BIOS Display Settings Change Spontaneously

BIOS Questions that don't belong in the other forums. Read them!
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Splitster
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Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2002 5:12 am

This problem is a glitch that I can live with if there is no solution.
I've been creating scripts for years, so I usually find work around
solutions for most problems. This time, I'm out of ideas!

I used a customized version of 98SE years ago, when I started a small
business with few other guys. We had one copy left that was loaded
onto an old (and very large) Gateway. I purchased a completely refurbed
IBM T23 ThinkPad, and gradually moved the system onto the laptop so I
could finally junk that huge Gateway desktop.

The ThinkPad works great. I updated the BIOS and Embedded Controller,
but there is one annoying problem. Under "Display" in the BIOS setup you
have three choices, LCD Only - CRT - Both. Like most laptops, these
settings allow you to use an external monitor. There is also a very good
ThinkPad Configuration Utility that gives you the same choices that are
available in the BIOS setup. If you don't want to use either one, you can
toggle the display by pressing Fn+F7. Fn is a special key unique to ThinkPads.

Without warning, the display settings change in the BIOS setup. You can
immediately restore the laptop's display by pressing Fn+F7. I have the service
manual for this ThinkPad. The first thing I checked was the CMOS battery
voltage. It tested good, but I replaced the CMOS battery anyway.

All the updates for this T23 were downloaded from the Lenovo site. The only
exception were the chipset drivers I got from Intel.

I suppose I should be happy there are no other hardware or software malfunctions,
but it sure would be nice to resolve this one problem.

I just went to the Phoenix site and clicked on their link for BiosAgentPlus. Maybe
there is a newer update for this ThinkPad's BIOS. (I assume the update I got from
Lenovo is the latest.)

If this is a buggy BIOS problem, there has got to be a work around. Some kind
of script or little applet maybe. All I really want is the laptop's display to stay
turned on. Setting Power Options > Turn Off Monitor to "never" doesn't resolve
the problem. Naturally, the BIOS settings override any Windows software.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks guys.
edwin
The Hardware Archivist
Posts: 6231
Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2002 7:11 pm
Location: Netherlands
Contact:

I have an Fn key too and this is typed on a MacBook Pro.
Without warning, the display settings change in the BIOS setup.
to which setting? is an external monitor attached at the time?
edwin/evasive

Do not assume anything

System error, strike any user to continue...
Splitster
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Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2002 5:12 am

Thanks for replying edwin.

When I post on help forums I'm usually caught in a classic "catch22"
situation. If you're an advanced or expert level user the problems
you can't resolve yourself are usually not fixable. I'm always amazed
when anyone can find a solution to highly complex problems on these
forums. You don't want your post to be incredibly lengthy, because most
folks are immediately turned off when they see anything that's longer
than a couple of paragraphs.

Sorry for saying that the "Fn" key is unique to ThinkPads. There are
endless Google listings about the Fn+F7 key combination. They always
seem to be referencing the ThinkPad.

There is no external monitor attached to this ThinkPad. The laptop screen
toggles off because the BIOS display setting changes from "LCD Only." It's very
random. I've seen it switch to "CRT" or "Both" numerous times. There is no
pattern, as far as I can tell. I tried running the ThinkPad Config Utility
continuously in the system tray, hoping that if it was set to "LCD Only" the
problem might go away. Not a logical thing to do, since the BIOS controls
computer, not the other way around! When the display setting in the BIOS
switches for no reason, the ThinkPad Config Utility immediately does what
its suppose to do. It loads the BIOS settings.
edwin
The Hardware Archivist
Posts: 6231
Joined: Wed Mar 20, 2002 7:11 pm
Location: Netherlands
Contact:

Sounds like a program or the OS is writing on a wrong memory address. Not a BIOS problem per se. This is a clean install of windows? Not a recycled one from another machine? No driver remnants of other video cards?

The other possibility is a defect in the actual bios chip. The memory cell that is supposed to keep itself in a certain state simply loses charge. It is cmos after all, if the voltage drops because of a leak in that cell it shifts state all by itself. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to do research on this, you'd need an exact replica of your machine to stick your windows install in.

I'll pick my brain on ways how to test this, I hope that at least I made your brain think a bit out of the box you're trapped in at the moment ;-)
edwin/evasive

Do not assume anything

System error, strike any user to continue...
Splitster
New visitors - please read the rules.
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2002 5:12 am

edwin, your reply is generous and thoughtful. Thank you!

It won't resolve this problem, but I'll tell you what I did. I've
been building and using computers for a very long time. My first
one was purchased as a kit from a long gone electronics hobby
magazine. I'm telling you this so you'll understand better what I
did with that old Gateway desktop.

You would not have recognized that 98SE system on the Gateway.
My partners and I had spent many hours customizing the system. It
was actually a lot of fun. We were like a bunch of kids! Saving the
system intact was the goal.

I created a script (which was tested many times) that would strip
out all the Gateway related drivers during a reboot. The native
Windows drivers were all left untouched. An image was created
and transferred to the laptop. The laptop hard drive was partitioned
exactly like the drive on the Gateway. The results were very good!
After installing all the laptop drivers, the system worked smoothly. In
fact, it was amazing to see this sluggish operating system speed up
on the much newer ThinkPad.

There is only one persistent problem (not kidding, only one) and that's
the BIOS display settings. There is a script that runs from autoexec.bat
during boot up. Its only purpose is to delete and add a few items in the
registry. The system would run fine without the script. The changes
are strictly cosmetic.

My first thoughts when the display toggled for no reason were similar
to yours. A defective BIOS chip maybe, or an error occuring during the
BIOS update.

I always like to think I'll find a satisfactory work around for every problem.
In my spare time I'll work on some kind of script that might not fix the real
problem, but it will appear as if the problem has magically gone away.
Wishful thinking I suppose, but you never know, I might pull another rabbit
out of the hat!
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