BIOS SETUP Utility

So. You have cloned your OS and files on to your new, shiny hard disk. You disconnect the old disk, take out the CD, flick the switch on the back of the machine and…
you get an error.

“Disk read error”.
The solution, however, might be more obvious than you think.
When your machine starts up, it uses the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) to monitor hardware, supply power to disks, and to kick-start the operating system’s bootloader. The BIOS is soldered on to your motherboard, and is a little chip. You might spot it, you might not.

The BIOS does many other things, such as switching the machine into standby, monitoring and regulating the temperature inside the machine, and – perhaps most importantly of all – setting the system clock. (It may sound trivial, but it can be critically important for reasons I won’t go into at this time.)
Whenever you boot up your machine, for a few seconds you may see text on the screen DOS-stylee muttering on about ‘testing RAM 262144K OK’ and ‘detecting IDE drives’, and all sorts of stuff you probably don’t care about. Alternatively, the computer manufacturer’s logo may be displayed, or, on some more recent Intel BIOSes, the Intel logo.

This screen generally only appears for thirty seconds at most, and normally stays up for only five. During that time, you will see a line of text that says something along the lines of “PRESS [key] TO ENTER SETUP”. Normally that key is Delete or F2.
(I should point out now that this post does not apply to Apple Mac computers, and only applies to IBM-compatible PCs, ie the posh, overweight man in the ads.)

“How does all this tie in with replacing your hard disk?” you may ask. I’ll get to that shortly.
When you enter SETUP by pressing the appropriate key, your screen will immediately turn a funny colour, and you’ll be presented with a text-based menu. Whenever you get a new machine, it’s always a good idea to look around the BIOS SETUP utility without making any changes, so you know your way around.

I will point out here the fact that neither myself nor Crashed Pips can take any responsibility for any damage of anything, physical, virtual emotional or otherwise, ensuing directly or indirectly from following this advice, which is given in good faith (but with a health warning attached). I’m using the disclaimer seriously here – touching anything in the BIOS which you don’t understand can (and probably will) cause your machine to become unbootable. And then you’ll have to call the man from PC World. And believe me, you don’t want that to happen.
Look through your BIOS menus, and find a list of drives (you might find one in the boot order configuration). Look at where you’ve attached your new disk, and look for the capacity of the new disk.

If the figure is up to 30gB below what was advertised (remember that 1G is 1024M, not 1000M) then you’re probably OK. But if it’s drastically less (eg my 320gB drive was stated by the BIOS as being 136gB) then your BIOS probably only sees the first n gB of disk space – the rest it is completely blind to.
This means that the BIOS cannot read any partition spanning more than the first 136gB of the disk. Otherwise it returns a disk read error, and will stubbornly refuse to boot.

How, then, do you get the machine to work?
The way I have my disk partitioned is roughly 99gB of space for the OS and programs. The rest is mounted on drive J and reserved for documents (it’s where my My Documents folder is mapped). In other words, you can still use that full 300gB of space, but only 136gB for the OS.
Otherwise your poor BIOS gets confused and has to suffer Mr PC World poking around at it.
And it may decide to stage a twenty-four hour lightning strike over pay and working conditions if that happens. Like a certain public sector worker’s union whom Gordon Brown feels can be left to starve as long as inflation is kept in check.

A Crashed Pips Exclusive
I dislike McDonald’s. The last time I went I wasn’t off the toilet for weeks. That was around three years ago.
So, with some spare time on my hands earlier today, I decided to find out if the quality of the food and the service had improved in any way (last time I was asked by someone ‘you ea’in i ear?’) by taking myself down to my local McDonald’s.

(Yes, shock horror! Some investigative journalism from this website! You are not hallucinating.)
The trip there was uneventful, apart from seeing some lunatic bump into someone else’s car, causing a mini-traffic jam on the High Street while they filled out each other’s insurance details.
Before I went in, I had some business to settle. This is mainly because I was worried that I might suffer a heart attack after eating the food. Mercifully I did not, although I would like to know what on Earth McDonald’s is doing selling alcohol.

I went in, queued, paid my money for a large portion of fries, six chicken McNuggets (!) and a large Coca-Cola. I was offered a free Coke glass, which was nice. The lady who served me was very kind and friendly, and actually seemed to speak proper English.
Before I was served, I scoured the restaurant looking for nutritional information. There was absolutely no obvious information on the walls or posters. I checked the leaflets – nothing.
I was minorly annoyed to say the least, but I was served the food and took it out of the restaurant.
The fries were OK – this time they actually tasted like they consisted mostly of potatoes. Which is more than can be said of the nuggets. UGH! They tasted like the sort of stuff that a dentist uses to make a mould of your mouth. It tasted utterly McDisgusting.

(I sort-of wished I had had the McHeart attack so that the torture would end.)
The paper cup of Coca-Cola I was given seemed to have some kind of quantum warp at the bottom – it was 500ml. 500ml is a lot – that’s around half the size of a bottle of Coke you’d get from a supermarket. UGH! By the time I’d finished I felt like I’d put on four stone in thirty minutes. (I’m quite a skinny person by nature, so that’s a lot.)
After finishing the food, I finally managed to find the nutritional information. But only just.

Yes, that is the nutritional information. On the back of the packet of fries. And it seems that they’ve resorted to heiroglyphs.
Even if you follow the website links, there’s no actual reference to what the symbols mean. It seems only to apply to adult women, and also only applies to the fries. What about the nuggets and the Coke? No mention whatsoever.
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