Well, the Tech Gods decided to suck up as much of my time as they could muster this weekend. Damn you, Tech Gods!
It began with the arrival of a trojan on the Main Computer here at Casa Jaquandor. (If my laptop is a tricorder, the Main Computer is the one that speaks to me in the dulcet tones of Majel Barrett.) This damnable thing -- called "Security Tool" -- is one of those trojans that takes the form of a fake security program, so it all of a sudden started popping up all over the place, giving me false "warnings" and refusing to allow me to run anything. After updating MalwareBytes and downloading something called SuperAntiSpyware and running both several times whilst in Safe Mode, "Security Tool" was still there. So I finally decided to simply pull the trigger on something I'd been meaning to do anyway: re-install Windows.
So, I re-installed Windows. Luckily, I keep things religiously backed up in a number of different places, so there's no actual data loss associated with this other than Firefox bookmarks and The Daughter's games, which can be re-downloaded and such. This, of course, did accomplish the task of ridding the computer of "Security Tool". It did not, however, have the other hoped-for effect of restoring functionality to that computer's CD/DVD drive. Thus I decided to start poking about inside the computer itself, wondering if possibly I screwed something up when I replaced this computer's power supply last year.
Well, what I found was kind of odd, and I don't know how to explain it, really. What's been happening is that as far as the computer's concerned, that drive doesn't even exist. Not only will it not open or close to accept discs, when I open the Device Manager in XP, it doesn't even show a CD/DVD drive there at all. So updating drivers wasn't an option, as the computer believes there is no device there to have drivers for. But when I was poking about, I noted the drive's SATA connections: one cord from the power supply, and one connecting it to the motherboard. I unplugged each one, wondering if the connections were loose somehow, and when I had the combination of the power supply cord being plugged into the drive but not the data cord, the drive made a couple of whirring noises. And sure enough, the drive worked -- in the sense of having power, opening and closing and the little light flashing -- while just the power supply cable was plugged in. As soon as I connected the data cord, however, nothing. Dead as old Marley.
So, what to do? Something funky with the connector? Something funky with the cable? Something funky with the motherboard's connector? I decided to test that last, which was the only one I actually could test readily. I unplugged the data cord from the SATA plug it had presumably resided in since the computer was built, and plugged it into another.
And wouldn't you know it: now the drive works. Kinda sorta. It doesn't seem to recognize and play CDs, but it does recognize and activate CD-ROMS and DVDs. Very odd. (I only tried a single CD, so maybe it just doesn't like that particular disc. Who knows...but I almost never use that computer for playing or ripping CDs, anyway; I do that on the laptop, which is working just fine.)
So, for the most part, the Main Library Computer is back on line and functioning normally. (Maybe even better for right now, until we start filling it up with crap again.) I just wish it hadn't sucked up the better part of my Sunday to do it...but at least for once, I was able to do some computer work without having to go drop money at Best Buy on new parts. (Although I almost said "The hell with the drive" and went to pick up a USB optical drive. Thank God I decided to check the connections before I went that route!)