Two down and one to go

On Monday, I spent a bit of time helping a couple of friends with their computer issues.

Tom, who is a friend here in Knoxville, called me over the weekend somewhat distraught because his monitor was showing the desktop in a sickeningly green color. I decided to take over the Samsung monitor I had removed when I got my new LCD monitor at Christmas so that we could test whether the problem was caused by a failing monitor when we were finally able to get together on Monday. Taking that monster over to Tom’s was something of a chore because it weighs almost 60 lbs. Ironically, just as I drove up at Tom’s house, I received a call on my cell phone. It was him saying that the monitor had just healed itself. So I went in anyway and, sure enough, everything looked normal.

We went back downstairs and had some dinner, and just before we left the house for him to show me the new Hall of Fame Drive that has replaced the James White Parkway through downtown Knoxville, I suggested we go back up to his computer room and make sure that everything was still alright with the computer. When he roused it from its hibernation mode, once again the sickeningly green color had returned. Therefore we replaced his monitor with the alternate one I had brought with me and the color returned to normal.

At that point, I suggested we let it go back into its hibernation mode while we went for the drive to see the Hall of Fame Drive and the new traffic patterns it necessitated, just to see whether the second monitor had the same problem when we woke it up from hibernation upon our return. When we got home, the color on the monitor was still normal, so it appears that it was his monitor that was causing the trouble. I recommended that Tom keep the Samsung monitor and let it run for the next couple of weeks, and if the problem doesn’t return, we can definitely conclude that it was a failing monitor that was the culprit and he could buy himself a new one. That made sense to him, so we seem to have identified the problem, at least for the moment.

When I got home from Tom’s, my buddy Phil from Atlanta was calling me on Skype because he was having trouble figuring out how to burn a DVD using the Lite version of Roxio that came with his new computer. We talked for quite a while (we always do), and I was able to talk him through burning a DVD successfully. I explained to him that Windows XP has the ability to burn a DVD, and I pointed him to the proper location that outlines the steps for doing so in the Windows Help documentation. (To find that same set of instructions on your own system, just search Windows help for “burn CD.”) However, to be honest, I had never actually used XP’s native CD or DVD burning capabilities.

The next morning I experimented on my own computer by highlighting a series of photographs from my hard disk and dragging them over the top of my CD burner which on my system is Drive E. That action caused a window to pop up from the system tray saying, “You have files or folders waiting to be copied to CD.” When I clicked that popup, a Windows Explorer window opened where there was a link that said “Write these files to CD.” I inserted a blank CD into the drive, clicked that link, and sure enough Windows burned the CD successfully. I have to admit this is not the first time I’ve learned something from helping someone else solve a computer problem they were having.

So that explains the “two down” part of my title. Now for the “one to go” part.

As I mentioned the other day, I ordered and installed a new IOGEAR PCI USB 2.0 card and then plugged a new USB hub from the same company into it. I also plugged my external sound card, a Sound Blaster Live 24-bit USB device, into that same PCI USB card. Everything functioned as expected after having done all that. That was on Wednesday, the 7th. Well on Monday, the 12th, I noticed after having booted into my Windows ME partition to do some scanning and then returning to the XP partition, I didn’t have sound any more. So I unplugged the sound card from that PCI USB port and plugged it back into the old USB 1.1 port I had been using, and it worked as it should. Next I tested the USB hub by plugging a thumbdrive into it and it was not recognized. So I conclude from these experiments that the new PCI card with the USB 2.0 ports are no longer working. But in the flurry of activity I’ve been doing helping others with their computer issues, I haven’t yet had time to resolve my own. Reminiscent of the old saying about the “cobbler’s children having no shoes,” I am struggling to find the time to take care of my own problems. Maybe later today I’ll get a chance to resolve that.

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