Can’t Start Computer with USB Device Plugged In?

First, check for an update to your BIOS.

Go to your computer manufacturer’s site and look at the support section. Find your computer (for mine is an HP h8 1211 and I can find the update files on the HP site). An update to the BIOS may be available. Back up your data, if you haven’t already. The BIOS (Basic Input Output System) is pretty deep in the important software which runs your computer so it is a good plan to be cautious when updating it. While it updates and installs do not open anything else. Let it run, likely just 3 minutes and then it will want to restart. You won’t need to do much during this process, just wait for it to finish. My BIOS update went smoothly and I am back up and typing again right now.

If the BIOS update does not let you use your USB device then the next step is to go into the running of your computer and check the BIOS settings.

This is not a scary thing. Just take your time and only save the section you are fixing. Anything other than what I post below you should just get out of without saving. It may sound risky with the warnings but it is actually a simple process. The hard part is catching your computer at the right point while it boots up.

If you can, find the directions for this process on the site for your computer. They should have a write up geared to your PC specifically.

To check your BIOS settings:

  • Reboot your computer. This means shutting down and starting back up or just doing a restart.
  • Before Windows starts up click F10 (those keys in the top row, above the numbers). Some computers use F8,F11 or even the Enter key instead. So it does help to find out which your PC will work with.
  • Next up you will see a plain text page or one with simple graphics and not many colours. Look for System Configuration. Then Boot Order Select.

You should see the items ordered as follows:

  1. DVD/ CD Drive
  2. HDD
  3. Network
  4. USB Devices
  • Save those settings, change it to those settings if needed and then save. Now just back out of there with the escape key and reboot your computer.
  • If you are not feeling good about doing this ask for help rather than take it on yourself. I’m not a computer expert but I have been mucking around in the internal workings a few times. I do think I used to be braver than I am now though.

I just got a new external hard drive with the plan of using it as storage for all my urban exploration photos and assorted other stuff. I’ve been keeping the photos on CDs and DVDs. It’s great to have them burned as a back up copy and no hard drive can carry unlimited digital photographs. However, my plan changed when I had one of my back up CD’s break in half. I’m hoping I can still recover the photos and other stuff from it, but… I’ve yet to actually try.

The external hard drive seems a much smarter plan. It’s not likely to break and I’m usually able to fix software issues. I did have some trouble at the start because my computer doesn’t like me to have more than the monitor, keyboard and mouse plugged into the USB ports. Even then, each has to stick to it’s own section: back, front and top. Two in the same section and… the computer will power up but just show a blank screen.

I know this is due to the boot order. At least, I’m hoping that will be the fixer-upper. I could have looked into it before when I set up a scanner. But, I don’t use the scanner so often. It was simple enough to leave it unplugged. Of course, then I began using it even less often because it wasn’t all set up and ready to go.

Anyway, my only concern about the external hard drive is not being able to power it off. It is always on as long as the PC is on. I’m not likely to back up every day. I don’t save that much on my hard drive each day. So, the external hard drive doesn’t need to be running constantly. The idea is for it to not be connected to the main system in case of a crash or etc. So, keeping it connected works against that part of the plan. Still, it will free up space on my PC hard drive, even though it’s got loads of it unused. I like keeping it light rather than letting it get bogged down.

This is a basic safety feature on laptops and PCs. The idea is if Windows is corrupted or the hard drive fails the computer can still be booted from a recovery CD/DVD or USB drive. At switch on PCs run through a short self-diagnostic program called the BIOS (Basic Input Output System). One of its functions is to tell the computer where to look for boot files. Usually the CD/DVD or USB drive is first, and if no files are found it boots normally from the hard drive and loads Windows. The solution is to change the Boot Order so the hard drive is the first boot device.

Source: Why won’t my PC boot up with a USB device plugged in? – Telegraph

Dead Drops

Why would you share random files with strangers? Is it a unique marketing plan? Is it artsy? Or is it just yet another random thing in the universe? You pick.

Meanwhile, if you want to try it yourself you can find a Dead Drops location on the site or even go boldly forth and stick a USB port outside yourself.

About Dead Drops, cut and pasted from the site:

‘Dead Drops’ is an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space. USB flash drives are embedded into walls, buildings and curbs accessable to anybody in public space. Everyone is invited to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your favorite files and data. Each dead drop is installed empty except a readme.txt file explaining the project. ‘Dead Drops’ is open to participation. If you want to install a dead drop in your city/neighborhood follow the ‘how to’ instructions and submit the location and pictures.

Would you do it? You could leave a few pages of whatever you are writing, with a link back to your blog or your email address, to get feedback. This is taking a chance that the person who replies is being sincere but most people are. At the very least it would be an interesting experience, something to write about.

Of course, being Canadian, I checked to see what Dead Drops are here. I found them in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The ones that surprised me were in Kitchener, Thamesford and Winnipeg. Not one in Vancouver.

Invisible Desk Merit Badge for Writers

If you were only able to see the top of my desk you would consider me a great candidate for Hoarders. I have various pens, a highlighter, one still unused straw in it’s paper wrapper, the USB cable for my digi camera, the battery charger for the digi camera, a Christmas angel, hand sanitizer, a chocolate truffle recipe, tiny flower beads, travel sized toothpaste, a pink shoe keychain, a few business cards, a few bits of sparkly glass/crystals/rhinestones, a few colours of thread, poppies from Remembrance Day, a bookmark, one necklace with a polished jasper rock, face cream, vitamins, Midol, hair clips, coupons, Chinese cookie fortunes, 2 packages of buttons to be sewn on, scissors, vanilla lip balm, computer games I played and did not put away (yet), an elastic from the newspaper, 2 small Bratz dolls, one pink ribbon, my extra glasses case, USB ports, my hair brush, paper I have scribbled notes and drawings on, a rock I liked and other assorted debris, flotsam and jetsam. I have earned the merit badge for Invisible Desk and then some.

You can find your own merit badges for writers, readers and assorted others at Merit Badger.  Have fun.

Turn Your Keyboard Back Into a Typewriter

USB Typewriter. Customized from old typewriters.

Lovers of the look, feel, and quality of old fashioned manual typewriters can now use them as keyboards for any USB-capable computer, such as a PC, Mac, or even iPad!  The modification is easy to install, it involves no messy wiring, and does not change the outward appearance of the typewriter (except for the USB adapter itself, which is mounted in the rear of the machine).  So the end result is a retro-style USB keyboard that not only looks great, but feels great to use.

Would you go back to using a typewriter now, even as just a keyboard? I know I’d never want to go back to the days before word processing on the computer. That was a lot more work and even Liquid Paper left a clumpy mess if you were allowed to use it for fixing things. (Not every admin. asst. job would accept fixed mistakes, some insisted on having the whole page typed over fresh and perfectly).

I don’t think I would even want to go back to using a typewriter. As glamorous as they make look those old typewriters were hard on fingers. It took quite a whack to press down those keys. Now and then one would come out too light. You could customize a modern typewriter but what would be the point. They don’t look all that different from a standard keyboard anyway.

Still, there is the allure of the old fashioned and the appeal of re-using and recycling something considered retro on a good day and just plain obsolete most days.

Would you go back to your typewriter?

Windows Vista is Nag Ware

I’ve got the new computer running. It’s different in small, strange ways from the old IBM. This one is an Acer, running Windows Vista (which should be known as nag ware) and I bought a flat screen monitor (ViewSonic) which has a warped sense of colour. I am trying to adjust them. The red on this is pretty awful. Which is not good when red is my favourite colour.

I’m also setting up Firefox, looking for my old favourite addons. I’ve got StumbleUpon back but still need to decide if I want the Google toolbar back or to keep that other one I found which was just as good and did not hog bandwidth nearly as much – a nice feature.

One problem I have found which is a biggie, are the USB ports. While this PC has about 8 – 10 USB ports the blasted thing will not let me use even one extra one to plug in my scanner. I have not even tried the camera yet. For some stupid reason the computer wants to run everything it has on a USB port: mouse, speakers and the keyboard are all USB connections. Even though there are ports just for the keyboard and mouse they don’t come with those connections to be able to plug into them. So here you buy this PC with so many extra ports and you think you’ve got it made when it comes to finding a port for your scanner, camera and other extras. But, no buddy, you’ve got a flock gathered and your extras won’t fit in cause the essentials are already at the USB feeding trough. This is bugging me immensely.

I’ve just bought a new PC and I already need to buy new hardware for it, day one. So, I will likely see what I can find at Staples or Zellers or some such place. I need a plug to adjust my mouse and keyboard from the USB port sucking space to the other spaces which they should have been working in.

I also need to buy my very first DVD. A blank one. Cause they don’t actually give you an OS when you buy a brand new computer. No, Microsoft is far too greedy/ paranoid for that. You get a preinstalled hunk of molasses slow junk (which nags at you endlessly) and you do not get a CD or a DVD. Instead you have to either burn seven blank CD’s or one DVD in order to have something to reinstall your OS when it crashes and burns. Until then, you are using it at your own risk. Also, I can not install Ubuntu on this baby with a dual boot cause I can not reinstall Windows. I’m not really keen on the idea of buying Windows just so I can continue to use Windows Vista. It doesn’t seem much different from the XP I have used on other computers. It is quite slow, likely to being clogged up with junk I don’t want and don’t really want to wade through to delete or tame in some way. Also, it nags and nags and nags at you each time you do anything, asking if that’s ok. Like a nervous paranoid chicken, it just does not shut up. Cross the road already!!!

Anyawy, not sure I can scan anything. I have over 200 photos I would like to take off the camera but may not be able to. But, I do have a new computer. Great, right?