Customers (hubby and wife) need some help with internet security, making music CDs, and misc other questions.
I start with setting up security (antivir, winpatrol, spywareblaster).
They then want to know how to send pictures via email (correctly). Ah, now here is where many non-tech people come unstuck. There are so many different photo manipulation programs out there (at least a different one for each camera manufacturer), so it can get confusing very quickly.
Since they sometimes send emails to friends that have dialup, I decide a little education on file sizes is in order (eg its OK to send a 200Kb picture via email, but not a 2Mb picture).
I then install and show them the basics of irfanview (IMO, the best, fastest, simplest, free photo viewer you can get… I’ve been using it for 8 years!). I just show how to check file size, how to resize the image and then save the “smaller” image for sending over email. I’d also like to show them the red eye reduction and cropping, but they are already overloaded.
At some point, the PC had developed a “jerky” mouse pointer (needing a restart).
I then move on to burning CDs and DVDs.
Now, the PC has 2 DVD writers (a pioneer and a liteon). I pick one at random, put a blank CD into it and a music CD into the other. I then show them how to use Nero to copy the music CD to the blank one.
But one of the drives locks up (LED on, no flickering, and no response from Nero).
I reboot, and the PC get past the bios, then just shows a grey screen and hangs.
I open the PC, take a look inside (it looks OK, nothing where it shouldn’t be). However, the DVDRW drives have jumpers to force them to be master and slave, but the cable configuration is the opposite to the jumper settings (master cable plug inserted into the slave drive)… a possible problem, so I set them both to Cable Select (as I usually do). But the PC still locks up occasionally, or will be exceedingly slow.
The bios settings seem OK.
I even try unplugging each in turn (between reboots), but there is still something strange happening (lockups at boot, or while writing data to a blank CD).
I figure one of the drives could be faulty, so I take them back to the office for a test.
Both drives work well in another PC… (I only tried them one at a time).
Back at the customer, I carefully try each drive in turn (both have jumper on CS), and I see the pioneer drive insists on being the master drive (even when plugged into the slave cable plug!)
OK, I set the jumper to force it to be slave, plug it into the slave cable plug, and then the bios detects it correctly. I plugin the liteon (cable select, on the master plug)… now both drives are detected correctly.
I do a CD copy from liteon (master) to pioneer (slave) and it works.
I also burn some data to the liteon, but nero (and the drive) lock up.
So although the pioneer drive has trouble with cable select, the liteon doesn’t like writing to blank disks…
At this stage, I figure its better to leave a mostly working system, and I ask the owners to keep an eye on the drives, and let me know if things deteriorate.