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Issue #89: April 5, 2009

Anyone with even a passing interest in technology and gadgetry has surely heard about the Apple iPhone by now.  I successfully resisted the allure of owning this hottest piece of technology until my beloved RAZR V9m developed a problem with the internal LCD display a week after its warranty expired.  At $199 for an 8 Gig iPhone (less if you buy a refurbished one online) vs. $249 for a new high-end phone to replace my RAZR, the choice was practically made for me.  Once I’d gotten my hands on one and I began exploring its amazing capabilities, I was hooked, and I instantly understood why this little gadget enjoys such universal appeal.  If you’re thinking of getting one for yourself, here are a few tips to make sure you’re going in with your eyes wide open:

The only current provider of iPhone cellular service is AT&T.  Although they will happily sell you the hardware and the service, all repairs and maintenance on the hardware must be done through Apple computers.  That can be a little tough in theFort Walton Beach area, as our nearest Apple store is located in Birmingham.  On the bright side, these phones come with a 1-year warranty, and Apple’s customer service is top notch.  If the need arises, they will ship you a replacement phone to exchange for yours.  Be warned though — there’s no guarantee you won’t get a refurbished phone in exchange for your brand new one, even if it’s only been out of the box for a couple of weeks.  If you can live with those restrictions, and are willing to be limited in your choice of carrier, then definitely go and check out the iPhone.  You might get hooked as well.

Q: My laptop computer will not read CD programs (ie Turbo Tax).  I place the disc in the tray and hear it spinning but nothing appears on the screen.  What might my problem be? 

– Tom H.
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

A: There are a few things that can cause a CD to fail to read, Tom.  The most obvious problem would be the disc itself.  Most CDs have data on only one side (the side without a label or printing).  Check the data side to ensure there’s no scratches, dust, or water spots.  If you need to clean a disc, do not wipe in a circular motion – wipe in a straight line from the inside to the outside. 

If no discs will read, the problem must lie with the drive.  First, make sure you have proper drivers installed by right-clicking on “My Computer” and selecting “Properties”.  Then go to the “Hardware” tab, and click “Device Manager”.  Make sure you don’t have any yellow question marks on your devices.  If so, you’ll need to obtain and install the proper driver.  If the driver is not the problem, open the CD tray and check the cleanliness of the CD’s lens, which is the little glass disc that’s visible when the CD tray is open and empty.  Use a cotton swab to remove any dust or fingerprints.  If you’ve done all these steps, and still no CDs will read, you’ve probably got a defective drive.

It strikes me in reading your question that you might mean that programs do not automatically launch when you put a disc in the drive.  This feature is called “AutoRun” and there is a wide variety of things that can disable it, or cause it to work improperly.  Microsoft has an article in their knowledgebase on this topic, which you can read by going to http://tinyurl.com/p6shw.


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