looks like someone decided to remove software by deleting files… so it looks like it had been heavily used previously.
After my tuning, it takes about 2 minutes to boot. And changing the desktop background picture took 6 seconds (my pentium 3, 600Mhz take less that 1 second to change backdrops). The HDD light is on during the 6 seconds, so it looks like a disk problem.
Running filemon from sysinternals, shows that it spends some time trying to open files that don’t exist. So I do a registry clean, but that just drops the time to change screen backdrops to 5 seconds.
I’m all out of ideas, so I decide to recommend an inplace reinstall of xp (something I rarely recommend). Its easier to re-install all the windows files, that it is to find out whats missing/corrupt.
I now turn my attention to installing the printer/fax/scanner drivers. It goes without a hitch. At the end of the install, I need to restart windows, then I do a windows update, & download & install the latest brother drivers, reboot again, and after that, I’m greeted with a 16 colour, 640×480 desktop. Hmmm the video driver seems to be stuffed. I cannot increase the colours, & I can only go as high as 800×600.
I download & install the latest sis 650 video drivers, & everything starts looking normal. I reboot & I’m back to the low colur screen again… How can a printer driver stuff up the video drivers? anyway, I download a slightly different video driver, install & reboot, & I’m back to the low colour screen again… how annoying!
I unplug the printer, reinstall the video driver, reboot, & everything is fine. I reboot again, still ok. I plug in the printer… still ok. I reboot & I’m back to the low-colour screen. Grrr.
I check the video drivers & find more recent drivers ( but NOT at the SIS website!). I download, install, & reboot (without the printer attached), & its fine, I plugin the printer… it works ok, I reboot again (the slow boot time is really starting to annoy me!). Luckily everything now works.
I reboot a few more times & the screen is stable, except I occasionally get a window popping up every 15 seconds, saying something like “beginning auto insert device”, then disappearing after 1 or 2 seconds. I unplug the printer & the message goes away. I plug the printer in & the messages don’t come back until after the next reboot. I fiddle with the printer power-saving button, after a few more reboots, the problem no longer happens. I figure its something not working well with the built in flash card reader in the printer.
I give the computer back, & a few hours later I suddenly realise that “date/time settings” for XP can be changed in 2 different ways… the control panel “date and time” and also “Regional & Language options”. I call the customer & get her to change the regional settings from US to Australia, & QikKids now works. She is very happy.
I don’t think the slow computer will be a problem for the customer, so I probably wont get to fix it anytime soon.