Orion Scribner (frameacloud) wrote in vistasupport,
Orion Scribner

Help needed

There are three different personal computers in my household, and each computer is incapacitated by its own individual problems. One machine runs Win98, another runs WinMe, and the brand new one runs Windows Vista. (Yes, I'm aware that Win98 is old, and WinXP usually preferred to both of the latter. I'm not changing their operating systems.) I'm somewhat experienced with troubleshooting problems on the computers of family and friends, and I've had some successes with machines that seemed to be lost causes, but I'm at my wit's end with these particular problems. Can you help diagnose these problems, and/or suggest any fixes or work-arounds for these problems?

Nine-year-old(?) desktop PC running Windows 98:

1. This problem started last August. Computer shuts down spontaneously, often at startup. Rarely makes it far enough for Windows to boot up in the first place. Happens so fast that it's probably not overheating, and isn't kept in conditions where it would overheat, either: room temperature, not in an enclosed space, well-ventilated. Several knowledgeable people have said that its symptoms might mean that it has bad RAM. Supposedly replacing the RAM would be so expensive that the computer might as well be junked and replaced. Is that true, or does more affordable RAM exist? Is it possible that the symptoms mean something else?

Seven-year-old desktop PC, a Compaq running Windows Millennium:

1. Can't play streaming .rm (Real Media) files through RealPlayer or through alternative players such as SMPlayer. Problem is not with the .rm files themselves, which play okay on the other computers. How can I get .rm to play?

2. I installed a DivX codec that was too new to run on WinMe. The official Microsoft site said that the codec was compatible with WinMe, but other sites said it was not. Result is that games like Zuma do not display. Supposedly can't downgrade DivX to a compatible version without uninstalling whole OS. Upgrading the OS isn't possible because the machine is supposedly too old to run WinXP. Can I do something so that Zuma will run?

New (bought last September) desktop PC, a Dell running Windows Vista:

1. Computer is not communicating with flatbed scanner at all, and communicating intermittently with USB keyboard. The problem is not with the scanner or keyboard hardware themselves. Scanner has been tested on another computer and worked fine. The scanner connects to the computer by USB, so this may be a problem with the computer's USB ports or drivers. On this computer, when I tell it to scan, the software says "Warming up the scanner bar," the scanner hardware makes a noise like it's about to scan, and then it locks up and has to be closed by ctrl+alt+del. The scanner software won't open again until the computer has been rebooted. As for the keyboard, sometimes it communicates with the computer in a normal way, and sometimes the computer seems unaware that anything is being typed into that keyboard. What can I do to make the computer communicate with the USB scanner and USB keyboard?

a) draque and kistaro suggest: plug into different USB port, because the USB ports I've tried so far might be defective. (I've tried plugging the scanner and keyboard into a few different ports, but I haven't exhausted this possibility yet by trying ALL the ports.)

b) draque suggests: install any drivers that came with the keyboard. (No drivers came with the keyboard that I'm aware of, but I'll dig through my CDs to make sure.)

c) baxil suggests: for keyboard, Add New Hardware wizard, then plug it in, then manually select generic "new USB keyboard" driver. (I've tried this before, but it's worth another try. Sigh.)

d) ridayah says this (or the Bluetooth problem below) is an inherent problem with Windows Vista, although Kistaro begs to differ, having not run into it on a Vista machine.

e) kistaro says a USB problem is so uncommon that it's almost certainly a problem with the computer's hardware, so the computer should be sent in for repair or return.

2. Computer is intermittently failing to communicate with Bluetooth devices, including the Bluetooth mouse and the Bluetooth keyboard that came with the computer. Problem is probably not with the Bluetooth devices themselves: their batteries have been changed, their status lights look okay, they have no signs of physical damage. Sometimes I have to go through the Add Hardware wizard to re-introduce the computer to the Bluetooth keyboard or mouse. What can I do to make the computer reliably communicate with its Bluetooth peripherals?

a) kistaro suggests: the computer's bluetooth antenna is internally connected by USB, so this is part of the same USB problem described above.

3. New Wacom Intuos 3 tablet mouse recognizes a single-click as a double-click, although its option screen claims that it's recognizing a single-click as a single-click. (Likewise, the tablet's pen sometimes recognizes a single-tap as a double-tap.) Previous Wacom tablet worked perfectly on this computer, and its drivers were uninstalled before installing this one, so probably no conflict from older drivers... although there may well be a conflict in something else. Maybe there's another options screen somewhere, where I can change the setting so that it works...? Is this another USB communication problem? What can I do to make the tablet recognize a single-click as an actual single-click?
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