Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'm about to become a Neo-Luddite

Here's what happened.

It started with my desktop going belly up and going to cost more to repair than a new one.

I don't want to think of buying a new computer now, so I had to come up with a cheaper alternative.

I already had two USB hard drives for photos, back ups and other old stuff I wanted to keep. I use a USB keyboard on the laptop when I'm at home and a USB marble mouse. They already use two of the three USB ports on the laptop.

The desktop had two hard drives and was connected to my Home Network.

What I did was order USB two cases, took the drives out of the desktop and mounted them in the cases. Just to have the luxury of having them all online at the same time, I got a 10-port powered USB hub "thinking" that with 6 USB devices plugged into the laptop, the hub would need power. Duh, I forgot that the keyboard and mouse don't need power and the hard drives are self-powered.

I got everything cobbled together and it was working fine until the next set of Microsoft updates came down. Instead of rebooting, the laptop shutdown. Using an old trick, I disconnected everything including the 120V, took out the battery, held down the power button for 10 sec., re-installed the battery and tried to power up on battery only. It worked fine.

I connected everything up and rebooted on AC power. Worked fine.

Tried to put it to sleep. Shutdown completely. Wouldn't start up again. Went through the ritual to get it started again. Connected everything back up except the AC and tried to put it to sleep. It slept. Took it out of sleep and tried to get it to hibernate. Hibernated and woke up no problem.

I called tech support with the details. He had me disconnect everything and reproduce the failure without any USB devices connected. Then he did a search through his and HP's knowledge base and came back with the suggestion that if there was a BIOS update, which there was, I should download and install it. I did that and we went through the steps to recreate the failure and it sure looked like the BIOS update did the trick. So, the Microsoft Windows updates caused me to need to update the BIOS. It's getting so complex, anything's possible.

After thanking the guy for sticking with me for over an hour, I hung up and reconnected everything USB hub and all. Duh! Bigtime! The failure came back.

OK, with no USB devices plugged in, everything works fine. I started with plugging the AC in and the mouse and keyboard directly into the laptop instead of the hub. Everything worked fine. I plugged one hard drive into the hub and connected it to the laptop. WA-LA! The problem came back!

With that, I lost it! I had to go off and calm down. Once I got myself together again, "a light bulb" went on. Stuff connected through the powered hub causes the problem! After a bit, it hit me, "What if I unplugged the power cord from the hub, would the hub still work?" Worth a try, no? That did it! My system don't need no powered USB.

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