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A Speaker Problem

The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

It’s sooooo slooooow! That is what my friend Jim was telling me about his laptop. This is a complaint I seem to hear almost daily, and as I sit down here at my word processor, I realize I probably have enough material to write several columns on this topic. So, readers are forewarned.

Getting back to Jim, though: he told me his laptop had been running slow but seemed better now that I was looking at it all. I spent a few minutes checking the “usual suspects” that might be causing problems with his system. Then I told Jim how I once received a call for help from a young lady who, among other things, was complaining that her computer was “sooooo slooooow”! The problem for me was that at the time she was making this complaint, the computer was not slow at all. In fact, it seemed to be as fast as any laptop should have been. Naturally, the lady insisted the computer had been slow up until the minute I had arrived, and I assured her that I believed her because my car used to do the same thing every time I took it to the mechanic with a complaint. After I left, she called me back complaining that as soon as I had left, her computer slowed down again. When I returned from the street outside her house, I could hear music (if that is what you can call it) “boom boom boom kaboom” coming through the concrete walls, meaning that inside the house, it was more like “BOOM BOOM BOOM KaBOOM”! The bass and percussion sounded like artillery.

This time when I looked at her computer, I examined the telemetry from the “black box” (actually a black and silver computer chip, but you get my drift). The S.M.A.R.T system had recorded that the lady’s hard disk had shut itself off a half million times to protect the mechanism. Hard disks are delicate instruments and their performance is adversely affected by vibration. There is a short video available on demonstrating this; just search for the video titled “Shouting in the Datacenter.” The ear-shattering volume level at which my client ran her sound system was causing her slow computer problems (not to mention the long-term effects to her auditory nerves). Every time her computer was subjected to a “BOOM BOOM BOOM KaBOOM,” the hard disk went into self-preservation mode, shutting down until the next rest in the musical score. The hard disk could not function constantly at full speed in that noisy environment. Try seeing how fast you can type with your fingers in your ears.

So after telling that story, I asked my friend Jim to tell me about his home sound system and musical preferences. He said he had speakers on the desk right next to the computer. He also said he liked classical works such as the Battle of Vitoria by Beethoven and was really fond of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. I suggested he might move his speakers a little farther away.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at)


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