More Laptop Troubles

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Okotoks Camper

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A while ago, I asked some questions about setting up security on a wireless network at home. I got excellent answers and am now all set up with WPA2.

Time for a new issue. As I indicated earlier, I have an HP laptop with Windows Media Centre (XP Pro SP2). Twice now, I've set the darned thing up and discovered that the CD/DVD recorder freezes the laptop up when I insert a DVD or CD; not always, mind, just most of the time. It really screws me up. I thought at first it was Nero 6, but I don't have that installed this time and it still happens.

By the way, I called HP and actually ended up sending the unit back to them (What a hassle!). They apparently did something to the motherboard, but fixed nothing. Then they told me I was out of software warranty so couldn't get any help from them at all, unless I wanted to pay big bucks for them to tell me to reinstall.

I'm only a few weeks from retirement and I'm going to do another clean install when I have some time, but I wondered if anyone else has experienced a similar problem.

Cheers,
John B.
 

Steve CDN

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John,

I am running Windows MCE on two systems, one desktop and one laptop and have not seen that behaviour.  How long have you had this laptop that you are out of warranty?

 

Okotoks Camper

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Hi Steve,

The HP software warranty is a whopping ninety days. The hardware is one year, but I'm convinced it's a software conflict somewhere. I should have mentioned that it locks up when it reads the auto.inf file (I think that's the name) on the CD/DVD and tries to execute the startup on the CD.

Cheers,
John B.
 

Ned

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What happens when you hold the left Shift key down while inserting the DVD or CD?? That will suppress the autoplay.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Apparent freezing when a CD is inserted is sometimes just the system trying to read the CD. If it has a problem, it may go through a VERY lengthy error retry sequence that effectively locks everything else out. That could mean a mismatch between certain CDs and the drive, with one or both being at the fringes of their respective specifications.  Usually the CD light stays on when this is happening, but I've seen the system get "lost" and the drive light stay off as well. Not sure why.

Another possibility of a bug/error in the CD device driver. Might be fixed by reinstalling the driver, if you have it or can get it online somewhere.

As Ned suggests, try bypassing the autoplay when the disk is inserted. That will eliminate any errors caused by the software the CD is trying to execute. Autoplay can be turned off permanently if that seems to work for you. Click Help & Support and search on autoplay for instructions.

 

Okotoks Camper

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Thanks for the tips guys.

What happens when you hold the left Shift key down while inserting the DVD or CD? ?That will suppress the autoplay.

Unfortunately, when I tried holding the left-shift key down while I inserted the disk (I continued to hold it down while waiting to see what happened) the laptop locked up again. So maybe it's not the auto start feature.

Another possibility of a bug/error in the CD device driver. Might be fixed by reinstalling the driver, if you have it or can get it online somewhere.

I've reinstalled the device drivers, reset the boot settings to default, tried repair and did a clean OS reinstall. The only one that made a difference was the clean reinstall and it lasted until I started reinstalling software. Of course I was too dumb to insert a disk after each install so I don't know when it went south again. I'm going to do the clean OS install thing again after I retire and have time to waste, but I was hoping this was a common issue that someone could say "Oh, I know what that is, just change ..." You know, the eternal optimist.

Cheers, John B.
 

Ned

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The left-shift will suppress the autoplay but the drive will still read the CD or DVD, so there may still be a problem with the drive.  If it worked after a clean OS install, but failed later, would indicate some software installed a system file related to the DVD drive.  Did you install something like Nero or other CD burning software perhaps?  You could try turning off XPs CD burning feature, but that's a long shot.
 

John From Detroit

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calgary camper said:
Hi Steve,

The HP software warranty is a whopping ninety days. The hardware is one year, but I'm convinced it's a software conflict somewhere. I should have mentioned that it locks up when it reads the auto.inf file (I think that's the name) on the CD/DVD and tries to execute the startup on the CD.

Cheers,
John B.

You need to check out something called the Uniform Commericial Code, and your local state's implementation of it, if you are in the US.  "You may have other rights which vary from state to state" as they say... You need to know what those are
 

BruceinFL

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I think you may have a bad drive. Same thing happened to me with my Dell laptop. The removable CD drive locks up the computer occasionally because it can't read the media in the drive. I also have a PCMCIA drive and it works perfectly so I think the removable drive is bad. Trying to figure if I should get a new laptop or a new removable drive, when I saw what Dell wanted for the removable, I stuck with the PCM`CIA.
 

Steve CDN

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John in Detroit,

ou need to check out something called the Uniform Commericial Code, and your local state's implementation of it, if you are in the US. 

John is in Calgary, so additional rights like the ones you described would not apply.  However there may be some Alberta Provincial consumer legislation that may give John in Calgary some rights.  Consumer legislation in Canada is at both Provincial and Federal levels..but I would not hold my breath.

John in Calgary, did you buy your HP from HP or from a retailer?  Consider going to where you bought it and asking to speak to a supervisor.
 

Karl

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John,

A couple of questions:

You mentioned that it fails some times, but not always. Does it fail always on the same cd/dvd, or is it random? If always on the same CD/DVD but not at all on others, you probably have a drive problem or that particular CD is defective. If it works sometimes on a particular CD/DVD but not at other times, it could be either a drive problem or software. I would suggest you remove all CD burning/playing app's like Nero, Real Player, etc., and try accessing the questionable CD thru Windows Explorer. If you can see the contents of the CD there and it will play thru Windows Media Player, chances are good that one of your app. programs is not recognizing the format of the cd or it doesn't have the proper codecs loaded for it. Back to the Nero, Real, etc. site for a more recent version of the software.

Go into "Control Panel', "System", "Hardware", "Device Manager", "DVD/CD ROM Drives" and get the mfg/model number of your drive, then go to their website and see if there are any new drivers for it. Install if necesary.

If all that fails to locate/solve your problem, beg, borrow or stea... well forget that last one... an external USB CD/DVD player and try your disks in it. If they fail there too, it's almost certainly a software problem. If not, it's almost certainly a hardware problem.
 

Okotoks Camper

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Okotoks, Alberta
Thanks for all the responses.

To Steve, I bought it at Future Shop, not noted for their customer service. I did, however purchase extended warranty and there is a "Lemon Clause" that I will attempt to use if needed.

Karl pretty much summed things up in his note just previous to this one. It's a random thing. It fails on one, then works for the next CD/DVD. Lately it has occasionally locked up just booting. Never an error message, just freezes. My retirement is only three weeks away & my plan is to completely rebuild it from the OS up, and to try CDs and DVDs after each install.

I will also keep in mind Karl's suggestion of a USB drive. Interesting thing, now that I think of it, I have a mini cruzer type device from Creative Labs and when I recently tried to connect that, it failed on the notebook, worked on the desktop. Hmmm...

Cheers,
John B.
 

Karl

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John,

Lately it has occasionally locked up just booting.

Interesting new development, and now I need additional information. When it locks up on booting, do you have ANYTHING in the cd drive? Does it freeze the screen? Does it freeze the mouse (touchpad)? Does it fail on both audio cd's and dvd's or just dvd's?
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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It may be that your CD drive is at one extreme of the CD spec tolerances and that certain CDs which are recorded closer to the other extreme of the spec tolerances simply won't read.  I have a software install CD (one of a set of two) that won't work in my Toshiba laptop but works fine in the two other drives where I have tried it.  And a few years ago I bought some new blank CDs  at Staples (their house brand) that would record on one drive of my desktop system but not in the other.  Staples gave me my money back and I bought some IBM label blanks instead and they worked fine in both drives.

CD device drivers tend to get lost in cyberspace when something goes wrong on the disc.  It's an artifact of how CDs are physically read and searched - if the drive does not respond to a request to read the next record or find a particular, the device driver essentially hangs forever, waiting for a response. This can require a re-boot of the system to break out, a rather basic design flaw in my opinion.

If this is what is happening, replacing the drive should fix the problem, since another drive will be slightly different in terms of its physical construction and manufacturing tolerances.
 
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