Computer Problem Diary uploadx - Dell Community

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Dec 14, 2013 (3 years and 3 months ago)

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Computer Problem Diary


M1
7xR4 Alienware Laptop

Service T
ag:

Express Service Code:


Warranty Expires on



1 June 2013

Audio and Microphone stops functioning completely. The Volume Mixer said no audio device was
installed and the SoundBlaster Recon 3Di software offered up a blan UI. The SoundBlaster Recon
3Di listing under the Device Manager listed the driver as fully upda
ted and working perfectly. Other
software
-

such as Skype
-

could detect no problems with either the audio or microphone
functionality. This was late in the evening, I closed my computer and went to bed.


2 June 2013

When I opened the computer the next mo
rning functionality was restored. Later, in the afternoon
the audio and microphone lost functionality again. I re
-
installed the Sound Blaster Recon3Di
soundcard driver associated with my laptop at Dell.com through AlienAutopsy using my service tag
.
Necessa
ry restart restores functionality. The Device Manager tells me that the driver is working fine
and is up to date, but I click update just to make sure. Windows finds an update and promptly
installs. I promptly lose audio and microphone functionality. I rol
lback the driver update and
functionality is restored.


2 July 2013

I boot up my computer for the day to discover my audio lost functionality again. When I get to the
dekstop Windows Update informs me via a dialogue box that the Sound Blaster Recon3Di driv
er
was being installed. After it finished installing I regained audio functionality. That evening I tried to
use the microphone
-

and discovered that though I regained audio that morning, I did not regain
microphone functionality. I go to the Sound menu to

look at my audio devices. These are the
devices that were listed:



Microphone: Default Device
-

unplugged



HDMI In: Sound Blaster Recon3Di
-

Ready



What U Hear
-

Sound Blaster Recon3Di
-

Ready

The Default Device microphone was accompanied by a picture of on
e of those stand
-
up desk
microphones which plug into the computer. The microphone attached to the built
-
in webcam was
not listed.

I tried repairing the Sound Blaster Recon3Di driver. After the necessary restart, I lost audio
functionality as well. Furtherm
ore, the default microphone device became a headset microphone,
and gave an image of a pair of headphones. It still listed the HDMI In and What U Hear options in
addition to this headset:



Headset (Mic): Sound Blaster Recon3Di
-

Default Device

Some trouble
shooting lead me to discover that I still recieved audio if I had a pair of headphones
plugged in. I doublechecked the Sound Blaster Jack Setup menus, and tested with several
headphones, including a pair of earbuds, and tried both headphone jacks into my c
omputer (one is
for a regular headset, and one is for a headset with microphone capability). Each headset displayed
the same phenomena. A lengthy troubleshooting process ensued and these were the results:


1.

No headphones plugged in:


● No Audio fuctionality

at all


● No microphone functionality at all


2.

Headphones plugged into
headset + mic

jack:



No Audio functionality in the headset


●No microphone recording functionality


●Audio is intercepted by the microphone and is output to another computer via



Skype. That is, when I am connected to another computer via Skype, and I



play a Youtube video, I hear nothing but the other computer hears it




perfectly.


3.

Headphones plugged into
regular headset jack
:


●I
receive

audio through the headphone jack only.


●No microphone recording capability


●Audio is duplicated as outbound microphone signal and is output to another



computer via Skype. That is, when I am connected to another computer
via



Skype,

and I play a Yo
uT
ube video, I
receive

audio through the headphones,



and the other computer hears it perfectly as well.

It appears that either the microphone and speaker devices are entangling their input/output
functions or the What U Hear option is jumping in and hi
jacking functionality even when it is not
currently enabled.

I contact the developers of the Sound Blaster soundcards
-

Creative Labs
-

but they inform me that
the Sound Blaster Recon3Di is a modified form of the regular Sound Blaster Recon made
specifical
ly for my device by Dell, and that they do not offer support for it.


2 July 2013
-

DELL Support call #1

Because repairing the SoundBlaster Recon 3Di driver caused me to lose more functionality, I
decided to call Dell for support. Through AlienConnect, the

support technician takes remote control
of my laptop and proceeds to re
-
in
s
tall the SoundBlaster Recon 3Di driver. After the necessary
restart, audio and microphone functionality is completely restored. I now have four devices listed
under the Sound > Rec
ording menu:



Microphone: unplugged (image of stand
-
up desktop microphone)



Microphone Array: Sound Blaster Recon 3Di
-

Default Device (image of a device which
resembles the Kinect, or Wii controller sensor)



HDMI In: Sound Blaster Recon3Di
-

Ready



What U Hea
r: Sound Blaster Recon 3Di
-

Ready

Over the 6 months that I have owned this laptop, I have never had an option for this microphone
array thing, it has always listed the microphone with the desktop plug
-
in variety image, and it has
always worked until I beg
an having these problems.


8 July 2013

After having no problems for about a week, I discover that my programs and video
-
games are under
the impression that I don't have the appropriate video card drivers, or that they are not fully
installed. Because of th
e ongoing issues with my SoundBlaster card, my Anti
-
virus refusing to open
(I had to turn it off in order to do a system restore to return to a state before my soundcard began
having issues), and Java suddenly losing functionality, I decided to do a comple
te Restore to Factory
Default, fix everything, and be done with it.

I back
-
up my files on an external hard
-
d
rive, and through AlienRespawn and the recovery disk
partitioned as Drive D of my computer, I restore my laptop to some date in October 2012. The
re
store to factory default goes smoothly and I begin to re
-
install my software, utilities, and games.

Once I was sati
s
fied with restoring all the programs I had on my computer before which I wished to
keep using, I creating burned a System Image to two DVD
-
R
's using the AlienRespawn utility.

Through each step of this day, I run a full computer scan with my Anti
-
virus program and schedule
it to do a complete scan every day.


9

July 2013

-

DELL Support Call #2

I boot up my computer and I receive the following
warning before Windows loads: "The AC
adaptor wattage and type cannot be determined. The battery may not charge. The system will adjust
the performance to match the power available. Please connect a Dell 180W AC adaptor or greater
for the best system perfo
rmance." I am using a Dell adaptor, Model #DA180PM111. I ignore this
message, but tell it inform me again every time I restart the computer and the problem persists.

Halfway through the day, and less than 24 hours since I restored my computer to factory de
fault and
re
-
updated all the drivers, I lose my audio and microphone capabilities completely.

I also receive a
warning reading

I promptly call Dell Support.

I explain the problems detailed above and connect to allow remote access to my computer. The
suppor
t technician first asks that I do a power drain. I turn off the computer, remove the battery,
and hold the power button for 60 seconds. I reboot, reconnect to remote access. Nothing has
changed.

The support technician discovers my BIOS is out of date. A n
ew BIOS was released 21 February
2013. (It was not likely that my computer had this BIOS update pre
-
return to factory default either).
He downloads the BIOS driver and I go through the necessary installation and restarting
procedures. Functionality is not
restored.
However, I did not receive the warning about the adaptor
power supply and it does not return.

Upon reinstalling the BIOS, the Windows Update dialogue box informs me that the "
Audio Device
On H
igh Definition Audio Bus Driver" is being installed. I
t comes up with an error for a failed
installation.

The support technician then moves on to making sure my NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M graphics
card is up
-
to
-
date, as it does have some audio parts to it. We go to the NVIDIA website and
download the newest driv
er for the GeForce 660M graphics card. We do a complete re
-
install of the
GeForce. After finishing with its install which includes the NVIDIA control panel and the GeForce
Experience software, we do the necessary restart. Upon rebooting, functionality is n
ot restored.

Now, we reinstall the Sound Blaster Recon3Di driver. After the necessary restart,
functionality

is not
restored.

In a last attempt, we re
-
do the power drain. Upon restart, audio functionality is completely restored
and the microphone is workin
g perfectly. The microphone once again

is

listed as a microphone
array.

The support technician informs me that if I have any further problems, to call back and they will
look into further options or possibly replacing the PC.


10 July 2013

My computer was
hibernating over
-
night
-

it was closed. It wakes me up at 5:30am because the fan
starts going and the lights on the outside of the case turn on. I open the laptop to see that Windows
is in the process of booting up. When it arrives at my desktop, my resolu
tion is set at 800x600 which
is the lowest setting the computer goes to. The computer's recommended resolution is 1600x900. I
receive a dialogue box informing me that the computer shut down unexpectedly
-

that is shut down
unexpectedly while hibernating wi
th the case closed. I fixed the resolution and began checking my
drivers and such. I had not lost any major functionality, as far as I could tell by searching for updates
for those drivers, and they were all listed as fully updated and working perfectly. M
y computer was
running very sluggishly though

and here is a list of problems I discovered while troubleshooting:



The Function keys to increase screen brightness did not work.



visiting YouTube would cause my Browser to
freeze
.



Trying to run the Diablo III videogame informed me that I should get the newest video
-
card drivers and refused to play.



Trying to run Minecraft informed me that I did not have a video card with Advanced Open
GL capability.



Trying to open Microsoft Offic
e programs would freeze with on an "installing" dialogue
window. I had installed Microsoft Office and used it the day before.



Visiting the NVIDIA GeForce Experience panel clicking on the "My Rig" tab listed
information such as CPU, Memory, and Driver Versi
on, correctly but nothing was listed
next to GPU
-

the field that normally read "GeForce GTX 660M.
"



Visiting the "Games " Tab of the GeForce Experience panel informs me that I cannot
optimize games on this computer. There are green checkmarks next to my CP
U, my
memory, and my OS, but there is a circle with a slash next to my GPU
-

which is listed
correctly here. I have a message telling me to make sure I meet system requriements. I was
optimizing games precisely yesterday, so I can co
nfirm this was in worki
ng order, and
clicking on that link confirms that GeForce 600 series are up
-
to
-
par.

I went to restart the computer. However, the shut
-
down process was stuck on the Force
-
Restart
screen and listed one program as preventing the restart. Usually it lists prog
rams that are still
opened, but the only thing it listed here was this:



Explorer.exe
-

Playing Log
-
off sound

Apparently, my computer was having difficulty shutting down because it was too busy shutting
down. After sitting on this menu for several minutes,
I hit "Force restart."

For about ten minutes, I was kept on the "Shutting down" screen, with the blue spinning circle.
When it appeared that it would not shut
-
down, I held down the power button for a hard
-
reboot to
regain control of my computer.

Upon reboo
ting, I lost audio and microphone functionality. I repaired Microsoft Office using the
installation CD, intending to write up this report. The repair was successful and work on this report
began.


I no longer have the microphone array listed under Sound >

Recording, and instead I have returned
to these three options:



Headset
(Mic)
: Sound Blaster Recon3Di
-

Default Device



HDMI In: Sound Blaster Recon3Di
-

Ready



What U Hear: Sound Blaster Recon 3Di
-

Ready


So: in addition to losing graphics card functionalit
y, my computer has also returned to exhibiting the
same phenomena it had been exhibiting on the Second of July. Namely:

1.

No headphones plugged in:


● No Audio
functionality

at all


● No microphone functionality at all



Audio is intercepted and is output to

another computer via Skype. That is,


when I am connected to another computer via Skype, and I play a YouTube

video, I

hear nothing at all, but

the other computer hears the YouTube video

perfectly.

This

third bullet point is new, and did not occur on

2 July 2013.


2.

Headphones plugged into headset + mic jack:



No Audio functionality in the headset


●No microphone recording functionality


●Audio is intercepted by the microphone and is output to another computer via



Skype. That is, when I am connected

to another computer via Skype, and I



play a
YouTube

video, I hear nothing but the other computer hears it




perfectly.


3.

Headphones plugged into regular headset jack:


●I receive audio through the headphone jack only.


●No microphone recording
capability


●Audio is duplicated as outbound microphone signal and is output to another



computer via Skype. That is, when I am connected to another computer via



Skype,

and I play a
YouTube

video, I
receive

audio through the headphones,



and the ot
her computer hears it perfectly as well.


Out of curiosity, I went to look at what System Restore points I had available. To my chagrin, I
discovered that System Restore was Off. Under System Properties > System Protection, I had the
choice of these direct
ories:



[Folder Image]
RECOVERY: Off



[Hard
-
Drive Image
] DATAPART1 (D:): Off



[Hard
-
Drive Image w/ windows logo]
OS (C:) (System): Off



[Folder Image]
OS (C:) (Missing):

Off

Clicking on any of these options and then clicking "configure" to turn on System Protection returns
this error message:
"there was an unexpected error in the property page: the filename, directory
name, or volume label syntax is incorrect. (0x8007007B). Pl
ease close the property page and try
again.
"

Since I began writing this report, the GeForce Experience panel now lists the graphics card next in
the GPU field under the "My Rig" tab, but still does not recognize the graphics card under the
"Games" tab.

Min
ecraft and Diablo III now run as well.

System Restore is now also "On" for the
OS (C:)
(
System
)
, and
OS (C:) (Missing)

options, but is
still "Off" for the other two options. I have only been in Microsoft Office, and have not changed
any settings.


10 July
2013 DELL Support Call #3

I explain the problem and connect to remote access. The support technician takes an overview of
the device manager etc. and has me test the microphone and speakers. Even though the microphone
does not register any input
-

and the
microphone array has been replaced with a Headset (mic), he
insists that this is only an issue with the speakers and has nothing to do with the microphone.

He uninstalls the Sound Blaster Recon3Di soundcard and uninstalls the
High Definition Audio
Device

a
s well. Without re
-
installing them, he restarts the computer. Upon reboot, Windows Update
gives me a dialogue box informing me that 2 counts of "
Audio Device On H
igh Definition Audio
Bus Driver" are searching for updates.
After the installing phase, one
remains "Audio Device On
High Definition Audio Bus," and the other is listed as Sound Blaster Recon3Di.

After the necessary restart, functionality is restored. My audio is working again, the microphone is
accepting input, and the Headset (mic) and been rep
laced with the Microphone Array.

I still do not have the "Optimize games" functionality under the GeForce Experience panel, and the
GPU, which is listed as a "GeForce GTX 660M," still has a grayed out slashed
-
circle next to it.

I asked this support technic
ian what the next step would be to find a solution to the problem, if my
problems persisted. I was informed that the next step would be to investigate the services under
System Configuration > Services one by one, because the problem might lie here. There
are 176
services listed at the time of writing this. This is a list of all the manufacturers:



Adobe Systems Incorporated



Microsoft Corporation



Alienware



Apple Inc.



AVG Technologies



Cyberlink



Creative Technology Ltd



Dell Products, LP



Google Inc.



Macrovision

Corporation

(Associated with InstallShield)



NVIDIA Corporation



Unknown

(Investigation tells me that this service is actually attached to a signed Intel
certificate)



SoftThinks SAS

(Installed by Dell backup and recovery and Alienware)



Valve Corporation



Sky
pe Technologies

I do not expect to find the solution here.

The 10 July 2013 support took exactly the same form as the support I received on 2 July 2013
-

my
first support call. I suspect to lose functionality sometime soon.