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July 8, 2008 9:16 PM   Subscribe

Ghost in the Machine-filter: My speakers seem to be picking up someone's conversation.

I am using a Logitech 2.1 surround set of speakers on my less than 1-year-old, Windows Vista Dell PC. Speakers have always held up excellently. Over the past few days, I have been having internet connectivity problems. (I run a WEP-enabled wireless network from a 3-year-old Linksys modem/router gateway with comcast broadband.) Perhaps not coincidentally, I have started to hear an audible hum from my speaker system, like static or electrical interference. Recently the speakers have started picking up on someone's radio/cell phone conversations. The conversations continued to be broadcast even after the computer was powered down (but speakers' power was still on). I have tried unplugging the speakers but to no avail.

Comcast is due at my house tomorrow, but won't deal with any problems unless the equipment belongs to them. I live in Fishtown, Philadelphia, PA, USA. My computer's wireless card detects several neighbors' home networks.

Anyone want to to try to tackle this one? I would like to be able to resume listening to music and watching episodes of Futurama on this computer.

*BONUS* (somewhat OT) question: I have an ISO file of Call of Duty 4. I would like to burn to DVD but the capacity on the DVD is a mere 4.7 GB, while the ISO file is 6.5 GB. I can predict the obvious answer. Problem is, industry standard seems to be 4.7 GB for DVD-Rs. Any advice on this one?
posted by LilBucner to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
 
I'd try setting up a separate set of speakers to your computer, temporarily. Borrow from somebody if necessary. If the problem subsides, then you know it's your speakers; you can find ways to shield them.

If it continues, I'd consider temporarily swapping out sound cards.

And if that doesn't fix it, I'd change the channel my wi-fi is broadcasting at.

As for the second issue, you might just need to burn it to a dual-layer DVD. If you have access to a dual-layer dvd-burner, that is.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:25 PM on July 8, 2008


Speakers playign stuff, even when of:
At a guess - you're picking up some kind of AM transmission - either a radio station, or an old cordless phone nearby... or a neighborhood ham radio operatior. If you see someone with a weird antenna (or more than one) maybe go and politely ask - he'd probably be more than happy to verify that and can probably help you fix it - hammies are like that.

Bonus answer: Use a double-layer DVD-R and a double-layer burner (which all are nowadays)
posted by TravellingDen at 9:27 PM on July 8, 2008


For question No. 2: If that's an ISO of a PC game, get a piece of software called a 'virtual drive' or 'disk drive emulator.' That will mount the ISO as a new drive letter as if it were physically burned to a disc and inserted into an extra optical drive. Then you can install/play as normal.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:28 PM on July 8, 2008


You have a neighbor with a 2.4GHz cordless phone. Many of them are crappy and simply render the entire spectrum in the immediate area unusable. But you might find some minor relief by changing channels.

(And yes, that's a DVD-DL ISO.)
posted by majick at 9:28 PM on July 8, 2008


Seconding the 2.4 GHz phone suggestion - these things interfere with everything.
In answer to your second question, try DVD Shrink. AWESOME program shrinks to fit DVD-R with no quality loss (noticeable).
posted by Susurration at 9:35 PM on July 8, 2008


Whoops - just realized that you want to burn a game, not a DVD movie. Have a poke around on AWESOME program shrinks to fit DVD-R with no quality loss (noticeable )
http://www.majorgeeks.com - really excellent site for utilities that will convert an ISO to - for example - run on an external harddrive.
posted by Susurration at 9:38 PM on July 8, 2008


UPDATE: It appears to be, no joke, truckers on CB radio bands. (potentially cops, but I would imagine their frequencies are more secure. Then again, this is Philly.)
posted by LilBucner at 9:40 PM on July 8, 2008


Your wifi and your speakers are probably being interfered with by the same source. If you're hearing CB chatter from truckers, it may be that one of your neighbors has started operating a CB repeater. If it's causing interference, I think you'll find they're legally required to fix that.

Regardless of any of this, you should not not not be using WEP. Just about everything supports WPA these days, and provided your WPA password is a long random string not made of dictionary words, WPA is crack-resistant enough to be not worth the trouble. WEP, on the other hand, is trivially crackable. If you care about the security of your in-house network, don't use WEP.
posted by flabdablet at 10:48 PM on July 8, 2008


This happened to me many years back. It ended up being a neighbor with an illegal, high-power CB rig. I got lucky and heard the voice coming through my speakers say "hold on, the pizza guy is here." And a few doors down, a pizza delivery guy was just getting out of his car. Busted.

Unfortunately, what fixed the problem was moving.
posted by dws at 11:12 PM on July 8, 2008


UPDATE: Still happening. It was silent for a while but has recurred. I've tried all the channels on my wifi gateway, to no avail.
posted by LilBucner at 9:08 PM on July 13, 2008


Sounds like you need to organize a fox hunt.
posted by flabdablet at 5:15 AM on July 14, 2008


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