Computer woes et al

So, I helped my father-in-law to download & install Logmein free (which comes with an inital free Logmein Pro trial period). He has had a rash of relatively “benign” PC infections, but I had been worried for a long while because his system was essentially a sitting duck for the Big One i.e. some rootkit, password stealer or trojan. He hadn’t run Windows Update in a long while and his antivirus program has long since stopped running due to non-renewal of the license which was free. So, we installed Windows XP Service Pack 3 and got his Antivirus program up & running again. This was on Friday and today (Sunday), our next task is to clean up the computer of programs that he rarely ever uses such as Craplets that come preinstalled on new PCs. Here goes!

Interestingly enough, he hasn’t been the only one having computer problems. I’ve been throwing a bunch of computer programs at my laptop and as expected, some of these programs have issues with the Vista Operating system and even more so with 64-bit systems. I finally had to run the ChkDsk program and sure enough, Windows found some file integrity violations. I ran the System File Checker and there were no corrupt system files. Overall, I think I’m getting better at troubleshooting computer issues.

Holy Hannah!

I’m sure you knew what I was really going to say, but I’ll go ahead and say it again: holy fuck. If you suffered from the dreaded error C00D11B3 where neither Windows Media Player nor MCE can play DVDs with protected content, you are in luck if you read this page. By trial and error, I discovered what the problem was. The first clue was in the error  message in which I was told that “Windows Media Player cannot play this DVD because there is a problem with digital copy protection between your DVD drive, decoder, and video card. Try installing an updated driver for your video card.” The first time I got this message, my heart dropped. I updated my Nvidia Geforce 8600M GS graphics drivers and when that didn’t work, I took the drastic step of reformatting my computer. Thankfully, I was able to play DVDs in Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center …. for awhile. However, after installing my slew of programs, the problem of DVD playback surfaced again. This time, I had a very good idea of the culprit: Logmein’s driver. You see, I’m running the Logmein Pro version on my laptop and there is an option to “blank the monitor” whenever the laptop is being remote controlled.
Well, when this checkbox is ticked, Logmein installed a “DPMS” driver which somehow integrates into the generic PnP (plug and play) monitor on the laptop. So, if you go into the device management console and rightclick the entry under “Monitor”, you’ll find that the provider of drivers for the Microsoft device is now Logmein!! I’m surmising that the decoder (msmpeg2vdec.dll) will not play nice with this DPMS driver and so I uninstalled the entry under “Monitor” which was the generic PnP monitor with the DPMS installed. I was a little scared of taking this step because I thought the screen would go dead or something. However, I discovered a neat command that makes Windows find drivers: scan for hardware changes.

Windows MediaSimply rightclick on “Monitor” or on your computer’s name and click “Scan for hardware changes”. Windows will then install the original drivers for your monitor and ta da!!  I’m able to play back DVDs on Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center. I can’t tell you how many hours I put into Google into trying to find what was causing my PC to go crazy and I feel like I hit the daily double. lol. I definitely am glad that I stayed away from free codec packs because by and large, I think Windows is a system that makes sense although it would help if she weren’t so reticent in letting you know what you did wrong i.e. “hey Jane, you recently installed some mirror drivers that aren’t from us?, et cetera”

Enough of my blather. I need to go to bed. 🙂

much ado about nothing

I scour Techmeme several times daily and titles like this “30 Seconds to boot up? That’s 29 too many” make me scratch my head. I love innovation just as much as the next person, but can we be realistic about things sometimes? I’m not on the cutting edge mostly because it’s expensive to be “cutting edge.” If you are like me, you will put up with 2 – 5 minute boot up times because you have no choice really (except spend more money on a faster system which you don’t particularly care to because you’re semi-broke). So, I guess my rant isn’t so much about this need for speed among tech writers as it is with the obvious trade-offs that come with the latest & greatest technology. People can’t afford this shit. Seriously. In my weird way, I’ll relate this to the age-old debate: PC vs. Mac. I shop at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy etc and they know their market. I fall within the 20 – 30 demographic and I’m a fairly normal adult. So, I can safely say that if I’m even slightly representative of this demographic, then I rest my case in saying that  unlike breathless enthusiasts, people don’t like expensive. Unless their employer is paying for it. 🙂