Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

Why is my monitor displaying inverted colors?

Episode 1144

Ken from Los Angeles, CA
Video card

Ken has a problem with his monitor. All his icons have turned to negative. He tried to change the cable, and he even tried another monitor. Leo says it may be that his settings were changed. Ken should go into accessibility and see if it's set for high contrast mode. But when he unplugs it and plugs it back in, it goes back to normal. Leo says that's odd. Leo says to update the drivers on the video card. If it rights itself when he tries again, that points to a hardware issue and Ken should try replacing the video card.

Can a virus cause a blue screen of death?

Episode 1144

David from Burbank, CA
BSOD

David's computer started to get the dreaded bluescreen of death and he took it to the Geek Squad to get it repaired. They said it was a virus and sold him WebRoot. Leo says that the Geek Squad couldn't have been more wrong and just sold him an antivirus software he didn't need. Almost always, the problem with BSOD is either a driver or hardware issue. BSODs only happen as a result of accessing ring 1 memory on the computer and that's only drivers or hardware. Malware won't result in a BSOD.

What does "meantime between failures" mean?

Episode 1144

Richard from Grand Rapids, MI
Hard Drive

Richard wants to know what the "meantime between failures" means. Leo says that it's the time that a hard drive will live, or the average life span of a hard drive. But Leo says it's pretty much a made up number. They take 1,000 hard drives and run them until a handful die. Then they extrapolate how long the hard drives could last. It's mostly meaningless. Google and Rackspace have both released studies and 98% will last about 2 years, 2% die in the first year, and then they die at about 4% per year. That's just based on their experience.

Why do my Windows programs time out and say "not responding" so often?

Dale from Brooksville, NY

Episode 1144

Dale is having issues with his Windows Vista PC where programs will just stop running. He gets a time out message that the program is not responding. Leo has a hunch that the program is just running really, really slow and it's likely the hard drive is getting flakey. Leo advises backing up the data and replacing the drive. Leo recommends going with a solid state hard drive. They're getting less expensive now and it'll be far faster. Then he can use a spinning drive for his data.

Mike Ziemkowski, Lights on Display

Episode 1144

Lights on Display

Mike Ziemkowski joins us to talk about his annual yuletide lighting display that he's been doing since 2003. Including a rocking guitar playing snowman and an elf-like DJ known as DJ Jingles, the display is remarkable and gets better every year. 75,000 LED lights, an animatronic flying Santa Claus, singing elves coming out of Christmas presents, and projection video. Check it out at lightsondisplay.com.

What gaming PC should I ask for Christmas?

Episode 1144

Devon from Long Beach, CA
Alienware Alpha

Devon wants to get an iBuyPower Gaming PC. Is that a good brand? Leo says that iBuyPower makes great computers and at $495, it's a great deal. The games that Devon wants to play aren't really all that demanding, but still, it depends on what graphics processor and card he's going to get. For video games, the GPU is the workhorse. The NVidia GE Force GT610 is a good one.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Episode 1143

Dick DeBartolo

The holiday brings gifts and that means gadget suggestions from the Giz Wiz! Dickie D has three great stocking stuffers, under $10, for your favorite techie:

1. Eggheads LED Wobble Nightlight - Just tap it, and it turns on, then you can carry it to the bathroom or any place you have to go. In case you forget to tap it or shake it so goes off, an auto-timer will shut it off after about six minutes. The super bright LED bulbs last for more than 100,000 hours. It’s available in colors and is $7.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond.

What Mac should I buy?

Episode 1143

Lynn from Santa Clarita, CA
MacBook Air

Lynn is trying to decide what Mac laptop to buy. She can buy a used, tricked out MacBook Pro, a new MacBook Pro, or MacBook Air. Leo says that if someone is offering to install all her programs onto the laptop, that could be illegal unless he transfers ownership to Lynn. If he doesn't, then they won't work. Sounds like he's misleading her. Leo recommends going to the Apple store and looking at their refurbished laptops. They will be fully warrantied and he can still save some.

Why does my PC shut down when I transcode video?

Episode 1143

Mike from Fountain, CO
Processor

Mike has an old Core 2 Duo Intel computer that's worked fine for 5 years. Now it's starting to shut down when he does transcoding of video. Leo says that overheating is likely the problem. When he's working on processor intensive actions, the chip can heat up, and PCs are designed to shut down when overheating in order to protect the PC. So it may be that he needs to clean out the case, but it may also be that the thermal paste has dried out and it needs to be reapplied.