I have an asus 1005ha netbook, which does not have a cd drive. When I inserted a usb stick to boot off of, the computer couldn't see it as a bootable medium, and gave no indication that it saw the usb at all. I have another netbook of the same model, which has a newer bios (1601?). The newer bios has no problem booting off the usb.
It seems that the simplest solution is to upgrade the bios, but the current one can't see the usb drive. How am I supposed to solve this problem?
Not every BIOS can boot over the USB interface. Upgrading your BIOS (if possible) sometimes solves this, but it might not. If you have a newer unit of the same model that can boot from USB, then updating your netbook's BIOS should fix it. I've never updated the BIOS of a netbook, so I don't know if you'd have to do anything unusual or if you even can.