Friday, September 7, 2007

#18 Blue Screen of Death

by Jeff Smith

The Blue Screen of Death

If you're a Windows user, more than likely, you've encountered the Blue Screen of Death at some point. Perhaps you were working on something important, perhaps you just weren't holding your mouth right. Then suddenly, the computer beeps at you and the whole screen turns blue with a bunch of white writing that doesn't seem to convey anything useful. Us geeks have been calling it the Blue Screen of Death or BSOD since Window 95. In fact, its been MicroSoft's preferred "uh-oh" screen since Windows 3.1.
Its pop-culture presence has extended to t-shirts, coffee mugs, and the usual sort of collectibles. And I've seen some pictures of it in action in some unexpected places. There was a picture floating around not to far back of one of those huge video screens at Times Square, in New York that had suffered a crash and was displaying the BSOD.
I'm sure the question on everyone's mind, now that I've taken two paragraphs to reminisce about an error message, is what to do about it.
Keep in mind that a BSOD can result from any number of different problems. And most of the information displayed on the screen is not something that the average person can understand.
The first line usually says something like "A problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer" The next line is the one you need to pay attention to. It may not make any sense to you, but write it down. Then, when you get your machine booted back up, or can get to another computer, search for that phrase on Google, or one of the other search engines. Often it can lead you to a solution, or at least an understanding of what has gone wrong. Not always, because some of the messages are not specific enough and cover too many possible problems. But sometimes.
In any case, it will be helpful for when you try to seek help from other sources.
That goes for error messages other than the BSOD as well. The more information you can give a repair tech, the less investigative work he'll have to do to find out why your machine is not behaving itself, and that should speed up the repairs. Which in the end, translates to a smaller repair bill. Or at least it should.


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