Troubleshooting Windows Voice Recorder

Troubleshooting computer issues is always a joy. As you mignt know from my previous post, I've been setting up equipment in a new faculty computer lab and I've run into several issues. Yesterday, I was preparing to use our new Dell PC to help my colleague, Britt Watwood conduct a class on Wimba Live Classroom. In doing this, I started with my usual sound check by recording in the Windows Sound Recorder.

I know the MS Sound Recorder is a very limited tool, which most of us bypass for serious recording, but it has become my basic way to confirm that the system can record and play sound. I also use this in classroom and lab settings which employ house sound systems to assure that sound settings for recording and playback are working as desired. Well, I've learned that this test may lead to false assumptions.

I recorded about 5 seconds of sound and when I tried to play the recording, I got a message stating "Not enough memory available to complete this operation". Since this PC just came out of the box about two weeks ago and it already needed to have the mother board replaced, I was furious and ready to demand that the entire machine be replaced. My colleague, Gaurav Gupta dismissed this as a software issue with the Sound Recorder and wanted to move on to another recording tool, but I had a mindset which demanded trouble-shooting and resolving this problem or getting the equipment replaced. Because of the previous issues, I suspected it was the tip of the iceberg for future problems and I wanted to resolve this early in the game.

This morning, I tried to re-create the problem on my emulated PC (VMware on a MacBook Pro). I booted the laptop to run the VMware and the Windows environment only. I fired up the Windows Recorder and made a recording. All seemed to go well, until I hit "play" and I got the dreded message. Since I could see graphically that my voice was being recorded, I saved the file to my desktop and it worked fine. So, this led me to believe that Gaurav was correct in his assessment of the problem as being a software issue. With a little research, I stumbled on a Microsoft Help link which confirmed his diagnosis. The problem only occurs when your machine has more than 2 GB of memory.

I hope this will save you some time and frustration.

Reflection: My mindset in regard to previously repaired equipment prevented me from acceping this as a software issue. When I troubleshoot software problems, I have a hard time just moving to another another solution. I tend to see one problem as symptomatic of larger issues. Sometimes, as Gaurav advised, it is better to move on.
Image courtesty of Sean Dreilinger - via Flickr and Creative Commons License

Learning in Our New Lab - Sharing Tips

As Garison Keillor would say, "It's been an exciting day in Lake Wobegon."

I'm in the process of setting up computers in our new multimedia lab, so faculty will have a place to experiment with various technologies and develop some resources. In the process of trying to install Final Cut Express, one thing has led to another. The first tip I can share is that in trying to enter the serial number for Final Cut Express, you do not enter it as printed on the software package. Instead, use all lower case characters and wallah, the installation proceeds.

I was very surprised to learn that the brand new Mac Pro required 15 programs to be updated.

Second tip is on activating the external sound source on the back of the machine. This does not work by default (at least on two machines here). Solution: select System Preferences > Sound > Output > Line Out > then, check and un-check Mute. Close any applications which were open and playing sound. Reopen your desired application and sound should now play out of your external speakers.

Discussion about my problem solving experience as I tried to use the IceCam2 USB Video Web Camera - This is my first recording (using Photo Booth) which I hope will save you a lot of time and frustration.

How to save your Photo Booth movie (note terminology of "movie" and not "video")

Controlling Sound When Recording with the IceCam2 and Photo Booth Software