Category: Hardware


People know how I feel about smart speakers and smart homes. I also feel the same way about smart TV’s. I always recommend people DO NOT connect their TV to the internet. The saying goes “jack-of-all-trades, master of none”. A smart TV cannot be as good as a standalone device, such as Roku or Fire Stick. (While not a smart TV, I actually paid extra for a dumb blu-ray player from Oppo that didn’t have any apps. Unfortunately, Oppo no longer makes blu-ray players.)

Well, here is one more reason to hate smart TV’s: They have the ability to analyze what you are watching and can sell that information to advertisers. This is true whether you are watching by an antenna, cable, or even a blu-ray movie. And TV makers are now starting to take advantage of this technology. For instance, Vizio now inserts ads into your TV while you are watching the show.

You can stop Vizio and every other TV maker from knowing what you are watching by simply never connecting the TV to the internet! A simple fix to stop this greedy nonsense forever.

If ever you have a laptop that will not come on, do not assume the motherboard is bad. It may be something connected to the motherboard that is bad. I have had many HP laptops with this problem. But it is possible that it affects other models too.

This problem happened after I just replaced the broken screen, which at my cost was $180. (It is a beautiful screen.) A few weeks later, this HP laptop no longer powered on. The LED light by the power connector – which is integrated into the power connector – never came on. Since this light only comes on when the motherboard works, I naturally assumed the laptop motherboard was defective. The person was using a cheap generic Chinese power adapter and I thought it could have damaged the motherboard.

But, I was wrong. Here is how I eventually figured this out.

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Laptop System Fan Failure

I had a HP laptop that was giving a system fan failure message on boot. The service code from HP was 90B, but related codes on HP’s website show it might also be a 900, 909, 90A, and 90F code. The CPU fan would spin up and down constantly and the CPU speed was capped at a very low speed. This made the laptop very slow.

I fixed this by disconnecting the fan and hard drive, turning on the notebook computer, then turning it off, and re-connecting the fan and hard drive. After doing that, everything worked just fine. This simple fix might work for other laptop computers.

There are some others things I recommend doing while you are doing all this.

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There is a new type of technology out there that allows hard drive manufacturers to increase the capacity of hard drives.  It is called shingled magnetic recording.  These hard drives should be avoided at all costs, at least for several years. Before buying a hard drive, look up the model number on the manufacturer’s website. Make sure the specs do not mention shingled magnetic recording or SMR. These types of hard drives are now being found in capacities as low as 2 TB.

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The 0xc0000001 blue screen in Windows is related to the hard drive controller. If you ever get this blue screen, the first thing to check is if the drive standard was changed in the BIOS or UEFI. If it was AHCI but you changed it to ATA (or IDE), change it back and see if the blue screen goes away. This blue screen can also appear after you clone a hard drive. Some computers do not support SSD’s even if it using the SATA cable. And if you clone a hard drive to one using the M.2 interface, this problem can appear.

By the way, if you accidentally bricked your CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive with a firmware upgrade, you will need to use ATA/IDE mode to unbrick it.

Fortunately, in Windows 10 there is an easy way to change your hard drive controller type. There isn’t much to like about Windows 10, but this is one thing it does make easier. Before you make the change in your BIOS, use the MSCONFIG program to boot into safe mode the next time. Change the setting in the BIOS, boot once in safe mode and use MSCONFIG to undo the safe mode setting, and then you should be able to boot as normal. However, if you cannot get into Windows or the BIOS, hopefully you can get into the Windows recovery environment. (I still say that the absolute dumbest thing Microsoft ever did was disable the pre-boot F8 button.) In the recovery environment, look for the startup settings in the menu options. When the computer boots, choose safe mode in the blue screen of menu options.

If 0xc0000001 persists, then you will have to try the SFC command, system restore, registry backups, and the other usual generic repairs.

I had an older but still good computer with two internal hard drives: an old Western Digital Green hard drive and a newer WD Black hard drive. The Green drive had the page file and important backup files. This being Windows 7, it had a full system backup on the WD Green and a Quickbooks backup. The computer kept giving the blue screen error 0x0000007a KERNEL_DATA_INPAGE_ERROR, which according to Microsoft is caused by bad hardware or bad RAM. So my first thought was the WD Green drive was bad because, again from Microsoft, the blue screen “indicates that the requested page of kernel data from the paging file could not be read into memory.” Since the page file was on the old WD Green drive and since Windows had trouble reading the page file, it must be that drive or bad RAM.

Turns out, there were 3 causes of this blue screen. The WD Green drive was, in fact, bad. I put it in my computer and tested it to be sure, and it was bad. So I bought a SSD, shrank and cloned the WD Black drive to it, and repurposed the WD Black drive into what the WD Green drive was being used for. Except I put the page file on the SSD. After doing this, the same blue screen still appeared. So the second guess was bad memory. Which also, in fact, was defective as a memory test discovered. So I fixed that problem as well.

But the same blue screen kept appearing. I finally figured out the hard drive cable was bad. I replaced that cable and the machine hasn’t had a blue screen since. At the end of the day I concluded that while all the bad memory and bad hard drive did not help, it was not the root cause of the blue screen.

I do not have a 4K UHD TV just yet, but I do have a 4K monitor. But I am curious as about all this. The goal is to play such movies on a PC, specifically a home theater PC. I may not ever do that, but I do need to know how. The programs to play such movies has yet to be released. UHD Blu-Rays require much more space than traditional Blu-Rays discs. A HD movie can fit on a 50 GB Blu-Ray disc just fine. This means you need a certain Blu-Ray drive.

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Many of my customers are confused about the various cable standards. This blog post will explain in just a little detail what each cable standard is and what is the purpose of it. But it will only deal with external cables, not the ones inside your computer.

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I currently own the Asus RT-AC66U router and I love it. I’ve had it for over a year and it has been steady as a rock. But with this “cloud first, mobile first” (and customer last) philosophy of Microsoft, I was looking for a way to make my router block all that tracking that is in Windows 10 and trying to be in Windows 7 and 8. Block it at the router level and Microsoft can’t do a thing about it. According to Asus, the RT-AC66U router supports DD-WRT. This is a requirement. If your Asus router does not support DD-WRT, then this how-to will not help. Fortunately you don’t need to install DD-WRT. DD-WRT can a pain to install on a router. You do need to install the Merlin firmware, which you can download here.

This is an advanced how-to meant for more technical people.

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One of my customers had a server that would not boot.  In fact, it would turn off after about 20 to 30 seconds while the BIOS was initializing and then the red health light would flash. What was causing this was the backplane adapter that converted the SAS RAID hard drive controller to 5 SATA hard drives. I disconnected the SAS cable and the server did not shut down. After I let the BIOS finish, I then reconnected the SAS cable to the backplane and the server booted normally.

However, I did try other options. If you have a problem with your ProLiant server, try these additional solutions:

  • Find the system maintenance switch. These are tiny DIP switches somewhere on the motherboard. Flip switch 6, which is a switch to reset the configuration, and turn on the server.  The server case should have a diagram of where everything is at, be sure to double-check to see if switch 6 does this. Be sure to flip the switch back when done.
  • Remove the BIOS battery and unplug the server for 2 or 3 minutes to reset the BIOS to the default. Put the battery back in and start the server. If successful, put more memory in one at a time. If unsuccessful, put a different memory stick in and then keep trying.
  • Remove all the memory. Then put just one stick back in and see if the server boots. The memory may be under a heat shield, so be sure the put anything related to cooling back in the server.
  • Try all three of the above at the same time.
  • If none of these work, there is likely a more serious problem.