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Help File: iPhone Speaker Interference; Not-Really-Missing Photo Files

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By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, April 26, 2009

QWhen I leave my iPhone near the speakerphone at my office, I hear this weird buzzing noise. What's going on?

ASignals sent by the phone -- which must periodically have a quick, "yeah, I'm here" conversation with nearby transmitter towers -- are getting picked up by the speaker, causing it to buzz or crackle.

This problem is not limited to Apple's iPhone. Any device using the same GSM (Global System for Mobile) technology as Apple's smartphone, which includes those sold by AT&T Wireless or T-Mobile, can cause nearby audio devices to buzz. Old Nextel phones can also create this sort of interference, while phones based on the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology used by Sprint and Verizon Wireless should not.

Properly designed phones and speakers can squelch this problem (some reviewers have noted that the iPhone 3G, when on a 3G signal, doesn't cause any buzzing), while a few users have experimented with aluminum foil shielding.

But you can also just move the offending phone farther away from the speaker -- as a visiting publicist did here on Friday when his iPhone caused a speakerphone in a conference room to buzz away.

Every time I try to double-click a photo, I get an error message saying that Dell Image Expert can't find the file, even though I'm looking right at it in the My Pictures folder.

This program -- an add-on that Dell has bundled -- somehow got its own file database scrambled. The easiest fix is to uninstall it: Go to the Add or Remove Programs control panel and kick it off your system.

There are far better photo-album programs available, many free. Try, for example, Google's Picasa, Microsoft's Windows Live Photo Gallery, Kodak's EasyShare or Hewlett-Packard's Photosmart Essential.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or robp@washpost.com. Visit http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward for his Faster Forward blog.


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