PC House Call - Case Studies

My PC advises me that I need to upgrade to the latest version of Java. Now I have version 6.13 according to the Control Pane. What is Java and why do I need it?

Bobbi, Cornelius

I was working on Bobbie’s two laptops when she asked; Java makes for a good topic in this column.

Java is a programming language and its versatility is everywhere! According to the Java website, the ubiquitous Java platform is used in every major industry segment and has a presence in a wide range of devices, computers, and networks. Java powers more than 4.5 billion devices including: PCs and Macs, mobile phones and other handheld devices, smart cards, set-top boxes, printers, web cams, games, car navigation systems, lottery terminals, medical devices, parking payment stations, and more. You can use Java without knowing.

Java applications are designed to run in the browser without user activation. For security and performance purposes, it is best to install the current version, which is 6.24 as of March 2011.


For my Sony Vaio laptop, I wanted to replace my low end memory with a higher capacity module. I purchased one gigabyte module of memory and installed it myself. However, the old memory (448 MB), which I did not remove, continues to be the only memory recognized. Why is the new memory module not recognized?
Aric, Huntersville


Aric purchased the new memory on-line. He apparently misread the specifications for his Vaio laptop. According to Sony and other on-line sources, his model can handle two 512 MB (equivalent to one GB) not a one GB module. Aric later replaced his original purchase with the correct memory modules.


Can you give us some helpful hints on how to restore sound to our computer? I have tried a few things such as volume control, reattaching the speakers to the tower, but still no sound?

Sheila and the ACME sisters, Huntersville

I had visited the house earlier and, when I received the email, I suspected this was a wiring problem not a software issue. Here is what I advised Sheila by email: 1. Put a music CD into the CD tray and allow playing. Turn up volume and make sure on/off switches are on. 2. Ask one of the smaller sisters to crawl under the desk to make sure the wires are in the correct ports in the back of the tower. Usually one of the wire jacks is in the wrong port. Green to green and red to red, etc. When you have it right, you should hear the music CD that is still playing.

Sheila replied a few minutes later: “At first it did not work even after I discovered that the green wire was in black slot, which could have been switched when we first started working on the sound.  However, we did it again and after a restart and we have SOUND now”.

Help. My 6-year old PC will not stay on longer than a few minutes. Then it goes dark and I have to restart. Do I need a new PC?

Jean, Davidson.

When I first visited Jean’s house, I thought the power supply had failed; it supplies electrical power to the various components via wiring inside the tower. A new power supply costs about $50.

When I took the PC tower back to my lab, further testing using a voltage meter, indicated the battery on the electrical circuit board had dipped below three volts, which is not enough to keep the system running. Every PC motherboard has a battery. That battery serves two purposes: to feed the configuration memory (also called CMOS) and to feed the real time clock. I purchased a standard lithium battery, which is the size of a coin, for about $8 from the local pharmacy. The PC recovered after I installed the new battery.


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