Tech Support

Wednesday night was tech support night. Between shows I drove to my friend Steve’s home, no more than 10 minutes from the station. He’s a great guy, and his wife is nicer.

He’s my physician, so I fix his computer and he fixes me. It seems like a decent arrangement, though there’s probably more downside risk to me should a problem go unfixed.

He had muddled along in computing for years. With the birth of his first grandchild, his computing needs increased. There were photos to tweak and upload – which led to a scanner and DSL connection (I’m much more a fan of cable modems than DSL, but that’s another story for another day).

What had been a reasonable, older Gateway system has become a problem. The photo work pushes it to its limits – slowing him down. The screen is a 15″ CRT, running at 800×600 resolution. After all the menus and taskbars are drawn on the screen, it’s got the spaciousness of a New York City efficiency.

For most applications, any old PC will do. I hear stories all the time about people buying new computers, sending old ones to the trash heap. It drives me nuts!

I’ve gotten call telling me how a computer is running slower, as if computers atrophied. “Malware” can make a computer slow down, but it’s curable.

The dirty secret of the computing world is, most CPU speed is wasted. For Internet browsing, word processing and email, the vast majority of computers up to four or five years old are fine. All they usually need are a little more memory and hard drive space – both of which are easily added. Why spend big bucks if you don’t have to?

Steve’s computing problem relates to an incompatibility between a driver for his video card and the new scanner. Every time you set the scanner in motion, you get an error message referring to NV4DISP.DRV. Then the program just shuts down, as if nothing had happened.

There is nothing as cryptic as a Windows 98 error message. It offers little information and no hope.

My first line of defense is to go to Usenet via Google. Usenet is where nerds go to find other nerds. NV4DISP.DRV has been cited often on Usenet. Still, my first looks didn’t bring me a solution – and I still don’t have one.

It is possible that this old computer, with the video subsystem an integral part of the motherboard, has a fatal dislike for the scanner and they will never play well together. I don’t have my hopes raised. I will keep trying.

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