May 11, 2016

Apr - 28 2016 | By

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For a couple of months, the podcast of today’s show will be here. Recent shows are here.

The intro music was by Pentatonix:

 

Both Paul & Glenn were in the studio today

 

Paul made an observation about the human psyche: “It’s very much the human condition that you’ll never know what you missed if you do things right”. If you backup your computer, it’s a minor matter to recover your files. In a case like this, our behavior doesn’t get reinforced for doing the right thing and the consequences are minor. <So, get into the habit of backing up>.

Glenn was helping a friend who got a new Windows 10 computer. The computer wouldn’t recognize his Canon D340 laser printer/copier/fax and Glenn had trouble finding any info about it until he searched by its full name: imageCLASS D340. Apparently, the appropriate printer driver was missing.

Paul described the Plug and Play technology that was supposed to allow Windows recognize the printer. The Plug ‘n Play consortium makes sure each piece of hardware can uniquely identify itself when it’s plugged into the computer. The identity is a serial number issued by the consortium that incorporates the manufacturer, the make, model, serial number and revision of the equipment. As Paul recalled, it’s a 32bit number that constitutes the identity.

Paul noted that if you have ‘search preview’ turned on in your browser, Firefox for example, Google will display suggestions as you start typing your search terms. The suggestions will appear under the search bar and will show similar searches other people have made recently. <You can then use the down-arrow key to select a suggested query, if you wish>. This is handy if your computer shows you an error code, like “Error 995 administrator on fire, bring water”. If you start typing into Google search “error 995” you’ll often see the rest of the error code “…administrator on fire…” in the search suggestions and you’ll realize you aren’t the first to do this search.

Paul said the Zen Tech website runs WordPress to manage the content, About a quarter of the websites run WordPress, which first came out in 1999. If you are an administrator of the website xyz.com you’d go to xyz.com/wp-admin to login. When you do you’ll see the dashboard, which may contain notices to update your version of WordPress. Don’t ignore them. The website that hosted what later became the Panama Papers was running WordPress that wasn’t updated in a timely manner. Paul was annoyed at seeing so many updates issued for WordPress lately and he felt obligated to install them.

It’s not just some individual sitting at their computer trying to break into your website. There are robots that try to break into hundreds of sites. When a break-in happens, there can be invisible elements placed on your webpage that cause a visitor to your website to download malware.

Paul said the intro music to this show by Pentatonix is a cappella — there are no instruments used other than their voices. He didn’t think that they do much to manipulate the music after recording their songs. Many artists do use postprocessing, often with a vocorder. The vocorder can correct a singer’s voice that’s off key. He said that about 98% of recording artists use a vocorder. He’s not sure if it’s a good thing that technology alters the personal nuances of a singer.

The vocorder can also allow a singer to accompany themselves. There’s a video Paul’s seen of a singer who was over-dubed a few times to achieve something similar to the Pentatonix song.

Winn called with a question about his Pavilon G7 laptop that has a persistent black screen. He’s seen some Youtube videos on how to replace the video chip and wondered how much success he can expect doing it himself. He had taken it to someone who said it’s likely some problem with the motherboard.
– Glenn said try plugging in an external monitor to see if the problem goes away. This should be the first step — determine if it’s a problem with the display. Winn said he doesn’t have a spare monitor.
– Paul said he’s seen some laptops where the backlight for the screen failed. Use a very bright flashlight and shine it transversely at the screen to see if you can detect any kind of image. If so, it’s a backlight problem.
– When you turn it on, can you hear it making noises & does the hard drive light come on? Winn said he doesn’t detect any of that. In that case it’s probably not a video chip problem, Paul said.
– Paul again said to try an external monitor. Use the VGA port on the computer. Or use the HDMI output connected to a TV with an HDMI input.
– If you do detect some activity at bootup and you eventually decided to replace the video chip, as per the Youtube videos, be aware that modern computers are made with high temperature lead-free solder. Repair shops have special equipment to deal with it but, as a last resort, it’s worth a shot to follow the instructions in the Youtube videos.
– If you’re not successful, you can at least get the hard drive out and copy the data off of it.
– The high temperature lead-free solder itself can be a source of problems. Turning the machine on and off can cause temperature stress on the solder causing it to crack.
– If you decide that the video chip is the problem, there are services on Ebay specializing in video chips. Paul said he would hesitate doing it himself — the results can be disappointing. Read the terms for the service regarding shipping and diagnostic costs.

Some steps for tackling a problem like this:
– Check to see if it’s still under warranty? There’s a place on HP’s website where you type in your serial number to find out if it’s still under warranty.
– Check if there’s an extended warranty?
– If you bought it with a credit card, is there a warranty from the credit company?
– Google the words: HP Pavilion G7 recall. Over the years, many laptops had to be recalled because the manufacture’s were forced to admit their laptops were poorly made.

David called. He has old RCA DVD player that has problems playing some disks. It was able to play them on about a year ago. Now when he tries to play them, the player says they are incompatible.
– The disks, though generally robust, may have degraded due to fingerprints. It’s ok to hand wash them. Use cotton and detergent. Wipe them from the center outward, not around in a circle.
– Parts of the drive can wear out or get obstructed with dust.
– There might be some dust on the lens of the reader. Use compressed air on it.
– New players are cheap — under about $30 at Walmart.
|- To analyze the problem, try playing your DVDs in a different player.
– New smart DVD players are in the $60 range.

Pam called. She has a laptop with Windows 8.1. People keep telling her that she should upgrade. She wanted to know what to upgrade to, Windows 10?
– Glenn asked if she’s unhappy with it as it is. She said she’s ok with it but that the free upgrade to Win10 may end soon. <July 29, last I heard>
– Paul thinks it’s ok to skip the upgrade if she’s not having any problems with 8.1. Win8.1 is going to be supported for a number of years.
– Paul suggested she use Classic Shell with her Win8.1 to give it a better user interface. It’s free and easy to uninstall if you don’t like it.
– If you decide to upgrade to Win10, you can uninstall it within 30 days. But it’s not easy and Paul doesn’t trust the process.

Paul warned people who have the upgrade icon on their taskbar that upgrading is irreversible.
– A program called GWX Control Panel gives you options to get rid of the icon, among other things regarding the Win10 upgrade, on your Windows 7 8 and 8.1 machine.
– You can undo the changes you made if you don’t uninstall GWX Control Panel in the mean time — until you’ve made a final decision on the Win10 upgrade.
– Make sure you keep GWX Control Panel updated. Microsoft is playing some kind of cat and mouse game to prevent it from working properly — they keep changing the KB number (knowledge base number on their updates).

Marilyn wrote in. She’s been using a free version of Malware Bytes for over a year without trouble, but it’s now doing scans without being prompted to. She can’t change its behavior in the settings unless she gets the paid version. The problem is that it slows her computer to a crawl.
– There have been suggestions <unclear by whom> to uninstall and reinstall the program.
– Paul said that software makers have some justification trying to get people to buy the paid versions because the rate at which people convert from the free versions has been notoriously low. If the price is reasonable, consider shelling out the money.
– Abandon Malware Bytes and use something like Avast. It deals with viruses and malware. When installing it, carefully observe the installation screens. Click the customize button and install only the file shield and updater. It’s all you need.

Glenn thanked the listeners who support KVMR. <If you’d like to make a contribution, please visit kvmr.org.>

Last Updated 11:29 PM 5-11-2016