Friday, October 5, 2007

Clock skew error

Have you ever tried fixing acomputer problem while talking to your friend or co-worker over the phone?
Hold on before you start rolling your eyes muttering "Hell yeah" and skip reading this post here is my geek survival tip. Don't even try to fix the problem, postpone it until you can get to that computer yourself. Meanwhile provide a quick fix so that the person on the other end of the line can get back to whatever he or she is doing quickly.

Now watch my tip action, I received a frantic call (it *was* frantic, the phone kept on ringing and I kept ignoring it until I lost the content and picked it up) from a friend who was getting these 'clock skew' error messages.

I assured him it was just another harmless message. 'It means what is says brother' I said 'your system clock is screwed and it must have set the timestamps on your files to sometime in 2029'.

That didn't seems to satisfy him, so I asked him what was he doing when he noticed this message(s) (Tip two: Ask very specific and pointed question, avoid using big technical words). It seems he was using sudo to run some commands. That gave me a clue, so now for my quick fix, I asked him to type sudo -k or sudo -K couple of times, that seemed to get rid of the messages and thus ended the call happily (no sparks flying and no curses exchanged, whew ).
Later in the evening I went over his place and found out that the BIOS battery on the PC motherboard was running weak and got it replaced. That seems to fix the problem. If you got any similar stories or tips to share, please do post a comment.

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