Your questions: “My lap top speakers are not working… any ideas?”

LNB asks…

“My lap top speakers are not working. No sound comes out of them but when I plug in headphones, the sound works just fine. I haven’t dropped or spilled anything on my computer. I can’t remember when the last time I heard sound out of the speakers–approximately two weeks ago? (I usually use head phones.) Any ideas what it could be or how I fix it?”

My apologies for the difficulty you have had with your speakers.

First, take a look at – it could be that the settings for your speakers in the Sound control panel is off. 

Next, many laptops feature a function (F) key combination that toggles speakers on and off – take a look if your laptop keyboard has an F-key linked to audio or speaker controls and try pressing alt-Fkey to turn the speakers on and off.

For future, immediate self help, you may wish to use the search feature at,, or visit the main Microsoft Support page at  In the US, you may also use one of the free customer support features such as real-time chat at   


Friday Humour: a comparison of iTunes old and new audio formats

Ever wonder what you get for the additional 30 cents?

Gotta love Slate, and their article today “Sound to blow your mind” with a link to an in-depth audio analysis.

“This week, Apple’s iTunes Music Store began selling some songs in a new audio format that the company says has two advantages over its previous offerings: The tracks are free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions, meaning you can play them on devices other than an iPod, and they have higher audio quality. The new iTunes Plus tracks also come at a premium: $1.29 compared with $0.99 for the old format.

“The excitement of the anti-DRM crowd was dampened when it came out that Apple is embedding personal information about the buyer, including name and e-mail address, in each purchased song. But the question we wanted to consider is this: Can you really hear a difference between tracks encoded at 128 kbps (Apple’s old format) and 256 kbps (the new format)? Watch, and listen to, this video by Scott Blaszak to find out.” 

Here’s a link to the video:

Remember to listen closely. Audiophiles will no doubt appreciate the fidelity. 😉


BusinessWeek’s Wildstrom says the Sansa Connect is slick

Stephen H. Wildstrom of BusinessWeek applauds the new SanDisk Sansa Connect in this article, calling it a “slick Wi-Fi music player.” This new device integrates Yahoo’s subscription music service…

“The $250 Sansa Connect is the result of a collaboration among SanDisk, Yahoo!, and Zing Systems, which is responsible for the software and network infrastructure. The Connect, which is smaller than the standard hard drive iPod and bigger than the nano, has 4 gigabytes of memory, which you can double by adding a memory card. You download music to it—MP3s and copy-protected or unprotected Windows Media files—from a Windows PC. But the important advance is the device’s deft use of Wi-Fi networking.

“To get the best experience with Wi-Fi, you really need an all-you-can-eat subscription plan. The iPod/iTunes pay-per-song approach that forces you to sync with a PC just doesn’t cut it. Apple (AAPL) never believed its customers would spring for subscriptions, which is why there’s no Wi-Fi iPod. Even the upcoming iPhone, which will have Wi-Fi, won’t be able to download content from the iTunes Store over the air.

“It remains to be seen if Wi-Fi plus subscription can give SanDisk, Yahoo, and Zing traction against the iPod juggernaut. But I find the Sansa Connect a welcome addition to the field of music players.”

Cool. I am tripping down to the electronics store this weekend to take a look. Great to hear how the Connect works well with on-line photos, too (it can access Flickr).


Of interest: The Mercury News’ Podcasts online

Of interest: the Mercury News’ Podcasts online, from from San Jose Mercury News writers and guests, with a few of the latest posted:


News: New Best Buy digital music servce, powered by RealNetworks

As previously noted, Real will launch a new Rhapsody-To-Go-DRM technology, dubbed Rhapsody DNA, on the Rhapsody music and media service

News today from is that the big box, CE retailer Best Buy is kicking off a new music service powered by Rhapsody, optimized for SanDisk’s 2200R Rhapsody DNA-compatible digital music players.

“Best Buy Co. Inc. announced a music service Thursday powered by RealNetworks Inc.’s Rhapsody service and optimized for SanDisk Corp.’s latest digital music players. Starting October 15th, the Best Buy Digital Music Store, based on the newly released Rhapsody 4.0, and Sansa e200R Rhapsody players will become available. The players will come preloaded with 30 hours of music from EMI, SonyBMG, Universal and Warner artists.

“The move is designed to rattle the 88 percent share of the digital music download market held by Apple’s iTunes service and the better than 50 percent share of the digital music player market held by their iPod.

“Best Buy is offering a free two-month subscription to its new service to anyone who buys the new player (but don’t expect to listen to any of that music after the two months are up unless you subscribe).

The players range in price from $139.99 for a 2GB model to $249.99 for an 8GB model.

Best Buy has previously tried to enter the digital music store game with and Napster.

Best Buy Digital Music Store will launch at