Posts Tagged ‘error’

Fixing Dell Precision T3400 USB not working

This is an update to a previous rant about the mysterious Windows XP “Dee-Dunk” error (and the novel concept of presenting an “error message” when an error condition exists), possibly in conjunction with broken or intermittent USB functionality. This post is mainly for Googlers – my friends are more than welcome to skip it.

I haz solved the mystery! It turns out that some Dell Precision T3400 machines (my work machine was one of them) ship with buggy/broken BIOSes and/or chipset support. Anyway, to fix:

Worm your way onto Dell’s support site for updates, enter your model number; download and run the following three patches:

  • BIOS Update (T3400A08.EXE, or whatever is newest)
  • Chipset Software update (R174616.exe)
  • Desktop System Software update (R160758.exe)

The above are intentionally not linked; the filenames and/or URLS may shift around as newer versions of this crap come out. Also, exact support packages may be different for other Dell products exhibiting the same malfunctions.

Symptoms include:

  • USB devices do not work, or only work intermittently (every Nth reboot); behavior may change slightly by enabling/disabling different combinations of USB ports in the BIOS (or this may be a placebo effect on my part, who knows)
  • Dreaded “Dee-Dunk” noise shortly after Windows desktop appears
  • USB devices such as keyboards, mouse, etc. work for a while, then mysteriously stop working until machine is rebooted
  • “USB Device Not Recognized”…
  • “There was a problem installing this hardware: <blah> The device cannot start. (Code 10)”
  • After installing a certain USB driver, machine crashes/hangs with a black screen for several minutes before the Windows desktop appears (may depend whether the corresponding device is plugged in)
  • Machine hangs when trying to install USB device driver
  • Software hangs trying to scan the bus or access a USB device

Daily Windows Rant

Error messages, people. Error messages. When an “error” occurs, it should be accompanied by an “error message”, which informs the user a) that an error did occur; b) what that error was. It does not even necessarily have to be understandable to mere mortals (although this would be really nice), because understanding it is the job of your IT Guy and/or someone before you who got that error, posted it on a help forum somewhere and got an answer. Thus, mere mortals will Google the error message, and if results == 0, post it to a help forum somewhere.

Now, a “Dee-Dunk” error (available only at your local PC speakers, assuming you have any and they are turned on at the moment, and the volume is turned up, and the error being reported isn’t a soundcard error*) is really hard to Google. Besides that, consider the conversation between the user and the IT guy:

IT Guy: What was the error message?
User: Well, it was kind of like um… a low rumbling, kind of like somebody dragging a department-store mannequin across a warehouse floor strewn with marbles, followed by an orchestra hit.
IT Guy: Was it a high orchestra hit or a low orchestra hit?**
User: Umm…

So for anyone who is dying to know: Under Windows XP, a “doodoodoo” error*** (sounds like the first half of a doo-dink notification repeated three times really fast) when attaching a hardware device means that the device is successfully identified, but its drivers are kinda-sorta-semi-quasi-blacklisted because somebody at one time clicked “STOP Installation” at one of those “This driver has not undergone Windows Logo Extortion Certification and will probably do really terrible things [Continue anyway] [STOP Installation]” screens. From that point forward, the user will never again be prompted to install the driver or change his mind, regardless of how many times the device is subsequently unplugged and plugged back in. To fix: Find the brokenly-installed device in Device Manager, dig down to driver details and ‘Reinstall Driver’; this will allow you to manually force a driver despite any previous accidental blacklistings.

*As with many work PCs, we did not bother hunting down a set of speakers to attach to, for example, our EE lab workstation. This is not unreasonable considering that it is a workstation, not a watch-youtube-station.

**The next version of Windows will communicate with the user entirely by winks, nudges and significant glances. (IT guy: “Are you sure it wasn’t a drum solo? ‘Cuz a drum solo error is really bad.”)

*** or doo-doo-doo or DoDoDo or doodoodoot or boobooboop, or however you would enter it in Google if you thought that might actually work