Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Fix Missing Volume Control*

Tech Paul’s Fix for When Clock, Volume, Battery Power or Network Icons are Missing and/or Grayed Out in Windows Vista

Sometimes, unexpected (and unwanted) changes can happen to our computers that we professional repair technicians call ‘glitches’. You install some new program, and some other program you have stops working, for example. Or you uninstall a CD burning program, and find your DVD-RW is now missing. The wonderful world of PC’s! (See, Restore A Missing CD Drive*)

As a tech, solving ‘glitches’ is my game (it’s what I do), and over the years I have seen a few. One such ‘glitch’ I used to see occasionally in XP, and fairly routinely in Vista, is the “missing volume control” (or “network connection”) icon, which is a handy way to control your sound level.

Today, I will tell you the fix that not only restores the missing icon, but keeps it there.

Better still — I won’t have you mucking around in the Registry.

Simple ones first

Fix It #1) Press Ctrl+D to bookmark this page and Reboot (restart).
Make sure this isn’t a “temp glitch”. 9 times out of 10 restarting your computer solves your ‘glitch’. If you have already tried that, keep reading.

Fix It #2) Normally you can re-enable the icons by right-clicking on the Taskbar, choosing Properties and going to the Notification Area tab — place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.
If you already tried that, or the checkboxes are “grayed out”, keep reading.

Fix It #3) Restart explorer.exe

  • Open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shft+Esc)
  • Click the Processes tab
  • Find explorer.exe in the list and click on it (turn it blue), then click “End process” button
  • Restart it. Click File > New Task(Run…) then type in explorer.exe and hit Enter

Alternative: Open Control Panel > Taskbar and Start Menu — place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.

Now Let’s Keep The Glitch Gone!

If this problem keeps recurring:

  • Open Control Panel >Sound
  • Double-click on your “Playback device” (aka “speaker”)
  • Click on the Advanced tab
  • Un-check “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device”

Click “Apply” and then OK.

Okay. That’s it. Your missing icon should be back in its proper place in the Notification Area and should stay there.

Note: When I am called upon to fix this particular problem, I usually (like, 99% of the time) find that the person’s machine is not up-to-date with all the Windows Updates – usually a missing Service Pack. I do not know that there is a direct cause > effect there.. But.
Fact: you want Updates. Install them PLEASE. Pretty please with sugar on top? (See, What’s With All These Updates?!*)

Today’s free download: iMapMyRun (health and fitness app) makes running fun and easy, turning your smart phone into a social training partner while tracking your pace, distance, and route using GPS.With 2.5 million users, you’ll definitely be able to find your friend and connect and motivate via this app.
Apps available for Apple, Blackberry, and Android devices.

Today’s reading reco(s):

Today’s quotable quote:Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance.”  ~ Bruce Barton

* Orig post: 4/22/11

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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June 21, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, software, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fix Missing Volume, Battery, or Network Icons in Vista

Tech Paul’s Fix for When Clock, Volume, Battery Power or Network Icons are Missing and/or Grayed Out in Windows Vista

Sometimes, unexpected (and unwanted) changes can happen to our computers that we geeks call ‘glitches’. You install some new program, and some other program you have stops working, for example. Or you uninstall a CD burning program, and find your DVD-RW is now missing. The wonderful world of PC’s!

As a tech, solving ‘glitches’ is my game (it’s what I do), and over the years I have seen a few. One such ‘glitch’ I used to see occasionally in XP, and fairly routinely in Vista, is the “missing volume control” (or “network connection”) which is a handy way to control your sound level.
Today, I will tell you the fix that not only restores the missing icon, but keeps it there.
Better still — I won’t have you mucking around in the Registry.

Simple ones first

Fix It #1)  Press Ctrl+D to bookmark this page and Reboot.
Make sure this isn’t a “temp glitch”. 9 times outer 10 restarting your computer solves your ‘glitch’. If you already tried that, keep reading.

Fix It #2) Normally you can re-enable the icons by right-clicking on the Taskbar, choosing Properties and going to the Notification Area tab — place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.
If you already tried that, or the checkboxes are “grayed out”, keep reading.

Fix It #3) Restart explorer.exe

  • Open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shft+Esc)
  • Click the Processes tab
  • Find explorer.exe in the list and click on it (turn it blue), then click “End process” button
  • Restart it. Click File > New Task(Run…) then type in explorer.exe and hit Enter

Alternative: Open Control Panel > Taskbar and Start Menu– place checks in the checkboxes for the icons you want displayed.

Now Let’s Keep The Glitch Gone!

If this problem keeps recurring:

  • Open Control Panel >Sound
  • Double-click on your “Playback device” (aka “speaker”)
  • Click on the Advanced tab
  • Un-check “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device”

Click “Apply” and then OK.

Okay. That’s it. Your missing icon should be back in its proper place in the Notification Area and should stay there.

Note: When I am called upon to fix this particular problem, I usually (like, 99% of the time) find that the person’s machine is not up-to-date with all the Windows Updates – usually a missing Service Pack. I do not know that there is a direct cause > effect there.. But.
Fact: you want Updates. Install them PLEASE. Pretty please with sugar on top?

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


April 21, 2011 Posted by | anti-spyware, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, Taskbar, tech, troubleshooting, Vista | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Getting The Best From Your HDTV

Bringing home your shiny new HDTV is just the beginning

A very smart man once told me, “Paul, don’t re-invent the wheel”. He wasn’t being derisive or mean, he was simply reminding me of a basic tenet that I sometimes forget. I was reminded of it today when considering how to write today’s HDTV article, and in my research came across a series written by Becky Waring for PC World magazine. It says it all, and does so far better than I could, so I am simply going to point you to it! She covers all the bases, and if you own (or are about to own) a HDTV, I’m sure you’ll find it well worth your time.

“Bringing home your shiny new HDTV is just the beginning of your home theater adventure. But don’t settle, as many HDTV buyers do, for just plugging your new set into your existing setup. The next steps you need to take after bringing your HDTV home are crucial to both your enjoyment of the set and getting the most out of your investment…”
Please see How to Install Your HDTV

Other titles in the series are:
How to Get the Best Video Signal for Your HDTV

How to Improve the Picture and Sound on Your HDTV

How to Connect Your New HDTV Properly

Stream HD Video From Your PC and Other Devices

[a brief aside: I seem to be coming across articles by Ms Waring more frequently of late, and I’m glad of it. She is top-drawer.]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 29, 2009 Posted by | advice, dtv, hardware, HDTV, how to, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Do The Dolby Numbers Mean?

Dolby 7.1 Must Be Newer Than 5.1, But Is It Better?

A reader wrote and asked me for some advice regarding a sound card.

Q: Paul — My son has been pestering me to buy “Audigy sound” for his computer. He is very much involved in some kind of online gaming world  and he says he needs this for better results. I have asked Capturehim to explain to me how this Audigy will make things better, but all I have been able to really grasp is that the item he wants is “Dolby 7.1”.

I am reluctant to purchase this additional item as only two Christmases ago Santa took special pains to make sure that my son’s computer could play all the latest games. I have checked, and his PC has Dolby 5.1.

Can you tell me why my son thinks he needs Dolby 7.1 to play today’s games?

A: First of all, a disclaimer: I am by no means an audiophile. I will do my best to provide a solid, computer geek answer (but I will also ask my more knowledgeable readers to assist and/or correct me) but I won’t dare get involved in parenting advice. I’ll try to be brief.

SBAudigy is a model name (a family of products) of Creative Labs—  a company practically synonymous with computer sound cards .. and it’s the company responsible for me becoming a tech, as they forced me to learn about IRQ’s and memory address spaces back in the early days.

Dolby is a audio format known for “noise” reduction, compression, and the ability to separate out discrete “channels” — which gives us the ability to create “surround sound” environments. It is this latter where the Dolby numbers come in.

The numbers represent the number of “channels” available. A “5.1” is a six channel ability and a 7.1 is an eight channel. The first number is ‘normal’ channels and the 1 is for a special, bass-heavy “sub-woofer” (designed to add psychological effect to thunder, and .. explosions).

The “channels” are assigned to an area — center, left front, right front, left rear, and right rear, and are intended to go to corresponding speakers. A “5.1” configuration is shown here.
surround5point1

In gaming, this can aid the player when audible clues are provided by the game designers.. for instance, stealthy footsteps may be sent to the left rear speaker, but not to any of the other speakers, and this could alert the player that an enemy is behind him (and to the left)… and it will probably be his only clue, before the enemy strikes.

A “7.1 configuration” allows the addition of two more speakers, as shown below.
7point1surround

What should be obvious now is that you need speakers (6, or 8) physically placed to take advantage of these “channels”. If all you have is two rinky-dink little PC speakers that came free with your system, or built into your monitor.. well, you really aren’t going to notice any difference between plain-old stereo, 5.1, or 7.1 .. so you need..
Gigaworks

.. as I have written and explained to Santa a few times now.

Okay, maybe you won’t need an ultra-deluxe get-up like the GigaWorks, but you will need a really high-quality set of headphones, or a multi-speaker + sub-woofer speaker set.. and you’ll need 7 normal + 1 sub-woofer to make an upgrade from 5.1 to 7.1 really pay off.

Perhaps, instead of a new sound card, you might consider, instead, a “gaming speaker” setup to take full advantage of the 5.1 you already have, like the Logitech G51 Surround set.

Today’s free link: for those who found my explanation of Dolby inadequate or confusing, click here for the Wikipedia page which describes “Hertz” and “bit rate” and “lossy” and junk like that much better than I did.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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March 11, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, how to | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments