notes to help me remember

Category Archives: Hardware

Windows 7 memory check

Really, I thought I already posted this, may have, who knows.  I have a laptop just out of sorts.  Windows 7 has a nice built in memory check, as documented at tomstricks:

To run Windows Memory Diagnostic tool in Windows 7, do any one of the the following methods:

Method 1:From Windows 7 Start Menu

  • Click the Windows 7 Start button, type memory, and click on Windows Memory Diagnostic
  • When the Windows Memory Diagnostic screen loads, click Restart now and check for problems
  • You computer will restart
  • The memory diagnostic will run and may take some time
  • Windows will restart and report any errors to you

Method 2: From Windows 7 Control Panel

  • Click the Windows 7 Start button.
  • Select Control Panel
  • Click the System and Maintenance icon
  • Select Administrative Tools
  • Then, click the Memory Diagnostics Tool icon.
  • Click the option to restart your computer now and run the memory diagnostics test or to schedule the memory diagnostic test to run at your next reboot.

Method 3: From Windows 7 Command Prompt

  • Click the Windows 7 Start button.
  • Type cmd in the Start Menu’s search box.
  • Right-click cmd.exe in the search results and then select Run as administrator.
  • Type mdsched.exe in the command prompt and then press enter.
  • Click the option to restart your computer now and run the memory diagnostics test or to schedule the memory diagnostic test to run at your next reboot.

Method 4: From The Windows Boot Manager

  • Restart your computer.
  • Start pressing F8 on your keyboard.
  • This will open advanced boot options screen.
  • Click Esc on your keyboard while you’re in the advanced boot options screen.
  • You’ll be taken to the Windows Boot Manager screen.
  • Press Tab on your keyboard to move to the Tools section of the boot manager screen and then press enter to start the Memory Diagnostics.

If you want to select advanced options after the Memory Diagnostic Tool starts, press the F1 key to modify the type of tests and number of times they run. After you finish making configuration changes to the tests, press F10 to start.

If you have any errors Windows Memory Diagnostic tool in Windows 7 will show up while it scans and a report will be given to you the next time your computer boots up.If you want to stop the memory diagnostic scan at any time press Esc on your keyboard.If Windows Memory Diagnostic tool in Windows 7 finds errors in your memory it’s time to replace your computer’s memory.


Too busy this year to add much.

Off the cuff notables include:

  • Use Fn keys to redirect, connect external monitor, or remove battery and restart a Win 7 laptop that is sending its video to the external display that is either not there or turned off
  • Some Windows 7 updates will fail and roll back unless one or more updates are installed individually (two of these are KB954430 and KB 973688, and there is at least one more) (saw this on several new Lenovo computers)
  • The secret code for resetting lamp hours on SMART Projectors (Press DOWN, UP, UP, LEFT, UP  on the remote control to access the service menu)
  • To correctly clear the bad cluster list and rescan an imaged volume, be sure to run chkdsk /b (implies /r and /f)
  • Going into safe mode can sometimes get out of the cycle of a “frozen” computer that keeps restarting after failing windows 7 updates (using DeepFreeze)

Well, back at it.  I will add more when I get a chance.

Finding that MAC Address

Blocking devices by MAC address again in order to preserve sanity.  Some people, however, need access for their device.  A quick guide to finding those MAC addresses:

Original Kindle  (from technipages)

  1. From the Home screen, press Menu
  2. Select Settings
  3. The Wi-Fi MAC Address is located toward the bottom of the screen in the Device Info section

Kindle Fire (from Overton County Schools)

  1. From the home screen, tap on “Settings” in the top right corner
  2. Tap on “More”
  3. Tap on “Device” in the “Settings” Page
  4. MAC address is listed as “Wi Fi Mac Address”

iPad (from iPad to PC)

  1. Select the settings icon
  2. Tap “General” and then “About”
  3. The MAC address is listed as “Wi-Fi Address” (format xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx)

Windows (from

Windows 7 / Vista

  1. Click the Wireless Network Connection icon from within your system tray (near the clock).
  2. Select Network and Sharing Center.
  3. Select View status.
  4. Select Details.
  5. The MAC address is listed as Physical Address:

Windows XP/2000

  1. Click on Start and click on Network Connections on the right side of the menu
  2. Double-click on Local Area Connection (to find the MAC address of wired adapter) or Double-click on Wireless Adapter (to find the MAC address of the wireless adapter), or if you have a wireles connection icon in your system tray you can double-click on it!
  3. Click on the “Support” tab
  4. Click on “Details”
  5. The MAC address is the Physical Address (format is xx-xx-xx-xx-xx-xx)

Disk Partitioning for Win 7

We received a replacement HDD that had Win 7 conveniently installed on an 8 GB partition at the end of the drive.  There was a small partition at the beginning of the disc, and roughly 60 GB of unpartitioned space in the middle.  Since the partitions can only be expanded to the right, it was not possible to use Win 7 Disk Management to correct the issue.  I looked at a couple of programs to move the partition, but some of them were only free for home use.  I found Aomei Partition Assistant Home Edition, however, for which commercial use is very specifically allowed. While I don’t remember exactly what I did, whether it was moving or merging, I ended up with a usably sized partition for the OS.

the SimWelder

So the secretary asked me to go talk to one of the vocational teachers today.  He is not one of those who is fond of his computer, and when he saw me he said something about this thing giving him fits lately.  I assumed he was talking about the computer on his desk, which was comforting because we have several of that model, and they work well, and are generally easy to deal with.  But no, he walked right past that to the corner of the room where sat the SimWelder! I had no idea what a SimWelder was, I couldn’t have told you anything about it, whether it had a processor, or if it had mice running on wheels to power it.  I had previously seen it in action once from across the room, but really had no idea what the heck it was.  I am slightly better informed now.

The SimWelder consists of a Shuttle PC (one of those breadbox shaped PCs), a Pohlemus Patriot sensor thingamajig (connected to a welder simulator and another sensor), and an eMagin Z800 (related to the attached mask with simulator screen).  The teacher reported that he had checked all the connections and had even blown out the PC (very good idea, it tends to get distinctly dirty in that area of the building).  I did notice that there was an envelope leaning against the right side of the Shuttle unit blocking the vents on that side.  The whole unit is in a wood cabinet with two fans on the back.  The Shuttle itself had two case fans and a CPU fan.  Lots of fans.  Must like it cool.

At this point the thing was not starting up, and I really had no idea what it was supposed to do even if it did start up.  It showed a power light on the CPU, but nothing on the display, and it didn’t sound like it was busy with the HDD, though it was a bit noisy to tell.  Looking through some of the materials that came with this contraption, I was pleased to see that it was running Windows XP and that it seemed to have all of its supporting software, drivers, and manuals.  The unit is not connected to the network, or internet, and apparently never has been.  It has a Xeon X3220 2.4 GHz processor with 2 GB RAM.

I tried shutting it down and restarting it once or twice and still got no display.  Next, I disconnected the USB mouse and keyboard, the USB connection to the Patriot, and the video connection to the eMagin.  When I restarted it again, it rebooted into Windows XP.  I checked the Device Manager and discovered that I did not have permissions to update any drivers.  When I checked Documents and Settings I noticed that the Administrator folder was empty.  Huh.  (Guess I will have to explore that another time.)  It showed one USB device not recognized (yellow question mark).  I shut it down, reconnected everything, rebooted (happy so far), and started the SimWelder program.  Mr. Teacher logged in as FJLKSDJF, or something like that, with similar entries for the next couple of fields (guess you can put anything in there) and got to the screen where it checks for the sensor.  It’s called it something else, but I don’t recall what.  The circle on the screen is supposed to go green when it is ready.  It never got ready, it turned red.

After examining the attached components I finally noticed the brightly flashing red light on the front of the Pohlemus Patriot.  OK, so I thought it was on the back, for some reason, probably because it was sitting backwards on the shelf in the cabinet, but the manual informed me that this was, indeed, the front.  I tried shutting down and restarting the Patriot, restarting the Shuttle, and checking the connections, but still got the flashing red light with no connection.  I left to go see what I could find online regarding this hardware.  I was able to find the online manual for the Patriot, read the setup instructions, including a rather specific sequence for setup and connection, and decided to give it another look. 

It turns out I had plugged the USB connector into the slot below the one labeled for it on the Shuttle, so I moved it to the correct spot.  I disconnected one of the sensors, unplugged the power cord at the power strip, and pushed on the power connectors that were covered by a rubber sleeve (apparently covered to keep them connected, seemed a bit loose, but the unit definitely had power).  I started it up and the flashing red light came on, but switched over to a green light in a second or two.  Next I reconnected the second sensor (I think I shut it off first, but not sure) and the green light came on again.

After another reboot everything seemed to be working.  We shall see.

Thought I had this problem…

I thought I had a D630 that was showing no signs of life, and so I googled this issue and came up with an interesting “solution” from

Here’s a simple trick you can try if your computer won’t power on at all.  No sign of life when the power button is pressed.  Have this Dell Latitude D630 that has been work fine with no issues what so ever.  But today when try to turn it on none of the lights will come on, it’s like there’s no power connected to the laptop.

I checked the AC adapter and the light indicator is green meaning it’s getting power from the wall outlet.  I then checked the AC adapter with a multimeter and it’s putting out the correct voltage.  The battery it’s also showing it’s fully charged.   Removed hard drive, DVD drive, PC Cards, memory, and battery but the system still will not power on with just the AC adapter.  At this point I thought it’s got to be a bad systemboard.  But wait,  here’s what I did to get it to power back on again.   Since the only thing attached to the laptop is the AC adapter I unplugged that as well.  Then press and held the power button for like 20secs, plugged the AC adapter back and the laptop is alive again.  All the lights came on and it booted to the Dell logo screen.  Put everything back together and it was back in business.

Sounded like a new tack to try, but when I went to try it the laptop started up.  Then I remembered that it was abruptly shutting down while I was using it, rather than not starting up.  But really, I’m sure I’ve had more than one of either the D610s or the D630s that wouldn’t start up at all.


Slow Speed Chase

Ugh – feeling intelligence challenged again today.  Another “slow” laptop came my way again today.  It is kind of like that illusion where the moon looks larger at the horizon.  An older computer often seems slower.  Sometimes there are definite issues, but other times not so much. 

Anyhow, this laptop WAS incre d ib l y,  s  l   o   w.  So I was off and running to chase down the cause of this semi comatose PC. After patiently starting it up (while running 120+ Windows updates on two other laptops, going through the morning email, and updating some inventory lists), I was able to check to make sure the HDD was running in Ultra DMA Mode (and it was). N e x t  I  (had coffee, and moved several surplus iMacs to the hallway whilst I) defragged the HDD and ran a chkdsk.  Both of these went well enough. The Task Manager showed the CPU usage bottoming out at about 30%.  The bottoming out was quite pronounced, with never a dip below.  FINALLY, when checking the system properties yet again, I noticed that the CPU speed was abysmally slow (something like 384 MHz). A reboot followed by a visit to the BIOS setup revealed the ugly truth that, for whatever reason, this laptop was running a wee bit slow.

I tracked down this post which mentioned resetting the BIOS.  After a quick check into the BIOS I found an option to reload the default settings.  Following a much quicker reboot, the BIOS reported a more welcome clock speed.  It remains to be seen if there is an issue which will again put the brakes on this unit.  But for now, we are off and running again.

Update January 19, 2012: Well, it didn’t take long for it to revert to it’s old ways.  A motherboard problem, I’m guessing.  We will let it slowly fade into the past, and send it off for replacement.


Finally figured out how to run a chkdsk when Windows startup results in a reboot.  First of all, at the safe mode startup menu (press F8 when Windows is starting), you can select an option to stop the automatic reboot.  This allows you to perhaps actually read the BSOD (more than one character at a time, anyway).  Then, if that doesn’t give you anything towards opening Windows, the recovery option with a Windows XP install disk puts you at a C: prompt from whence you can run chkdsk.

Slow Running HDDs on Laptops

Found that HDDs were running in PIO mode instead of DMA (or Ultra DMA).  Check this in device manager under IDE, primary device.  It will say run in DMA mode if available, and then show currently running in PIO mode, if this is the issue.  Ran “HD Tune” program to verify drive performance issues.

Ran a Visual Basic script to reset the registry settings to force WinXP back to DMA mode on the drive.  DMA mode causes the PC to go through the Disk Management processor.  In PIO mode disk access goes through the CPU, causing slow performance and heavy CPU usage (90-100% usage).

Ran this on both Teresa P’s and Amanda K’s Dell D610s.  Teresa’s was back to PIO a few days later.  Amanda opted for a different laptop.  Have seen this on a few others and generally recommend that the user back up all files, and prepare for possible HDD failure.

Script name is resetdma.vbs

Script follows:

‘ Visual Basic Script program to reset the DMA status of all ATA drives
‘ Copyright © 2006 Hans-Georg Michna
‘ Version 2007-04-04
‘ Works in Windows XP, probably also in Windows 2000 and NT.
‘ Does no harm if Windows version is incompatible.

If MsgBox(“This program will now reset the DMA status of all ATA drives with Windows drivers.” _
& vbNewline & “Windows will redetect the status after the next reboot, therefore this procedure” _
& vbNewline & “should be harmless.”, _
vbOkCancel, “Program start message”) _
= vbOk Then
RegPath = “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}\”

ValueName1Master = “MasterIdDataChecksum”
ValueName1Slave = “SlaveIdDataChecksum”
ValueName2Master = “UserMasterDeviceTimingModeAllowed”
ValueName2Slave = “UserSlaveDeviceTimingModeAllowed”
ValueName3 = “ResetErrorCountersOnSuccess”
MessageText = “The following ATA channels have been reset:”
MessageTextLen0 = Len(MessageText)
ConsecutiveMisses = 0
Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject(“WScript.Shell”)
For i = 0 to 999
RegSubPath = Right(“000” & i, 4) & “\”
‘ Master
On Error Resume Next
WshShell.RegRead RegPath & RegSubPath & ValueName1Master
errMaster = Err.Number
On Error Goto 0
If errMaster = 0 Then
On Error Resume Next
WshShell.RegDelete RegPath & RegSubPath & ValueName1Master
WshShell.RegDelete RegPath & RegSubPath & ValueName2Master
On Error Goto 0
MessageText = MessageText & vbNewLine & “Master”
End If
‘ Slave
On Error Resume Next
WshShell.RegRead RegPath & RegSubPath & ValueName1Slave
errSlave = Err.Number
On Error Goto 0
If errSlave = 0 Then
On Error Resume Next
WshShell.RegDelete RegPath & RegSubPath & ValueName1Slave
WshShell.RegDelete RegPath & RegSubPath & ValueName2Slave
On Error Goto 0
If errMaster = 0 Then
MessageText = MessageText & ” and ”
MessageText = MessageText & vbNewLine
End If
MessageText = MessageText & “Slave”
End If
If errMaster = 0 Or errSlave = 0 Then
On Error Resume Next
WshShell.RegWrite RegPath & RegSubPath & ValueName3, 1, “REG_DWORD”
On Error Goto 0
ChannelName = “unnamed channel ” & Left(RegSubPath, 4)
On Error Resume Next
ChannelName = WshShell.RegRead(RegPath & RegSubPath & “DriverDesc”)
On Error Goto 0
MessageText = MessageText & ” of ” & ChannelName & “;”
ConsecutiveMisses = 0
ConsecutiveMisses = ConsecutiveMisses + 1
If ConsecutiveMisses >= 32 Then Exit For ‘ Don’t search unnecessarily long.
End If
Next ‘ i
If Len(MessageText) <= MessageTextLen0 Then
MessageText = “No resettable ATA channels with Windows drivers found. Nothing changed.”
MessageText = MessageText & vbNewline _
& “Please reboot now to reset and redetect the DMA status.”
End If
MsgBox MessageText, vbOkOnly, “Program finished normally”
End If ‘ MsgBox(…) = vbOk
‘ End of Visual Basic Script program