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So upon walking into my office the other day I noticed a laptop sitting open on my bench with the word FAIL spelled out in ASCII art on the screen. Upon further reading I discovered that the system had “Failed to Nobulate” and needed to be rebooted. A system reboot resulted in the same message. At this point I thought what anyone would think when confronted with such a nonsensical error message, “I’m being pranked.”
This was no prank though. A little bit of digging around and I discovered that the system had suffered a failure and the original owner had attempted to use the built in Dell restore feature to return it to its original state. The result was the aforementioned Nobulation error. A quick check disk and a windows repair had the system back up and running long enough to back up the data, then I went looking for what in the world a “Nobulate” was.
The “System has failed to Nobulate” is apparently a Dell error message which occurs when a system ships with Vista without a service pack and is then subsequently upgraded to SP1, THEN someone attempts to use the Dell factory restore utility on the system. It only occurs with a limited subset of Dell systems because of a firmware error. This remains the strangest error I’ve ever run across, but turned out to be relatively easy to fix. Performing a Windows Repair with the original Vista version fixes it right up.