Category Archives: Fix My Problem

Huge Bay Area Comcast Outage

Somehow Comcast missed waterproofing 101 in their cabling class with the first mild El Nino blameable storm knocking out Comcast’s less than robust monopolized Internet and Cable TV service. Comcast is clinging to a dying business model and refuses to see the writing on the wall. Consumers only need you because you’ve managed to monopolize the Bay Area’s Internet providers. Once their is another viable option, toast you will be.

Verizon Wireless outage in Santa Clara and San Jose

Verizon Wireless service has been down all day in parts Santa Clara and San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley.
After spotty service last week, whatever the problem was took the service out completely for a while. Verizon Wireless service does seem to be back up for now. Who knows if there will be any word from Verizon on what caused the outage or even if they will admit to having an outage. Customers of AT&T and Sprint seem to still have cell service so it doesn’t seem to be the dreaded Solar Apocalypse.

NASA Solar Flare
NASA image of a massive solar flare on April 16, 2012. Better put on that sunscreen.

It could quite possibly be a localized Sharknado swirling around a Verizon cell tower. Flying sharks get hungry and they’ll eat just about anything.

“Verizon is working to restore your services” is the blanket statement on their Verizon Service Outage Information web page.

Happy data streaming Silicon Valley and beware of flying sharks!

Audio not working on PC with driver installed

So you have the frustrating problem of “Audio not configured” messages and no sound even though you know you have audio devices connected to your PC. The problem may be in your BIOS settings.

If you have the “X” symbol over the speaker icon on the system tray (not the circle with the line through it that shows when audio is on mute) and your audio refuses to work, even after re-installing the audio drivers and checking the connections to your devices, your audio may be disabled.

There are 2 main BIOS settings that can disable your computer’s audio capability. Your BIOS may vary, this example works on many different HP computers.

 Here’s how to fix your PC audio problem in the BIOS:

1)      Using the F10 or ESC key to get into your BIOS setup, tab with the arrow keys to Advanced –> Device Options –> Internal Speaker. You may see it listed as “Disabled”, tab to enabled and apply the setting. (again your particular BIOS settings may vary)

2)      While remaining in the BIOS setup, arrow over to Security –> Device Security –> System Audio. The audio device may be listed as “Device Hidden” If so, change the setting to “Device Available”.

Some BIOS versions give the ability to disable or enable individual audio jacks such as the front and back jacks found on a PC tower.

Non-System disk error after installing graphics card

If you are getting the following Non-System disk error after replacing or changing a graphics card:

“Error – Non-System disk or disk error. Replace and strike any key when ready.”

You may be experiencing a common problem.

If your system has a raid card, check to make sure all of the SATA cables are still tightly connected and make sure the RAID card is seated the PCI slot.

Or if you have an HP computer there is a known problem with certain Seagate disks that can be fixed by updating the disk firmware:

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. ~ Douglas Adams

Comcast Cable Box Slow?

Is your Comcast DVR/Cable Box slow to respond to inputs from your remote? Did you already try changing the batteries in your cable remote control?

Before you try getting a new cable box from your cable provider, try unplugging your cable box from the power to reboot the whole system. It will take a minute or so to reset, but once the cable box is back up, it should be more responsive.

The cable box is basically a computer that will need to be rebooted from time to time to clear out dead processes and refresh the system. It’s just like any other computer running an operating system, in this case the cable box is likely running some form of embedded linux, it can begin to suffer from slow response times after running non stop for a long period of time.

Comcast HD DVR Cable Box DCX3400-M

Your cable box can also become slow it is left on constantly and overheats. So be sure to switch it off occasionally and give it a break. Maybe go outside and take in some fresh air.

Two ways to determine if your Windows PC is 32-bit or 64-bit

As a system administrator or general tech person at your company, there will be times when you’ll need to find out if the Windows computer you’re working on is running a 32-bit or 64-bit operating system. You’ll need this information so you know which version of software to install on your system, or to see what will be compatible with your system architecture in the future.

There are two easy ways to find out if you are running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows.

The first way is through the computer properties information window. To get there, left click on the Windows start button.


Right click on “Computer” in the Windows option menu.

And move your cursor down to “Properties” at the bottom of the menu list and left click.

This will bring up the Windows system information window which will show what system type you are running:

The second way to determine if your system is 32-bit or 64-bit in the Windows operating system is through the dos command line. Click on the Windows start button and type “cmd” in the run box.

If you’ve run the dos command prompt on this system before you should see the “cmd” icon in your recently run programs.

Then in your dos command  terminal window type:

systeminfo | more

Note: You don’t actually need spaces between the pipe symbol “|” and the rest of the command, they were just added for clarity. You can run a “systeminfo|more” command with no spaces.

And the computer’s system information tool runs gathering a heap of data about your computer. Just look for the “System Type” line in the output. If it says “x64” you have a 64-bit system, if it says x86 you’re running a 32-bit system.
So Happy Friday Silicon Valley! Now get out and enjoy that Northern California sunny and mild winter weather that you all pay so much to enjoy here!


Samsung “Click of Death” Capacitor Problem in LCD TV Screens

It happened this weekend. The dreaded “click of death” started on the 46 inch LCD TV. First it was just a few clicks and then the familiar Samsung start up tone would sound and the the screen would turn on. After a few days of delayed TV start ups with the “clicking of death”, eventually there was only clicking. No start up tone, no indicator lights, just a steady clicking of impending television doom. (much like MSNBC). <g>

So I did a little standard troubleshooting, unplugging and plugging the TV back in to the surge protected power strip and still nothing. Though after I unplugged the Samsung TV, the clicking kept going for few seconds and then had 2 quick clicks and stopped. Which led me to believe it was a bad capacitor that was still charged after removing the power source. I tried resetting the TV with the remote, no response. Tried to get it working by plugging the power cord straight into the wall socket and bypass the surge protector, nothing, just a steady click in the blackness of a blank, black screen.

This “click of death” has become a common problem on certain Samsung television sets that were manufactured with a bad batch of capacitors. (This one is a LN46A550P3FXZA) So common in fact that they have a “Capacitor Settlement Division” that I was transferred to when I called Samsung support. These capacitor death caps may be hidden in your TV, waiting to pop and cause you to go to the gym rather than watch Game of Thrones.

Even if you believe that your monitor is out of warranty, check with Samsung first to see if it eligible for a free repair at 1-800-SAMSUNG (1-800-726-7864). You can also go straight to the Samsung Capacitor Settlement site, or call 1-888-899-7602.

You’ll need the model number and serial number, as it is a one-time repair. Specifically, a one-time free of charge repair to replace the capacitors and if that doesn’t work, they’ll replace the power supply.

Affected model numbers as listed by Samsung:

Model Number Serial Numbers
Plasma TV HPT5034X/XAA; HPT5044X/XAA; HPT5054X/XAA; HPT5064X/XAA; PN42A410C1DXZA; PN42A450P1DXZA; PN50A410C1DXZA; PN50A450P1DXZA; PN50A460S4DXZA

Dell had a widespread issue with capacitors a few years back and took a public beating for it. Samsung seems to have learned that it is far better to stand and fix this problem than to let the interwebs sully their reputation as a quality consumer electronics manufacturer. The failed capacitor phenomenon has become known as capacitor plague”.

The Samsung Captivate Android smartphone may have so named so that something other than “Samsung Capacitor” comes up in a Google search when you start typing “Samsung Cap….” But they seem to fixing this problem even on older out of warranty televisions. (My LCD TV was purchased in 2008)

Now if they can only take a bite out of Apple’s “patent of death” legal team.


Update: So the Samsung technician arrived at about 9:45 this morning and was out the door by 10am. Pretty quick. The repair process required taking off the back cover of the TV, removing the power supply circuit board, removing the 2 offending capacitors and replacing them with fresh ones, soldering them to the board and putting the parts back together. That’s it. All working now.