Keyboard Failure On Boot, Clearing CMOS Is A Possible Panacea

I got a scare today!  My computer’s motherboard can sometimes be very unfriendly.  What had happened was that I turned off my computer while the Mobo was trying to boot up the BIOS, and this was when I got the scare as the Mobo would spit out keyboard failure error on the next boot up.  I’m telling you this, if you never have had experience this with your computer, you would not know the panic and frustration of this scare!  Keyboard failure error on boot would not allow you to use your keyboard at all to bypass the black error screen stage even though the screen would encourage you to press F1 or F2 to get pass it.  Trust me, I had tried to press just about anything on the keyboard to have a try at getting pass this scary black screen of death, but nothing would work!

Naturally, I went into instinctive mode by switching out the USB port for the keyboard’s USB connector, but this was a futile effort.  I watched a YouTube video that suggested of pressing F1 really fast till at certain point and then holding down F1 till certain point on boot up to get pass the black screen of death, but this method just did not do it for me.

Consequentially, I got physical with the Mobo by accessing it physically!  Don’t worry, the Mobo is fine, because I did not punch or kick it.  Anyhow,  what I did was clearing CMOS using the jumper on the Mobo.  I don’t know about your Mobo, but mine came with 2 jumpers.  The first jumper got 2 slots to slip onto 2 pins of the first three pins jumper group, and the second jumper got 2 slots also to slip onto the 2 pins of the last three pins jumper group.  In my case, I had to remove the first jumper physically from the first three pins group and slip the jumper onto the first and second pins of the first three pins group.  Right after, I repositioned the graphics card and what not so the computer would run normally as before, I powered my computer back on.  Of course, nothing would happen, because the jumper wasn’t in the right position for anything to work, and so I had to remove and reposition the jumper to the second and third pins of the first three pins jumper group.  Once again, the pain of reaching the jumper slots meant I had to remove the graphics card from its slot, but the inconvenience was unavoidable.  Unfortunately, even after clearing the CMOS with the jumper, my Mobo was still spitting out the keyboard failure error on boot.  Back to square one!

Onto the second method of clearing CMOS, I removed the CMOS battery from the Mobo for at least thirty minutes.  Afterward, I repositioned the CMOS battery and rebooted the computer.  Unfortunately, even this would not get me pass the black screen of death!  Naturally, I thought that my computer was done for!

Fortunately, after the second try of clearing the CMOS with the motherboard’s first three pins jumper/group, the computer was finally booted pass the black screen of death.  Windows is now booting up just fine as the result, and I’m able to use the keyboard just fine.  Everything else works just fine also!  The scare is finally over!

In summary, clearing the CMOS should be your last resort to fix most BIOS related failure errors on boot!  Of course, even clearing the CMOS sometimes won’t get your computer going again, because your computer’s motherboard might be done for at this stage for whatever reasons!  Another possibility is that the CMOS battery could have died on you and need a replacement before clearing the CMOS would actually work as intended!  In my scenario, clearing the CMOS with a motherboard’s jumper is the panacea to the health of my computer.  By the way, here is my warning, don’t get physical with your computer’s motherboard unless you know what you are doing!  Warning is here for a reason… just in case you would blame me for your motherboard screw up when you find yourself in a similar situation as mine.  Anyhow, if you ever find yourself in this similar situation, I think clearing the CMOS will get your computer going again!

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My Downgrading Of Windows 8.1 To Windows 7 For Reliability And Driver Availability

Sometimes, more whistles and bells don’t mean more if the support foundation isn’t reliable and working just fine.  Windows 8.1 is this very case!  Although Windows 8.1 is bold and exciting, I’ve found it’s too unreliable and not stable.  Perhaps, it’s not Windows 8.1’s fault, but it’s more of that it’s too new and thus not enough drivers that are designed to work with its core services, leading to a very unreliable operating system.  I’ve encountered more computer issues with Windows 8.1 more than any other operating systems that I’ve ever used.  Thus, nowadays, whatever computers in my vicinity that have issues with Windows 8.1, I don’t have any hesitation to downgrade the computer’s Windows 8.1 to Windows 7 operating system.  I’ve to say I’m fond of Windows 7 for its reliability.  Sure, Windows 8.1 is more appealing in term of features and user interface, but reliability is more important in my opinion.  With reliability, Windows users don’t have to waste time in figuring out why their computers suddenly aren’t working the way they should, and such reliability enhances productivity.

As I was downgrading a computer of mine from Windows 8.1 to Windows 7, I’ve found UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) is nice but troublesome.  Nice in a way that UEFI has more whistles and bells and prettier than traditional BIOS user interface, but UEFI is a troublemaker.  How?  When installing other operating system that isn’t Windows 8.1 or newer, computer user might encounter a hairy situation.  For an example, a newbie computer user may not be able to figure out how to enable Boot\CSM(Compatibility Support Module) and set Boot Device Control to UEFI and Legacy OPROM.  Without enabling Boot\CSM support within UEFI Bios settings, a newbie computer user would find that it’s impossible to install Windows 7 and have Windows 7 boot up.  Of course, this would also hold true for installing Linux and other operating systems when a motherboard is using UEFI and not a traditional BIOS settings.

I’ve also found out that when installing Windows 7 under UEFI system, it might be confusing and hard to make sure Windows 7 would install its reserved partition on the intended hard disk/drive.  I’m not sure about you but when I didn’t physically disconnect a second hard drive that is larger than 2 terabyte from the internal arrangement of my PC, Windows 7 got confused and installed reserved partition on the second hard drive, thus nullifying the ability to convert the second hard drive to GPT (GUID Partition Table) filesystem.  Without being able to do a conversion of a second hard drive to GPT partition/filesystem, Windows 7 won’t recognized that my second hard drive is a 3 terabyte drive, thus my PC can only use 2 terabyte out of second hard drive’s 3 terabyte hard disk size/space.  Here is a tip for you, perhaps when installing Windows 7 under UEFI system, you might have to physically disconnect all internal hard drives except for the main hard drive that you are using for installing Windows 7.

Through the trial of downgrading Windows 8.1 to Windows 7 for a PC, now I learn a lot more about UEFI.  According to TechRepublic’s “10 things you should know about UEFI” article, UEFI BIOS user interface supposes to simplify how drivers would be written for most operating systems… which is to write one driver for a specific PC component that would work for all operating systems so a developer won’t have to write different drivers for different operating systems.  Save time and effort!  Nonetheless, in practice UEFI makes life harder for PC users.  Nonetheless, I guess UEFI does have a benefit of making life easier for the developers.  Still, I think more emphases need to be emphasized for PC users, because without PC users (and their happiness) the developers won’t have customers to write software for (thus will not be able to generate incomes).

In conclusion, I think Windows 8.1 is a step in right direction for Microsoft to embolden the effort of improving Windows operating system ecosystem, but Microsoft’s execution is not in synch with the mass.  Drivers for Windows 8.1 should be readied at the inception of the Windows 8.1 official release.  Still, 3 months after the Windows 8.1 official release, I had read many driver compatibility complaints and see many Windows 8.1 driver issues first hand, thus I’m not having an easy time with Windows 8.1.  Instead of relying on Windows 8.1, I’m backpedalling toward the stream of Windows 7.

Source:  http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-things-you-should-know-about-uefi/ (link)

Easily Upgrade ASUS Desktop’s BIOS With ASUS Software Manager

Have you purchased an ASUS desktop lately?  In case an ASUS desktop’s model you have does work with ASUS manager software, then you’re in luck.  I’ve found out that it’s very easy for you to upgrade your ASUS’s desktop BIOS with ASUS manager software.  Basically, you can visit ASUS’s official website, download the latest BIOS, use ASUS manager software to locate the BIOS you had downloaded, and just let the ASUS manager upgrades the BIOS.  Of course, just make sure you don’t turn off your ASUS desktop or play with it during the BIOS upgrade, because your system can become very unstable if you do such things.

Just a caution, you should not upgrade your ASUS desktop’s BIOS or any computer BIOS unless you have a very good reason to.  It’s not wise to mess with a BIOS, because you are doing some major change to your computer system and you’re taking a great risk of breaking your system big time.  Nonetheless, it’s a given when your computer system isn’t functioning as it supposes to be, maybe the latest BIOS is the antidote to your system’s sickness.  Also, make sure you does download the original BIOS and make a backup of it on an external hard drive or a thumb drive just in case that the new/latest BIOS might be a worser problem than the original BIOS.  Some computer manufacturers may not allow you to download the original BIOS but only the latest or near latest BIOS, then you are taking a great risk in upgrading your BIOS, hence you might not be able to make a rollback to the original BIOS.

Since Windows 8.1 came out, some ASUS models might experience driver problems.  For an example, 8821AE (802.11ac) wireless network card is the wireless NIC for my ASUS desktop/PC, but it got a really bad attitude for Windows 8.1.  Instead of working correctly, it would cause Blue Screen of Death on Windows 8.1 and slow down the flow of network traffic that got streamed.  Even right after I had upgraded the 8821AE wireless NIC to its latest driver, the problem persisted.  Only right after I used ASUS manager software to easily upgrade the BIOS to the latest BIOS that the latest driver for 8821AE wireless NIC would function correctly.  Now, I could stream movies and transfer data at 802.11ac, real world, data rate (i.e., not at a marketing or lab measure rate) without a problem.  So, in case you got an ASUS desktop/PC and experiencing Windows 8.1 driver problems, you might want to consider of upgrading the drivers to the latest drivers first before thinking of an even more drastic action such as upgrading the BIOS.

Sometimes, Glossing Over The Simplest Things Would Prevent One From Fixing The Problems

I had built an awesome FreeNAS 8.04 box, but little I knew that this was the beginning of all the problems, and these problems had bugged me for two days straight.  Noticing how I had not updated my blog in two days?  Anyway, it all started with I bought three 3 TB 72000 RPM non-spin down Seagate hard drives, and I installed these three hard drives into an HP Pavilion desktop computer which I had not touched for at least two years.  The HP Pavilion desktop computer has had the spec for making a fine FreeNAS box.  It got 6 GB of DDR2 SDRAM 800 MHz, a quad core, and everything else wasn’t that important in building a FreeNAS box besides the three 3 TB Seagate hard drives I bought for the sole purpose of starting the building of a FreeNAS box.  Before, I had only experienced FreeNAS through virtualization technology (e.g., VirtualBox, VMware, Parallels), and so I had always been eager to start a real FreeNAS box.  It was about time, I guess.  So, it was a breeze for me to install three 3 TB Seagate hard drives into the HP Pavilion desktop computer, and the installation of FreeNAS 8.04 onto a USB flash drive was also just as easy.

With everything was in place before my FreeNAS set sail, I thought man I got this!  Sure, I had it but… Here is the but…  I had forgotten that there was a reason for me not to have played with the HP Pavilion desktop computer all along until now.  Since the day I had this computer off of Windows 7 addiction and I was too lazy to put Windows 7 back on so I could flash the updated BIOS for it, but without a newer BIOS this computer would freeze on reboot or fresh boot — the BIOS could not even get the chance to boot up and the whole computer would freeze at a black screen.  This problem was obviously given me a hard time in putting Windows back on, because 9 out of 10 times, the computer would freeze before the BIOS could even boot, therefore I would not even have the chance to let the computer read the Windows 7 installation disk or USB flash drive.  Luckily, I was persistent and finally got the computer to start the BIOS.  I quickly installed Windows 7 and crossed my fingers that it would allow me to boot into Windows 7 so I could update the BIOS.  This too was a lucky shot, and eventually I had the BIOS updated.

After the BIOS mess was over, I thought now I could use my awesome FreeNAS box with joy.  Such joy was never to last, because I kept on asking myself why on earth it took the Macbook Pro over eight or nine hours just to backup around 10 GB worth of data to FreeNAS AFP ZFS share volume.  This second incident had me pulled my hair and cursed foully.  I should have known better to do the right things first by making sure the basic elements of the problems weren’t the root of the problems.  Instead of such I went on impatiently, fixating on that it had to be FreeNAS problem from the start.  It took so much of my precious time to diagnose FreeNAS box and so on just to find out my last ditch effort was what I should have done from the very beginning.  It was the router’s configuration that had my MacBook Pro sent 1MB worth of data per second.  Considering I’m on a Gigabit network, 1 MB per second worth of data transfer had to be one of the lamest things I had ever seen.  After readjusted the router’s configuration, I was glad to see that even through WiFi, my MacBook Pro was able to send 14 or 15 times faster (i.e., ethernet connection would be much much faster).

The moral of this story is that you have to think it through before you actually embark on fixing things.  Things could be a lot simpler in regarding to fixing computing and networking related matter, but sometimes you might gloss over simple elements and miss the whole show.  I had done just that and it was exhausting.  To end this blog post of mine, I like to end it with a tip in regarding to how one would go about knowing the data transfer speed between one’s computer and a FreeNAS box.  The idea is to use an FTP program like FileZilla and monitoring the upload data rate/speed of a very large file (preferable in Gigabytes) that got transferred from a computer to the FreeNAS FTP volume (i.e., FTP ZFS dataset).

The Combination of WOL And Splashtop Remote Desktop Enables Travelers To Fully, Remotely Control Their Sleeping Or Hibernating Windows 7 Machines

All type of IT Support especially Networking, ...

All type of IT Support especially Networking, Operating Systems and Hardware. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By combining WOL (Wake On LAN) and Splashtop Remote Desktop on Windows 7, you will be able to have full control of your sleeping or hibernating Windows 7 computer from afar.  So, what is great about the combination of WOL and Splashtop Remote Desktop?  If you had read my past posts on WOL and Splashtop Remote Desktop, you probably knew that these two things are very limited by themselves.  WOL is very limited, because it can only wake your computer up from a sleep or hibernation but not really capable of anything more.  Splashtop Remote Desktop cannot do what WOL can, but it sure can allow you to remotely control your desktop somewhat.  WOL is not a separate application from an operating system, because it’s a feature that came with most operating system and BIOS by default.  On the other hand, Splashtop Remote Desktop is an application that you must download/buy from its creator and install it onto Windows 7.

The combination of WOL and Splashtop Remote Desktop had saved me more than a few times when I had the need to work with my home computers while I was away from home.  For an example, I wanted to fire up a virtual machine on a home computer, but the home computer was in a deep slumber.  By now you probably wonder why did I even need Splashtop Remote Desktop when I could have had turned on a virtual machine, let the host computer slipped into a slumber (sleep mode) so I could wake the host machine and the virtual machine up at the same time with using WOL only, right?  Well, I tried that, and it wasn’t pretty!  A virtual machine that I worked with for some strange reasons refused to go to sleep and so my host machine (Windows 7) could not come out of a mid point, between going to sleep and staying awake, and so the host machine kept on churning but nothing would work.  This was why I had to use Splashtop Remote Desktop to remotely fire up a virtual machine right after I had used WOL on the Windows 7 computer which acted as the host machine for the virtual machine.  The reverse would be using Splashtop Remote Desktop to power off the virtual machine and put the Windows 7 computer in a sleep or hibernating mode.  This is only one example among many other examples of why I’ve found using WOL and Splashtop Remote Desktop together is quite useful when I’ve to remotely work with my home Windows 7 computers.  I think you might find the combination of WOL and Splashtop Remote Desktop can be quite useful in some other ways that I may never ever will encounter, because everybody uses their computers in different manners.

Splashtop Remote Desktop is the only easiest solution I’ve came to know for remotely controlling a Windows desktop, therefore the combination of Splashtop Remote Desktop and WOL is working rather well for me.  Obviously, setting up WOL on Windows 7 machine can take a little bit of work, but nothing is that complicated that can prevent a normal computer user from enabling WOL.  You can follow my past WOL article’s Wake On LAN Setup For Windows 7 for setting up WOL on your Windows 7 computer.  Setting up Splashtop Remote Desktop is even easier, because all you have to do is to install Splashtop Remote Desktop on the computer that you want to remotely have control of (don’t forget to install Splastop Streamer on the device/computer that will be used as the controller or terminal), enabling few self-explanatory settings and before you know it you already have the ability to remotely control your Windows 7 computer.

Wake On LAN Setup For Windows 7

Feeling the urge to wake up your computer in office or at home remotely so you can either begin to do a remote desktop or transferring of files or whatever?  Most modern operating systems and network cards and BIOS(s) will allow you to do this, but in this very blog post I’m going to show you how to do this specifically for Windows 7 operating system.  Let not beat around the bush any further, because it’ll be awesome if you can get this to work as soon as possible, right?  So check out the instruction right after the break.

  1. Some modern BIOS(s) (Basic Input / Output System) might allow you to enable Wake On LAN (or Remote Wake Up) manually or was enabled by default, but some BIOS(s) might be strict and disallowed users to disable Wake On LAN (or Remote Wake Up), consequently strict BIOS(s) might not even present an option where you can configure Wake On LAN feature within the BIOS.  Every motherboard is different, therefore you might have to check with the motherboard’s manufacturer or just jump right into the BIOS and search for something similar to Wake On LAN or Remote Wake Up and so on.  When you find this feature is enabled by default, you can safely exit the BIOS fast, but if it’s listing as disabled… you have to enable this feature within the BIOS before we can begin to enable subsequent features that are relating to Wake On LAN inside Windows 7 operating system.  In the case you can’t really find this feature available within the BIOS, you can either check your motherboard’s manual or contact the manufacturer of the motherboard for the insight.  Some people might be too lazy to contact their motherboards’ manufacturers, therefore they might cross their fingers and just go ahead enabling the subsequent Wake On LAN’s related features that are to be found inside Windows 7.  Skipping step #1 might work if one has a very modern motherboard, but this isn’t always the case, I think.
  2. After exit the BIOS, you need to boot up Windows 7!  Done boot up Windows 7?
    1. Let us right click on Computer and choose Manage
    2. Inside Computer Management window, choose Device manager on the left panel
    3. Expand the Network adapters and highlight your Ethernet network card — make sure it’s the one that is being used to connect the computer to LAN/WAN.  (From my reading on various sources, wireless network card will not work with Wake On LAN — you can prove this wrong if you dare to try otherwise!)
    4. Right click on the Ethernet network card you highlighted above and choose Properties
    5. Choose Advanced tab
    6. Make sure you choose anything that is resembled Wake Up (something) and WOL (something).  Try to either enable or pick the most appropriate values from the Value boxes for these elements.  Of course, the appropriate values have to make sense in a way that the values somehow allow you to wake up your computer through a magic packet later.
    7. Now, choose the Power Management tab
    8. Make sure you check all boxes within the Power Management tab, especially the one that labels as Only allow a magic packet to wake the computer.
    9. Click OK button at the bottom to exit the configuration window of the Ethernet network card.
  3. Let us now enabling Simple TCPIP Services!
    1. Go to Control Panel
    2. Go to Programs
    3. Go to Turn Windows features on or off
    4. Scroll down till you see Simple TCPIP Services (i.e., echo, daytime etc) and enabling it by check the box next to this label
    5. Click OK button to exit Windows Features window
  4. Let us now start Simple TCPIP Services and make sure it will start automatically whenever Windows 7 boots up
    1. Right click on Computer
    2. Choose Manage
    3. On the left panel of the Computer Management window, expand Services and Applications
    4. Highlight Services
    5. On the right panel of the Compter Management window, you’ll see bunch of services, highlight Simple TCP/IP Services and right click on it and choose Properties
    6. Inside Simple TCP/IP Services Properties (Local Computer) window and under General tab, click Start button to start this service and make sure you choose Startup type as Automatic.  Click OK to exit this window.
  5. The source link I’ve used to write this very blog post suggests that you should open up port 9 of UDP port type for Windows firewall so Wake On LAN can work correctly, but you can ignore this advice if you don’t use Windows firewall.  Some people can skip this step #5 just fine when they use third party firewalls such as Norton’s firewall.
  6. I’m not recommending you to wake up your computer from the Internet for security reason, but sometimes you have to wake up your computer from the Internet so you can work with your computer from afar.  So, in order for you to be able to wake up your computer from the Internet, you must do a port forwarding for port 9 of UDP type to a local computer which has had Wake On LAN enabled.  How do you know which local computer to wake up?
    1. First of all, you need to know the IP address of your network from the outside looking in, and to find this out you can just open up a web browser and go to Google and type in the search phrase/terms of [what’s my ip address] — don’t use the square brackets in the Google search box.  Few top links within Google search result page might be able to help you figure out your Internet IP address for your network.  You need this Internet IP address of your network to be able to send a magic packet to your very network (i.e., from Internet to WAN interface and usually this means a router’s Internet IP address or an ISP’s modem/router Internet IP address).  Don’t confuse the Internet IP address with local IP address for each computer that resides within your local area network, OK?  Local IP addresses are usually starting out with 192.168.x.x or 172.16.x.x or 10.x.x.x.  So, your network’s Internet IP address should not start with those values/number-sets that represent the local IP addresses, OK?
    2. Whatever Wake On LAN application or tool or utility you use to either remotely wake up your computer from the Internet or local area network, these tools might want you to enter the local IP address and MAC address of the Ethernet network card of the computer you want to wake up.  How to find these information?  If you have an iPhone, you can use an app which is known as Fing to discover your local network from within (i.e., by connecting your iPhone to a local area network first and then use Fing).  Otherwise, you can also use command prompt utility which comes with Windows 7 by default (inside this command prompt utility, you need to type in the command ipconfig /all and look for the local IP address and MAC address of the Ethernet network card).
  7. Now, we need to test to see if your computer will be able to wake up by a magic packet.
    1. You need to put your Windows 7 computer to sleep now!
    2. Unfortunately, iPhone Fing app’s Wake On LAN feature doesn’t work for me and so I’m not sure you should use Fing to wake up your computer or not, but you can always use iPhone Mocha WOL app to wake up your computer.  iPhone Mocha WOL app works for me!  You might also need to restart your Windows 7 computer at least once before testing out to see if your computer can be wake up by a magic packet through the usage of iPhone Mocha WOL app or whatever Wake On LAN utility/tool.  Unfortunately, I don’t know any tool or application that isn’t iPhone app which can help you test the Wake On LAN feature for your computer.  Nonetheless, you might want to Google to see what tool there is available for the device you want to use to wake up your local computers with Wake On LAN feature.

For your information, turning off NetBIOS will not affect Wake On LAN feature.  I’d my netBIOS disabled, and Wake On LAN feature worked for me anyway!

Sources: