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Laptop freezes except mouse pointer,

My wife's refurbed Dell Latitude CPi DX300T has an extremely annoying habit of freezing for 20 or 30 seconds every now and then, including frequently. Everything stops except for the mouse pointer.

The keyboard, the keypad buttons, mouse buttons if a mouse is attached, application processing come to a screeching halt. The screen does not refresh. A few of the last keypad button clicks made before it comes back alive are stored in the buffer, but not all the clicks made during the freeze. But the mouse does move when nothing else does.

It's running Windows 98 SE. The only application is MS Office 2000. THe only peripheral is a PC Card Xircom network adapter/modem combo device. The network adapter works fine.

The Device Manager indicates that there is a problem with Other devices/PCI Serial Controller. I've removed this item, but it comes back on reboot. This item does not appear on other machines that I've got.

I've reformatted and reinstalled the operating system and the application from scratch - no good.

The laptop has gone to the shop for  this problem, but the tech there couldn't find anything - no virus or anything like that.
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dwhite365
Asked:
dwhite365
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dwhite365Author Commented:
The operating system is up to rev, the application will be up to rev in an hour or so. But I don't think it's a problem with Office 2K.
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cloverleafjoCommented:
u can change the IRQ settings, and try to locate afree IRQ for the serial port. Try to uninstall the Device then let Win search 4 it and ignore it...it will not ask u again to install the driver.

Freezing i am suspecting a clash of IRQ's with your devices.
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cloverleafjoCommented:
u can change the IRQ settings, and try to locate afree IRQ for the serial port. Try to uninstall the Device then let Win search 4 it and ignore it...it will not ask u again to install the driver.

Freezing i am suspecting a clash of IRQ's with your devices.
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dwhite365Author Commented:
The operating system is up to rev, the application will be up to rev in an hour or so. But I don't think it's a problem with Office 2K.
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BaddogCommented:
The "other devices" "PCI Serial Controller" could be an internal/built-in modem that does not have the drivers installed.

Does your system have a built-in modem or an internal (PCI) modem installed?

Note: I have experienced freeze-ups with some mouseware programs.

BDog
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BaddogCommented:
LOL...just caught it!! You have a network/modem combo. Make sure the modem drivers are installed and the PCI serial controller problem should go away.


BDog
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BaddogCommented:
Are you only experiencing the problem with the PS2 mouse connected?

BDog
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BaddogCommented:
If so, check the device manager and see if any peripheral/device is trying to use IRQ 12, PS2 mouse uses this.


BDog
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dwhite365Author Commented:
There is no internal modem in the Latitude CPi that I can find.

There's no external mouse attached, only the built-in keypad. But when there is an external mouse, the bad behaviour persists.

The Xircom cardbus modem drivers are installed.

There's nothing on IRQ 3

IRQ 11 has a ton of stuff, including the Ethernet interface for the Xircom combo card:
2 PCI Steering,
NeoMagix graphics adapter
Cardbus Xircom Ethernet combo card
USB Host Controller
2 TI Cardbus Controllers

I tried to move the Xircom combo card from 11 to 10, but it wouldn't let me move it.

Except for the network adapter being on 11, and nothing being on 3, the IRQ list matches my other machines.
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dbruntonCommented:
Check and see if Microsoft's Fast Indexer is installed.  That could be cutting in and grabbing control.
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dwhite365Author Commented:
Where do I find the Fast Indexer settings?
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dwhite365Author Commented:
Disabling Fast Find had no effect. The problem persisted.

I moved the combo card to a different cardbus slot and reinstalled the device. The modem installed and used IRQ 5. The problematic Unknown Device/PCI Serial Controller was no longer listed in device manager. The network adapter continued to use IRQ 11.  The problem persisted.

I removed the combo card and rebooted. Neither the network adapter nor the modem were listed in Device Manager. The problem persisted.
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ridCommented:
Try without the Xircom unit in any slot. The PCI serial controller may be the serial port hareware that makes up the modem inteface in the combo card. As an alternative, try disabling the on-board COM port and infrared unit. There may be a conflict with I/O port rather than IRQ.

Regards
/RID
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jdcrazCommented:
If its an option, try upgrading to Windows 2000. I have experienced many freezing problems on PC's and laptops that were solved with OS upgrade.
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dwhite365Author Commented:
I can't upgrade to a newer operating system.

The problem persists without the Xircom card in the machine.

I disabled the onboard COM 1 in Device Manager.

I couldn't find the IR listed in Device Manager.

The PCI Serial Controller issue disappeared when I installed the modem drivers. So those were probably related.

The freeze problem may be related to whatever is triggering a noisy fan to come on in the machine. Or the timing of that - the fan coming on and then the freeze setting in - may just be coincidental.
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iclariusCommented:
DW,

Disable all power saving features in both the BIOS as well as the operating system and see if this helps.

I suspect your system is going to sleep and has problems waking up.

George
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dwhite365Author Commented:
The tech did that - turned off the power saving features in BIOS - and it didn't work.

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PopmartianCommented:
A fan comes on just around the time your machine freezes? sounds like more than a coincidence.

Your machine may be heating up to the point that the fan has to rotate faster (hence the noise) to keep it cool, and if it can't do that efficiently, well then all sorts of things can happen; I wouldn't be surprised at a freeze.

My guess is that the CPU overheats; laptops have to be low-noise machines, therefore they have low speed fans and low performance processors (as compared to desktops) so that they do not generate too much heat.

In the case that they do, I guess a system freeze and the fans revving up would be the symptoms.

I recommend you try to find out if there is any way to get a temperature sensor to work with your machine (or if there is one in the BIOS). See what turns up.
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Kyle SchroederEndpoint EngineerCommented:
CPI is a fairly stable system...you may just need to upgrade the BIOS and drivers to get this working.  Dell fixes all sorts of bizarre problems via BIOS updates.  Is the LAN card connected to anything?  The pausing may be related to the system trying to get a DHCP address, then it fails, then it works OK until it tries again.  Set a static IP and see if that helps (Network control panel, TCP/IP->Xircom, IP Address tab).

BIOS update: http://support.dell.com/us/en/filelib/download/jump.asp?FileID=40540&ReleaseID=R36130&location=1&st=

OS Updates:
http://support.dell.com/us/en/filelib/download/jump.asp?FileID=25771&ReleaseID=R24198&location=1&st=9JWFN01

Also uninstall "Dell OpenManage Client" if installed, either from Add/Remove Programs or on Start menu (or delete C:\DMI)

-dog*
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Kyle SchroederEndpoint EngineerCommented:
LAN driver for Xircom:
http://support.dell.com/us/en/filelib/download/jump.asp?FileID=12815&ReleaseID=R14728&location=1&st=9JWFN01

Modem driver for Xircom:
http://support.dell.com/us/en/filelib/download/jump.asp?FileID=12815&ReleaseID=R14728&location=1&st=9JWFN01

Also enter BIOS configuration and disable the onboard IR controller (Press F2 during POST when you see the Dell logo, or Fn+F1 while in Windows)

-dog*
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Kyle SchroederEndpoint EngineerCommented:
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Kyle SchroederEndpoint EngineerCommented:
Actually, this may not be a hardware problem at all...have you scanned the system for Spyware/Adware/virii?  www.lavasoftusa.com for AdAware 6.0 (be sure to use the updater utility in the program) and http://housecall.antivirus.com for free online virusscan.

-dog*
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dwhite365Author Commented:
Working up the comments from bottom to top:

I've reformatted the hard drive and installed Win 98SE and Microsoft Office 2000. So it's not spyware.

The problem exists without any Cardbus cards installed, with the Xircom card, and with a Netgear card. But I think the fact that the problem exists without any cards is the important part.

There are no Dell utilities installed since I reformatted the drive. (Forgot to copy the Dell folder off the machine, so they're gone for good.)

I'll try the BIOS update next.
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dwhite365Author Commented:
The BIOS is up to date.
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dbruntonCommented:
So let's take off Office 2000 and eliminate that as a possibility.  Any networking setup on this machine such as Novell or Microsoft?
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dwhite365Author Commented:
The networking is just the Windows 98 stuff.

I'll try removing O2K, but I doubt that will make a difference.

Is there any possibility that a dead battery could be causing the problem? I've got another laptop that keeps shutting down when its dead battery is installed, runs OK when I pull the battery.
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dwhite365Author Commented:
I pulled the dead battery and the problem pretty much disappeared. The problem still pops up, but the frequency and duration are both significantly reduced.

If I ever get any money I'll pop for a new battery, but without objective confirmation that the dead battery is indeed the source of the problem, I'm not about to pay hard cash right now.
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dbruntonCommented:
Interesting.


If no joy with this question, go to Community Support, post a zero point question there and ask them to refund your points as the question has not been answered.

Quote this question

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Q_20552485.html

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Kyle SchroederEndpoint EngineerCommented:
Dells can get weird with dead batteries, generally the experience you've had so far where it won't even power on when connected to AC power with a dead battery.  BIOS update usually causes this (and is necessary to use some of the newer batteries, which are still refurbs, in the older CP series among others).  The Dell Utilities are downloadable from http://support.dell.com as well, just enter your service tag or express code from the bottom of the laptop.  Be sure you install the Win98 updates package (I think I linked it above).

Dunno if this was asked before, but FindFast (office2k) isn't running is it??  Disable in Control panel if it is....

-dog*
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Kyle SchroederEndpoint EngineerCommented:
Dells can get weird with dead batteries, generally the experience you've had so far where it won't even power on when connected to AC power with a dead battery.  BIOS update usually causes this (and is necessary to use some of the newer batteries, which are still refurbs, in the older CP series among others).  The Dell Utilities are downloadable from http://support.dell.com as well, just enter your service tag or express code from the bottom of the laptop.  Be sure you install the Win98 updates package (I think I linked it above).

Dunno if this was asked before, but FindFast (office2k) isn't running is it??  Disable in Control panel if it is....

-dog*
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FriarTukCommented:
No comment has been added lately, so it's time to clean up this TA.
I will leave the following recommendation for this question in the Cleanup topic area:

PAQ with points refunded

Please leave any comments here within the next four days.
PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT THIS COMMENT AS AN ANSWER!

FriarTuk
EE Cleanup Volunteer
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moduloCommented:
PAQed, with points refunded (500)

modulo
Community Support Moderator
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