Gary has had his computer since about 2006. Maybe two years after he got it, the CD player/burner quit working. In fact, no discs of any kind were recognized by the computer. I tried multiple things to get it to work but to no avail. My non-scientific conclusion was that the part had worn/burned out, and that it needed to be replaced.
There is a neighbor, Carol, who is a very good neighbor. She is very responsible, sensible, and accomplished. She has done a lot of things in her life and is very knowledgeable about many things. She plays grand piano, was a nursing supervisor, understands the workings and rebuilding of classic cars, and owned/operated a computer store. Gary thought perhaps she would be a good person to ask about the CD player/burner, so on Saturday she arrived with software ready to test the computer.
All we wanted to know was if the disc player was dead or if it could be revived/replaced at a reasonable cost. We are simple people - to just burn CDs from Amazon downloads for our road trips. I refer you now to this old Northern Exposure video where Marilyn Whirlwind wants to learn how to drive and chooses Chris Stevens to teach her.
After Carol tested the player/burner a few minutes, she launched into a history of CDs and their capacity, including CD-ROM, DVD-RW, and many other acronyms I can't remember now. The thing about free help is that you can't really say to the person helping you, "I don't care about all that! JUST FIX THE FUCKING THING!" because they tend to get huffy. I do know it was about half an hour's worth of experimentation that stretched over two hours because she wanted to teach us about the inner workings of the computer/disc player, as well as her experiences teaching adults about computers. I felt great sympathy for the students she mentioned whose eyes had glazed over under an avalanche of information.
I don't take to lectures well under the best of circumstances, but this was a guest who was helping us, so I stayed back and pressed my fingernails into my wrist to distract me. Finally, finally Carol concluded her experiments. The part had worn/burned out, and it needed to be replaced... the same conclusion I came to years ago.
Chris Stevens: "Been thinking about where I'd be without all those teachers who taught me. Uncle Roy Bauer--respect for the rifle, rules of the woods. Erasmus--reason, the harmonious shaping of my mental world. Then it came my turn. Graduation from student, I became teacher. A chance to light somebody else's fire. What did I do? I blew it. I blew it, plain and simple. I flunked the course. My student came to me with a desire to know the time and I told her how to build a watch."
Oh, I understand why Carol does things this way; she really wants to help and educate. But the chances that I will ever take my computer apart to repair it myself are about the same as me flapping my arms and flying to the moon.
She was going to investigate if she can procure the right part (just the burner) from the guy she sold her computer store to, and install it/supervise the installing.
She's a nice person, but she does like to let you know how much she knows.
The dread info dump. Sigh.
One of the hardest things for me to learn as a teacher was to find what's been called i+1--just one small step beyond where the student actually is.
But in your case, not being a student at all would have been the best.
I started grade school about the same time as The New Math was instituted. As I understand it, that was teaching math by understanding it rather than knowing how to do it.
I think this might be why I still can't balance a checkbook.
I can burn from my computer, but Gary gets tired of asking me to do custom Cds for him. It would be easier for him to make his own. And yeah, we don't hit the road without a dozen or more CDs. It's difficult to find reliable radio when you're on the road.
Here is something I can recommend, too, if you or Gary haven't done this already: more memory. The computer is probably more and more challenged by even the most basic websites & software updates. Additional memory would make a world of difference.
It occurs to me that you might already know all about this...?
Crucial Memory is one of the best. Head to crucial.com. They have a tiny little system scanner program that will tell you your memory options and tell you exactly what to buy. It will tell you precisely what memory is already in there.
They even have quite detailed installation instructions, but if your friend is replacing the CD drive, she can easily pop in the memory while the case is cracked open.
It might be a good time to buy a new computer. Back to school sales are great right now, and since most people buy laptops you can find a new desktop for good prices. You wouldn't even need to buy a new monitor/keyboard/mouse. A seven year old machine is going to be pretty tired and bogged down with all the cookies and flotsam it picks up over the years.
Also, I hope I'm not the kind of IT guy who gives people the history of programming when they need a new mouse. I try to keep it simple and light and not go into too much detail because, seriously, who cares?