marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

My replacement cable's still on the way. It was, according to my tracking info, in town yesterday but still hasn't made it to the house (it missed yesterday's pickup) but in the meantime, I took the screen off my laptop last night and found a pretty severe kink in the original cable, under the left hinge. When I put a little pressure on the kink I could feel it strain, like it was fighting me as I tried to straighten it.

When I got done tightening everything as much as I could and put it all back together and restarted, lo and behold, the vertical lines were gone (and almost 24 hours later, are still gone). But the red where there should be black and teal artifacting all over is still very much present.

I'm feeling hopeful that I've finally narrowed the issue down, that it's almost surely not the graphics, and that if a new cable doesn't fix it, then a new screen probably will. Yay.

ETA, some hours later...

Requiem For A Laptop

[poetry I won't be writing goes here]

All of my ETAs just suck lately, don't they? Mercury's in a weird retrograde pattern, I hear.

The video cable was in tonight's mail but made no difference. Luckily a friend had a working spare screen I knew would work in ASAP, so they brought it by not long after I put in - and took out - the new cable. Together we took the old screen off and put the new screen on. I'm not gonna lie, there are so many tiny little screws involved in this process that, including putting the old screen back on at the end, it took about an hour. Luckily it's one of my better vitamin deficiency days so I didn't need my glasses to see all these little fuckers. Normally I would.

Once we had the other screen in solid and tight, we turned ASAP back on. This was the big moment. The screen was no longer red but the normal black upon boot-up, Windows startup and the Windows lock screen. And the sign-in screen - it looked as normal as could be. "Sign in," my friend said, seeming kind of excited at my wide-eyed amazement.

I paused for a second, staring at it, before saying, "Nope, I'm shutting her down. It's done." Why? he wanted to know. "Because she's still got that teal artifacting all over the place. Check this out," I said, bringing him around to look at all the spots I could see teal where the screen, of course, should've been white. The sign-in text box. The battery level icon. The white clouds in the lock screen background picture.

As I had put the old video cable back in before attaching the screen provided to me, I can't say for sure if the damned laptop needed both the new cable and the other screen attached at once to lick the problem completely, and I didn't feel like taking it apart a third time while my friend waited to find out, but as the cable by itself did not make a damn bit of difference, I'll call this at "I doubt it".

So I've got a laptop good enough for, say, your eight-year old to do their homework on if they're not terribly picky about tons of moving red blotches and solid red backgrounds where there should be black on the screen and little teal artifacts and lines running all over it whereever it should be white, grey, or any lighter color or shade. Other than that, it's a well-running paperweight. I mean, I don't know what else to say.

I destroyed the laptop lid and touchpad bezel in the sticker frenzy that swept over me not long after acquiring it - which went something like this but did not come out as glittery, it was more flowers and owls - which is why I probably won't sell it as a laptop, but might part it out, instead. The stickers have mostly pulled off around the touchpad and the remaining finish is three to five shades lighter where they've given up. The top mostly has its stickers but a few have been lost - much to the same effect.

If anyone on my reading list is looking for parts for an older HP ProBook I'll be happy to give a rundown of specs/prices by PM (if you are interested in acquiring it whole, upon request I'll give a complete visual tour, by email, of how bad the screen is. The best I can tell anyone is "the problem's sort of intermittent; you won't see red on every screen or web page - some pages will almost look normal - but most will have some artifacting, no matter how good they might look, otherwise". I have tons of pictures, taken with my smartphone. You might need sunglasses for some of the redder parts!).

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)
  • printscreens show no signs of graphics issues!
  • the external monitor I hooked it up to last night displays everything perfectly!

According to Thing I Have Read, these two facts are positive signs my graphics chipset might not be shot.

From Thing I have Read, with emphasis added for my results:

If your artifacts are covering the entire screen and involve color shifts or slight position shifts, then the problem may be caused by your monitor. If you have another monitor available then you should try it out to see if that's the problem [author's note: external monitor hooked to this laptop displayed perfectly]. If you don't have another monitor then you can take screenshots of the screen [author's note: I did this, as well]. [...] If the screenshot looks fine on another computer but the screen looked bad on your monitor [author's note: this was exactly my result] then the problem could either be a problem with your monitor or with the video output circuitry of your video card.

Because I have No Idea, there's a video cable on its way hopefully within another day or two. It's the one that wraps under the left hinge. If it turns out not to fix anything it only cost a few dollars so no big deal. Does anyone think replacing it will fix the issue? The cable it's got looks fine/is tight but because it gets so much pressure put on it from the laptop being opened and closed via the hinge right above it I think replacing it might be worth a try? I don't normally pull laptops apart for video issues (towers, yes; laptops: no) so I'm new to this.

A few other things a local computer repair person suggested the problem might be, but I'm not paying his prices: 1) the inverter, 2) the screen itself (which I tend to doubt because my webpage here and some others still display more or less correctly) and...he might have suggested some other things, but they are not in my head right now.

Things I've tried:

  • Updating graphics driver, rolling back driver, uninstalling/reinstalling driver - this is apparently not driver-dependent
  • BIOS has been flashed to latest firmware/most recent release about a year ago (maybe longer, there is a blog post on here about it somewhere, but there is no more current BIOS version than the one ASAP is using)
  • Tightening all the cables/all other things (discovered laptop screen bezel has a crack to the right of the center, near webcam; webcam chip was detached internally - probably by previous laptop owner - and is currently sitting in my kitchen)
  • Reseated/tested RAM with Windows Memory Diagnostics but it's working fine

Anyone have previous experience with or suggestions to offer? It's an older HP Probook with a 14" matte LCD screen, running the latest (as of last week) Win Insider Pro build. The graphics chipset is soldered to the motherboard, so fixing it's pretty near impossible, but I'm thinking it might not be broken! So what exactly is? What do I look for/tighten/adjust/replace (and don't let thinking I've already tried whatever you're thinking of stop you: I'm more than happy to try said thing again!). Any advice is appreciated.

marahmarie: For those who've passed (candle)

Well damn, that was quick - I had Aesop in good working order for 10 years before I finally took her apart - still working - because some capacitors went bad - and yeah, there are tutorials on how to fix those (get ye soldering iron afire) but seriously, 10 years - and she cost me nothing but a few RAM chips (well, maybe my sanity) so I thought it was time to let her underpowered XP-running ass just go.

But I had ASAP for just two years and she didn't cost me nothing. Actually, I had her less time than that. She's the one I was referring to during my last PayPal/bank fiasco as the last purchase I'd made on eBay with the missing Bill Me Later feature I thought I had. So she survived intact maybe a year and four months? That's quick, by my standards.

To pick up where I left off...I left off needing a power drill. OK. Well, that wasn't the issue. Turned out I just needed to switch bits on the screwdriver I'd been using (duh, I forgot they were inside of it). I got Other Person to do that for me while I slept and uh, yep...see title.

I could take it apart (again) myself just to double-check everything Other Person checked now that I have the right bit for those last two screws but it's fine. The laptop cost me under $150 and I'm not going to fix the problem no matter what, because the problem is soldered directly to the fucking motherboard.

There are no loose cables, but everything got checked for tightening just in case. There is no flicker and no variation in the pink or red backgrounds nor the white or blue lines on the screen - moving the screen back or forward or pinching or pressing or squeezing or poking around on it does nothing, and the problem persists even when booting directly into BIOS, which bypasses Windows altogether, so it looks like a wrap to me.

We also managed to get an external display recognized by Windows before I went to sleep. The same color problems didn't carry over to that monitor but it showed mostly gray and green instead of the mostly pink and red seen on my laptop. Why there are two color issues with one graphics chip is waaaay beyond me, but my wild guess is the monitor - a flat panel LCD TV - uses a different color profile.

The shame of it is twofold. I'd been hanging onto an Amazon gift card for months and months so on the night before the graphics blew out I'd ordered more RAM to max ASAP out at the 8GB she's capable of using. It shipped right before the graphics chip presumably blew.

And the other shame is that there is nothing wrong with her. The original 4GB of RAM tests out and runs just fine; the hard drive is fine, the peripherals are fine, Windows is fine; it's all fine. She's running like a champ! The graphics are simply fucked.

Of course I'll give her some kind of weird second life but I'm not sure what just yet. It was my favorite laptop. I loved the matte screen and the size of it and got really, really used to the keyboard and could type with it very fast, but the trackpad was kind of crap and the RAM definitely needed the boost it won't be getting now; with how heavy web pages are becoming lately, it was time. So I'll miss her, and I won't.

My instinct is to either toss her or make her a file server or strip her down for parts; she still works great and the screen's still usable; it's just an ugly, messy swirl of color interspersed with strange blue vertical lines and blue blotches all over where image or font shading is supposed to be employed, but heck, it's not like a Zero Day flaw that ruins it entirely. Yet. So I don't know what I'll do.

I'll be sending that new RAM chip back, though.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

ETA, early morn: I got almost every screw off my laptop but two are completely stripped, so I have to wait until later on when I can break out our power drill. In the meantime, I googled myself and found the post where I mentioned the alternate driver I used the last time I had some video issues (nothing like these - just nothing) and I'm installing it as I write this. I doubt it will work.

ETA2: Well if that's not the damndest...the driver won't install. Neither will another I tried tonight (it was supposed to work but it's an earlier, older driver meant for Windows 8). I'm going to try to uninstall the driver I have and see if Windows Update can pull it down for me again and just start over. The driver's worked since this build's inception on my laptop (when was that, like last week?) so there is no reason for it not to work now, but just trying to cover every last possibility before I do break out the power drill.

Which has turned me off being a Windows Insider probably forever. I had the laptop on tonight while I cooked dinner to not follow a recipe by Emeril Lagasse for oyster stew (I take all his instructions and do them in an almost completely different order from start to finish; I also use half and half, heavy cream, shallots and scallions in addition to the milk and onions he calls for) but the damn display seemed fine.

When I was done not following his recipe I shut the lid on my laptop, ate (OMG: it was), cleaned up, watched the last episode of The Good Wife (aaaaaah, at least I got to see Will again; that made my day week entire year, but I really think he should have kissed Alicia goodbye) and turned my laptop back on to see the black loading screen had white lines running vertically down the middle and was otherwise an atrocious Pepto Bismol pink.

Well, of course that won't do.

First I tried rolling back the video card driver but the option to do so was greyed out, so I disabled the driver instead and restarted. Same Pepto Bismol pink (Explorer screens that should be black, though, are interestingly enough showing up RED, a very dark red) with the added bonus of muddy 800x600 resolution on a display designed to handle 1368x768. Yippee.

Next I tried unseating and reseating the memory and restarting. Same Pepto Bismol pink. Then I tried popping the battery out to clear all the memory and restarting a few minutes later but same...eck, yuck, gross (this color truly sickens me as I only take Pepto Bismol to puke; it has the exact opposite effect it's supposed to have and therefore I cannot even).

The computer rebooted into Repair mode at the next restart so I used the Repair Options to get into System Restore. I had a restore point from May 1st so I picked that one. 20 minutes later Windows restarted with an error message saying "System restore failed".

Realizing my options were limited (the graphics chip is soldered to the motherboard; the graphics shares memory with computer RAM; laptops aren't like desktops where you can just rip the suspect video card out and put another one in and at least figure out what the hell's going on) I tried the Windows 10 option to "Reset Your PC" but got an error message saying I had to remove all accounts from the computer and try again. But that wasn't possible because I am the only account. So I tried switching to a local account, but when I ran the tool again I got the same message.

So...OK, I thought, I'll just take the other option under Recovery and "roll back to an earlier build". Well, 45 minutes later I turned around to see the computer screen saying "Undoing changes" and realized that wasn't going to happen, either. When I booted back to Windows I got an error message saying "No changes were made". And of course the screen was still...yeah, that color.

So I got on the other person's tablet (how I hate this thing, let me count the ways; still on it now) and started Googling. Everyone talking about similar problems was like: 1) video card! 2) Loose video card cable! 3) Bad inverter! 4) Bad CFFL bulb! 5) Hook up an external display - if it works, then it's not your video card!

Oh, OK. So I hooked up an external display. WINDOWS WON'T RECOGNIZE IT

I'm so pissed now I'm going to get out the computer screwdrivers and I'm going to take the laptop apart (and hopefully, I'm going to find a loose video card cable under the left hinge, where everyone says to look, and I'm going to tighten it and drag it away from any metal parts shorting it out and tape it in place away from those) and I'm going to restart the laptop and see if it happens to be my lucky night, after all.

In the meantime, if you're a Windows Insider then forget Recovery Options on Windows 10. Forget System Restore. Forget rolling back the driver on your video card.

Don't make Insider Preview your daily driver.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Only to have it in pretty much the same condition as before. I was trying to upgrade from the horribly incomplete and very slow GUI version that came with my laptop back in something like 2010 (the HP 6455b, it's already soooo old and I just got it this year) only to get the same horribly incomplete and very slow GUI with a 2014 revision date and a few more features which are neither here nor there. I still have the broken Ctrl key on the left hand side of my keyboard, for example, and a lot of BIOS (not my own) will give options to fix such issues. I was hoping to at least knock that problem out.

The good about flashing BIOS on this particular HP (and I've never flashed BIOS before in my life; it's one of the things on my Nerd Bucket List that I finally got to cross off) was it was so stupid-simple that installing certain software is probably a lot harder. All GUI, just click Next, sit back and wait, don't touch anything (which indicates that No, I did not put the flash files on a USB stick beforehand as I can always repair a bricked BIOS by downloading the desired revision to another computer and transferring that to a USB stick, so the hell with it).

The bad: having to step through three revisions to get back to pretty much where I was. My Ctrl key is still broken, for instance, which burns me, as nothing else on this thing doesn't work (I've taught myself - after months of struggle and frustration - to make keyboard shortcuts involving the Ctrl key from the right instead of the left, but doing that was like flipping the keyboard over and trying to use it like normal; I hate relearning anything from the opposite direction, which is why after 10 years I still use a mouse right-handed, though I'm a lefty). Well, the rest of it works except for the camera. But I keep it covered in tape - in case it ever does start working again - because Windows 10 does such creepy things with it.

And it was slow: I watched as each block from 0-512 rolled by in extreme slow motion, not once but four times; twice from blocks 0-512 to save the current BIOS, and twice to flash in the new one. Try that three times over - I did. I didn't know doing anything on a computer could be so slow. And my laptop has decent enough specs that I'm hesitant to blame my hardware for it.

The other bad: I had to kludge in the middle revision using the instructions in this comment after merely attempting to open the software got the "publisher" (*cough* HP!) blocked. Can anyone think why? It took longer to find the solution than it did to fix the problem, and made me marvel anew at how elevated Command Prompt can fix almost anything (back in the user-restricted Vista/Win 7 days we had this obscure, glorious, extremely hard to find ability to do anything once again - just as we did before Microsoft made being admin an empty, powerless sinecure post; it was called super admin, and it was such a pain in the ass to implement - but so completely turnkey once set up - you had to read articles about it).

Now, just run an elevated Command Prompt and whoosh, you're Super Admin once again. Have things always been like this? How did I not know about it? (Oh, wait, I did. I was about to press Post when it hit me that I wanted to write command prompt tricks instead of my super admin article, but decided my userbase wouldn't know a command prompt from a toaster oven, so super admin would probably be easier to explain - though the irony is I had to use a command prompt to help people avoid using the command prompt - flash forward eight years and now even I forget how to do what).

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

It's me holding down the Shift key. After telling [personal profile] lethe1 (yes, isn't that the neatest username ever?) just now that it isn't the asymmetrically placed trackpad that bothers me so much about this laptop (though that is perfectly weird, come to think of it!) but my overly-sensitive CAPS LOCK, I decided to get it gone because 'why put off until tomorrow what you can put off until next week' has been my motto for way too long now. What I've put off for months took just a few seconds after downloading the registry entries listed here and installing the one marked "Disable". (You can also surf to the registry key in question and add extra "junk" data to it but that requires some effort and a bit of thinking, while installing a new key over the old one doesn't.)

No way I was turning my brain on for anything that minor tonight, as it's my only day off until who knows when, and preferably it will stay shut off except for while I cook dinner (I am hungry) and possibly make some fixes later on to my CSS.