PC Problems

I know. Why do I even use a PC? Go with Apple or Linux and forget all the other nonsense. Well, I have some stuff that Apple does not support. Like Netflix downloads.

Last week I decide to take Microsoft at their word and finally install all the security updates to my XP professional + SP2 operating system. (professional? What a joke that is! over 100 updates and three major service packages and counting. What amateurs! That is why they have to claim professionalism. You would never guess they were professional by their actions.)

Right after installing the updates, I started having trouble with my Hauppague PVR-250 card. WIN-TV2000 became flakey. Flakey to the point of finally causing the computer to reboot repeatedly.

Virus? MS updates? No, bad video card. I replaced the new fancy video card with a known good older card and the system healed itself.

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3 Comments on “PC Problems”

  1. admin Says:

    Tuns out there is nothing wrong with the video card. There is nothing wrong with any of the three video cards I tried.

    My next witch hunt set off on the PVR-250 card. I was convincing myself that the ball grid solder connections of the Conextant chip had gone bad. Even spent the better part of the afternoon shopping for a replacement.

    Found some stories on the web in a newsgroup that seemed to indicate that others were having problems with Haupaggue PVR cards too. Some thought it was poorly written application software from Haupaggue. Others thought it was some sort of conspiracy at Microsoft where the wizards of bytes and bits put a hex on XP+SP2 that prevented certain drivers from loading or working.

    These stories certainly explained what was appearing to happen. Sometimes the drivers would load successfully and work. Sometimes they would not load. Other times they would load and not work. Still other times they would load, work and stop working. The stories did not explain why all this crummy software and hardware worked fine for years before it quit working, other than it was all part of the same conspiracy.

    Well, today I think I finally found a real problem. Real enough so that when it was addressed, I got different results. Out of desperation I decided to reload win98 on this machine. If nothing else I would discover why I finally decided to upgrade to XP.

    When I got to the point where win98 loads off hard drive for the first time, the system complained that it did not have enough memory to load windows!!

    I have 2 gig of ram memory in this machine!! Sometimes I refer to them as gigglebytes. Perhaps this first 1 gig module really was a gigglebyte! I removed the gigglebyte and replaced it with a gigabyte module, abandoned the win98 install, re-installed the drive containing XP, reloaded the PVR drivers successfully and wintv2000 began working again.

    It has been working now for about two hours. Nice picture, even at full screen. Will be recording another Hitchcock Presents program later tonight. We will see how it all looks in the morning.

  2. admin Says:

    It is now afternoon of the following day. Everything looks great. Video capture card is working fine as well as all the rest of the system. Cloned the main drive after getting it set up with all the needed software. Both the cloned drive and the running drive have all the MS updates for XP.

    Speed is back up where it should be and things seem to be settled down and working.

    Probably don’t need 2 gig of memory. Right now running fine with 1 gig of ram. An extra 1gig will cost about $50. Would probably rather buy another SATA hard drive with that money.

    Going to keep this machine off the internet. Internet via ibook and the newly installed Dell. The new Dell has a 21 inch monitor and will be used for netflix

  3. admin Says:

    Yesterday was April fools day. Today I feel like an April fool.

    Yup, the PVR-250 card quit working late last night. Around midnight I stopped the recording and tried to change program material. The WinTV2000 program refused to display the video. The program loaded and the fake TV screen showed up but no program.

    I tried re-installing the Haupaggue software after clearing it off the drive and rebooting. The re-install worked fine. Even the decoder software installed properly. Earlier, the decoder software did not install correctly. No error codes were given. It just gave a blue screen and quit. This latest install attempt worked. No blue screen but an actual dialog of installation progress.

    Whoop-tee-doo! So what!? The application was not working after all.

    The next morning I took another look at the computer. Defraged the hard drive. Used Acronis to sanitize the drive of any temp files and helpful but useless MS data files. Still nothing.

    Suddenly the screen went to a very low resolution and four colors. An error message declared that the ATI diplay driver had quit working. No Kidding!!
    This was an ATI Radeon 7500 card with TV out.

    Then I recalled that when I installed the ATI driver, I was cautioned that this card and driver had not been certified to work with XP. I was given the option of installing it anyway. So I did install it.

    Now I have been using the ATI card, drivers and all for nearly six months. Not a hint of problems. Everything was fine until I updated my XP professional OS with all 139 MS updates. It was the updated drive which was running when the system crashed. I have no real evidence that all those updates made the system less compatible with the ATI driver. I can’t really blame Microsoft for the problem, after all, they did warn me that the ATI driver was not approved. Maybe I should blame ATI. ATI sales literature and manual never indicated that the Radeon 7500 card or drivers would not work reliably with XP. Maybe I should blame myself….naw, then I would have to admit to being imperfect.

    Time to dig out those suspect memory modules out of the trash. Maybe also retrieve the video cards that were suspect. Not all my computers run XP. I bet the Radeon card would be just fine running Linux.

    Basically, this entire exercise has verified that we need to understand what we read before we act. Not good enough to be able to read. That does not make a person literate. You have to understand what it is you are reading, as well.

    If we see error messages we do not understand, we need to research why those messages are there and what we risk if we ignore them. Of course that means we need to be more responsible for our actions. Maybe not be so quick to blame Microsoft, or ATI, or memory manufacturers or TV tuner card providers or write things off as unusual and rare occurances due to it being April 1.

    Back to 2+ gig ram now and running an old nVidia Gforce 2 MX card. The system seems to be running flawlessly now with good, clean video and snappy performance. Just like it did two days ago with the ATI card.

    Tomorrow will tell. Might even find out later tonight.

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