paulus wrote:Q. Will the bios loader read a cd-r (since the cd seems energized)? Would not expect it to. Maybe swapping the ide cables so teh selected device is actually the floppy (boy, am I getting desperate).
Is your "floppy" actually IDE connected, i.e. it's an LS-120 or similar not-really-a-floppy device ? Real floppies don't use an IDE interface. Some flashers won't work with a read-only device device or file, but if you have the capability it's worth a try. See below first, though.
It may well be that the bios was set for first boot device to be HDD - hence not attempting floppy read.
Yes, in some BIOSes the default (after you clear CMOS) is not floppy. Disconnect the IDE cables and try again.
a flat battery may cause it not to boot. My only experience of dead cmos batteries is that the clock stops during power off. Can I discount this theory?
No you can't, he is right that some boards will not boot with a flat CMOS battery. If you have a meter, check for 3V on the battery.