Noisy Alien in Computer Removed

Well, this afternoon the computer repair guy returned and fixed the computer in about 15 minutes. The noise was gone after he replaced the power supply unit, the fan of which was the source of the mini-helicopter noise.

Obviously, this was a case of extraterrestrial invasion.

Seriously, though, once we got past all of the stuff about software checking, the repair was very quick. It turns out you can’t check the condition of the power supply unit fan with software. The noise problem was solved the old-fashioned way.

Computer Crisis Progress Report

The title of this post is supposedly about progress toward fixing my Dell computer, the one with a mini-helicopter noise in the tower. The Tech drove to my house yesterday from Ouad Cities. He had the parts the Agents ordered for fixing the noise in my PC tower.

The parts were wrong. He drove an hour to get here and was done in about 15 minutes. He looked and listened to the noise before and after removing the case cover. He knew right away it was not a software problem. He ordered the right part and now the next step is for him or another Tech to return on Monday to do the job.

There are Agents and Techs working for Dell. For 2-3 days, Agents pestered me with software shenanigans, even to the point of insisting I reset my PC. Agents never looked at my machine. I sent them the video of the PC and its racket. I’m not sure they listened to it.

I think the Dell Company pays Techs more money than it pays the Agents. That’s probably why Agents spend more time with customers, maybe distracting us with chores like PC resets.

But I’m trying to look on the bright side. The Agents are polite and trying to be helpful. They evidently know a lot about software, which can create problems for which they have a long list of suggestions. The Techs know how computers actually work as machines.

It’s a little like the difference between a couple of the reality TV shows (though the analogy is not exact). Compare the heavy wrecker operators (the tow truck guys) on the shows Highway Thru Hell and Heavy Rescue 401 to the Bigfoot researchers on the show Expedition Bigfoot.

The tow truck guys focus on getting the Canadian highways open and do it with their hands, hooks, chains, and heavy trucks. They have to know something about the physics of the job. It looks real.

The Bigfoot researchers know a lot about Bigfoot lore and what little science there is about it. The only Bigfoot you’ll ever see on the show is a doll the size of GI Joe pinned on a researcher’s backpack.

Keep looking up. You don’t want Bigfoot to drop out of a tree on you.

Update on Computer Crisis

This is an update to my post yesterday about the latest computer crisis; the one about the mini-helicopter noise in the tower on my relatively new Dell XPS 8950.

Incredibly, the parts have been ordered. I can’t tell if they just ordered them today or what. The technicians will arrive sometime tomorrow and they’ll bring the parts with them. If the parts have just been ordered today, it’s not clear to me how the technicians could have them by tomorrow.

That suggests they may already know (or already have known) what the hardware problem is. That again makes me wonder why I had to jump through umpteen software juggling shenanigans for the last couple of days.

I guess I should be happy that I’m getting a quick response. We’ll see how it turns out.

Another Computer Crisis

Another day, another computer crisis. I’ve been hearing this mini-helicopter noise from my PC tower for a while and finally contacted the manufacturer’s computer support center on the web.

I have hopped through many hoops in the past couple of days, including resetting my computer. Remember I had to do that with Sena’s computer?

How can a noise which seems to be a hardware problem (a rattle in the tower) be a software problem? I don’t know.

The most recent request from support services was to make a video of the noisy tower. Yes, I said video. So, I took the video, with enough audio (I hope) to convince people that the problem might be something physical inside the machine.

I’ve got my fingers crossed.

The Geezer Survives Another Computer Disaster!

This is another gripe about computers. I had to reset Sena’s PC because I accidentally crashed it after trying to follow Dell’s YouTube video instructions for how to fix the problem that a lot of Dell computer owners are having: the inability to install or reinstall a piece of software called Dell SupportAssist.

There’s another ongoing problem which is just as frustrating. It’s another app called DellUpdate. It doesn’t work at all and keeps telling you to reinitiate something called the Dell Client Management Service. It repeatedly fails after only a day or two.

Both of these apps are related and trouble with installing, reinstalling, and updating have been ongoing for at least a year.

The Dell YouTube video is a little over two and a half minutes long and explicitly tells you to do something I usually strictly avoid, which is to delete keys from the computer registry. I can find web entries that say you can’t hurt the registry at all on up to warning that messing with even one of the registry keys can cause the earth to explode.

I tried to restart after deleting 3 folders and 3 registry keys (I couldn’t find each and every one of these) as Dell instructed and got a black screen, a blinking arrow pointer, and a blue rotating circle. The computer failed to boot. Dead in the water.

Remember, this was after I saw well over 100 comments on the Dell YouTube video, the vast majority of which said the Dell solution was not only not a solution, but caused some computers to crash, necessitating resets and system restores, hospitalizations for nervous breakdowns, zombie apocalypse episodes, and so on.

What was ironic was that the Dell instructions were very simple. Just delete a few folders and Registry keys. Ha, Ha! The video was only a couple of minutes long. It wasn’t like we were being asked to download the gold star reverse engineered Extraterrestrial virtual dual quad gravity generating drive to be applied to the innards of the computer tower using neutrino multipliers welded with triple strength strips of Miracle Whip (not Mayo!) to the reverse oscillating cooling fans.

In a panic, I called the Dell support line, knowing that the machine was way beyond warranty. I got a warning on the chat service that if I needed step-by-step instructions, I would be charged a hundred bucks. The Dell chat tech was extremely helpful and obviously worked hard to avoid a step-by-step situation.

Avoiding that was not so hard to do. I was running back and forth between my room and Sena’s room like a chicken with my head cut off, while also trying to find an empty USB thumb drive on which to download a fresh copy of windows to restart Sena’s machine.

One of the chat tech’s first suggestions was to turn on the machine by pressing the power button, then immediately start pressing the F12 button repeatedly as soon as the Dell logo appeared on the screen. I have a distant memory of being told to do that after one of my past computer crashes.

This booted me to the BIOS screen where you can see the diagnostic utility—which mystified me because I have no idea what to do with it. I also got a link to the Dell support page where I could download software to make a USB media copy of Windows to upload to Sena’s computer. I think that actually saved me.

On the other hand, I unintentionally left the chat tech too long who politely disconnected, leaving very helpful support links.

I finally booted to the desktop, which amazed me—but didn’t amaze me as much as the crazy font showing up on the icons. They were a series of geometrical shapes which I could not change.

So, at last I gave up and reset the PC. I couldn’t think of anything else to do. It was not my first rodeo with computer resets. It’s a long process, but it’s mainly waiting several hours while the computer chews up all the old pieces of software that probably interfered with it in the first place over the years, and then finally loads a fresh copy of Windows while keeping the files and folders.

And after all that, I was able to install Dell SupportAssist and Dell Update, which then worked without a hitch.

What did I learn from all this? Never mess with a computer registry again—just go straight to PC reset.

There’s a great upside to this story. Sena’s favorite interactive computer game, Scrabble on CD-ROM (published 1999 by Hasbro), will now play on this machine. I’ve not been able to get it to work for years. Nowadays, I think the only place you can get a copy is on eBay. There’s an interactive computer opponent called Maven who has all kinds of mannerisms and reactions to your game play. She really likes it—until the next time I crash the computer.

More Reset Woes

It can take a while longer than you expect when you do a system reset of your computer. I’m still trying to get my software reinstalled. You know, it’s not very funny when you get the message that all of your apps are going to be expunged and the long list you see on the screen is followed by the promise that (not to worry) this list will be available on your desktop after the reset, so you don’t have to remember it or try to copy it down.

That’s a bald-faced lie; don’t believe it.

The best example today is my quest to track down the software for my Webcam. Since it got wiped during the reset, I navigated to Logitech’s web support page thinking I would just re-download it from there.

Wrong. The only software listed were updates that either didn’t work, were not applicable for what I wanted to do with them, or were incompatible with my video editing software. No kidding, one of the apps recorded audio but the video editing software could not play the video.

Now I knew that the software for my particular version of the Webcam was old but it worked with Windows 10. None of the other new apps did, which was ironic.

I couldn’t find the old app on Logitech’s site at first. In a roundabout way, by googling and sitting through a YouTube that displayed one of Logitech’s web pages, which was not really obvious at first–I eventually blundered onto Logitech’s web page where I could download the old rickety software. It was at the bottom of a long list of apps only a couple of which were compatible with Windows 10.

But it worked with my video editing software and, unlike the new software, didn’t give me annoying messages in big red letters suggesting that my nearly new computer didn’t have the resources to run it.

I like the Webcam part of making videos because it allows me to do things like put my talking head into a PowerPoint presentation, like the one below:

I realize that’s work-related and I’m supposed to be retiring. However, just before I did all that hunting for the old Webcam software, I had been out in the yard with my wife, me trimming the edges of the lawn while she mowed. I also applied grub control granules with a drop spreader. That’s actually about just as much exercise as a moderate jog around the block.

Finally, the explanation for the picture of the hummingbird feeder above. Today we retired it, which fits the theme of my life in a way. For one thing, it’s a pain to fill that thing with sugar water (which I have to mix each and every time, 4:1 water to sugar).

The other problem are the pesky carpenter ants which climb all over it. I know there are ways to prevent that–sort of. On the other hand, hummingbirds have to deal with them all the time in nature, don’t they?

How do hummingbirds usually defend themselves against ants, anyway? Maybe they need to take martial arts classes. They could also use their brains, which proportionally are larger than ours, by the way. They’re smart enough to come up with a clever argument to persuade ants to scram: “It has been documented in numerous scientific studies that sugar water makes ants explode.”

Our hummingbird feeder is now just another decorative object in the garden.

So long, it’s been good to know ya…

Reset Day

Well, I spoke too soon yesterday after following complicated instructions to fix the File (or Windows) Explorer Not Responding” issue. The fix didn’t stick and I wound up doing a system reset after all. It took up most of my day, which is a long time to grind my teeth.

Not that I have a lot going on in the off phase of phased retirement. But I could think of better things to do than reset the computer.

And whose idea was it to embark on a crusade to instigate yet another Microsoft debacle—Windows 11 or 12 in the pipeline? After grinding my teeth a bit more, I dug into the web a little more deeply. I was relieved to find out that this was a rumor only, according to a news story about a week ago.

I think reporters do that just to get your dander up.

I can remember hassling with tech support on the phone for hours after I got our first computer and tried to cope with Windows 95. Thank goodness I missed Windows Bob, which I had never even heard of until yesterday.

One of my earliest memories of Windows 95 mania was a TV news spot showing a long line of customers at Best Buy clutching their godforsaken copies of the cursed operating system—and when the register opened, a guy leaped up to the counter, obviously ecstatic to get his treasure first.

And from then on, it was one disaster after another, with every iteration of Windows crashing our machine or prompting calls to tech support with wait times often exceeding half an hour or longer.

Remember all of that? It’s no different now. And there’s no compelling reason to switch back to Mac.

Oh yes, I started off with a Mac when I started working at the hospital as an assistant professor. That was on the advice of one of my senior faculty teachers. I soon learned that, with all the support staff in the administrative office using IBM PCs, it didn’t make much sense to push through with a Mac, no matter how much I liked it.

Now, after all these years pounding on the PC, I don’t think I could get the hang of the Mac OS—although I have considered going back many times in the past few years, especially since yesterday.

Computer Nightmare

OK, so maybe “nightmare” is too strong a word for the problem I had (and may still be having) with my computer today. I couldn’t open any of my Microsoft Word documents. I’ve had this issue in the past and I think my solution was to do a system reset, a frustrating inconvenience.

I tried system restore, looked around the web and tried various suggestions from people who sounded knowledgeable. Nothing worked. It didn’t help that File Explorer is also called Windows Explorer. I kept getting the “File Explorer Not Responding” message. I’m sure many out there recognize it.

I was reminded of many computer disasters I’ve been through, starting with Windows 95 and running through nearly all of the versions since then including Windows Me (Millennium). I never had to deal with Windows Bob, thank goodness. I notice they’re bringing back Windows 95 as an app. Why?

After a few hours, I found one web page that described a long multistep process called “File Explorer Not Responding in Windows 10 [Solved]” by Sophie Luo at drivereasy dotcom I thought couldn’t hurt—since I was resigned to the reset option anyway.

I went through all the steps. Much to my amazement, it worked. There is a long list of comments with other suggestions that I’ll likely try if this solution isn’t permanent.

Dr. Google
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