Hardware

Laptop or desktop computers and any components within.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Episode 1287

Dick DeBartolo

This week's gadget from the Giz Wiz is the Weems and Plath SOS Distress Light! It's the first and only LED Visual Distress Signal Device that meets U.S. Coast Guard requirements to completely replace traditional pyrotechnic flares. Unlike traditional flares, this electronic flare never expires which solves the big and annoying challenge of flare disposal. This floating electronic flare can be hand-held, tethered, or hoisted aloft. It's visible up to 10+ nautical miles and lights for up to 60 hours unlike traditional flares which last minutes or less.

Why can't I wake up my PC?

Jeff from Aliso Viejo, CA

Episode 1287

Jeff upgraded Windows 10 but his password doesn't work when his computer goes to sleep. He wakes it up and it won't unlock. But he can put in a random password and it works! Shut down doesn't work. Leo says that Caps Lock, Num Lock or Scroll Lock can be accidentally hit and it'll lock him out because he's not actually typing it correctly. Restarting will reset the state of the locked buttons. Leo says just to start over and re-upgrade. But since it's a new computer, it may be wise to just return it and get a different one. Something is flakey.

Why does my computer keep losing access to my hard drives?

Bill from Glendora, CA

Episode 1285

Bill's hard drives keep disappearing from his computer. After he reboots, it'll say "fixing disk," and will be there for about 10 minutes before it disappears again. His SSD boot drive works fine, though. Leo says there are a lot of things it could be including hardware and cabling. He should go and look to see how its setup in BIOS. It should be something wrong with AHCI or a driver issue. Since he built the computer himself, there's no one he can call for help. Then again, the support from the major companies isn't helpful anyway.

Can I test the signal strength of an HDMI connection?

Episode 1286

Jay from Providence, NC
Monoprice HDMI signal tester

Jay wants to test his HDMI signal strength because he can't use his Mac with his TV. Monoprice has an HDMI tester. Leo thinks it's more likely a cable compatibility issue, though. He'll need to have the most recent HDMI spec and if his Mac is too old, that could be the issue. Apple doesn't want to really support copy protection issues.

Can I move my old hard drive to my new computer?

Sam from Costa Mesa, CA

Episode 1286

Sam says it's time to get a new computer, and wants to know if he can bring along his old hard drive and put it in. His hard drive is pretty new, so can he swap one hard drive out and plug another in and start it up and get working? Leo says that would be nice, but it doesn't work that way. The Windows OS will look for the motherboards and chipsets and if it doesn't find that, it will have issues.

How can I get my Windows 10 computer to boot up?

Mike from Rockland, CA

Episode 1286

Mike is having an issue where Windows is just flickering. All he can do is shut down and reboot. It could be a bad update, so Leo recommends downloading a clean build of Windows 10 from Micorosoft with the Media Creator Tool. It will build him a key that he can put on USB and then wipe his hard drive and start over. That could fix it. If it doesn't, his computer may not be compatible and he may need to install Windows 8 instead. If that doesn't fix it, then there's a hardware issue. But a clean install should solve the problem.

Why doesn't my computer work after a power surge?

Audry from Los Angeles, CA

Episode 1286

Audry has an old HP desktop running Windows 7, but after a power outage, her computer won't turn on. She even had a surge protector. Leo says that even the best surge protectors won't protect against huge power surges. But it may also be that when the power came back on, it jumped across the surge protector in a rush. It could also be that the power supply shorted out. Leo recommends replacing it. A surge protector also has a fuse and if the fuse popped, then nothing will work until she pops them in. Leo suspects the power supply just blew out.