Friday, October 31, 2014

Webcam missing in Windows 8.x

Solution for Webcam missing in Windows 8.1

On a Laptop, the webcam mysteriously disappeared, probably after a Windows update.  There were no indications the video camera was even an available option; there were no indications the camera ever existed.  In this case, the video camera (webcam) used to work with no issues, then one day, the camera was not found. 

Here are the steps to re-install the Video Webcam software.  Likely, the webcam drivers are built into the operating system and there are no drivers to download. 

These steps were tested in Windows 8.1.

Symptoms:
  • Control Panel, Device Manager does not show a webcam or "integrated webcam"
  • Control Panel, Device Manager does not show an "Imaging Devices" section
  • Skype, Google Plus Video Conferencing, and other programs that rely on the video camera show "no video device available" or "no video hardware"
  • Note: The machine does not have a webcam driver to install; vendor likely does not provide drivers or driver installation packages (this is normal)

Solution:

On most modern laptops, especially those with Intel motherboards, including Dell Inspiron 1520 laptops, HP laptops, etc., webcam drivers are not supplied and cannot be installed from the vendor.  Instead, the drivers are built into the operating system.  No additional software needs to be downloaded or installed. 

1.  Open the Windows Control Panel, "Device Manager"  (assuming View by Small Icons)

(if in Category View, click "Hardware and Sound".  In Devices and Printers, click Device Manager)

2. Scroll near the bottom of the list, expand "Universal Serial Bus Controllers"

3.  If any item shows a yellow bang (exclamation), especially if "USB Root Hub", right-mouse-click the item, choose "Uninstall"  (This is safe to do on any and all yellow-banged items).

4.  While highlighting "Universal Serial Bus Controllers" (or highlighting any other sub-section or item in the control panel), choose top menu Action, "Scan for Hardware Changes".  You must have an item selected.

Hardware detection will take a minute or so. 
In this instance, a reboot is probably not required; it will prompt if needed.

The webcam should re-install itself.  There will be no obvious indication.

Confirm:

In Control Panel, Device Manager, note a new section "Imaging Devices".  Note internal device, "Integrated Webcam"

Testing:

Launch any program that uses the webcam.  For example, G+ video conferencing, Skype, or your vendor-supplied video or movie program.  The device should now be working.


If you continue to have problems, consider the following:

A.  From the laptop vendor's support site, download and install update BIOS software; then repeat the steps above.  This step is recommended for all computers, even if you are not having this problem. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spigen Slim Armor Phone Case - Review


Spigen Slim Slim Armor phone case for the HTC M8 - Review.

After trying several different cases for the HTC One M8, this is my favorite and is recommended.  It is functional, gracefully-made and attractive.


The case is made up of two parts, an interior rubber-like shell (black), with a decorative metal-like outer casing.  The metal (actually a hard plastic, but I thought it was metal for the longest time) is understated and classy, matching the contours of the original phone perfectly and comes in several colors.  I happen to like the gun-metal grey.


 
Ports and Buttons:

The power and volume rockers are molded into inner shell, and oddly, are more solid and work better than the buttons on the original phone.  They protrude more than the original phone -- and this is good because I can now easily tell which side is up just by feel.  Being more prominent and tactile, the buttons are easier to use.

The USB and headphone ports are exposed along the phone's bottom edge, easily accessible.  This is an improvement over a previously-tried Otter-brand "commuter" case.

The case has two narrow strips along the top and bottom edge of the metal that expose the phone's internal antenna, a well-thought feature.


The only drawback to the case is the phone's top-infrared transmitter is covered.  If you intend to use the phone to control your TV and Stereo, this case will not work.  The SIM cards are covered, but the case can be removed in a few seconds and has not been a bother.

Price:

The price is right:  Amazon sells this for $20 -- half the cost of a similar Otter case -- and I believe this case is better and slimmer.

Shameless link to Amazon:
www.Amazon.com/Spigen Slim Armor

The same design is available for other phone models.


Changes:

If I could make any recommendations for this case, it would be the following.  Although the inner-shell is a soft-rubber-like plastic, I wished it were softer.  Dropped phones always land on the corner and it would be nice to have just a little more give.

Secondly, as stunning as the metal accoutrement is, I wished it had a little texture -- perhaps faint grip lines cut into the outside edges of the metal -- just something quiet, right where it bends around the edges of the phone.