back to article The black screen of BIOS borkage haunts Space Shuttle Discovery's new home

Bork takes to the skies, kind of, with a Dell Optiplex disgracing itself at one of America's hallowed halls of aerospace. Today's display of unhelpfulness was captured by Register reader Will at the otherwise excellent Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Sadly, …

  1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Strike the F1

    If they keep striking things, no wonder they break.

    1. ICam

      Re: Strike the F1

      Why does the F1 key require striking when F5 only requires a press?

      It's unclear what F2 deserves. Perhaps it's left an exercise for the viewer. Batter? Smack? Smash? Pound? Mash? Hit? Destroy? Attack?

      1. Juan Inamillion

        Re: Strike the F1

        I take Strike to mean 'press and immediately release', 'Press' can mean 'press until something happens'.


  2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Second time?

    Either the battery lasted 14 years (impressive but possible) or it failed years ago and has been replaced once before already. The hard disk is doing well too.

    1. keith_w

      Re: Second time?

      Not necessarily. It may be that this is the first time that the machine has been rebooted since the battery died 8 years ago. Perhaps it rebooted in order to install the print spooler patch.

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Re: Second time?

        Could also be that there used to be a keyboard attached and the IT guy knew to go around after a power outage and hit F1 so the thing would boot, while muttering "I gotta remember to get a 2032 the next time I'm at Walmart. Or is it a 2025? I gotta remember to open the case and look after the next power outage..." and around and around it goes...

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Second time?

      Likewise, the floppy failure is quite possibly because the system default assumes a floppy drive is present whereas for an info display unit it was thought wise to remove the floppy and configure the BIOS setup to suit. One of my older boxes is set up that way too.

  3. Ol'Peculier
    Thumb Up

    I've been there three times, and could happily visit more often. I was a bit annoyed once when I asked a tour guide if there was anything about Sir George Cayley there and he said he didn't know who that was (there is a small bit about him on the smaller version on the Mall, FWIW)

    There is an observation tower that you can visit that gives great views of planes landing and taking off from Dulles as well.

  4. FuzzyTheBear

    Don't worry

    Often in signage with those older displays we simply put the computer in a rack somewhere , use a vga to cat5 --> cat5 vga pair of extenders.

    Can be anywhere within 100m .. Same applies to HDMI , for simple signage though the units are small enough so they're at the back of the tv mounted somewhere handy.

    No need to tear apart a computer .. extenders are probably what went on here.

  5. Scoured Frisbee

    I took the same picture on Monday but never got around to sending it in - nicely done! For what it's worth the computer is in the pedestal below the screen, there's a mesh through which it is partly visible in one of my photos. Observation tower is closed for the moment, but it was great to see the Apollo 11 control module outside the restoration bay!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I took the photo on Monday the 28th of June so if you took it Monday the 5th of July then this thing has been borked for a while!

  6. Nathan 6

    Maybe they should use their Cray as a temp fix here?

  7. FBee

    My Dell 755 is running Win10 21H1 quite fine thank you

    although boosted to a max capacity of 8GB RAM from original 2GB albeit on equally-old spinning rust and the stock Core 2 Duo @ 2.66 GHz CPU. Sadly, looks like no Win11 in its future.

  8. VanguardG

    I visited there shortly after it opened, and guided myself. At the time, the tour guides were...questionably informed. I did overhear errors. If I could get one request filled, I'd ask for fake exhaust nozzles and intakes to be added to the jets on display - they all have the engines out, of course - many of them are displayed separately (and for the suspended aircraft, the weight savings is significant) but the illusion of these being airplanes and not just props is broken since they are obviously incomplete.

    The Discovery display was a work very much barely started when I was there, unfortunately. I'll make it back one of these days.

    Nice to see the Langley Aerodrome back on display - minus the false claims. Its a nice-looking craft, even if it never did fly.

    1. Ol'Peculier

      The last time I went they had moved the barriers much nearer to the shuttle, so you could walk under the wings, made it much better.

  9. Michael Habel

    Old Aircraft, are not the only historic relics on display at this Museum.

  10. imanidiot Silver badge

    Nice puzzle picture too

    I found myself mostly distracted at all the aerodynamic goodness going on in the background.

    I can make out:

    B-29 (obvs)

    Grob G102 (also obvious)

    TG-1 (airforce training glider, blue with yellow wing, hanging center pic)

    Hawker Hurricane (below the tail of the B-29)

    Sopwith Camel (just aft behind the tail of the B-29)

    Westland Lysander (hanging, below the G102)

    Northrop flying wing (Yellow, left of the console)

    Cessna 172? (center left, red tail, white Cessna text on the tail)

    The rest eludes me.

    A quick google also showed me what the Japanese aircraft at the bottom are:

    Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko

    Aichi M6A1 Seiran

    Nakajima Kikka (loosely speaking a Japanese interpretation of the Me-262)

    1. MattPi

      Re: Nice puzzle picture too

      The framing is unfortunate, the Columbia is in the area you can just see into on the left top of the picture, a few feet to the left and you'd be able to see it. There's an SR71 on the floor just off the left side of frame too.

      EDIT: I'm looking at it the wrong way, that's the main entry on the left, the shuttle would be in a similar area over your left shoulder.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nice puzzle picture too

        Sorry guys, I tried to get as many exhibits framed with the bork as I could but the location of that display wasn't explicitly attached to anything in particular, unlike all the other working displays. Perhaps that would explain why its repair wasn't a priority.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice puzzle picture too

      Correct except the Cessna is a 206. :)

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Nice puzzle picture too

        Huh, from this angle I wouldn't have pegged it as a 206 (The 3 bladed prop in hindsight should have told me it was unlikely to be a 172 though)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Tech hat on - the BIOS version dates to 8 April 2010 so somebody was maintaining it. I assume the battery has been replaced periodically but, possibly due to COVID, not recently enough.

    Geek hat on - the museum is awesome. Totally different feel versus the Air and Space Museum downtown. A must see.

    At the moment you need to reserve a free ticket (to control crowds). As COVID restrictions are lifted, aside from the exhibits, there is the previously mentioned observation tower and an IMAX theater..

    BTW, as far as the jet engines, like the planes, they are fully restored and are displayed separately so they can be fully viewed.

    1. Ol'Peculier

      Re: Tech/Geek

      From my limited experience, I think the exhibitions on the Mall suffer too much from coach loads of kids trying to do every single one of them in the same afternoon.

      I just wish there was a better food option other than a McDonalds at the Udvar Hazy Centre though.

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