Totally OT other than the fact that the lightning was why today’s CIDU went up half a day late

robin computer

Okay, so big boom and the neighborhood went dark. Once power was restored and my wife switch on her computer (Compaq PC) this afternoon, this was the screen and the computer isn’t responding to any keyboard commands. We rebooted several times, with and without various accessories attached.

Any suggestions other than “Well, the computer lived a long and full life”?

(In hindsight we should have unplugged it to eliminate any chance of a sudden power surge doing damage, but that’s not the sort of thing you think of when everything’s dark at 4am)


  1. Don’t be silly, Mark: the lightning did that.

    (and a note to everybody else: Mark isn’t delusional, in my original post I accidentally used the monitor’s name)

  2. Compac? Hmm. If it were an Apple….
    ๐Ÿ˜ Sorry, couldn’t resist yanking your chain Bill. ๐Ÿค“

  3. “the computer isnโ€™t responding to any keyboard commands”

    Have you tried a different keyboard?

    It wouldn’t explain why it’s not booting, but a fried keyboard might explain this bit.

  4. Additional suggestions paraphrased from Ron:

    If it’s a USB keyboard, try another USB slot, or at least unplugging and replugging it.

    If keyboard fixes work, note that the appearance of this screen may be due to the BIOS battery being low or dead. It may need to be replaced.

  5. If you are trying the USB unplug and replug trick, don’t just move it one slot over. Typically implementation of PC USB is two ports running off the same controller electronics, so try moving it from the front connectors to the back or vice versa.

    Although, note that some systems can only access the BIOS setup from one specific pair of USB slots… a keyboard plugged into any other USB ports will work in Windows but not in BIOS setup.

    Something to try if there’s been, er, questionable power from the wall is to unplug the computer from the wall and turn it on from the real power switch, if it has one (this switch would be part of the power supply unit, and thus located at or near where the plug to the wall goes into the computer, and NOT the convenient power button on the front of the case. Anyways, once you find that switch, unplug, flip the switch, wait about 30 seconds, flip it back again, and then plug back into the wall. This resets the power supply, clearing any confusing instructions it may have received from the CPU during a power event.

    If the answer is “well, this computer lived a long and productive life”, consider adding a battery-backup uninterruptible power supply to the new one. It’s a couple of hundred bucks, probably, and they’re heavy, but they give you the ability to save your work if the power drops while you’re working on something you care about.

  6. After trying the above regarding USB slots, if you ever get a working keyboard try the “ESC” option on your screen to see if the computer still recognizes the hard drive.

  7. Damage to a computer system caused by an overvoltage is likely to show up as blown capacitors. These can be located by visual inspection, though they’re not always obvious to the inexperienced eye. There may be an obvious burnt spot, or it may just be that the bottoms of the bad caps are rounded rather than flat.

  8. If it’s old enough, try removing the battery for a while (enough time to do the Hokey-Pokey with it) and then replace the battery. This tends to reset everything. (Newer laptops make it awkward to get to the battery.) Otherwise, press and hold the power button for 5 to 10 seconds to shut it all the way down and try bringing it up again.

    It’s not showing any boot errors, so it’s likely it’s just confused about life, the universe and everything. I tend to freeze up when that happens, too.

  9. The problem wasn’t the computer or the keyboard: ONE socket on the surge protector got fried by the storm. Just one. The others are all fine. I wouldn’t have thought that was even possible.

    I was just starting to disassemble everything so we could throw it out, and I said “You know what, before we do this, let me just try something.” “What is it?” “Just something stupid that can’t work… Holy $#!%, it’s working.”

    And yes, that is sort of what James said.

    Thank you one and all.

  10. well that means your surge protector did its job, but much like a bee, it’s dead now. It’ll still function as a dumb power strip, but you should replace it.

  11. Bill – was this the storm on Tuesday the 7th? If so, we were lucky and did not have any damage from the storm. Sorry your wife did.

  12. Bill – I am glad to hear that you/she got the computer working again.

    We do something that I am guessing would have prevented this. Other than when computers are in use – or laptops are charging – the computers are unplugged.

    When I finish working at my desktop computer I shut it off and unplug it from the surge protector and it stays unplugged until I am going to use the computer again – Robert does the same with his 2 desktops. When I am done with this, my 2004 laptop, which is running plugged in without the battery as the battery barely lasts an hour these years I will shut it off and unplug it. This being Thursday, it will stay out on the kitchen table until Sunday night (we eat out on weekends). My other laptop is sitting on the shelf under my desktop in its case, not plugged in. I will plug it in next time I use it or to the charge the batteries before I take it to work. I have a small surge protector (which probably would not actually be of any help) to use with the laptops.

    Just out of curiosity – there is a backup – right? (Not that it always helps. I back up all 3 monthly and also quarterly on a different external hard drive, and when we had to replace my hard drive last year, we found out that the hardware we had been using does not properly work on systems after XP – so now I only use same for the laptops and a new program for the desktop. (Luckily the hard drive had only been replaced due to some bad sectors and the old hard drive could be put in an external case to transfer what was needed and saveable.

    Data is stored on an assortment of USB flash drives and is backed up every work session on an A/B backup system, with a weekly backup to a different flash drive. Monthly I update the backup on still another flash drive, as well as to 2 DVDs and this flashdrive is taken out of the house to our safe deposit box for “offsite storage, with last month’s being removed and taken home. (The offsite drive used to go to work with husband when he was working outside the house.)

  13. Thanks, Alcott.

    We’re obsessive about back-ups: when we had our first computer, back in the Stone Ages, it developed the habit or randomly reformatting its hard drive. That only happens to you once before backing up becomes a religion.

  14. “That only happens to you once before backing up becomes a religion.”

    You’d be surprised how many apostates there are, who’ve been bitten more than once.

  15. Yeah, well Alcott was me, Meryl, trying to figure out the sign in I normally use on this group when his Linux attempts wiped out most of my passwords. Sorry.

    I back up all 3 computers once a month and then an extra time quarterly on a different external drive – what if the back up drive went bad? Data backed up every session. Robert thinks I am crazy to do so, but when he loses something due to a crash…

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