Everybody's had one of those "Oh my God, my computer just died" moments, where nothing works and first instinct is to either pummel the thing senseless or curl into fetal position, rocking back and forth whilst sobbing. This is the wrong course of action! The thing's going to have to get fixed eventually and the sooner it's done, the better off you'll be. Follow the diagnostics checklists below to pinpoint the problem and, if nothing else, save your techie friend some time. Hopefully by the end you'll at least have an idea of what's causing the problem.
Checklist #1: Boot Overview
Can your computer at least get into the operating system?
1. post- This is the first bit. Either it will do a memory test and detect your drives, or a big-ass logo will appear. Maybe both. Check the box if it makes it through this part. If it dies here, you probably have a hardware problem. Go to Checklist #2.
2. os Initialization- This is the part where either the Windows logo comes up or the little spinny-thing starts going in Mac os x. Check the box if this part finishes without problems. If it dies here, it's likely a software problem. Go to Checklist #3.
3. os Entry- If it makes it past the other parts, you should be either in the os or at a login screen. If it dies here, it's likely a software problem. Go the Checklist #4.
Checklist #2: Fails at post
You likely have a hardware problem. Let's try and figure out what it is.
1. Does it even turn on?- Check for presence of lights on both your monitor and computer. Not to sound patronizing, but is it even plugged in? Double-check all the cables and make sure they're securely attached; half the time, something's just unplugged.
2. Is it blowin'?-Are the fans working? Pay particular attention to the power-supply fan. This is located right above where you plug the power-cable into your tower. If it's turned on and not blowing, it's possible your power-supply is having issues. UNPLUG THE COMPUTER NOW! Take it to a technician and say the "Power supply no worky." He'll know what you mean.
3. Is it giving you heat issues?- If you're receiving warnings about heat during post, it's likely either an internal fan has stopped working or you have an inch of dust sitting inside your case. Turn it off and unplug the power, grab a can of compressed air, open up your case (Careful, as this may void warranty with some of the stupider computer manufacturers), hold your breath, and giv'er a good blast. Likely, a mini-tornado of dust will spray from every orifice the computer has. Repeat this until no more comes out. Then, try turning it on. Making sure not to touch any of the internal parts, see if the fans are spinning, particularly the cpu fan (Should be near the center). If not, turn it off IMMEDIATELY and have someone replace that.
4. Does it detect a hard-drive?- An error such as "Cannot detect primary master" or "Insert system disk" signifies a hard-drive problem. There are a couple things to do here. First, during the beginning of the post, try to find a notice that says something like "Press f2 to enter setup." This will put you in bios. Try to find some information about your hard-drive. It differs in every version of bios, but the words to look for are "Primary Master." If it says "Auto Detect" or "Not Detected," chances are a cable's loose or your hard-drive's bought the farm. If you feel comfortable doing so, check to make sure the hard-drive's power and data ribbons are securely connected. Otherwise, get a qualified technician to look at it.
Okay, this is depressing. Let's finish up next week with the last two lists. Until then, it's time for some extreme...
PUPPIES AND KITTIES!
Yes, dear readers, in order to prevent all five of you from succumbing to that inevitable depression we all feel mid-February, we're gonna rock it old-skool, dawgs versus kats stylee.
It's an all-out Puppywar!
Several decades ago, some men had a brilliant idea. They created a distributed network redundant enough to survive a nuclear attack and they named this contraption "The Internet." Nowadays, the war versus the Ruskies isn't as intense and so we've found a new enemy: your neighbour's dog. Puppywar and its sister-site Kittenwar allow pet-owners to upload retardedly cute images of their animals in order for them to compete in a bare-knuckled, all-out, no-holds-barred battle to see who reigns supreme. It's kind of like a value judgement-free version of "Hot-or-Not" that will leave you with the warm and fuzzies. Yay!
Cats, cats, everywhere, and not a drop to drink!
The majority of the time, anything coming out of 4chan is scary as all hell and will make your brain turn to mush, causing it to explode violently out your ears. Cat macros are the exception to this rule. Knitemare has an amazing and perpetually-updating collection of funny cat photos with awesome captions. It is visual Prozak. One readthrough the list will improve even the worst day.knitemare.org/cats/
Have a crucial tech question? Is something on fire? Is your cat in your PC, eating your megahutz? Email aendrew at gauntlet.ucalgary.ca!