Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Unbricking an aspire one

About 5 weeks ago i bought an Acer Aspire One, fantastic little machine, loaded it with Ubuntu (intrepid Ibix Alpha), 95% of the hardware works out of the box, even my 3UK 3G Modem, boy was I a happy camper.

I wanted the machine to run freemind so could take notes at FOWA which was last week.

Then suddenly disaster struck, I powered it up the week-end before the show only to be greeted with a blank screen and no activity at all. The machine was dead as a dodo.

So I packed it all back into the box and took it5 back to John Lewises in Reading where I had got it from originaly. And to give those guys their due, they where fantastic, they did not quibble, and swapped the machine out for a new one immediately without any hassle, at least one organisation knows about customer service (note they also include an extended 2 year warrentee for free with all items). I will be3 buying all my electronics from those guys in the future.

Anyway back to the story, I spent a frantic week-end reloading all my software and backups (yes I had them) onto the new machine, and headed off to the show. The machine performed fantastically, even managing to handle the wifi connections in the hall, where my colleagues EEE could not cut the mustard.

Then this evening on the train back home tonight, lightening struck twice. I powered down the AAO, realized I had not copied something I want off it onto my pen drive, and went to power it back up again, only to discover the machine had converted itself into a plastic brick again, totaly unresponsive to any prodding, engineer's taps or other incantations.

Dispondant at the thought of having to return it to JL with an explanation that "honest gov, it just broke again" . And negotiate the disdainful looks and insistence that I "must have done something to it", after all it is the second time... I resigned myself to having be without my AAO whilst JL investigated what abuse I had heaped on to the little beastie (again). All whilst feeling like a child molester, an abuser of young innocent netbooks.

However it turns out that this is a known problem, and the AAO even has a built in mechanism for fixing the problem, even if it is lying on its back with its metaphorical legs in the air. An off chance search of the net, looking for other lost souls with terminal aspire syndrome, hoping to find solace in the company of other unfortunates, and a chance to appeal my innocence to a more receptive group sharing this traumatic experience, turned up a post that offered a last chance hope of salvation.

Festooned with dire warnings about, following every step to the letter, and the dire consequences of not doing so, lay a page that made me once again aspire to get my aspire motoring again.

So The Aspire MAY drop its flashed bios occasionally, forcing it to emulate the common house brick, but it has a hardwired loader that will pull a copy of the bios off a usb pendrive and restore it to its former glory, even if the machine is exhibiting no other outward signs of life. The gory details can be found at at Macles Blog. Suffice to say i followed the recipe to the letter, waved the incantations in the air, mumbled the words of power, and breathed life back into my portable building material.

Waiting for the process to finish, and for the machine to restart has been the longest two minutes of my life, but to see the machine spring miraculous back to life, like Lazarus rising from the dead was a thrill worth raving about.



Anonymous said...
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conundrum said...


I've revived a few of these, including the same one about 14 times until it finally died requiring replacement of the Winbond chip from my spare.

Just resurrected two of three "dead" boards from ebay, so most of the time a BSOD is this problem.

now working on board *3 (an ssd one) so i am thinking onboard RAM maybe? lights on pendrive don't flash at all when i do the "Vulcan Nerve Pinch"...