Well, I solved by parallel port driver, but I will get to that in a minute.
When I woke up this morning, my Vista computer was dead. It wouldn't boot. Rather, I would get the Compaq flash screen, and then nothing. A totally blank screen, except for a character cursor in the top left corner. I tried different ways of booting, etc., all to no avail.
So, I called up Compaq, and got a technician in India, whose English proficiency wasn't quite there yet. It was rather humorous.
HP: Is the computer acting any differently?
Me: Yes, it isn't running.
HP: What did you change?
Me: A lot.
HP: What services are running?
Me: None. The computer is dead.
HP: What applications are running?
Me: None. The computer is dead.
HP: Did you install any software?
Me: Yes, that is what computers are for, running software.
HP: Let's check the event log.
Me: Sorry, the computer is dead.
HP: What is the last thing you did?
Me: I went to bed.
Ultimately, it turns out that the problem was that I had set the system to go to sleep after two hours of inactivity. Initially, that wasn't an issue, since it would wake up with activity on the network, and my server (H) would broadcast WINS status checks every twenty minutes or so. But then, a day or so ago, I disabled having the Ethernet interface wake the system up.
I had also manually put the system to sleep, both by the external switch and the internal button. Of course, programming the external switch to put the computer to sleep meant that it was nearly useless when I wanted to reset or reboot the computer. Of course, the solution to that was to unplug the computer and then plug it back in. Then, the external impulse switch works as a boot switch, at least for a moment or so.
It took rebooting a couple of times, trying to get into the setup menu, and finally, moving the cursor around a lot and hitting the space bar a couple dozen times (under the supervision of the helpful HP technician) to finally get the system back up.
Then, I was referred to another HP technician who seemed to know a lot more. I first asked him about my parallel printer port problem. Whenever I would boot the system, I would get an error message that the parallel port driver couldn't start, and the most likely reason was that I didn't have a parallel port - which for the first time ever, I don't.
The solution was to go into the registry (and how many HP customers would know how to do that?). Under current settings, etc., there is a key for "parpor
" or something like that. Guessing, I clicked on it, and, sure enough, the description said "Parallel Port Driver
". The startup parameter was set to a 3. The technician had me set it to a 4. I then rebooted, and no error message.
Looking back, it is obvious that I should have looked up parpor
in the registry and changed the Start
value from a 3 to a 4. I am just embarrassed that I had to have that HP technician tell me to do so.
Actually, of course, most people who use Windows don't know what the Registry is, don't know how to access it, how it is organized, etc. And worse, Microsoft suggests very strongly that you run in Vista (and XP) as a User, and not as an Administrator. Of course, the Registry is likely inaccessible in User mode (I haven't verified this, because I almost always run as an Administrator).
I am used to mucking around in the Registry, and have shortcuts already set up for the two programs that Microsoft supplies to view and modify it. One nice thing that Windows does provide is an environmental tag for the current Windows directory. This has been true at least since Win 2K. So, you can code shortcuts utilizing this environmental tag, and move them from system to system. So, I did this once, and now have shortcuts on all my Windows systems (2K, 2KSE, XP HE, XP Pro, 2K3SE, and now Vista HP) for all sorts of Windows utilities.
Still, despite all the above, I am curious whether this whole thing was an HP programming problem, when they customized Vista for this computer (and they didn't verify the customization by checking the Event log), or whether I actually inadvertently activated the Parallel Port driver. I won't likely know until have to reinstall Vista.
Labels: Computers, Vista