Using a PC? You Definitely Have Annoyances

By  |  Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 8:05 am

Mac users must be sworn to secrecy; they rarely complain about their computers. A friend, plied with alcohol, reluctantly admitted that his MacBook suffered from random shutdowns. Like, no!

PC users, on the other hand, seem to be proud of their computing annoyances. Online bragging matches are common, with each participant trying to top all the other PC disaster stories.

You think I’m kidding about Mac and PC users? Try this on for size: Mac people vs. PC people: Top 5 differences. (Thanks to TechBite subscriber Gil.)

This week’s story is a collection (okay, a hodgepodge) of ways my PC annoys me, with, of course, work-arounds.

Get the Volume Under Control

The Annoyance My wife’s office is close enough that our chatting tool is a shout down the hall. I can also hear when she plays a YouTube video–and frantically grabs the mouse and dives for the volume control icon in the Notifications tray.

The problem is that mi esposa keeps changing the volume from different locations. –Steve Bass

The Fix Here’s what usually happens: Judy opens a YouTube video, discovers the volume’s too loud (as do I), and she moves the YouTube slider to lower the volume.

The next day, she can’t hear a YouTube vid, but this time, she uses the Windows’ volume controller to increase the sound.

Everything’s cool, until a Windows’ system alert blasts her out of her chair or she plays an MP3 and Windows Media Player, with its slider set to high, and the music crinkles the wallpaper.

The goal is to get the volume consistent. Try this: Adjust every app that plays sounds–get it the way you like–and then leave it alone. Once you’re happy with the sound levels, adjust the sound from only one spot, the Windows volume controller.

I don’t have a fancy keyboard with volume and mute buttons, and I’ve never liked the volume controller in Windows–even in Win7, it takes two clicks to use.

Instead, I use Volumouse, a clever little freebie that controls my PC’s volume. I’ve configured Volumouse to mute the volume with one wheel turn on any menu bar, change the volume by turning the wheel anywhere on the Taskbar, and, in combination with a keyboard key, make a window transparent.

Volumouse controls your system's volume.

If you don’t like Volumouse, try 3RVX. It has fewer features, uses a wheel combo with the WIN key, and is easier to setup than Volumouse.

Hide and Seek the Status Bar in Firefox 4

The Annoyance I had five extensions I relied on that appeared in the status bar at the bottom of Firefox 3. I upgraded to 4.0 and the stat bar is gone. –Jim Murray, via e-mail

The Fix Yeah, I miss the status bar and the way it provided useful information. But that’s nothing new with upgrades: Developers take two steps forward with a few neat features–and then a step back by removing things we like.

We’re both in luck. The Status-4-Evar extension brings back the status bar, with the unobtrusive Progress Meter and Download Status, as well as letting me see my ever-faithful Lazarus, the tool that resuscitates Web forms I’ve  filled and lost.

Get Firefox's status bar back!

I Need a New Multi-Function Printer

The Annoyance Our old HP printer quit working and we want a used printer/scanner. We didn’t really like the HP; the ink is expensive and it was very touchy.  We just want to occasionally print coupons and documents and need to scan some photos and documents to the computer.–pdxcatlovers, via Broad_band.

The Fix I’ve used and reviewed over a million multi-function printers and I say: get a Lexmark. I’ve had the Prestige Pro 805 for about 14 months and I ride it hard. It’s behaved perfectly for all that time.

Last week, much to my dismay, the print head stopped working. But with a five year warranty on the printer, here was the test.

I called tech support–outsourced, but smart and accommodating. His first comment: If I can’t help you fix the problem, don’t worry–we’ll ship you a new print head.

We went through a couple of things –firmware upgrade and cleaning the print head. No luck.

In two days I had a new print head–as well as a set of cartridges for the inconvenience. It was an easy, 10 second job: The print head lifts out just like one of the print cartridges. First take out the print cartridges and then lift a lever.

And to answer next your question: He didn’t know I was the exalted CEO of TechBite and czar at Bass International.

[This post is excerpted from Steve's TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up--it's delivered right to your inbox, and it's free.]

 
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5 Comments For This Post

  1. Anon Says:

    Except, you know, none of of these are actually PC issues. The youtube video one can occur on a Mac. Firefox 4 is a multi-platform web browser, and thus this annoyance can also easily exist on a Mac. The printer one has nothing to do with PCs or Macs… AT ALL. In that, the complaint is entirely about printers from start to finish. I would have at least expected something along the lines of driver installation complaints or something that could actually be relevant to PCs.

  2. @ymala1 Says:

    Holy crap, you're a czar at Bass International? I didn't realize this site was associated with royalty ;)

    Excellent piece btw, I really enjoyed it, especially things like the volume controller app, something I never even thought I'd need. I don't usually have a problem with controlling the volume on my laptop, I actually came about your method of using the windows volume control naturally, and my laptop has a function key combo to adjust it, but it's good to know solutions to problems I never even thought I had are out there.

    Keep up the awesome.

  3. Brian Smith Says:

    You can download an extension to show the status bar, or you can hit Ctrl-/ (in Windows, at least… in any other case, there should be a menu option) to show the Add-on bar.

  4. The_Heraclitus Says:

    "The problem is that mi esposa keeps changing the volume from different locations. –Steve Bass
    The Fix "

    Buy her a pair of $2 headphones.

    FIXED

  5. Video maker Says:

    In that, the complaint is entirely about printers from start to finish. I would have at least expected something along the lines of driver installation complaints or something that could actually be relevant to PCs.