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Wazoo

[Resolved] XP Recovery issues

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After a number of Google searches that basically led nowhere, figured I'd try here ...

E-Machine T6212

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Processor

Chipset: ATI Radeon® Xpress 200

Memory: 512MB DDR (2 × 256MB), 400MHz Dual Channel - Expandable to 4GB

Hard Drive: 160GB HDD 7200rpm, 2MB cache

Optical Drive: 16x DVD±RW multi-format double layer; 48x CD-ROM

Media Reader: 8-in-1 Media Reader

Video: ATI Radeon® Xpress 200 (PCI-Express® )

128MB shared video memory

Sound: 6-channel Audio

Network: 10/100Mbps built-in Ethernet

Modem: 56K ITU v.92-ready Fax/Modem

Ports/Other: 7 USB 2.0 ports (2 in front; 4 in back; 1 in Media Reader), 1 IEEE 1394 port (1 in back), 1 Parallel, 2 PS/2, Audio-In & Out

Issues: When delivered;

Story was that a "Full Recovery from CD" had been attempted.

Hard Drive showed a 1.7G Primary partition, 36.7G unallocated

BIOS displayed RAM = 383Meg

Memory installed: Two 256Meg PC3200 DDR sticks ... One DDR '333' stick (that never did anything)

On-board USB ports not working, another USB PCI card installed

Dropped in a SystemRecover Linux CD ... formatted the complete drive ... came back as 149G ??

.. still no understanding as to how it looked like a 40G drive when delivered ...

Gateway/E-Machine Recovery CD (1 of 4) inserted, Full Recovery from CD selected

PC Angel Recovery comes up, "Creating Recovery Partition" message pops up, progress bar completes

PC Angel Recovery logo remains, "Configuring Recover" message

progress bar jumps to about the 2/3 position .. stops ... end of the story ...

System Recover Linux CD again ... Hard drive shows a 37.1G primary partition, 123G unallocated ... no files

Many games played .. for example, leaving the 37.1G partition at the start of the drive, a 100G partition at the end of the drive, the stuff in the middle left unformatted .... XP Recovery used again, same story as above ... progress bar stops, analysis of the hard drive .. 37.1G primary at the start of the hard drive, the remainder 'unallocated' .. hard drive fully formatted FAT32, riser, all partitions deleted, etc .. all with the same result ..a 37.1G primary at the start, the rest of the drive unallocated ... so it is definitely 'working' up until it dies ...

Another XP system, a Dell, with system disks ... for giggles, pull out that System Recovery CD, give it a try.

Surprise, see the PC Angel Recover logo again .... even more surprise, same results.

For giggles, unplug the 160G drive, toss in a 40G drive that was available ... format that a FAT32 via the Linux CD ... toss in the E-Machine XP Recover CD .... only difference is that the last seen progress bar never appears .. don't recall now if I even looked at the partition results ...

Owner spent some amount of time calling "customer care/support" at E-Machines .... after several phone handoffs, several of my requests to be passed up to the next levels of support, the guy comes back with "after talking to other techs and my supervisor, we are going to send out another set of Recovery CDs" .... owner is just ecstatic ... I advised that I think the guy is wrong, but .....

Memory issue .... pulled out the '333' stick .... tossed in a Ubuntu CD, ran memory test ... no errors other than only talking about 393Meg ...

pulled second stick of RAM, rebooted/ran memory test .. the 127Meg seen tested just fine ... issue is that I'm looking at a 256Meg stick ....

Swapped memory sticks, tried test again, 127Meg checked good again ...

attempted to boot the system with a single stick in the slot .... wouldn't even attempt booting ....

me .. basically convinced that the first memory slot is hosed ....????? ... but a bit stuck at how to 'prove' it right now ....

Status .... while waiting for the 'new' XP Recovery CDs, she carted the system home after a bit of a tutorial on how to click around on an install of Ubuntu .. which went without any major issues

Questions:

This Full Recovery mode seems to be predicated on having a hidden Recover partition in place.

The PC Angel 'suggests' that it recognizes that this hidden partition doesn't exist, makes noises about creating it. definitely makes its footprints known by killing off any existing partitions, recreating the initial 37.1G primary partition at the start of the drive .... is this 37.1G partition the 'norm' for others that have actually successfully done a "full recovery" ...????

There was the thought of populating that partition with the contents of the 4 CDs, but ... size doesn't (necessarily) seem to correlate ... four 700Meg CDs needing 37.1 G?????

looking at the content of the CDs doesn't really give a 'good' clue as to just how the file (structures) should be made ... example ... all CDs had some of the same folders. but those folder had different contents. One guess would be to co-locate those files under the 'same' folder, but .. unknown as to whether the 'install' routine would actually be looking for the CD label/name instead ...????

The 'missing' RAM would seem to a major issue, yet ... Memtest was happy with the RAM 'seen' .. which matches the amount reported by the BIOS .... Ubuntu loaded up just fine, all updates downloaded and installed, all applications looked at ran just fine .....

Bottom line: I'm lost, confused .. girl is happy as her computer does work (at present) .. I'm just wondering where to go when she receives the next XP Recovery CD set .... as I'm not convinced that the issue is a bad CD ....

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Memory: 512MB DDR (2 × 256MB), 400MHz Dual Channel - Expandable to 4GB

128MB shared video memory

Memory issue sounds like the shared video memory is coming from the system memory (I have not seen that in years with some Compaq machines) rather than the video card itself. Would explain the 384/512 seen and the 128/256 scenarios.

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History: computer had Win-ME installed. Errors started showing up, a new (used) hard drive was procured.

Son attempted to restore/re-install/whatever Win-ME to this 'new' drive. Win-ME CD exploded inside the drive unit. This was the computer she thought had been in my hands for a long time.

Box of stuff downstairs, including several old hard drives .. most 500-650Meg, but one is a 1.6G .. pull it out, bring upstairs, plug it in, replacing the 160G drive. Powered up the system, but before I could make it around to the keyboard, it had started booting from that hard drive. Win-ME started up, then of course the issue with seeing all the 'new' hardware .... At any rate, the story goes that this hard drive turns out to be her old Win-ME drive ..???? All I know is that this box of parts had been downstairs for ages ...

Anyway, the 'other' computer from yesterday had the new/used Drive sitting in the cabinet ... the thought was that I'd clone her Win-ME drive that was having issues to this 'new' drive .. then see if it would then boot up in the 'other' computer. No labels, so went with a guess as to the jumpers on he drives, tossed them into a system with a floppy, booted with a Win-98 startup disk. Many agonizing minutes went by before finally getting a A:> prompt. C:, and D: both came back as invalid. OK, I strapped them wrong, no big deal .. start over, one drive at a time ... so unplugged her Win-ME drive. Floppy booted, checked the directory on the C: drive ... really didn't recognize what I was looking at. An 'autorun.inf' on a hard drive?? A MINNT folder with a SYSTEM32 sub-folder .. hmmmm ..... rebooted without the floppy to see what the invoked EXE file would actually do ....

PC Angel Recovery screen came into place, got to a menu screen asking me to start inserting the Recovery CDs ....????? Powered that computer down, rebooted with the SystemRecover Linux CD .. wierd, the same 3.71G initial partition, the remainder of the drive split in half, one partition NTFS formatted, the other 'free/unallocated' .... oddity in that the 'first' partition came up as /hd2, the 'second' partition came up as /hd1 .....

Called her, asked if she'd bring her 'new' computer back over. It arrived, I installed that drive, replacing her 160G drive. Booted .... complaint that NTLOADR was found, CTL-ALT-DEL to restart ... did that, but tried the mystical F11 keypress ... assumedly, this has something to do with flipping the partition assignments around, as it then brought up the familiar PC Angel Recover crap ... However, it decided to hang before bringing up the progress bar.

My first thought was that once again, this damnable routine had deleted the additional partitions .. however, just checked via Qparted, and the structure does not look changed .. 3.71G partition, two other partitions, exactly half of the remaining disk free space ....

Figuring that the stuff missing on the 160G drive must in fact exist on this drive, I re-booted from the Disk 1 of 4 Recovery CDs. Went the "R" option, the only change was the progress bar appeared, indicator jumped to about the 2/3 spot, and ..... system hang again .... Qparted check again shows no change to the partition structure. Swapped cables, re-booted, Ubuntu comes up just fine ....

After taking a bit of a break, the plan is to move the new/used drive back into the computer that made it to the 'insert CD #1" screen and see if that fluke will happen again ... but in the mean time .... what are the odds that someone has 'been here' before?

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PC Angel Recovery software/tool - www.softthinks.com/us/pcangel.asp

depressing .. most pages empty, last press release dates back to 2001 ... mention is made of a BIOS LOCK tool / extra feature, but not much of an explanation offered ....

www.pcangelsolutions.com/index.htm U.S. distributor for the tool .. a bit more current. No mention of the Bios Lock, but lots of other terms tossed round. Graphics all indicate that the hidden/recovery partition is made at the 'end' of the hard drive space.

Situation: yet another set of Recover CDs was shipped, received. Worked.

CD's looked exactly the same, but the bar-code on the plastic wrapper holding the four CDs was different.

My best guess .... The E-Machines model T6212 actually is comprised of several production runs, not all 100% the same. First set of CDs was for a different production run, thus ran into an issue with the BIOS data seen (kinf of going with that this is what the BIOS LOCK feature was all about .. better example wqould be that you can't use a Dell Recovery package on a Gareway computer, which does make some sense) ... nice guys that they are, the issue only appears 'after' all existing data on the hard drive is erased ..... More/better research done after the last complaining phone call, the correct CD package was sent.

As stated, it went in, everything worked as designed, two hours later (Geeze ...) all the factory installed crap was installed ....

However, probably also as designed by Gateway/E-Machines, the 'Recovery' pertition was made at the start of the hard drive (as mentioned over and over in the previous posts) .... although numerically identified as the second partition (recalling someone complaining revently about a tool complaining that the ftive partitions were in the wrong sequence ... and here's a fine example done on purpose ???)

For some reason, this 'successful' install and population of the Recovery partition was not then made 'hidden' .... Don't yet have an answer for this variance at all ....

Anyway, this will be the first thread, Topic, Discussion that I have found in reference to the PC Angel tool that has an answer/success story told at the end of it.

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Tale as related to me yesterday. Woman has spent all of last week working on creating invitations to have been printed out today, headed for the Post Office Monday. However, the (high school) graduating boy plugged his iPod into a rear USB connector ... something didn't happen .. he decided to reboot the computer by going for the big power button ... apparently, it didn't react quick enough (actual power-down requires holding that button in for about 5 seconds) .... so he went to the floor and exercised the power button on a power strip ....

Computer did 'not' re-boot .... rather deciding to throw up soe fancy screen graphics .. looked something like text, complaining about partition errors or something ... he didn't understand it, but Mom sure did <g> Mom tried all sorts of things, some described as "like what I thought I remember seeing you did the last time" ... whch I'm not sure what they might have been as she does not have all the tools, CDs, floppies, that I have around my environment <g> ..... Bottom line, that phone call ended with "bring it over" ...

Just off the phone, my third call to e-machines, still disappointed, nay, the real word would be p^&%$#d off, but ...

Anyway, situation is that I am now sitting here (since a bit after 1800 yesterday) still trying to work out why I'm now sitting here with two sets of Recovery CD's for this computer, both now exhibiting the exact issue that started this Topic. Back to the only option being the "Press 'R' for a full recovery" ,, first phase is to wipe the partition Table, create a 3.71G partition .... throw up a 'phase 2' screen display of 'preparing to create the user partition' ... start a thermometer bar, run through it once, start the second pass, halt at about 1/3 position .. end of game ....

Ubuntu 7.0.4 won't boot due to some hardware issues .. Ubuntu 6.0.1 boots and installs ... but as usual, it's the lack of hardware drivers for the rest of the system involved that rule out making a linux convert here ....

hard drive will accept partition changes, formats to FAT32, NTFS, riser, etc ....

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Unbelievable - no backups for all that "all of last week working on creating invitations" I suppose? How about you add a subscription to ars.userfriendly.org to that machine when it's going again (c'mon, I know you gotta have that one bookmarked too :D)? Thinking of the cartoons of course, like http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20070407 - that ought to cheer Mom up.

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This is one of the 'new' systems, no floppy required. There'd be space to install one by removing the memory card reader/extra USB connecter (which she tells me yesterday have never worked?) that's installed under the DVD and CD drives .. of course, matching the curved fromt panel wouldn't be an option.

There is not way I can recollect, nor would I want to try to go through and recant all the different things I have tried thus far to try to work around that problem of the first step being wiping the partition table .... my recollection of the process when it worked the last time, was that the 4 CDs were basically copied into that 3.71 Gig partition, then the unpacking commeneced from there ... not sure if I documented it in the prevvious posts, but my recollections was that it took something like 3 or 4 hours to finish that process ... then I spent a number of hours bringing it all up to date, ading some functional tools, etc .... when getting this system up, then it was moving on to the Win-ME system, and then the Win-98 system for the husband and daughter in that same household.

The 'backup' was going to be moving all of this to the daughter's computer ... one issue then being that they couldn't hook up a new Lexmark printer as the only drivers that came with that printer were for Win-XP .. no mention of 98 ... then the 'no floppy' issue ... the downside of this is that these machines are in fact 'connected' through a wireless/wired router, so that files could have been moved in a heartbeat, but .... trying to walk her through setting a password on the wireless router back in the February time was a bit of a lost cause ..... and at that time, the thought was that 'there was no way she wanted the daughter to be able to access her computer at all' .. so ....

OK, this was on hold for a while, phone call from elsewhere, then this system owner just arrived ... she's bought the last copy of a Windows-XP (Home) upgrade package from the local Staples ... so now trying to figure out what I need to put on the hard drive such that it will actually go beyond the "Setup is now starting Windows" screen that has been displayed for somethng like the last 20 mintes or so .... having to guess that a blank hard drive is not what it wants to see (even though of course the documentation does include the verbiage on a 'new' installation, which will wipe all existing data from the drive ....

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Resolved yet again ..... after visiting site after site after site after site, looking for similar circumstances, situations, etc. ..... the best consensus I could see was a fair amount of motherboard failures being the closest cause of this continuois 'go so far then simply lock up' ...

It now appears to boil down the factory included/installed fromt panel combination memory card reader, one USB port, headphone and microphone input assembly/module .... unhooked that from the motherboard ... and away it all goes ...this actually includes the factory provided Recovery CDs ....

leaving things now at the rotten situation of now having an "opened" Windows-XP Home package that turns out to have not been required at all ....

A brother had called (now yesterday) and asked of I was 'charging' this customer ..... suggesting that I should have at least started with some kind of estimate and worked up from there .. I stated that this one started with the goal of salvaging her data, no way to guess at how long that would take. The next effort would have been to get it running again, and there is no way that I could have forseen spending from 1800 Friday until 2330 Sunday night to find a solution to something that should have only taken a few hours .. it's coming up on 0130 Monday and I'm only at doing the Windows update stage (75 updates selected at the first pass) .... I also pointed out that the woman had 'stolen' the money for the XP-upgrade package from the graduation party funds, asking what kind of a jerk would jump up and down asking for even more money at a time like this ... and of course, he pointed out that there was probably a reason that I'm not rich <g> ...

Anyway, more updates, removing a lot of garbage, adding some tools .... just closing this one off once again ...

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Bon chance Wazoo. Yeah, I know - just doesn't seem right to charge people money when you're having so much fun <_< Actually, sounds a lot like the fate of the guy in the (TV) Serviceman's Log - http://www.siliconchip.com.au/cms/A_108329/article.html - well, not shown up in that issue but he's forever undercharging customers because they can't afford more or because, if he could just memorize a few thousand more schematics, he wouldn't take so long to fix things. Anyway - good tip, this issue, about the garbage skip (= an uncovered "dumpster" to USAians).

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Just the way thngs go ..... after getting all the office tools, graphic tools, and security tools in place, fired up, firewall trained, etc .... I interrupted a defrag so that I could shut it down, unhook cables, cart it out to her car ... she drives off with a smile and the 'promise' of someday balancing things out ....

came back in, rehooked the cables to yet another system needing a rebuild from scratch (Win-ME this time, per the customer's request) .... was letting that brew on one side of a KVM switch, started working on getting this server ready for installing the 1.1.6.3 version of the Wiki ... when ....

The processor has apparently fried on my main system ... noting that it's sitting directly to my right, side panel off, looking at all the running cooling fans, processor heat-sink was extremely hot .. feeding the thought that perhaps the AMD chip had possibly just shut down .... but no ... heat sink is cold, power button only brings up all the fans, the CD, DVD, floppy, hard-drive indicator lights ..... and there it sits ... nothing even reaching out to tell the monitor that there's something at the other end of that cable .....

Just another one of thse great days, I guess ....

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Have you tried any of the Linux-based recovery tools? GParted and such?

post #1 starts out with that commentary;

System Recover Linux CD again ... Hard drive shows a 37.1G primary partition, 123G unallocated ... no files

Post #5 contains;

Ubuntu 7.0.4 won't boot due to some hardware issues .. Ubuntu 6.0.1 boots and installs ...

to follow up on that, I ran into a major issue with the GParted routine on a Ubuntu 7.0.4 final Live CD on a Win-XP NTFS formatted drive (in a Dell) .... trying to resize the primary NTFS parttion .... Lets me select a size, goes through the motions, complains with issues of 'can't grow the file system, can't verify" .. but .... the 'size change' is showing as having been performed .... can't shrink it, can expand it (then getting the same error complaints) ... however, booting back up under Win-XP, partition size has not changed .... Scan and defrag work though to completion (as best it can with only 4% free space) [bumped that up to a bit over 11% by creating/formatting an extended partition/assigned drive on the remainder of that drive ((using GParted off the Ubuntu Live-CD)) and moving some files/folders from C: to D: drive .... still trying to sort out why GParted is reporting different partition settings .. plan is to get back to that machine and use another Linux distro, another 'version' of GParted for see what happens there ... however, not planned until I get the replacement CPU, see if my main system will come back up (gracefully)

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That damned E-Machine system is back. Hard drive has failed. Been there, done that, tossed in another used drive, removed the front panel memory card reader connection from the mother board, removed the added USB PCI card ... pretty much what I came up with in the previous go-round ... and here I set, looking at a frozen "Powered by PC Angel System Recovery" screen once again.

Issue compounded, she used the XP-Home package she bought to upgrade her daughter's 98 machine, and from the discussion on that system, I am looking forward to trying to remove some root-kit infections on that system. But, even as slow as it's running, she wants this E-machine system back before having to go without completely ....

It just blows me away that the Recovery crap works well enough to destroy any existing hard drive data / partitions, but only then decides that it won't run the next bit ....

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Sucked down Ubuntu 7.1.0RC1 last night. Burned the CD. Tossed it into a Dell, it ame up just fine, other than the display ..... 1680x???? resolution .... these old eyes and a huge magnifying glass gound the link to change it to 1024x768 so it's somewhat legible now. Everything I checked seemd to work fine.

So tossed the CD into this e-machines system. Spent a coule of hours running through the Ubuntu docs and Forums, really no help. Issue boils down to hardware problems. Disconnected/unplugged everything but the bare necessities. Wasn't enough. Had to go into the BIOS and turn stuff off there also. Ubuntu booted up. Back to the days of the standard plain old desktop, worked fine doing 'computer' type stuff. shutdown and tried the Recovery CDs again. Just finished loading all of them in, waiting for the rest of the set-up stuff to run. Seem to recall the last time, I spent like 4 hours total on setting it up, deleting all kinds of excess garbage, adding in other tools, etc. etc. etc. However, this time, will have to add in the time to start turning stuff back on, plugging stuff back in, sorting out what still works, what doesn't, and what work-arounds might be possible. This actually sucks ...

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waiting for the rest of the set-up stuff to run.

I recall that there was an option to install much more crap software after all the setup/initial install was dones. Unfortunately, there are no controls provided for the assumedly some-cash-involved agreements with other outfits on stuff to be installed 'automatically' .... Like the Norton 2005 Internet Security Suite 90-day trial ..... which, as you might have guessed, is exactly where the 'recovery' process died/locked-up/whatever .... no reset button, use the power button, data on the hard drive scrambled .... result, reboot dies while tryung to load up a 'agp' .dll file, which probably somewhat explains the white screen ...

Start all over, this time it decides to die while checking the keyboard, mouse, 'screen my flicker' ....

Power cycle gets past that point, decides to lock-up at the end of 'network' stuff ...

Next shot leads me to the path that "Safe Mode" is not available while in the midst of an installation ....

Further finding that safe Mode command Line is even less happy, whether this flipped something or simply that i tried this option immediately after the failed Safe Mode action, don't know, but that get me to a nice little error window .. something wrong with this installation, run Setup again .... but of course, no way to 'run Setup again' .... click on the 'OK' and system reboots, brings up the same 'error' ... still won't allow Safe Mode ...

On and on ....

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So damned tired of messing with this machine. Most everything inplugged, turned off in BIOS. It's now taken to locking up whenever it feels like it. Been playing games all this morning once again with it ....

The 'main' option at present is the "detecting devices like keyboard and mouse" .. yet, slid in underneath this function is a whole raft of other crap, where the lockyps seem to to come at random places during the "Please wait while installing application (x/23) ..... giving it time doesn't work, for example, 2.5 hours waiting for the "moving AOL icon to the desktop" titled action to finish up ...???? (what the hell is really going on there?) Lo and behold, dozens of power-off re-boots, and (23 of 23) got installed .. a cute little animated icon resembling the "searching" mode comes up .... finally locking up about 20 minutes later. Yet another re-boot and "Please wait whjile installing application (1/23) comes up ... making it to (2/23) before locking up again ....

I've ran several cpu stress and performance tests, over a half-dozen doifferent memory tests with no problems found. I've actually installed several Linux distros on this system with no problem (ignoring that much of the hardware isn't supported .. oodles of configuration changes needed to turn off checking/use of various system comp[onents just to get some of those to boot off of the Live-CDs ... I've even installed a 'hot' copy of Win-XP Pro onto an ancient 10Gig hard drive in this same system.

I still can't find anyone else having issues with this Recovery software crap arriving at a solution, other than my original (and even second) attempts on this system. What is going on now is simply driving me nuts .... bunches of 'stupid' stuff ....

Turned off the "OEM splash screen dirung boot-up" so I could see what was going on. That splash-screen included the option of "Hit F-10 for boot options" .... now I find that disabling the splash-screen also removes the 'knowledge' of the F-10 keypress. Followed then by turning the OEM Logo back on, hitting the F-10 and getting the "Boot" menu .. but the keyboard is then not recognized so as to allow scrolling down the screen to select the second hard-drive (the successful XP Pro install) so I could use it to 'look' at what the hell is actually on the first hard-drive.

Re-booting after that failed exercise ... now locked up on the "Windows Xp Setup - please wait...." splash screen .... geeze ....

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Power down . check that the mouse/keyboard are plugged into the 'correct' marked sockets. Correct, remove and replace a coulle of times to 'clean the contacts'

Power-on .. F2 to enter BIOS ... change BIOS settings to boot off the escond hard-drive .... XP Peo comes up, however, no mouse response. Find that "Mouse" isn't in the "Add new hardware" menu .. neat ... use keyboard to bring up menu and shut-down ... then find that the openoing sreen now won't 'see' the F2 keypress to go back into the BIOS settings. Yet, once Windows is up, can use the keyboard to shut down.

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<snip ongoing tale of woe>

In this kind of situation, threatening to reprogram the thing with a fire axe sometimes helps.

Sorry, nothing useful to add, but it seemed like you needed some sympathy.

Edit to add:

Sometimes actually reprogramming the thing with a fire axe helps even more.

Edited by GraemeL

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