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Blue screen of death with grey field and blinking cursor
mcruiser Jul-31-02 01:33 AM
Ok, I have a not-so-serious problem, but I'm curious to its cause.

Periodically my computer flips out and throws me a BSOD, but it has no text, only a grey box in the upper part of screen (like probably 10 solid DOS characters in a row) and a blinking cursor in the lower right of the screen. The PC still sort of runs, it usually happens during games and I can hear the sound still, sometimes in little repetitive loops, sometimes fine. Just recently did a windows reinstall and it was doing it before and after, so I am suspecting hardware. It only happens every once in awhile, sometimes every other day, sometimes less often. My system has been very stable up until now. I don't overclock.

MSI K7T Turbo VIA KT133A MoBo
Athlon XP 1500+
Gainward GeForce 3 Ti 200 VidCard
Maxtor 7200 rpm HD
Generic PC133 RAM
Windows 98 1st Edition with latest service pack

1. RE: Blue screen of death with grey field and blinking cursor
Zeno Jul-31-02 05:55 AM
In response to message 0
Yeah, I can empathize...been to BSOD a few times myself.

You didn't mention what kind of sound card you have. Slow codecs sometimes get lost on fast busses.

First, try the obvious and tedious, in the following order:
1) From "System Tools", run Disk Cleanup on your HD and check all the boxes.
2) Run Scandisk Standard, and remember to check the autofix box.
3) Run a defrag. It's best to run defrag from SAFE MODE with your screen saver disabled.

Now for something a little more fun:

4) Open the START>RUN...box and type <hwinfo /ui> without the brackets.
(ui stands for user interface)
5) Scroll down the hwinfo list and look for items in RED type that say "This device has a problem."
6) If you see a problem, jot down the related driver or dll.
7) Boot to the Startup Options menu, by holding the CTRL key during restart, or pressing F8 just before the WIN98 splash screen. (If you have an OEM squawk box, this may not work.)
8) At the Startup Options menu, choose option 2. Logged (\BOOTLOG.TXT)
9) In the root directory of your primary parition, use WordPad to open "bootlog.txt"
10) In "bootlog.txt" look for lines that say "LoadFailed" or "DynamicinitFailed".

Next, the Hard Rock nitty-gritty:

11) Since you recently installed WIN98, check your "detlog.txt" file for anything peculiar, like strange IRQ or I/O configurations. It should be in the root directory of your primary partition.
12) Check all the Resource tabs in Device Manager for conflicts. Don't worry about shared IRQs on 9 or greater. That's probably OK. If you have an IRQ conflict, it will most likely be on one less than 9.
13) Try uninstalling and reinstalling your game in case you accidently nuked some essential dll.
14) Open the START>RUN.. box and type <msconfig.exe>. Click the tabs for Autoexec.bat and Config.sys to see if you have any legacy drivers conflicting with 9X drivers. THAT could likely be your problem. You may need to clean out the cobwebs. You can also use the "Selective Startup" radio button to enter SAFE MODE in case your frog brained OEM disabled the CTRL and F8 key.
15) Open the System Information area, and then open the Tools menu, and then run System File Checker, and while your at it, check out the settings button to see if you find anything useful.
16) Check out SDRAM timing in CMOS setup.

And if you have some time to waste:

17) Try using DR.WATSON. This is probably the second most useless program MS ever wrote. About all you'll find out is the name of the program that crashed, which you already know. It's also in the Tools menu of System Information.

18) Run Scandisk "Thoreau" and go for a stroll around Walden Pond.

Editorial on BSOD vs. HARDWARE:

While it's possible for Fatal Exception Errors (BSOD) to be caused by hardware, the odds are about 90% that you actually have a software problem; probably a legacy driver that's not getting along with your new game, OR an old game that's not getting along with a newer driver. BTW, is your game 16-bit or 32-bit?

There's a way to test the bad hardware theory with a fairly high level of confidence: Make a Plain Vanilla DOS boot disk with *only* the system files. If you like using the command prompt, type <format a: /s > without the brackets. Don't put config.sys, autoexec.bat or any drivers on the floppy. Then use your PV floppy to boot to the command prompt. When you get to the a:\ prompt, switch to the hard drive(s) and see if you can access all of your HD partitions. If you can accomplish this, with no error messages from DOS or BIOS, then you almost certainly don't have a hardware problem, because all the perepheral hardware BIOS has decided to play nice. There's basically only two common hardware problems this method can't detect: (a) erratic power supply, and/or (b) heat-related stalls (all too common during games.)

I hope this helps you develop some ideas and strategies of your own. Even it doesn't solve the problem, a tune-up can only help your PC run better. Post back and let me know what's going on. As my dear old Dad used to say, "If all else fails, read the instructions." You can always ask Mr. Gates, who lives at F1.

Best wishes...

2. RE: Blue screen of death with grey field and blinking cursor
Zeno Jul-31-02 06:52 AM
In response to message 1
Just realized you probably have integrated sound. (Doh!?) Whatever... you might try reinstalling your sound drivers, or looking for, as they say, the latest..

3. RE: Blue screen of death with grey field and blinking cursor
lbyard Jul-31-02 10:01 AM
In response to message 0
How often is "Periodically"? Larry

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