Monday, January 12, 2009

Weird TurboTax Behavior

It took until 1AM last night (this morning?) but I finally figured out a weird customer problem. The problem was with TurboTax 2008. The program would install perfectly, and open. After choosing continue, the computer would hard power cycle and reboot. It would not pop up any error and no errors were logged in the Event Viewer either. It happened while either transferring previous tax files, or creating a new file on the screen before it asks personal information like marital status, etc.

The hard drive tested perfectly and so did the RAM. Replacing the power supply didn't help, nor did disconnecting every removable device. My google skills were failing me searching for behavior like this. Intuit support wasn't any help to the customer either. It wasn't until I realized the problem did not occur in safe mode, but still was a problem in XP's diagnostic mode that I had an idea that worked...

It seems that TurboTax does something with the video. I'm unclear exactly what. If someone at Intuit happens to read this and would contact me, I'd love to find out why this was a problem. Given its high resolution requirements, maybe it is adjusting refresh rates or something. Anyhow, the fix was to either install a dedicated graphics card or update the video device driver (the cheaper alternative I chose). If you're getting strange power problems and have ruled out all the typical causes like I did, try the graphics driver. This particular machine had an Asus K9NGM-V motherboard with integrated VIA graphics and PCI-e expansion. After updating with Asus' driver from June to October, the problem resolved itself.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holding myself accountable on Dec. 12th 2008

1. I overslept today, does that count as an item on my todo list?
2. There was something nasty down the side of my car, so I went to the carwash. They do good work there.
3. I went to Johnny's Pizza to pick up lunch for everyone at work. Yum.
4. I'm helping a customer get a DOA LCD replaced that they ordered from a store in Indiana. The Ebay store that the original service shop used is being really slow to get back to me though. I have the LCD taken apart now, so hopefully I'll get an RMA number later today to get it replaced.
5. I created this blog after months of suggestions from my husband. We launched a blog for our store yesterday too. It's a little sad, but a lot better than our old one.
6. I balanced my ledger and cut payroll.
7. I walked to Dierberg's for Prairie Farms Holiday Candy Cane Milk. It's my latest addiction. I had to pick up my caffeine source of choice too, I like the orange and grape Amp. We're selling G33K B33R in the store now too, which is a really nice tasting root beer. I like it better at cool temperatures than cold (fridge) temperatures. The root beer flavor seems stronger that way.
8. I helped my neighboring business (Paintball Outfitterz) get his sign fixed.
9. I scheduled two on-site customer services, one to setup Quickbooks for his legal office, and the other a small school to upgrade most of their classroom computers with RAM and DVD burners. I helped them set up a new school management software package the last time I was there.
10. Yay, the Ebay store finally gave me RMA approval for the customer's laptop LCD that was DOA!
11. I called and sent an email to a couple neighbors to find out what their wife's favorite colors were for a holiday project I'm working on.
12. Another customer has asked me to build a new system to host his almost 20 year old ISA card that the customer's employer (who must remain anonymous) invested major $$$ in and cannot get current replacement. This is going to be great... yeah... great...
13. The prices for Internet service are insane. Each year the offers get even more rediculous. We have a T1 to our home, from back in the days when my husband worked for Savvis. We started having to pay for it $1k/mo... then $750/mo, and for the last 3 years $500/mo. I called to renegotiate our contract today. I'd really like to see it drop to like $100/mo. I wonder if I'm dreaming...
14. I went through my mail and sorted junk mail from bills. The pile of bills is down to about 6". Now I get to see how many inches of bills I can afford to pay :-)
15. I called to negotiate my lease payments for the training room equipment.
16. I got through the whole current pile of bills! Yay! There's no money left, but at least things are getting better.
17. I spent the rest of the day on the bench. Matt worked too and we got nearly a dozen customer computers finished. Yay for that too. We get to go home early, hopefully by 3am :) Most of the systems were just virus clean ups and tune-ups. The least typical ones included fixing an X server error on an Ubuntu system and fixing a networking "unknown devices" problem on a Dell. I hadn't seen the problem before where device manager did not show the networking device category. All networking devices were recognized, but the category was labelled as unknown. Odd. I messed up on a data migration between two machines (copied the HP to the Dell instead of the other way around). Gotta love rsync. Now I have a Gateway laptop whose hard drive failed but should still be within warranty. Their site isn't reporting it though, so now I get to go beg them to honor their warranty instead of forcing their customer to buy a new part and spend money she shouldn't have to... fun...

Good Night :)