HP Computer Ordeal

Making the previous entry on www.AnswersThatWork.com reminded me to mention why I wanted to post it here. It has been very useful in the continuing fight with my new, partially-functional HP desktop computer. It’s been about two months now; they won’t take it back and they won’t fix it.

I’m not working on this all the time, of course. At this point, I’ve done a complete reformat of the drive and re-installation of most of my programs. This time running Windows Update didn’t break it. I have rebooted after each program was installed, as requested by HP’s support person. I learned on my own not to use MSFT’s video driver “update” because it is older than the update on the video manufacturer’s website, and it determined that it was what broke my graphics program the last time. The new driver is also not on the HP site, but the video program (Paint Shop Pro) help area is where I learned that it was needed to get things working. I’m still getting occasional crashes (no blue screens) and the HP printer has trouble talking to the HP PC. They sent me PC recovery disks from free, but the disks were unreadable until I discovered a driver update for the DVD player on the HP website. It doesn’t sound like they will ever get my older programs to work at all, in spite of them working on my older XP system. I won’t be able to make music CDs without living with HP’s idea of the minimal requirements of what CD burning software should do (such as you must always have a 2 second break between songs).

There was a time when companies tried to make sure that new products were compatible with old, and made an effort to fix the problem if it didn’t. Now I guess we have to just buy new software with the new hardware and hope it works, if a new version is available at all.

Virus or Useful?

If you’re a properly inculcated PC user, you probably always run virus software and, at least occasionally, also ad-ware or spy-ware checkers such as Ad-Aware. Or maybe the PC seems to be running slow, so you check out what tasks are running. The problem is that sometimes something shows up that you don’t recognize, like msimn.exe. It may not be a problem, but it’s a research project to figure out if it’s a program that should be there or not. Many Google links just go to places that have a one line description of the task or program, and the rest of the page is trying to get you to buy their software if you want to know more.

This one has a bit more info, and I like the name of the place: www.AnswersThatWork.com

They’re still selling, but their free answers are more complete than other sites I’ve been to. I include it here because it is usually buried deep in all the less-useful Google listing.

Blue Screen of Death on MSFT Website

In addition to picking up the Winternals Software team in July, Microsoft has apparently acquired an interesting piece of intellectual property — the Sysinternals “Blue Screen of Death” screensaver.


HP Computer Warning

I bought a new HP Pavilion computer just over six weeks ago. I have spent many hours online searching for fixes to problems, and over six hours on the phone with tech support. Today I got to the top level of support, and basically got a “read the fine print” reminder from them. They obvious don’t put this stuff in their marketing literature.

  • Your PC is only guaranteed to run with the programs it comes with. Anything that you install may not work. If not, too bad. (Almost none of my older games will run on this machine. One of the newer graphics programs that I use all the time has quit working since the latest Windows upgrade.)
  • The CD burner that comes with your PC is only guaranteed to write discs that can be read by your computer, and only using the program that comes with your computer. Should music discs not work on your audio CD player, too bad. This is even if you know that your audio player plays CDs made on your much older, but working computer.
  • Windows is pre-installed. Yeah, obviously. But it turns out that some Windows programs that are supplied with the OS will only work if the Windows CD is available. Oops, no CD. Too bad. They can’t supply a disk.

Unfortunately, the program that won’t run is one of the Windows recovery programs, SFC (system file check). SFC was my last hope for getting this POS PC to work right. The severe problems started after running Windows Update; it blue screened and required starting in Safe Mode and doing a System Restore. I got it mostly working, but when problems started again later, System Restore would no longer work. Because SFC won’t work without a CD, I can’t use Windows’ built in repair utility. What are we left with? Support has to give the one answer we all know and fear (and apparently, the only answer they know): “Format the disc and reinstall the OS.”

Remember that what broke the system beyond repair was doing a standard Windows Update. This makes it is very likely that if I follow their instructions, I will once again have a broken PC.

Okay, what’s the big deal about doing a reinstall? And why did it take six weeks to get to this point? That’s how long I’ve been moving programs from my old system, reconfiguring, updating, etc. Now I get to lose all that work because tech support can only say, (everyone this time): “Format the disc and reinstall the OS.” Of course, before I do it I’ll have to move everything back to the old PC with the hope that most of the data doesn’t get lost.

This isn’t really just an HP computer warning. It really applies to any PC where you don’t get the Widows disc, which unfortunately is most. Just a reminder that even though you think your PC should work with standard programs, your computer’s manufacturer may not feel the same way.