Posts Tagged ‘Hardware Hassles’


I got a call from someone telling me their delete key on their new laptop was mapped wrong. Issue centered around pressing the delete key and getting periods in their word processor documents and email client email editor. The delete key would not delete files in Explorer, and it would not delete emails in the email client. Sounded like a broken delete key or a virus of some sort. Each time I tested out the laptop the delete key deleted characters or files or emails. Strange.

So this time around I had the user show me the problem because it was obvious to me I don’t have much luck with hardware. Sure enough when they hit the delete key it put periods into the word processor.

The difference between the two? I was pressing the dedicated delete key and the user was pressing the delete key on the numeric keyboard. Naturally the user was a bit embarrassed by this, but in reality the laptop is new and it is the first time they have a number pad on the base machine. Once I explained how the delete key on the numeric keypad works all is solved.

The lesson with this tech support call is to not dismiss the user’s observations and for the tech support person to watch the user reproduce the problem when the repro steps are not completely understood.



Earlier this week I had to tear apart the office and next week it gets put back together. The nightmare of doing this is moving some extremely heavy furniture around, and dealing with the miles of electric cords and network wires. The wires have always been a pain to me (I know, its hardware {g}) no matter how careful I try to be when I connect it all to the power source. A very timely post on LifeHacker is going to save me some of the aggravation this time around.

Today I am going to go get some of the foam pipe insulation which I think is brilliant, and I ordered some of the ID Pilot Identification Labels. I am also going to get some tie wraps for the server closet in the basement. When I built the server closet I put peg board on the inside walls to allow for better circulation, but thanks to this inspirational post I now can attach the DSL modem and switches to save on shelf space.


Each night the partitions on my computer get backed up to an USB drive (drive O:\). When I connect the USB drive sometimes it remembers it is O: and sometimes it thinks it is F:. Kind of a pain in the neck, but I just hop into XP’s Computer Manager and select the Disk Management, pick the disk and right-click to bring up a shortcut menu. I pick the Change Drive Letter and Path… option. I have done this hundreds of times.

Until last night when I accidentally picked Mark Partition as Active. This tells the hardware to make this drive the bootable drive. It did not even ask me if I was sure I wanted to hose up my hardware, it just switched it as if this is done everyday by users. What the heck?!?

So I poke around on the Web and every message I read usually ends with “dude, you are sooooo hosed.” Ugh.

I called my hardware guy and tell him what I did. He went and did a little research and came back with the “Dude, you are so hosed…”

I HATE hardware.

In a desperate last resort kind of thinking I recall I have a four support incidents with Microsoft from my MSDN Universal Everything Suite System Subscription. So I take a shot. After all, I am already hosed so what could be worse? Thanks for asking. {g}

I want to let you know I had low expectations going in, but I am very happy to report Microsoft Tech Support fixed me up. Actually they inspected my machine and found out I was not hosed, but I did not know this until the very end. I literally could throw away the USB drive and the OS would have booted fine. But Surbhi downloaded a disk sector hex editor and made it so the USB drive was not the active partition. I was literal sweating as she was probing and hacking. Even though she was very reassuring all would be well I was naturally concerned. If I had rebooted with the USB drive it would have come up looking like I had no OS loaded, but she “hacked” sector 1 and made it so it was not active. Sweet.

So my first experience in years with Microsoft Tech Support was a pleasant and rewarding one. I also asked her at the end what happens when XP is no longer on the support list. She said it would be a long, long time before this happens. I kind of laughed when she said Vista was a baby operating system. I know she was referring to the “infancy” definition and not that it was inferior or smaller in some way. Getting premium tech support is a natural concern for businesses moving forward and not adopting the latest OS from any company.

So now you know how I wasted my morning and part of my afternoon. I HATE hardware. Almost drives a man to drink more than water and lemonade. {g}

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