How to fix a computer that “won’t turn on”
“Um… my computer won’t turn on.”
This is the report I get from the other end of the phone, from a student who’s been passed the phone by a teacher.
“It won’t turn on at all?” I ask. This isn’t entirely unlikely; the machines in the lab he’s calling from are old and are from a batch with a known manufacturing flaw that leads the motherboard to pack up at random.
“Oh, er,” comes the reply, “no, it turns on, but I can’t log in.”
“OK,” I reply, quickly realising that the teacher who put him on clearly can’t be bothered with even the simplest diagnostics. “What message does it give you when you try to log in?”
“I don’t know.”
“So what happens?” I venture.
“It says my username or password is incorrect, but I’ve put it in correctly.”
That, my dear moron, is what we call a ‘message’ that appears ‘when you try to log in’. Next step is to check the log on the machine to see if there is anything preventing it from processing an otherwise correct logon. “What number computer are you using?”
“I don’t know.”
“Go and look.”
A few moments silence allow me to put my mic on mute while I bemoan the idiocy of some of our students to LadiesMan. He says he finds my rants entertaining. I hope he does, because he has to suffer them frequently.
“It’s number 12,” comes the eventual reply.
I quickly VNC into the computer and find his username typed in at the logon screen. Instinctively, I click in the username field, and immediately find the problem.
“You’ve typed a space at the end of your username.” I glance down at my keyboard. The last letter of his username is on the top row, so I can only wonder how he hit the space bar by accident.