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Tech Q&A

3 Wires Are Needed to Restore Digital Cable Surround Sound

April 19, 2001|JON HEALEY and DAVE WILSON | jon.healey@latimes.com and dave.wilson@latimes.com

Q: I made the shift to digital cable and now have no surround sound on the cable channels, but I still have it on Channels 2 to 13. My cable operator can give me no explanation. Any ideas?

A: This issue should be easy to fix. With analog cable boxes, all you needed for audio and video was a single coaxial cable running from your set-top box to your TV or VCR. If you do that with a digital cable box, however, your sound will be in mono. Instead, you'll need to use three wires--one for video, two for sound--that connect to the small RCA jacks on the back of the cable box. This approach might disable the stereo indicator light on your TV set, but it should work.

By the way, none of the standard digital boxes deliver true, 5.1-channel surround sound, but there are specially equipped converters that can transmit a 5.1 signal. Cox and Charter, for example, offer those specially equipped boxes. But most channels don't carry programs in true surround sound.

Q: Whenever I right-click to open an application, I experience a long delay while the PC tries to open Drive A: several times and then opens the application. Any thoughts?

A: There are plenty of things that can cause this problem, but it's most likely related to a program running in the background. For instance, anti-viral software can cause this behavior. Likewise, the Fast Find indexer installed with Microsoft's Office software can cause the same sorts of issues. Of course, any virus lurking about could do the same thing.

There are other possible solutions. Try clearing the documents menu. Or check for files on your system that end in ".PIF" and point to the floppy drive. PIF files start DOS programs within Windows. Check the Start Menu's Run command for weird entries. If none of this works, ask somebody to check HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/CLSID in the system registry to see whether it references anything on the A: drive.

Q: I read your column about connecting two computers to one monitor and it got me wondering: Is it possible to hook up two--or more--monitors to one computer?

A: It's a piece of cake with a Mac and not much more complicated with Windows 98. We'll talk about Windows since the odds are good that that's what you're using.

You'll need two video cards, and you'll need to make sure that both cards support multi-monitor use, along with the drivers for said cards. Then you'll need to open the Display option under Control Panel to make the adjustments necessary to use both monitors.

This could take some tinkering before things start working properly, but it's doable. If this is really important to you and you're not especially technically inclined, consider a Mac for the job.

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Send questions to Tech Q&A at techtimes@latimes.com.

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