Sunday, September 18, 2016

Resolve Acer ATC 605 desktop forever reboot loop (before POST) issue

Long Story Short
Problem: Acer ATC-605 desktop (ATC-605-UR13) in forever reboot before POST.
Cause: Malfunction 300W power supply unit (My best guess: Not enough power during bootup)
Solution: Replace the 300W power Supply unit with another 380W power supply unit

Long Story
It's a love and hate to Acer computer. The love is the price really reasonable. And the hardware quality would make you hate Acer never want to buy from the brand again.

I bought a refurbished "Acer ATC-605-UR13 (i.e. Aspire TC 605) Core i5-4440 10GB 1TB WiFi HD 4600 DVDRW Windows 8.1 Desktop" in 2014. In the very beginning, I found it rebooted by itself once in a while. Later after upgrading it to Windows 10, it worked sometimes and did not boot up most of the time. When it was unable to boot up, the screen is blank, no beep code, no POST (Power on self Test) screen. The CPU FAN spinned one time in 3-5 seconds. Then, the computer turned off itself and rebooted itself and started the reboot cycle again. This is a very frustrated experience. 

Since I'm living a busy life and I have other notebook to use, I leave it on the corner of the desk until recently. I was thinking that I'm lacking a reliable desktop to store family photos/videos. I pulled the Acer desktop out and see if the booted problem can be fixed. 

The reason I wanted to fix it is: the CPU i5-4440 is amazing fast (6398 passmark score which it is faster than a lot of low-end i7 CPUs, per reference in It has plenty of ram 10GB !!!!!!!. It can be upgraded and running to Windows 10 with no issue at all when it is booted up.

I'm not a hardware person. What I can do it is to observe the obvious symptoms and trying to narrow down to it. I tried below list of things:

- Upgrade the firmware to the latest one and reboot- Remove all ram and reboot- Replace the power supply and reboot- Unplug all the harddisk and cd-rom and reboot- Unplug ram and reboot- Remove secure boot from BIOS- Disable UEFI from BIOS- Clear the CMOS using battery removal or jumper- Disable most of the thing not needed from bios. - Reinstall the Windows 10 (from Reset command)- Google the sympotms and tried out all the solutions from the Web.

All of the above never can get ride of the reboot loop problem. Last thing I tried is to use the POST Diagnostic card to see the code where the boot up process stopped before the POST. The POST Diagnostic card is in progress of delivery from Ebay. Before it arrived, I found that when I removed the harddisk and DVD-ROM connection and after the CMOS is cleared. Sometimes the system can be rebooted up and can be used until the PC is shutdown. And the reboot problem come back again in next reboot. 

When looking from the web solutions, I noticed that the i5-4440 CPU consumed 82W power. And the default power supply got 300W power. 1/3 of power already going to the CPU. And sometimes, when the harddisk and DVD-ROM were disconnected (power and signal cable), the PC can be booted after POST. I was thinking two issues. Could it be a short circult protection from the power supply. Or simply not enough power during the PC boot up process. So, this Sat. morning, I went to Frys to buy a 380Watt power supply ($12.99 after rebated) and give it a shot. Volla, this is the first time in the last months the PC can be booted up with no problem. The 380W PSU resolved the problem YAY. 

I don't know the real cause yet. I have a friend who works as architect to design PSU. I'll certainly go to him and consult him why. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

A solution to Project Fi activation error code B010


(In case you want to know the solution right away, you can skip the Background to read the solution  section down below)

I'm a Project Fi user for couples months. I enjoy so much the service, the freedom to use or not to use the data and it costs me $23 each month include everything (fee and tax) because of the unused data refund. With the recent $199 Nexus 5x deal, I bought a Nexus 5x phone for my another family member to transfer the phone number to Project Fi to save more money.

I got the phone with a new SIM Card and trying to activated with a new google account. During activation, I got the error code B010. I call the Project Fi support from the activation App page. For 45 minutes, we tried different things to trying to resolve the activation issues, but nothing worked

Then, the Fi support said the SIM card was associated with the Google account where the phone and SIM card is purchased that it cannot be activated under to another Google account unless the association is broken. The funny thing is: even on their end, they does not have method, in a more software term "interface", to remove the association. We kind of stuck there.

The Fi support suggested to activate the new phone and new SIM with "phone purchased" Google Account that the SIM card is associated as one Google account can associate more than one line and phone.  I followed to activate the phone to the "phone purchased" Google Account.  Somehow, the new phone and new SIM is taking over my own phone instead of my family member phone number. i.e. In one option, I choose to use Primary number because it warns me the other option won't receive call and text which is useless.

Finally, the Fi support suggested to email me a link to purchase a new SIM card (free of charge) that this SIM card does not associate with any account.

So, now, the new Phone and new SIM got my old number. My old 'SMART' phone and old SIM became a DUMB WIFI device cannot make a call. Before getting the NEW SIM card, I put back the just activated SIM card on my old phone. I discover below solution doesn't need an extra new SIM card.

New Phone and New SIM purchased from a Google account would fail with code B010 while activating the Project Fi with another Google account.

Root Cause:
New SIM order from 'A' Google account is associated with the 'A' Google account which is not able to activate to 'B' Google account in Project Fi unless the association is broken.

Brief Solution:
  1. Activate the new SIM and new phone with the Google account that purchased the SIM and Phone
  2. Activate the new SIM with the old Phone with the old phone existing Google account.
  3. Old SIM is now made inactive.
  4. Activate the Old SIM + New Phone with any Google account you want.

It's like swapping the two values of A and B with a temporary variable X.

Details solution steps:
1. Associate the new phone and new SIM card with the "phone purchase" Google account by activated the new phone and new SIM card with the "phone purchase" Google account.
2. Pull out the just activated SIM card and put it inside the old Phone and do the activation with the "purchase" Google account. --->; Yay, I got my old phone number back on my old Nexus 5x phone with the "new" SIM.
3. Somehow, step 2 did the trick to break the old SIM card association with the old Google account.
4. Put the old SIM card (i.e. the SIM card just got pull out replaced by the new SIM for my Old Nexus 5x) inside the new Nexus 5x phone and do all the activation with the NEW Google account.
5. Unexpectedly smooth within 5 minutes, the New Phone is activated with the old SIM card and with the NEW Google account. (The activation asks me the a new phone number and it's carrier transfer information).

The magic is to activate the new SIM (Step 1) with the new phone. Then, deactivated the old SIM (Step 2) by activate the new SIM again with the old phone. Somehow the old SIM is made "inactive" in Project Fi page status. Then, the old SIM is free to use to activate on another Google account (Step 4 and 5).

In case you have interest, you read below detail background.

Kudo should be given to Project Fi support. The support I talked to is very sincere and patience clarifying a lot of questions I asked. Though the support did not directly point me to the solution, The support trying as much help as possible. Without the support willingness to help, I will never try "Step 1". And I learned that It's not the phone associated with the Google account. It's only the SIM card associated with the Google account. And this association cannot be broken by a interface from Project Fi support (as least the one I called doesn't has interface to do so). Maybe future, the Project Fi team can add this feature to their support interface. Before that, please try my discovery and let me know if it works for your in comments. :)

Side node: Thanks to Roger Hu posting the root cause of B010, Somehow the Project Fi support is unable to transfer the Asset Id from one account to another. I'm glad I don't need 3 weeks to resolve this issue. :)

Friday, December 25, 2015

ddkmd.sys blue screen in Windows 10 start up

Bought a $9 USB 3.0 to VGA adapter from eBay and thought it is a straightforward step just to install the drivers (from the CD) to my Windows 10 PC. After the driver installation, it asked to reboot the PC. Then, the PC got BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) with ddkmd.sys exception. The PC tried to repair itself and reboot again. The ddkmd.sys exception blue screen keeps coming after the reboot.

The standard solution is to remove the new installed failed driver and stay there.
Since I'm a long time IT veteran and I believe there is no problem can't be resolved. So, I downloaded a suggested windows 10 driver from Luckily, it works.

A. Remove the failed driver
To remove the failed driver, Press F8 to boot into Windows 10 restore option while in PC boot up. Choose the option to "Restore from a system restore point". Follow the on screen direction to restore the system state before the failed driver. At the end, there is a reboot. It should bring your machine back to normal.

B. Download and install a proper display card Windows 10 driver.
If you are brave enough like me, you can download and install the driver from The one I downloaded is

Or you can contact your seller or someone know the right driver to install it. After the proper driver installation, the proper driver should show the new display device in device manager. In my case, it is "Fresco Logic FL2000 USB Display".

Good luck to you.

Paloma tankless water heater C4 56 error

Couples days ago, my Paloma tankless water heater got the C4 56 flashing error code. Hot water never comes out from the faucet anymore. I searched the web and found no solution to the Paloma tankless C4 56 flashing error code issue. So, I tried to resolve it by myself.

The solution is: Restart the water heater.

How? Unplug the power plug and wait 5 seconds. Plug it back.

Then, the water heater is up and running again.

This is not cool that the cause is not found yet. It is good that it buys me sometime to find another solution or shop another one. Yay!

Hope this solution works for you too. If it works for you, please leave a comment. :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Root Cause Analysis for dummies: Part 2 - Definition

What is a Root Cause?

The word speaks for itself: the root of the cause. That simple? Yes! 
BTW, I like my another version from the practical point of view: 
A Root Cause is defined as any cause when it is removed, it can eliminate the reoccurrence of an effect. 
What's the root of a tree? There are many components of the tree: leaves, truck, body, bottom part, ROOT: the most bottom part inside the soil. Is it the ROOT the only root cause of a tree? (The answer is NO, below will tell you why.)

Every single problem or an issue is an effect of a cause. If there is a effect, there is a cause.
A cause is the reason behind causing the effect. Cause -> Effect. From now on, the symbol -> will be used to mean causing.  For example, the Cause is no electricity and the Effect is Lamp malfunction. No electricity causing the Lamp malfunction.

No Electricity -> Lamp Malfunction

Cause A -> Effect A

So, in the example, if we remove the Cause A, we can eliminate Effect A. 

For instance, the main switch is turned off causing the lamp malfunction. The cause of the lamp malfunction is the off main switch. According to the definition above: the root cause of the lamp malfunction is the off main switch.

That simple?! Yes! That simple. Do I need to find out who turn off the switch? That may be the root cause. Do I need to find out the reason behind the person turn off the switch? That can be the root cause too, right?

Let me draw the diagram to clarify how to single out this chain of effects and identify the root cause.

Reason behind the person turning off the switch -> The person turn off the switch -> Main switch is off -> Lamp malfunction. 

If you look at above diagram, we can rewrite it like below.

Cause A -> Cause B (Effect of Cause A) -> Cause C (Effect of Cause C) -> final Effect

So, let me ask the same question again. What's the root cause of the final effect?

..... give you 5 minutes to think about it :)



Answer: Cause A, Cause B, Cause C

What? Why all three are the root causes of the final effect?
The answer is: if removing the cause will removing the final effect. This fit the root case definition.

Cause A: Reason behind the person turning off the switch -> 
Cause B: The person turn off the switch -> 
Cause C: Main switch is off -> 
Final Effect: Lamp malfunction. 

Eliminate Cause C: If we turn the main switch on, the lamp is functional now. The effect is gone.
Eliminate Cause B: If the person did not turn off the switch, the switch is on, the Lamp is functional. Effect gone!
Eliminate Cause A: If the reason behind the person turning off the switch is removed, the person did not turn off the switch. The switch is on and the Lamp is functional now. The effect is gone too.

So, the root cause of an issue is depending how the issue is defined. If you want to solve the issue of Lamp malfunction. You can just turn the main switch to solve this issue. The immedicate cause of lamp malfunction is good enough to resolve the issue.

If you want to resolve the issue to prevent the person turn off the switch, we have to find the reason behind why the person did that.

So, my point is: It is not necessary to dig too deep of a cause unless you want to address deeper issue.
If not, immediate cause is good enough in most cases.

Points to remember:
a. Cause can become an effect if there is a cause creating this cause. 
b. Eliminating a cause to remove an unwanted effect, this very cause is weighty enough to be a ROOT CAUSE.

2. How about I have 2 causes of a effect (issue or problem)?

Cause A: Main Switch is off -> Lamp is malfunction
Cause B: Light Bulb is broken -> Lamp is malfunction

Both Cause A & Cause B cause the lamp malfunction.

To resolve this issue, we can resolve Cause A and Cause B. That is to turn the main switch on and replace the light bulb. 

To be creative, i give you 5 minutes again to find a creative solution yourself that can solve this problem with ONE solution.

..... give you 5 minutes to think about.



Cause C: No one monitor the main switch and the Light bulb. That's the cause of Cause A & B. 
So, we can resolve this issue by finding the Cause C, exactly speaking to define the cause C and resolve it. 

We can just search what behind the Cause A & B. 

Cause C -> Cause A & B -> Final Effect
Not Monitor Main Switch and Bulb -> Main Switch is off & Bulb is broken -> Lamp malfunction.

In this, Cause A & B, a combined cause can be a root cause of Lamp malfunction.
Or, Cause C can be a root cause of Cause A & B. 

Either eliminating only cause C or eliminating cause A & B will resolve the Lamp malfunction problem.

Points to remember: 
a. An effect could have multiple causes. 
b. The multiple causes can be a root cause.
c. Or the cause behind the multiple causes can be a root cause. 

3. How about a cause has multiple effects?
Main switch is off -> Lamp malfunction and Alarm clock malfunction
Cause A -> Effect A & Effect B

This is similar to the previous cases. The root cause is Cause A. 
Resolving Cause A will eliminate effect A & effect B. 

Points to remember:
a. A cause could have multiple effects.
b. Resolve this cause could resolve multiples issues/problems.

Isn't it nice and effective using one stone to hunt for two birds?

If you can put the very definition in mind, you would not be afraid to identify the root cause. 
By this, you will get more chance to tacky the issues in your work and your life. 

Hopefully, this can help to remove the hassle of finding a root cause.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Root Cause Analysis for dummies: Part 1 - Introduction

The first time I learned Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is from a training class in a chemical company 15 years ago. They put safety in the first of the first priority. Since if there is any major safety incident, the plant manager can be fired or even the whole plant will be closed. For this reason, they introduced Root Cause Analysis to every employee for part of continuous improvement to avoid occurrence of the same incident, big or small.

I picked it up and kept it in my arsenal to use it daily to resolve IT problems. It became my arm and leg just embedding in part of my mind. The merit of this tool is: once the root cause is identified and being resolved. The similar problem or issue will be disappeared forever. 

When surfing the Web, there are a lot of website talking about RCA. Most of them embrace tons of methodologies combining with unnecessary problem solving skills and steps. If I first learned it from them, I'll be intimidated that RCA is belongs to the intellectual or at least a Master degree person could have a grab of it. e.g. is totally untrue.

So, I tried to share my own simple version of Root Cause Analysis. To let all the layman like me, pick it up and become part of themselves. 

Let's go to: Part 2  the definition of Root Cause. 

Pretty much if you define the Root Cause well, in 50% you can identify the root cause right away.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Google TV - Authentication Error Resolved - Upgraded to Android 3.2

I got a free Google TV in 2010. It was fun to play with. And in 2011, it gave me an upgrade to Android 3.1. It was extremely nice. However, today, when I hooked this Google TV again. It prompts me the Google Talk failed to login error and doesn't allow me to login the Market (now should be Google play).

I tried the some web users suggested two way verification. I got no luck. Even I created another Google account, it still gives me the same error. And because of this authentication error. It doesn't allow the Google TV to upgrade the software to the latest Android software, 3.2 I believe. Simply get me stuck in the middle.

Google for a while, it lands me to this page.!topic/mobile/m1l8Sw4hnmY

Below steps work for me. It is in "Manage Application" under "Setting" of Google TV. When I go to Above->System Upgrade again, it shows me the screen to download the latest software (211MB).

da da.... The Google TV is upgraded to Android 3.2 and re-live again. :)

Follow the steps below to if you are experiencing issues with downloading apps from the Android market:

1. Open the Market app and press the home button in the upper left corner to return to homepage
2. Go to Settings \ Applications \ Manage \ Running
3. Press "Market"
4. Press "Clear cache" (do not clear data)
5. Press "Force stop"
6. Return to "Settings \ Applications \ Manage \ Running"
7. Press "Google Services Framework"
8. Press "Clear Data"
9. Press "Force Stop"
10. Go back to home screen and press Market app to Start Google Market, it will give an error message
11. Shut off and turn the tablet back on; once back Market should work, if it gives an error it could need another minute to work
12. At this point the Market should work