March 2009
Vol. 25, No. 1

A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists

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Problems with Sound? Try a New Driver!
by Charlie Baerwald

Web conferencing is becoming more and more popular in Extension, and people are using more laptop computers to attend these conferences than ever before.  Whether you’re using a laptop or a desktop, the best sound apparently comes from using a headset with a microphone.  Others use an external microphone with external speakers, or in the case of the laptops, built-in speakers.  Several problems have arisen – the most common being the screeching internal laptop microphone.  This happens because the mic is so close to the speakers that when volume is adequate, feedback between the speakers and mic induce the screeching.  The solution is to disable the internal microphone, and use an external one.

Another common problem is that sometimes the microphone will just stop working, or the sound is just not very good.

All computer hardware needs a software interface with the computer operating system in order to function (in our case the operating system is primarily Windows Vista).  Hardware vendors write software so that their hardware works, but as in all human endeavors, the software isn’t perfect.  When “bugs” are discovered in the software, the vendors revise the driver software to correct the problem.  So, just like all other software, there are regular updates available.

If you’re having trouble with sound on your Dell D830 laptop, a driver update may solve the problem.

To update, browse (through your desktop Computer icon) to the S drive.  (Remember that the S drive is now behind the University of Missouri – Columbia firewall, so VPN software must be running to tunnel through the firewall ).

Browse to S:\MUCampus\ETCS\Drivers\Computers\Dell\D830\Audio.  Then right click R171788 and choose copy.  Right click any open area on your desktop and choose Paste.  Alternately you can use your web browser (Internet Explorer):  go to and browse to the same location.  To authenticate with the web page, you may have to type in your user name and password – remember to include the domain um-users in the user name field (i.e. um-users\baerwaldc   …and, it’s got to be a backslash!).  Once you’re in the Audio folder just right-click the listing for R171788 and SAVE it to your desktop.

Once R171788 is on your desktop, close all open programs including Outlook and Internet Explorer, then double click the file.  Continue if necessary and it will ask to unzip the file.  Allow it to unzip using the suggested location.  Let the program create the folder if it doesn’t exist.  Once the files are unzipped, the driver software will proceed to install automatically.  You may be prompted to continue – please do so.

When the installation is complete, you’ll be asked to restart the computer.  Once the computer has restarted, log in.  If your microphone is plugged in, you’ll be prompted to identify it as a microphone. Once you’ve done that, it can be tested.  Click Start, Control Panel.  Double click Sound.  Click the Recording tab.  You’ll have to disable your internal microphone again to avoid the screeching - right click the internal microphone and choose Disable. Now snap your fingers in front of your external microphone, and you should see the volume meter move (at the right of the listing for the microphone).

As always if you have questions or problems contact ETCS.


Last Revised: 03/03/09



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