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Those who market PCs to the average home user deserve a severe rebuke for placing such a complex piece of equipment in the hands of the uneducated. I know too many people who can do barely more than boot up the thing and run the simplest of software, thereby missing out on 90% of what is potentially there.

These thoughts came to mind this evening as I updated both the mainboard drivers and BIOS on my nForce4/Athlon machine. For some reason, the card reader for my camera microdrive was malfunctioning. When I attempted to remove the unit from its USB port using the proper Windows disconnecting protocols, the machine crashed with a memory pagefile error.

After a couple of months of this, I decided I'd had enough. So I downloaded the latest set on nForce4 mainboard drivers from nVidia and loaded them. No good, problem still remained. I turned to eVGA, the mainboard supplier, and downloaded the latest BIOS (the most basic operating system of all) from them.

That required a flash from a floppy disk (which I still maintain in all my machines despite their obsolence). Not a trivial task – the risk is always present that a BIOS flash will fail, permanently disabling the motherboard. However, I've done dozens of these and had no difficulty this time.

That did the trick. My computer is now stable again.

Alright for me. But I've had a lot of experience with computers, have built all my own machines from components and even trained and worked as programmer in the distant past. I understand most of the shorthand and jargon. I know how to seek out drivers and BIOS on the 'net. But most folk, no, they are not going to know what to do. I wonder how many perfectly good computers are sitting disused in people's homes – or are thrown in the trash – simply over some small issue such as I just dealt with!