Monday, September 9, 2013

Stuff: Cook computers in the oven to resucitate them and cool Windows account hacking

I wanted to share a couple of experiences with computers that I have had in the period of one week.

A couple of weeks ago a number of friends and I went on vacations and we rented a house in the middle of nowhere. We brought a Wifi router and our laptops and played a very old computer game that everybody still loves, which is Age of Mythology.

At the end of our stay, one of my laptops (the old one) stopped working, and my friends told me the last thing it did was painting strange lines along with the graphics, i.e., a graphics card issue. I must say that this comes at an already tumultous time between me and technology, since my new laptop just died some time ago and it's in repair.

When we got home, I looked for information on the possible issue. And I came across this

The funny thing is: IT WORKS!

We removed the NVidia video card, put it in the oven as it says, 8 min at 200 celsius, put it back on and voila! Graphics back!

The next experience was: I was given my sister's old laptop. It is old but still decent and she only changed laptop because the disk crashed... I took it and recovered her files later on. Anyway, it must be the two-year long rest but the disk is living now. The only problem: we could not access the laptop because of her password.

Here's Youtube to the rescue again. This, however, semms to only work with Windows 7 and 8, not with Vista, the one on the laptop. Anyway, we got the disk out, put it on my external drive case, and accessed the files from there. This hack works like this:
  • The accesibility button on the Windows log in screen (bottom left) calls a program called utilman.exe, located under C:\Windows\System32
  • Accessing the drive, we rename it to utilman1.exe and make a new copy of cmd.exe to utilman.exe, therefore utilman.exe is now a command prompt.
  • When we put the disk on again and started Windows, pressing the accessibility button shows a privileged command prompt. From there, we issued the command net user myuser x, effectively resseting the password to a plain x.
This left us with a ready to use laptop (not critial tasks, just online gaming), just what we needed for the afternoon

Addendum: I believe it is interesting if I mark the post with the laptop that was reflowed with this technique: This is an Acer 5920g and the NVidia card was a 8600M GT. Apparently, these NVidia processors (prior to 2009) have a problem with the heat from using them and the cooling down when not in use: This makes internal circuits break, much like a stone exposed to the sun. Heating them to over 200 celsius make the connections sufficiently liquid so as to resolder again.

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