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audio problem

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I have a Compaq V5000 laptop running Windows XP.

I have suddenly lost audio. I have looked everywhere
to find the source of the problem, but have been unsuccessful.

From the beginning, I was unable to interrupt sound coming
through the speakers when I would plug in the headphones.
This was an annoyance, but the Circuit City folks wanted to
keep the machine for a week. Forget it.

The problem seems to have appeared at about the same time
I began to use Yahoo messsenger. I'm not sure that there is
a relationship there, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

I can't see the little speaker icon in the lower right hand
corner anymore. Again, whether this relates to the problem
or not, I can't be sure.

If someone could help me, I would be most appreciative. Then
perhaps, I could get some sound amplification information. I
would like to feed the speaker output through an amplifier and
use a pair of those ugly, gigantic headphones that are as loud
as they come.

Thanks to anyone who can help in any way.
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Welcome to Geeks to Go!

First go to Start -> Right click on My Computer -> Properties -> Hardware tab -> Device Manager

is there anything in there with a yellow exlamation point over it?
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