Camera and computer incompatibilities
June 25, 2006 1:18 PM   Subscribe

My camera died and inexplicably killed my computer in the process.

Upfront, I know I am a complete idiot, I'm just stating the obvious so no one else has to.
I am on vacation, and failed (mistake number one) to bring my camera (Samsung Digimax i5) charger with me. I didn't think I would need it for a four day weekend. Last night as I was uploading pictures from the camera to my laptop (hp pavilion, running XP), the battery on the camera died. My son, failing to realize that the camera had died, logged out of the system and shut the lid. Later on, when I tried to boot up, I got the queerest message, which was even spelled poorly, telling me that my computer was dealing with any number of unintelligible issues, and did I want to start up in safe mode? I did just that, and I don't remember when exactly I actually unplugged the camera from the computer. In my haste and fear, I may have unplugged it while the computer was trying to power up. My camera's battery is completely dead, and I have been all over Madison, WI this afternoon looking for a replacement charger (to no avail), so that I can charge the camera, reconnect it to the computer, and maybe the computer will make nice nice with the camera and restart beautifully and life will be good again. As it stands right now, I have a dead camera, and I can only get my computer to start in safe mode. I have tried a system restore twice, neither of which was successful. Please, hive mind, hope me!
posted by msali to Technology (17 answers total)
You could try going into control panel>add/remove program, and removing the camera software.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:24 PM on June 25, 2006

Response by poster: I thought of that, StickyCarpet, but would that in any way be harmful to the pictures that I have currently on my camera that didn't get downloaded onto the computer? I really don't want to lose them. I got the very best picture EVER of my husband, son and me. We were all smiling nicely, with our eyes open, and my son wasn't making a face. It is such a rarity, it would be a shame to lose it.... What if I just wait until I get home, charge my camera, then plug it into my computer whilst in safe mode? Could that work?
posted by msali at 1:27 PM on June 25, 2006

Seems unlikely that you would have lost the pix on the camera, why not recharge and load on to some other computer before experimenting with the sick computer.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:34 PM on June 25, 2006

Did you try to take the card out of the camera and pop it into something else to see if the pictures are still there?
posted by k8t at 1:39 PM on June 25, 2006

What happens if you try to boot into regular non-safe mode?
posted by delmoi at 1:39 PM on June 25, 2006

Most pharmacies/stores have booths that you can put a variety of camera cards in.
posted by k8t at 1:40 PM on June 25, 2006

Removing the software should have no effect on the pictures on the camera. You don't need to use the Samsung software, or even the camera itself, to get the pictures. They should be (unless you recorded on the built-in memory) on an SD/MMC card. You can, and I strongly recommend that you do, buy an external reader that connects to your computer via a USB port. This way you don't drain the camera's battery when you're downloading the pictures off of it--you simply pop the card out of the camera, put it in the reader, download the pictures using your computer's power, and then put the card back in the camera.

There are lots of software products that will get the pictures off the card. The best, easiest-to-use, free software I've found that runs on XP is Picasa from Google. It will download the pictures, and let you do all sorts of cool things with them, probably better than the Samsung software did.

And it won't lock up your computer. At least, it's never locked up mine.
posted by cerebus19 at 1:42 PM on June 25, 2006

Best answer: First, I don't think the camera 'killed' the computer. The poor spelling sounds odd, though- I'd almost knee-jerk and say virus, simply because MS isn't going to have too many spelling errors in its core system (way too much testing and localization work to allow a lot of blaring typos through). However, it's possible that it's the camera driver/software that's crashing, and that is what is sending you messages that are so poorly spelled.

1) Tell us the messages!!!! Also tell us when they are happening, how far in the boot process they happen (do you even get to the login screen, or the Windows XP splash screen, etc...) . I don't think even computer gurus can do much with "the queerest message" as a troubleshooting technique. :)

2) The whole point of safe mode is to load up without most drivers or software, etc. The likelihood then is that something is loading at boot that's crashing your computer. If it boots in safe mode, the system core is pretty much fine, and it's something additional that's breaking. So, safe mode gives you a chance to find out what, and do something about this!

Some basic troubleshooting steps:
Go into safe mode, go to start -> run and type 'msconfig'. In the Configuration applet, choose "Diagnostic mode", and then click OK- you should be prompted to restart. This will load up your system with only the basic drivers and software, similar to safe mode.

If this works, which it probably will, then you know that something loading on startup, likely a 3rd party driver or software, is crashing your computer. So... here's how you find out what that is:

1) After booting up (hopefully fine) in diagnostic mode, go back into msconfig, and choose "Selective Startup" instead of diagnostic. Next, go to the Services tab, check the box "Hide Microsoft services", and de-select all the remaining boxes. Go ahead, click OK, reboot. This will tell you if some service is breaking your bootup.

2) If you do boot up okay, it's one of those (and you can probably jump ahead and see if one of those services is related to your camera's software set!). Simply find which one via trial and error, enabling one or a few at a time till the problem reproduces.

If you don't boot up okay, then it's not these services. Go back to the Services tab and re-enable all the ones that you disabled in step 1, and then continue to step 3.

3) Now, go to the startup tab, and choose "Disable all". This will uncheck all these startup items, many of which are 3rd-party software that start up and create things like system tray icons, etc. Most of them you probably don't need anyway, but for now disable all of them.

4) Reboot- does the problem reproduce? Yes? No? If you're still having problems, I'd be surprised. If the problems go away with these startup items disabled, the services enabled, and your system booting okay, then the problem is in one or more of these set of startup software (again, probably related to the camera or something).

5) Try selectively re-enabling a few at a time, until you find the one breaking things (or leave them all disabled- you probably will find your computer runs faster without them :) ).
posted by hincandenza at 1:43 PM on June 25, 2006

Slight derail... propriotary batteries suck. So far I have been lucky enough to find a couple of digital cameras that still use AA batteries. I don't know about the rest of you but I plan to keep a camera longer than the typical life of a propriotary rechargeable battery that won't be available in a year or two.

OTOH you may have blown the USB bus on the computer. That's why safe mode works...not loading any USB drivers.
posted by Gungho at 2:22 PM on June 25, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all of your great suggestions thus far. I am currently on my husband's computer, and he has forbidden me from wasting any more of our vacation time trying to fix this problem, but I thought I would at least explain a bit further.
StickyCarpet: I think that I am going to load the pictures to a healthy computer before I do anything else. Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, I can't do that until I get home, because the camera battery is completely officially and most definitely dead. I was unable to find a Samsung charger here in Madison.
K8t: unfortunately, there is no card to pop out of a Samsung digimax to find out whether or not the pictures are intact. I use a Samsung specific cord to interface between the camera and the computer.
Delmoi: if I try to boot in non-safe mode, I will get the Windows XP boot screen, but then the screen will go blank, and the computer appears to be powering up, but nothing happens - blank screen.
Hincandenza: thank you for all of your ideas! I wish I could tell you the messages that the computer gave me, but it was seriously that the WHOLE SCREEN filled with nonsensical things. It spelled Windows as Wandows, and partition as partitaon. It was all quite weird, and I would have suspected a virus as well, if my problems hadn't coincided directly with removing the camera connection cord from the laptop at the same time.
Thanks to everyone for all their help.
On preview: Gungho, if I blew out my USB bus, how do I go about rectifying that?
posted by msali at 2:24 PM on June 25, 2006

Hold on now.. she didn't blow any bus, so don't throw out wild "your cough is cancer" speculation.

Proprietary batteries last longer and are smaller than any AAs you'll ever find. I've been using the same BP-511 battery for my last three Canon bodies to boot for $10/ea from a 3rd-party.
posted by kcm at 2:47 PM on June 25, 2006

One more thing that might help with diagnostics: when your son logged off from the machine, what exactly did he do? Do you normally use the "Shutdown" option from the Start Menu, or do you simply use the "Log Off" option and then close the lid of the laptop? Secondly, does your machine use hibernation?

(Also, I'm with your husband on this one. Your pictures on the camera should be fine, and it doesn't sound like you did anything irrevocably harmful to the laptop.)
posted by mmcg at 3:02 PM on June 25, 2006

Right- the bus is fine, don't worry about that. Try the troubleshooting steps I described, that should get your laptop back fairly quickly.

And even if the error messages are misspelled, at least try to get some gist of the error, and what it said. You mention a couple of interesting words, including partition, but we can't really help you unless you tell us what the messages say- even if just starting to write down the first couple of lines. Almost certainly not a virus, maybe a font file corruption or something because the two words you mentioned had a instead of i- not sure, just tell us the message with all its misspellings. :)
posted by hincandenza at 5:50 PM on June 25, 2006

Response by poster: As far as how the computer got shut down in the first place, my son logged me off and shut the lid. A full shutdown did not take place. When I opened the lid to log back on, the camera was still plugged in, but the battery had completely died. When I realized that something funky was going on, I completely just yanked the damn cord out of the computer. Stupid, I know, but I wasn't thinking. I am not sure when exactly I pulled it out, though, I don't remember what step I was at exactly.
Here is part of the message: "We appologize for the inconvenience, but Wandows did not start successfudly. The recent 'ardware or software chafge eight have caused thas.
If quor computer stgpped responding$ restarted unexpectedly$...."
Strange, ain't it? I have never seen the like. The horrible spelling is what is really throwing me for a loop.

We are in for the night. It is a cold and rainy Sunday night in Madison, and my husband doesn't want to go for a walk, so I think I am going to try Hincandenza's troubleshooting tips. I'll keep the people who are following the thread posted. Thanks for everyone's help, I love askmefi.
posted by msali at 8:13 PM on June 25, 2006

Response by poster: Okay, here is one more thing that I just found when I was trying to start up my computer, after I asked for it to start in safe mode, it gave me a whole page worth of windows paths that ended with this: sqstee32\drivers\ - followed by a bunch of different endings (I apologize for the excessive ignorance about the names of different computer related thingamabobs and doohickies. I do not speak this language fluently). I just thought that maybe someone would recognize whether or not this detail was significant.
posted by msali at 8:17 PM on June 25, 2006

Response by poster: Up to this point, nothing has worked. Safemode, diagnostic mode, selective startup, last known good configuration, nada. I really think that for some reason, I have to charge my camera and reconnect it to my computer and restart it, then the magical computer faeries will restore harmony and balance and life will once again reflect sunshine and rainbows over my normally functioning computer. At least, that is how I envision it. Again, thanks for all of the suggestions.
posted by msali at 8:49 PM on June 25, 2006

I thought safe mode did work- if it didn't work, you wouldn't have been able to try the other things. I'd be surprised if diagnostic mode didn't work- in terms of getting to a desktop, at least- as well.

The computer faeries don't work that way, but I guess by the time you read this, you've probably gotten over the hump or gone home from your 4-day vacation. The computer problem is fixable, though- you might just want to take it to a computer savvy friend of yours when you get home, and have them deal with it.
posted by hincandenza at 1:14 PM on June 26, 2006

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