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What are the odds?


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#1 millipede

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:01 PM

Within a local facebook group, I have offered minor computer repairs. The group is about "paying it forward" and so I offer my services for free, though one lady did pay me... I've helped a few out and I've really enjoyed being able to do this. I see people giving in the group every day and I just don't have any tangible items to give... so, I volunteered my services and have been able to work on a few interesting computers... win win situation. :)
Well....... til yesterday....
I brought home a tower and a laptop from two different people. The laptop... While standing on the lady's front porch, her dog came out the door, jumped up and bit my arm... the lady said "don't worry, my dog doesn't bite..." I've been told this many times in my life, AFTER being bitten. I told her "it just did" and then it came back and bit me again, just about at the armpit and I'm 6'2".
anyway... She told me that she couldn't boot it... it would ask for a password BEFORE loading windows...... I thought, "hey, I just read about that the other day... bios password, and how it was tricky but manageable... I might enjoy figuring that one out..."
I brought it and the desktop home... the laptop was on the floor for a few hours while I played with the desktop... then I got tired of that one and put the laptop on top of the desktop... after a little playing around.....

:/ A tiny little cockroach was climbing on the desktop, right next to that laptop... given the condition of the house I got it from, I was fairly certain it was the laptop... I quickly put it in a trash back and tied it up... I am all but terrified that some got loose in the house... little things... I believe german. :/
I took it outside today and reluctantly took it apart. I was right... it was the laptop... there's at least half a dozen live and half a dozen dead roaches inside it... along with areas that were dirty with feces where you could tell they congregated. Gross...
Anyway... I took the stinking thing apart til I got to the little battery... disconnected it and left it for a while... went back and while the hard drive was still out, plugged it in and I got into bios for the first time. Up til then it always asked for a password. Now it doesn't. Finished putting it back together and decided to turn it on just to see what happens... now it asks for a hard drive password.
My first thought is... perhaps it's a stolen laptop... But this lady says that her husband bought it for her some time ago and it worked... then all of the sudden it started doing this... and he ended up buying her a new one. But she saw I was helping people out and thought if it would run again, she could give it to her son.
What are the chances of something like this just "all of the sudden" happening?
There's a part of me that REALLY wants to get past that hard drive password but... the thing is sitting under a tent outside because it's raining and I am NOT bringing it back in the house. So, I'm going to try and get it back to her today... she said she had a cousin or nephew or something that wanted to look at it if I couldn't fix it so I'm going to let them take care of it. I'm done...
I'm just curios about that password situation. How does that just happen? Though I don't doubt possibilities... I find it a bit peculiar.

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#2 the_patriot11

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:04 PM

its possible it was a virus, but unlikely, chances are someone put a password in. Especially a BIOS password-someone had to put that in there, its highly unlikely (not unheard of) but unlikely for a virus to get in and install a BIOS password.

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#3 millipede

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:12 PM

IF it really worked for them, and then it happened... again, I find it peculiar. These people sure didn't know anything about computers, and they sure didn't put the password on. Password protecting a hard drive and bios is not something I've even ever played with... So I imagine someone knew what they were doing when they did that. Who and why I haven't a clue.
I just messaged them and told them I wanted to bring it back to them. I can't help but wonder if the thing was stolen but who knows. I guess the only reason it's bugging me is I REALLY don't like mysteries that much. I like solving things. ha

Edit: I don't mind thoughts and input on the whole thing... main reason for posting though was, this was just one of those situations I just HAD to talk to someone about. ha. I REALLY wanted to get that thing running but I just couldn't get past those things crawling around inside...

Edited by millipede, 14 December 2012 - 06:46 PM.


#4 SleepyDude

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 06:52 PM

Hi,

I have seen some laptops BIOS that allow you to set a password and at the same time lock the HDD by using ATA security or something like that, this is probably the case you removed the BIOS password but now the hard disk will not accept to work without the correct password. Another possibility is that the HDD is BAD in some machines this makes the BIOS ask for a password at boot.

For the first case I have read some articles that talk about accessing the Hard Disk using a special mode and tools to delete all the disk information by directly requesting this to the HDD controller but this is only possible in some HDD brands and models. More simple solution is buy a new HDD and forget all the data or take the disk to a specialized recovery company.

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#5 cat33

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 09:22 PM

When I was watching videos on how to clean computers, I ended up watching a man clean a windows 98 desktop that was roach infested.

Cleaning of a Roach infested Computer Part 1



I don't know anything about the password issue.

#6 millipede

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 10:24 PM

ew ew ew... This laptop wasn't quite that bad. It looks to be only a few years old, windows vista, decent looking machine from the outside... but there were areas that looked a little like the inside of that. Even in between the screen and the palm rest near where it hinged... Areas of obvious poop... a few dead roaches... and some live ones still crawling around when I was done putting it back together.
Now, I'm not a complete sissy when it comes to gross things(though, I do have a bit of OCD that makes some things difficult) but... ew... if they were dead, ALL dead, I would have taken it outside and vacuumed it out or something and gotten over it... and just washed my hands a million times during the whole process... But with live ones inside and there's already a chance some are in my house now... I sent it back to them earlier this evening. Just didn't want it here another second. It makes me want to cry every time I think about it.
Here in Arkansas we have American and Oriental roaches that live in the wild and on occasion make it into our house. We've been in this house for about 8 years now and just see a few of those each spring..... But they're bigger and they don't hide. They're easy to find and kill... and we've never had an infestation of any kind. Just a few here and there each spring and that's it.
But inside that laptop... little bitty things that definitely liked to hide... and based on what I saw, I do believe they were german roaches which are very much the kind that can infest a home. I'm kind of a paranoid guy as it is...... so my anxiety level has been a bit above normal since yesterday.
Okay... I have to go do something else because I'm getting stressed out thinking about this right now. :/
Put a few sticky traps out today just in case... will buy some real roach traps next time I'm out as well, just in case. I'm praying I wont see any roaches... Maybe our spider population will help. We don't kill spiders in our house very often. We let them roam free. :)
This is also frustrating because, I want to continue helping people with their computers but how in the world do I address future threats? Do I say "I can look at your computer, provided it comes from a bug free home..."? ew ew ew.......

#7 MrBruce1959

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 11:50 AM

Hi millipede, I read through your thread and I can relate to how you feel about acquiring hardware from people that come with an unexpected payload inside....Cockroaches!

Your assumptions are correct, ONE Cockroach can lead to MANY Cockroaches if it is allowed to escape and make its way into the space between the walls of your home.

If you want to continue working on people's computers and electronic devices, I suggest you choose an area isolated from the main structure of your home, such as a garage or an out door utility shed.

You can easily setup a decent workshop and if in thee event you run into issues with unexpected surprises popping out of the devices, they won't be able to infest your main dwelling.

Now, I am not sure if this is a possibility for you, but if it is, I suggest you do so.

If you currently do not have an isolated location to work on such devices, I suggest you take a piece of plywood, cut it to a size that allows for a safe work area. (You can even add legs to this plywood so it is an actual work bench)

Once you have this plywood cut to the dimensions of your choice, you can purchase two sided sticky tape (the stickier the better) then apply this sticky tape around the outer edges on the top side of the plywood.

If you open any type of electronics devices that harbor hidden surprises such as Cockroaches, they will end up running right onto the sticky tape, avoiding any possible escape into your home.

This sticky tape can also come in handy for stopping and caching any run away screws before they roll off the work bench and end up lost in a thick floor carpet, if the room you work in has such carpeting on the floor.

This has worked quite well for me, as I have worked on many electronics devices in my home and have never seen any unexpected bugs make a successful escape past the sticky and into my home.

Hope this idea makes you feel more confident to continue your good deed of repairing electronic devices owned by your friends and associates.

Now as for that password situation you spoke of. If you feel this laptop was a stolen one, then this would mean your friend is a possible thief. I can not judge anyone I do not know, however you can.
If you feel this woman is a non-trust worthy person, Then that is your call.

Some laptops were manufactured with possible theft issues in mind. The laptop case has an area where a lock with steel cable can be inserted and the cable can be wrapped around a secured pole that prevents an easy way of just grabbing the laptop and running with it.

The hard drives installed in laptops during the manufacture process often come with software that locks the contents of the hard drive from anyone who does not know the encrypted data access password of the hard drive. This is often used on Government laptops as a security feature.

This feature is also embedded in the laptop's BIOS firmware as well and is the most common method used on all laptops. There can be two separate passwords set in the BIOS setup utility. One of those passwords protects against the unauthorized access to the BIOS setup utility, the other password prevents unauthorized access to the system's boot up procedure. The system simply will not allow the booting to the hard drive unless that password is entered at the prompt.

So I leave it to you to decide if this person who you obtained this laptop from is a possible laptop thief or not as no one here can determine that about a person whose character we can not judge unless we were to meet them in person first.

It is my hope that anything you read in my reply has been most helpful to you. :wink:

Kind regards...

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#8 millipede

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:14 PM

Thanks Bruce. That's an interesting idea. I don't have any kind of building outside I could use, though I hope to some day.
In the future, towers will just be opened and inspected outside before they come in but you can't do that so easily with laptops... I like that table idea and will likely do something along those lines. I have an area next to my desk that usually has such equipment piled up on, I could easily clear that up a bit and place such a table there.
Thanks for that idea. :)

as for the lady, I don't really know her. I'm skeptical of the situation a little along with some other things but, I don't really know so I've kind of given up on thinking about it. I'm more worried about the roaches... and, I do also worry that their dog is going to bite someone else one of these days.
Man, this incident has had me rethinking ever taking or buying anything used from someone again as well. I'm definitely going to be a lot more cautious now.

#9 rotor123

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:46 PM

its possible it was a virus, but unlikely, chances are someone put a password in. Especially a BIOS password-someone had to put that in there, its highly unlikely (not unheard of) but unlikely for a virus to get in and install a BIOS password.

Hi

Many Toshiba laptops had a bug in the BIOS on many models that would set a random password that would not let you boot or enter the BIOS. They had extended the warranty for a period of time where they paid to clear the CMOS settings. Part of the repair was to update the BIOS. Any other warranty repair on those models was also supposed to include a BIOS update. I did a fair amount of those in the past when I was working.

Hard drive password, drives are inexpensive enough to just replace the drive. However I wouldn't touch those without some proof of ownership.

Best Regards
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#10 rotor123

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:12 PM

IF it really worked for them, and then it happened... again, I find it peculiar. These people sure didn't know anything about computers, and they sure didn't put the password on. Password protecting a hard drive and bios is not something I've even ever played with... So I imagine someone knew what they were doing when they did that. Who and why I haven't a clue.
I just messaged them and told them I wanted to bring it back to them. I can't help but wonder if the thing was stolen but who knows. I guess the only reason it's bugging me is I REALLY don't like mysteries that much. I like solving things. ha

Edit: I don't mind thoughts and input on the whole thing... main reason for posting though was, this was just one of those situations I just HAD to talk to someone about. ha. I REALLY wanted to get that thing running but I just couldn't get past those things crawling around inside...


OK, I'm not trying to scare you, I probably am, sorry. However You should be sure to wash those clothes in really hot water.
2. Bug bomb the car, Those little critters could have crawled out there and be waiting to hitchhike on your clothes into the house.
3. In the future if you are picking up and bringing home the computers, carry a can of Raid in the car and keep one handy where you work. Also put the computers picked up into a clear garbage bag and before bringing it into the house look at the bottom of the bag and see if any little critters have crawled out.

I used to work in a store and Every now and then someone would bring in electronics that was infested. My method was throw it into a garbage bag, spray some raid in there, seal it up and give it back. I was afraid off bringing home hitchhikers.

I applaud your efforts to be helpful. That is why many of us here help on the Forum.

Good Luck
Roger

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