Computer problem

by | Jun 12, 2006 | News, work

So, I get a somewhat frantic e-mail on June 8, 2006 from a client of mine saying:

Hi David. I seem to have a problem that needs to be looked at over at my office. It’s the rack mount. It looks like PCI slots have bit the big one. I don’t know if the MOBO is fanito or what the story is but it can’t see any of the slots. I can’t get on the net which also means my network is down and that is never good for us.

Can you let me know what you think can be done and when you can come and take a look for me.


A few things to note:

  • He’s a nice guy
  • He’s somewhat technical – hence the jargon about the PCI slots

Due to conflicting schedules and whatnot, I end up going to his office today to take a look at the computer. This is what I found:

  • He tells me that his employee was sitting in the room and noticed that the computer rebooted itself, and when it started up, it showed device errors.
  • He tried to update the drivers and such, but to no avail – which is when he got in touch with me.
  • The computer is running Win XP Pro and appears to be functional
  • I check the device manager, and there are some devices that are not recognized
    • modem is not recognized
    • network adapter is not recognized
    • RAID adapter is not recognized
  • I try to run the update drivers function, but it doesn’t find the drivers
  • I shut down the system, unplug the power cable, clear all the power out of the system, and boot it back up
  • Takes me to the same problem as before – problem still persists.
  • After talking with him, we decided to run system restore to put the computer back about 2 weeks ago – right before the problem happened. Booted the system back up, and still doesn’t recognize the same devices.
  • At this point, I figure that it’s a hardware problem, and perhaps a PCI slot has died – happened to me before.
  • I open up the case, use my compressed air to clean out some dust – there really wasn’t much. I put the can down on a counter behind me.
  • I notice that the modem is the only PCI device. The network card and RAID controller are on-board.
  • I smell something a bit weird. I stick my head into the case to smell to see where it’s coming from. It’s smells a bit like a burnt capacitor or something.
  • I turn back to get my air can, and when I turn back to the computer, I notice something that looks like a large dust ball. Take a look at what I found in the following 2 pictures (My client Elliot took them – I didn’t have my camera with me)

Computer problem 1

Computer problem 2

  • As soon as I see this, I stand up and say to him “Dood – you have a problem”. He’s like WTF are you talking about? I tell him he has a mouse in the computer and he’s like “NO – ARE YOU KIDDING?”. Anyways, he hesitates, and I say “Come here and check it out”. He says “I don’t want to see it!”… I push him a bit more – he comes over – sees it – calls his fahter to come and take a look.
  • Long and the short – he gets some latex gloves on, grabs the mouse (as if I would do that!) and puts it in a plastic bag to throw out. As he’s grabbing it, he says that it’s crispy! LOL
  • He later confessed to me that he opened up the machine a few days ago, and didn’t notice or smell anything.

I was taking a look at the case, and found that 2 of the slots in the back of the computer didn’t have the slot covers installed. The mouse was quite small, so I’m presuming that’s where it got into the case. I guess it’s a good thing it didn’t find it’s way to any of the fans in the case!

Anyways, I tried to get the devices working – moved the modem to a different PCI slot, updated drivers, etc. – nothing worked. Now I have to see if I can get him another Asus P4C800 – so that it will not require new drivers and such.

That’ll be the last time that I go to a clients without a camera!

I’ve seen other things on the internet about how someone found their pet snake in their computer, but I’ve never witnessed this myself in the 15+ years I’ve been doing this!

David Pisarek dmpp : David Michael Pisarek Productions | Ontario Canada web design webdesign graphic design photography databases html dhtml portfolio canada loves ny canada loves new york durham college university of ontario institute of technology design programming software operating systems hardware computer sales consulting adobe photoshop macromedia flash cgi javascript lingo maxscript mysql perl homesite corel draw 3d studio max quark xpress express microsoft windows apple osx macintosh iphone linux operational excellence the crossways complex art of noise dtworx incorporated web manager web master professor ceo networking cat5 cat 5 5e webcam ftp update site development develop Thornhill Richmond Hill Oshawa Whitby GTA Greater Toronto Area Pickering Ajax North York Downsview ralph gerhardt Ralph Gerhardt design canada dmpp david toronto ontario editing loves ralph webcam york productions blog pisarek photography gerhardt gta ago rss twitter company portfolio people adobe ajax apple art audio broadcasting business canadalovesny cat cat5 ceo cgi college complex computer consulting corel corporations crossways database databases davidpisarek deployment designing developing dhtml downsview draw dtworx hrs michael bookmarks categories mac pisarek's read required durham personal cad enterprises excellence feedback news new 10rpsn annoy bit boards businesses cancel cannot cell chars clients cloud continue david's deals del digg eat entries exchange bruceadam esilverstein heartattack niche restaurant stuff facebook family wedding flag form friend work functions baseball imax ordered house humour rants ahhhhhhhhhhhh attempts blame blue crappy didn dream stats ask attacking bunch car chaotic completely crazy designmoo digs hockey madclan mins post sgsmith2001 sport sports staff strike umutm video 100gb anyways apparently bonefire clean colleges contest council emissions exhaust firehost game generate