Having Fun With PC

Our household made the switch to Macs about three years ago. We still have some PCs. I use one for work. I keep one in my office and my two sons both have PCs in their rooms. There are two PCs that get frequent use these days: my work PC and the PC in my youngest son’s room.

I keep my youngest son’s machine disconnected from the network. It has a wireless LAN docking station. I remove the USB card and only insert it when I need to upgrade the box.

It had been a couple of months since the last update, so I decided to spend some time the other night getting the machine updated. Time spent? Four hours!

There were 39 high priority updates for this rather modest Dell Dimension 1100. The process of bringing down the updates and rebooting the machine several times took about an hour and a half. The rest of the time was spent trying to make the DVD player play DVD movies again.

It worked just fine before all of the various updates. But somewhere along the line, one of the updates caused the DVD player to hiccup. It would sense that a DVD movie was in the tray and it would open it with Windows Media Player. However, the playback, both audio and video, was very choppy. Literally unusable.

It was time for Mr. Fixit to get the DVD player working again.

I hopped on to the support boards at Dell. Perhaps a new video driver was needed. Or maybe a firmware update for the DVD drive. Nope. Those items were current. I searched for “unable to play DVD movies”. And lots of hits. Dell offered a support wizard to walk through the troubleshooting. Needless to say, after spending an hour or so following the wizard’s suggestions, nothing worked.

Perhaps a different media player would yield a different result? I tried Real Player.

No joy.

Time to hit Google. And, after hitting dozens of sites, I found one obscure reference to someone with a Dell Dimension 1100 unable to play DVD movies on some forum. And the response to his issue? Try the VLC player and make sure you open the DVD under the File menu option.

VLC is an open source media player. I downloaded the player, used the simple DVD mode and, after a mere two and a half hours, my son’s box could play DVDs again. He was ecstatic. But he also sensed a bigger issue.

“Dad?”
“Yes, son.”
“Do you spend this much time getting the other computers in our house to work like they used to?”
“No, son. Just this one.”

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