HP Recalls Notebook Computer Batteries Due to Fire Hazard

HP Recalls Notebook Computer Batteries Due to Fire Hazard

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Lithium-Ion batteries used in Hewlett-Packard and Compaq notebook computers

Units: About 70,000

Importer: Hewlett-Packard Co., of Palo Alto, Calif.

Hazard: The recalled lithium-ion batteries can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm and CPSC are aware of two reports of batteries that overheated and ruptured, resulting in flames/fire that caused minor property damage. No injuries have been reported.

Description: The recalled lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are used with various HP and Compaq notebook computers.  See the list of models that are affected here

Sold at: Computer and electronics stores nationwide, hp.com and hpshopping.com from August 2007 through March 2008 for between $500 and $3000. The battery packs were also sold separately for between $100 and $160.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately remove the recalled battery from their notebook computer and contact HP to determine if their battery is included in the recall and to request a free replacement battery. After removing the recalled battery from their notebook computer, consumers may use the AC adapter to power the computer until a replacement battery arrives. Consumers should only use batteries obtained from HP or an authorized reseller.

via HP Recalls Notebook Computer Batteries Due to Fire Hazard.

Overheating Prompts Acer Desktop Recall

Acer America reports to CPSC that burn hazard and overheating prompt about 215 units of Acer Predator Desktop computer recall.

Acer desktop safety recall was voluntarily conducted by the Acer America in cooperation with the CPSC. Consumers should stop using the recalled desktop immediately unless otherwise instructed.

The recall includes about 215 units of Acer Predator Desktop Computers. Acer America Corp., of San Jose, Califonia is the importer of the recalled desktop that were manufactured in and shipped from China.

The insulation on Acer Predator desktop’s internal wiring can become bent or stripped, causing the wires to overheat while the product is in use. This poses a burn hazard to consumers.

Acer has received two reports of computers short circuiting, resulting in melted internal components and external casing. Neither incident occurred in the U.S. No injuries have been reported.

This recall involves Acer Predator desktop computers. The high-end gaming machines have model numbers ASG7200 and ASG7700. Model numbers are printed on the bottom right corner of the panel on the right side of the system.

The recalled Acer Predator desktop is sold by computer and electronic stores nationwide from May 2008 through December 2008 for between $2,000 and $6,000.

Consumers should immediately stop using these recalled computers and contact Acer to schedule a free repair.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Acer toll-free at (866) 695-2237 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at http://www.acer.com

Based on the information provided from CPSC.gov. The alert number is 09-731.

via Overheating Prompts Acer Desktop Recall.

Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip

Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip

By Michael Lasky

An old urban myth claims that the microprocessors used in PCs and other consumer electronics are designed to fail within days or weeks of their warranty expiration.

For tens of thousands of people who bought Dell and HP notebooks whose motherboards fried — often a few weeks after their warranty expired — there’s nothing mythical about it.

The cause of the machines’ fried motherboards is an overheating Nvidia graphics chip. The failure rate is so huge that Nvidia had to take a $196 million charge against earnings in the second quarter of its 2008 fiscal year in anticipation of the reimbursements that would result from the faulty GPU.

What’s particularly scandalous, though, is how HP and Dell first handled the deluge of complaints from customers with notebooks that failed after their warranties expired. The companies either charged the customers (victims?) for repairs or refused service because the systems were past the warranty period.

Even worse, HP and Dell continued to sell notebooks with the same Nvidia chip long after the companies were aware of the problem. (Ultimately, Nvidia released a new version of the GPU that didn’t cause overheating.)

Unwary consumers who purchased the affected notebooks — no doubt based in part on the heady reputations of the vendors — were left in the lurch when their PCs failed, which usually occurred after 18 months or so. The purchasers had no recourse except to yell and scream at clueless tech-support reps.

When the heat from consumer complaints became as hot as the faulty Nvidia chip, HP and Dell relented and published a list of defective model numbers on their Web sites. Dell extended the standard one-year warranty to two years for the systems they identified as having the problem. HP offered a 24-month warranty extension for the specific issue.

However, instead of issuing a recall — as you would expect in such a clear case of a defective part — the vendors instead merely offered a BIOS upgrade. The “patch” for the affected notebooks made their fans run continuously in an attempt to lower the GPU-induced heat, which was cooking the motherboards onto which the chips were soldered.

This “fix” merely extended the time before the motherboards finally burned out while simultaneously devouring the machines’ battery life — sort of like putting a Band-Aid on a coronary. Of course, notebook purchasers became further inflamed by the power drain on their systems due to the constantly running fan.

via Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip.

To see if your Dell laptop could have this issue and is eligible for the extended warranty, click here

To see if your HP laptop could have this issue and is eligible for the extended warranty, click here

Have you ever needed to share someone’s computer?

Have you ever been speaking with  someone and they describe what’s going on their computer but you’re just not understanding what they’re saying, or they’re running a program and have a question about something but can’t really express in words what they need?

There’s a great program that I use that allows me, with the permission of the other user, to gain access to their computer to see what’s going on. I gain control of the mouse and keyboard, or let them keep control so they can show me what’s going on. Did I mention that it’s free?

Crossloop is a free remote assistance program that allows you to run programs, open documents, download drivers, alter settings and even delete files on the remote computer.

The program works by connecting via the CrossLoop server. The server has 128bit Blowfish encryption, making it  safe from hackers and other ne’er-do-wells.

It’s easy to setup and run and it has saved a lot of time in troubleshooting issues. You can download the program from here (http://www.crossloop.com/ipage.htm?id=download).

They also have a service with support people online from all over the world to assist you when you have a problem. The helpers set their own rates and if the Helper was unable to solve your problem or your problem continued after the session and within 48 hours of your final payment, CrossLoop will refund the payment you made. The rates for Helpers vary by many factors depending on the type of issue and experience of the Helper you choose.

A nice program worth looking into if you’re constantly called on to help others, or if you need help yourself and don’t know who to turn to. – Crossloop

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam …..

Spam, Yuck. Well, okay, that Spam too. However, the spam that affects us daily is worse. Some stats from this past year from Symantec:
Top Trends in 2008
Spam: In 2008 the annual average spam rate was 81.2 percent, meaning a little over 81% of all email sent/received in 2008 was spam. An increasing proportion of spam originated from reputable web-based email and application service providers.
Viruses: The average virus level for 2008 was 1 in 143.8 emails, down from 2007 where levels averaged at 1 in 117.7 emails. The decline can be attributed to the transition to spreading malware using malicious content hosted on websites and drive-by installs rather than favoring email as the primary means of distribution.
Phishing: The number of phishing attacks was 1 in 244.9 (.41 percent) emails across 2008, compared to 1 in 156 emails in 2007.

With all of the spam and phishing emails coming into your inbox, wouldn’t it be nice to have a program that filters it out before you see it?
If you use Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Outlook Express for your email program, I’d recommend a program called iHateSpam from Sunbelt Software. It’s an inexpensive program that filters a large majority of your incoming spam to a spam folder, where you can delete it without even touching it.

RadioShack Offers Gift Cards for Old Electronic Devices

From the OCRegister Gadgetress

If you’re about to dump your old iPod, cell phone or other electronic device anyway, you might as well get some money for it, right?

RadioShack now offers an electronics trade-in program, which swaps store gift cards for your old e-junk. A lot of this stuff we shouldn’t be dumping into the trash anyway because they are considered hazardous e-waste.

The program accepts GPS devices, MP3 Players, wireless phones, digital camcorders, car audio head units, digital cameras, notebook computers, game consoles and video games. Not on the list: desktop computers. For those, I suggest using Toshiba’s trade-in program where you get actual CASH (read “Toshiba’s PC recycling program now accepts all e-junk“).

Just plug in your details at RadioShack’s site: RadioShack.com/tradein. If you accept the price, you print out the pre-paid shipping label, package up the gadget and send it in. The gift card is mailed to you. RadioShack says it issues the gift card 10 to 14 days after the product is received.

Windows Updates – How can I choose what to install?

Microsoft introduced the concept of Patch Tuesday a few years ago. The idea is that security patches are accumulated over a period of one month, and then dispatched all at once on the second Tuesday of the month. Windows Update is a service that provides updates for the operating system and its installed components. Microsoft Update is an optional feature that can be enabled to provide updates for other Microsoft software installed on a Windows computer, such as Office. These updates can come anytime throughout the month.

If your computer is setup to automatically download and install updates, you will get any and all updates and patches, both good and bad. By default, the automatic settings will check for updates at 3:00 in the morning, every morning. If you turn your computer off at night, it never has a chance to check for updates so if you want to keep the automatic settings, you should change the settings to a time when you know the computer will be on. To change the settings, open the Control Panel and double click on Security Center. At the bottom, you can choose to manage settings for Automatic Updates.

My recommendation is to change the setting to the second option, which is to download the updates but let me choose when to install them. What happens then is that the updates will download and there will be a yellow shield down on the right by the clock. When I double click on it, I will have the option for an “Express Install” or a “Custom Install”. I always choose the custom install. That choice lets me pick which updates and patches to install.

I will always install security patches and program patches, but I never install new service packs when they’re first available. I’ll uncheck those and install the rest. I’ll continue to uncheck them until I know they are safe to install.

Just to be clear, when I see that shield, I will always check what’s downloaded and install what’s appropriate. The bad guys out there wait for the patches to come out also so they can create programs that hit all computers that aren’t patched. Lately, that attack will come the day after the patches are released so it is very important to install them.

Every so often, you will get a notice from another program, such as Adobe, that it has an update available. Should you install those as well? I’d say yes, since virus writers look for holes in most of the popular programs that people will have on their computers and will attack those programs as well.

I know it’s a hassle to do these updates, but do them since it’s more of a hassle cleaning an infected computer.

NOTE: One other important matter; create a system restore point before doing any updates. That way, if an update messes up the computer, you’ll be able to restore it to the point just before you did the updates. For instructions on creating a restore point in Vista, click here, For XP, click here. You can download a great document from Microsoft for securing your Vista computer here.

AVG Antivirus Update Issue & Notebook Battery Recall

An FYI if you use the free AVG antivirus software: a recent update of AVG’s antivirus software caused some user’s Internet connections to be blocked. AVG’s support page indicates that after upgrading to AVG version 8.0.196, your network link may fail.

If rebooting your PC doesn’t fix the problem, follow the instructions on AVG’s support page to download the fixfiles.zip file to your computer. Double-click the .zip file to open it, and then double-click fixfiles.exe in the resulting folder to run the utility.

If the problem remains, the company recommends that you run a repair installation of your AVG app. If reinstalling your antivirus software doesn’t get you back online, AVG advises that you contact the company’s support desk for further instructions.

PC Notebook Computer Batteries Recalled Due to Fire and Burn Hazard – Lithium-Ion Batteries used in Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Dell Notebook Computers. To find out if your laptop battery is one that is being recalled, see the list here: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml09/09035.html

From the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Change your clocks. Replace your smoke alarm batteries. Both are important this weekend as Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 2.

While changing your clock can keep you on time for work on Monday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises consumers that putting fresh batteries in your smoke alarms can save your life. In recent years, an estimated annual average of 378,700 fires, 2,740 deaths, 13,090 injuries and $5.6 billion in property losses associated with residential fires have been reported by fire departments.

“Smoke alarms save lives. That’s a fact,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “Working smoke alarms buy you valuable time to get out of your home when there’s a fire.”

To read the entire article, click here