Possible theft - advice sought

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Mike Schmitz, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. Mike Schmitz

    Mike Schmitz Stunt Coordinator

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    On November 4, I had a small mom-and-pop, brick and mortar store build my new computer. The motherboard is a MSI KT6 Delta 7, and the CPU was an Athlon XP 2200+. From the first time Windows XP home was loaded onto it, the computer had problems. While downloading "Windows Update" files, the computer would crash, and crash HARD before downloading was complete. Will and Alan thought it was a software issue, wiped the hard drive and started over. It seemed to work fine.

    After taking it home, I found out that neither Dungeon Siege nor Civilization III would work properly. Both were crashing so hard that Windows was rebooting. I should have downloaded the latest drivers from ATI, but I thought if I did that, it might make matters worse. About Nov. 10, I ran back to the store, and they looked it over for a week. The found nothing. They told me it was a software issue, and that the Civ III problem looked like a CD error. Probably a scratch on the CD.

    I downloaded the ATI drivers in store and applied them, then took the computer home. Dungeon Siege worked fine after that. I looked at the Civ III disk, and it wasn't just scratched, it was cracked! I >had< put it in the drive tray wrong, and it had closed on the CD. It looked fine, from the front. But if I had turned it over, I would have seen the clearly visible crack. So I ordered another copy of Civ III for around $16 and forgot about it.

    But computer still acted glitchy. Twice, Scandisk ran after first boot, even though I had shut down normally. A few days later, the graphics went wonky. I turned off the computer for about 30 minutes and then turned it back on again, and that problem seemed to fix itself. I figured I had turned it back on too fast after the last shutdown. Eventually it seemed to settle down.


    On Sunday, November 23, I downloaded a HighMAT patch file from the "Windows Update" web page. It's some kind of fix for file names on CD-R and CD-RW and such.

    On Mon., Nov. 24, the computer worked fine all day.

    On Tuesday, Nov. 25, the computer refused to boot normally. I managed to boot it into safe mode a few times, but even that became impossible. When I could boot into safe mode, I could see files, but could not run programs.

    While I could get it in safe mode, I tried to use the "System Restore" program to roll back the system, thinking the HighMAT patch had caused the problem. I opened System Restore, chose the right point, and clicked on the "Next" button. The program hung, and I got an error message that said "Unknown Hard Error."

    I put the Windows CD in the drive, and was going to try and overwrite just the Windows files, but I put it in an optical drive that wasn't set to boot. I have ADD, so I kind of wandered away from the problem after that.

    On Wednesday the 26th, I called the merchant and told him what was happening. He said it sounded like I had done everything I could and to bring it in. I left it there around noon or so.

    On Friday the 28th at 4:04 PM, I got a message from the merchant that said I needed to tell them what I had been doing inside the computer. I called them back and said I hadn't opened up the computer at all. They said OK, we'll keep looking for the problem. After that, I waited until December 5th to call them back.

    Folks, the only time the PC case has been open was when it was at the store. And even if I had opened it, there's no way I'm fooling around with a bunch of wiring I know nothing about. So whatever happened to the wires, had to happen at the store.

    On Dec. 5, I called them and they said they couldn't find out what was wrong with the PC, and that I would have to come in and take a look at it.

    On Dec. 6, I went to the store around 1:30 PM (after oversleeping). They showed me the wiring, and it >was< a mess! I had brought the Win XP Home Ed. CD with me. Will told me to boot from CD I had to push any key. (At that point I hadn't realised that I had put it in the wrong drive.) First we tried copying over files, then Will tried the Repair (?) Console. Every time we tried something like that, the computer would start scanning the Hard Drive. Each time, it stopped at the same place: 22%.

    After the second or third time it stopped at the same place, Will decided that the Hard Drive had gone bad, and that I'ld need a new one. I decided to get another hard drive so that I could set up a Raid (0) Mirror Array. I paid for the new HDD, and Will ran out to get a new one. He mounted the HDD, hooked up the wires and told me to format the HDD. At first, it wouldn't go. He took a look at it ,and said that the BIOS settings had been set wrong. (?)

    Eventually, I got the HDD formatted and Windows XP Home started normally. I loaded the drivers that came with the motherboard, then I started downloading the files from the "Windows Update" site. I downloaded patch files and such, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Quicktime.

    After I was satisfied that everything was working fine, I double-checked "My Computer" to see if there were any CDs left in the drives (there weren't) and then shut it off and asked Will to tie up the wires. I'm good with patching files and installing RAM and maybe the occasional new video card, but I just don't know how to tie down wires properly. He doesn't let any store leave his shop without tieing down wires, so he did it. He had a few customers walk in while he was doing it, so it took him about an hour to tie it down. He was smoking a small, brown cigarette while doing so.

    After telling me he's finished, Will admonishes me not to take the PC to anyone else anymore. He is still under the impression that I did something to the wiring, despite my repeated denials.

    I took the PC home, arriving around 8:30 PM. I plugged everything in, plugged the power cable into the computer, turned on the UPS and then turned on the monitor, computer and speakers. I then pushed the button on the front of the CD-RW drive, because I wanted to load Dungeon Siege and Civ III back up. But the drive didn't open. I push the button again, nothing. I open up "My computer, and the CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives are nowhere to be found. Mad a hell, I shut it off, unpluged everything, and took it back to the store.

    Will starts up the computer, goes into the BIOS, fools around a little, and then resets it to default. He reboots the computer, puts it back into the BIOS and he still can't get the computer to see the optical drives. After about 30 to 45 minutes of fooling around, he finds out that the wiring had somehow gone bad. After replacing the wiring, he boots the computer and goes into the BIOS again. They now seem to be showing. He says everything is fine now, but I decide I don't want to leave the store again without testing the computer by going into Windows and seeing if the Optical drives are there. This pisses him off, and he says from now on, I don't get any more special treatment. He also says I have less that 5 minutes to "test" the computer, then I have to either leave with the computer or leave the computer for another week of "testing." I open "My Computer," the drives are there, so I shut it down and leave.

    So, since around 10 PM, Saturday, December 6, My computer seems to be just fine. But this Monday night, I noticed something new. I was loading the "Rise of Nations" demo from off of a PC Gamer disk. The PCG front end in nice. It shows you what hardware you need to have, and then a list of the hardware you do have. When I looked under "CPU" I was shocked. I closed the PCG front end, went to "My Computer" and right-clicked, choosing "Properties. And there it was.

    AMD Athlon(tm) XP 1500+
    1.35 GHz

    I was just stunned. Now, I think I have this figured out, but I need to know two things.

    First, is there any setting in the BIOS that would cause a XP 2200+ to be recognized as a 1500+? Secondly, are there any virii running loose that would cause a CPU to be mis-reported in Windows XP.

    If neither is the case, then, I'm afraid that one of Will's other customers decided to upgrade their computer, and used my CPU to do it. These guys are small, and they let customers roam around all the time. They also encourage all of their customers to do whatever work they can on their own computers. So for two days, November 26 and 28, anyone could have opened up my computer, untied the wires, taken my CPU, replaced it with theirs, and closed my computer back up. Someone messing wit my computer when they shouldn't have was probably going to want to close it up quickly, so they wouldn't bother tieing the wires back up. That would explain why no one else is copping to messing with the wires.

    So, now what? Will has had bad run-ins with cops before, plus he's convinced I'm lying because of the wires. Should I go to Will with all this, then have him call the cops, or should I call the police first?
     
  2. John*Jones

    John*Jones Stunt Coordinator

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    I think you just need to make a change to your FSB in the BIOS. It's probably set at 100mhz and should be 133mhz. This would certainly explain why you PC is only running at 1.35ghz.

    Cheers,

    John
     
  3. Mike Schmitz

    Mike Schmitz Stunt Coordinator

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    Yep, that did the trick! My computer's system properties went from this:

    AMD Athlon(tm) XP 1500+
    1.35 GHz

    to this:

    AMD Athlon(tm) XP 2200+
    1.80 GHz

    What threw me was that both numbers changed. I could understand that the second number (GHz) would change but the first number changing threw me off. I thought "XP 2200+" was just some kind of marketing label, and not tied into the clock speed.

    Man, I'm glad I posted here before I did anything. I'm also glad I didn't name the store and spread unfounded rumors. I'm definitely glad I didn't call the cops. :b

    I still don't know what in hell happened to the wiring, though. Very vexing. I know I didn't so much as open the case cover, but I can't prove it to Will. In the meantime, Will has had so many customers lie to him because they were afraid he'd charge them extra for their mistakes that he just assumes every customer does it when something odd comes up.

    I'm never gonna figure it out, am I? ::grumbles::

    Anyway, thanks John. This was a big help!
     
  4. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    In my opinion it took him WAY to long to diagnose the problem.

    I'd suggest that after your warranty is done to NOT got back to him again.

    B
     
  5. Mike Schmitz

    Mike Schmitz Stunt Coordinator

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  6. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    I hate to say it but this is a perfect example of if a user doesn't know exactly what they are doing they should not get custom built pc's from some mom and pop store. It always leads to more problems than good times. If you really want a custom built pc get someone that you know personally to help you buy everything and do it for you instead of some strange shop. I've never trusted those guys at all.
     
  7. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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