Tales From Tech Support

Here’s my problem. It’s tough to describe that little spinning icon and the subsequent hang up. What’s the spinner’s name?

There’s a laptop on my office floor. It’s a sad laptop. One front panel LED is steady red. That indicates the battery is now there for weight alone! That’s not the real problem.

The computer fires up and operates fine for a while, maybe a few minutes or even an hour. Then it stops… but in a really odd way.

The spinning round Windows Vista icon that says “I’m working” appears on the screen. From that point forward the computer becomes unresponsive.

Here’s my problem. It’s tough to describe that little spinning icon and the subsequent hang up. What’s the spinner’s name? Without it it’s tough to find other people who’ve had this experience and figured out how to fix it!

The real secret of troubleshooting is feeding specifics into Google and going to school. Without a good description there’s no way to get a good answer.

My last resort is to reformat the drive and start from scratch. I can do that. I’d rather not.

15 thoughts on “Tales From Tech Support”

  1. Jeff – I call that thing the “Vista hourglass” since that’s what you used to see in XP. Good luck with the sad laptop.

  2. Depends on who you ask

    spinning wheel
    Vista spinning wheel
    Vista Blue Circle of Wait
    for slowness
    Vista Blue Circle of doom

    1. That is simply the “busy” symbol used in place of the cursor when Windows is too busy to allow you to click anything (likely related to system specs and running programs). It’s like the “hourglass” in previous versions of Windows (you can change what your cursor looks like in Control Panel > Mouse).

  3. I call that the circle of doom, sometimes it appears for no reason, I walk away and after a while things return to normal…..good luck!

  4. It might be the Device Driver for the Advanced Power Managment Service (Addmittenly taken from the Battery being dead weight) Try just replaceing the battery with out doing anything else, see if that solves it. You will need a battery anyway.

  5. Also see if it will power up with out the battery installed, Some laptops do that not all. But it may be the battery is sending confusing levels to windows and it waiting for a coherant response. Use the plug and remove the battey and try it, if it hangs again, it’s not the battery (If you eliminate the obvious what ever is left no matter how improbable must be the truth. )

  6. The laptop may have bad sectors on the hard drive. Before you reformat the drive you may want to try SpinRight from Gibson Research Corporation (www.grc.com).

  7. On the Mac, it’s the “Beachball of death” – with Vista/Windows 7, I think you could just call it a Tron disc – looks quite a bit like one, anyway. I see it and get up for coffee – no matter how new the computer is.

    I worked on a Acer recently that would turn off about 2 minutes after powering on. It was a heat issue, but I wasn’t ever able to fix it – no matter what I did, it would turn off at the 2 minute mark. Even with it open and guts in the wind, with a fan blowing….

    Thermal thresholds are there for a reason, you only learn that lesson once.

  8. I’m glad you’re aware of the real secret behind troubleshooting. This post reminded me of this flowchart I came across once before (http://xkcd.com/627/) that has it pretty much spot on. I am a computer person and whenever my friends ask me how to fix something, I refer them to this chart.

  9. LOL Marvin Nice chart ! That will go up the quote “How many software Engineers does it take to change a light bulb ? None it’s a hardware problem”

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