Welcome To Bo's How To Page
Welcome to Blaisdell's Little Corner of the Web
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. "                                                                                                               
                                                                                                
Benjamin Franklin
| Mission | Computer's & Government | Technology | News & Review | Computer Security Alerts |

Home Browsers Microsoft Office 97 Site Search Windows

Albion | Freeware | Freeware From A-Z | Security | Virus Information | Updated 08/08/07

& How To's -

Here you can find an archive of past online howto's from all over the web.

Surviving a Disk Crash-- a Checklist
Don't panic! Many hard disk crashes can be overcome. Follow these steps to recovery. more

Index

Creating a bootable USB flash drive for Windows XP
Safely remove the Windows XP Service Pack 2 Uninstall files
Clean Out Unused Device Drivers
10 customization tricks to save you time in Windows XP
The "Toothpaste Trick" For Scratched CDs
Speed-Up Adobe Reader 7 
How to Get the Real Capacity of Your Hard Drive
Troubleshoot and solve Windows XP boot problems
Toggling Windows XP's taskbar grouping feature
Easily create date-based folder names in Windows XP
Quick solutions for uncovering a lost Windows product key
Zero in on Windows XP Device Manager problems with this handy Help - TechRepublic
Download: Extract troubleshooting info from Windows XP BSOD error messages - TechRepublic
Disabling Windows Messenger on a Windows XP machine
Copying and pasting in Windows XP; Some Old Tricks that Still Work in Home or Professional
Using the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility
Using the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard as a quick file backup tool
A Reader Wonders if he is ready for Windows Vista? Should he upgrade now or wait?
Creating your own Sleep button in Windows XP
Changing Your Monitors Refresh Rate
Makes it easier on the eye
Field Test for Power Supply
DDR vs. DDR2
Trouble accessing old hard drive in new computer
My New 40 Gigabyte Hard Drive Only Shows 37.2 GB in Windows. Did I get Cheated?
Sometimes Windows Doesn't Recognize My CD-ROM drive
Make the autorun.inf file for your burned CD-ROMs
What is partitioning?
What The Heck's A VoIP?
What's A Router?
Adding A New Hard Drive
Grunge! When it comes to keyboards, cleanliness is the best policy
I am selling my computer but want to clean my hard drive first. what should I do? Short answer? Use it for target practice.
Definitions of the various media types
Tim asks, "What is the difference between DDR vs SDRAM"?
What's Up With My 100 MB Zip Drive Going Click Click?
Make an audio CD? If you have a CD Audio media, a CD-RW and software, you have all you need.
Configure a USB keyboard for DOS
Bo Instant Tips: If your using MSIE 6.0, or any version after 5.0, you can instantly get to .COM sites by typing in the name of the site, hold down on the control key and MSIE will insert the WWW. and the .COM for you. For example, if you want to get to hotmail, simply type Hotmail in the address bar and hold down on the control (Ctrl) key while hitting the Enter key. Internet Explorer will fill in the rest, WWW.Hotmail.COM and your done. For more on MSIE, check out:
Bo's Internet Explorer Tips & Tricks A blatant attempt at shameless self promotion. Also, the Ctrl+Enter combo works with MSN Explorer 7.0.
A step-by-step guide to self-installing cable or DSL
Tired of snail-slow downloads? If you're ready to graduate from a dial-up Net connection to a speedy DSL or cable hookup but are stressed over the cost, consider the do-it-yourself approach.
USB or FireWire? The one that's right for you is...You've got two options when it comes to connecting high-bandwidth peripherals like hard drives, video cameras, and digital music players to your PC or Mac. Which one to choose? Here's how to decide.  AnchorDesk Home
Boost your PC's performance with help from the Memory Configurator.
XADM: How to Protect Exchange 2000 Data from Hard Disk Failure (Q328794)
OFFXP: How to Make Sure That Your Office Document Has a Trustworthy Digital Signature (Q329228)
SMS: How to Troubleshoot Remote Control Connectivity over a Slow Link (Q328090)
MS Knowledge Base: How to Customize Toolbars and Menus
Insider's Guide: Fix Windows
Quick and Easy Ways to Master Windows Printing
Print faster and smarter by tweaking Windows' printer settings; get more control over the Windows print queue.
Hardware Problems in Windows XP? Get the Right Drivers
Getting the right drivers for your system hardware is a good place to start solving compatibility problems in Windows XP. Here's how. full article

How It Works: CD-R, CD-RW
Reading and writing: Here are the ABCs of CD-ROMs, CD-Rs, and CD-RWs.
Take Charge of Your Runaway Start Menu
Getting rid of the clutter in Windows' Start menu is as easy as removing unused items.
Remove Apps That Don't Uninstall Themselves
Delete stubborn applications safely, manage media players, and more on blocked Web pages.
Find the program path and file name. Right-click the program's shortcut on your Start menu and select Properties. Everything in the Target field to the last backslash is the program's path, and everything after that backslash is its file name. For instance, if the Target field says 'C:\My Programs\Bug Multiplier\Bug.exe', the path is C:\My Programs\Bug Multiplier, and the program file name is Bug.exe. Keep the Properties box open. You'll need to refer to the path and file name throughout. More...
How to use the Windows Key - A Bo event.
Digital Focus: Double-Exposure Special Effects  Create professional-caliber special effects with your image editor 
http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,101796,tk,cxb,00.asp
Eight Simple Tweaks That Make a Mightier Mouse Here they come to save the day: tips to enhance your mouse and rename
multiple files at once.
http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,101778,tk,cxb,00.asp
Worst-case scenarios: how to survive a PC apocalypse
Would you live on a fault line without earthquake insurance? Of course not. Unfortunately, computers are also prone to disasters of seismic proportions, and preparedness is your only insurance. To prevent your files from being damaged, find out how to protect your PC from disasters--natural and otherwise--in the first place, plus what to do after a crash.

PC Mechanic: give your inkjet a belt
Does your inkjet printer make a grinding sound? It may be time to replace the belt. Also: squeezing data for faster dial-up connections and working with insensitive mice.

PC Mechanic: A new standard in modems
Increase upload speeds with a V.92 modem. Also: Should you use CD repair kits and individual ink tanks?

Windows Help Desk: Maximize your memory without adding RAM
Vanishing program icons? Missing CD-ROM drive? This week, Jim Aspinwall solves some mysterious disappearances and takes on your Windows XP memory crunch, too. Find out how to maximize your memory without buying extra RAM.

PC Mechanic: Print better digital photos
Ever wonder why your digital photos look pixelated when you make an 8x10 print? PC Mechanic tells you how to improve the output quality with a couple of easy tricks. Also explained: how music travels across the Internet and the pros and cons of inkjet refills.

How to fight hack attacks--before they happen

Could you inoculate your computer against hacker attacks the same way we immunize children against polio? Robert finds a company that thinks so--and is using biological know-how to prepare computer systems for the worst.
PC Mechanic: video adapters hate the cold
Have trouble getting out of bed on cold mornings? Then it should come as no surprise that video cards have difficulty waking up when you cold-boot your PC. Find out how you can rouse your video adapter quickly, deal with a burned CD-R that backfired, and track down motherboard drivers.
Return to Comp. News Index
Windows Help Desk: Driver disasters and dual-booting
Don't believe everything you read--especially the Windows Update reminder. If you do, you might regret it one day. Ever install a recommended driver and end up with a system gone kaput? One reader did, with dire consequences. Thankfully, CNET columnist Jim Aspinwall comes to the rescue with driver-debacle fixes. Read about this and other driver dilemmas in this week's Help Desk.

PC Mechanic: CRT or LCD? That is the question
With prices plummeting, there has never been a better time to upgrade your monitor. But how do you know which to buy? For example, do CRTs use more video RAM? Are they more hazardous to your health? This week's PC Mechanic reveals all.

Your data is gone, but it's not forgotten
Deleted e-mail and computer files have a nasty habit of coming back at the most awkward times -- like in the middle of a lawsuit. What can you do about it?
A C|Net.com  Report | Read Full Story


Field Test for Power Supply

If you are working as a PC Tech and need to test a power supply, there is a makeshift way to do it. You will often encounter situations in which the power supply is potentially faulty. One way to test if the power supply has totally failed or not is a simple field power supply test that requires only a paperclip. Unplug the motherboard connector and make sure the power supply is connected to the wall. Then, bend the paperclip and use it to connect the green connector on the motherboard's 20-pin connector to any black connector on that same connector. The power supply, if working correctly, should start. Otherwise, the power supply is likely to be faulty.


 

 

Tip of the Week

Windows Help Desk
The old "plug and pray" got you down? Jim Aspinwall clears up peripheral condundrums in this week's Windows Help Desk, tackling USB 2.0 and stubborn drivers. Also, get the lowdown on Windows tech support (is it free or not so free?) and more reasons to actually pay for Windows.

PC Mechanic: Clean out your network closet
With spring almost sprung, it's time to clean out your network closet. Find out how using a patch panel can help you get rid of network cable clutter and prevent future headaches as your network grows. Also, learn about dueling partitions with different OSs and how to turn your MP3s into beautiful music.

PC Mechanic: Pinging the praises of ping
Having network trouble? Learn how a simple utility called ping can help you test and troubleshoot your network. Also: poorly crafted LCD panels and how to build a key-cap removal tool that will make MacGyver jealous.

PC Mechanic: when graphics go bad
Is your graphics card feeling the heat? PC Mechanic shows you ways to keep it cool. Also: How to network a printer and why laser printers prefer the dark.

Windows Help Desk
When you log on to your ISP, has your Network Status icon gone AWOL? Can Windows not find your external modem at start-up? If so, this week's Help Desk shows you how to find your way around your PC and Net connection. Also, find out how to protect your shared files from uninvited guests. From C|Net.com
Windows Help Desk: Microsoft tech support unveiled
The old plug-and-pray routine got you down? Jim Aspinwall clears up peripheral condundrums in this week's Windows Help Desk, tackling USB 2.0 and stubborn drivers. Also, get the lowdown on Windows tech support (is it free or not so free?) and more reasons to actually pay for Windows.

PC Mechanic: Keep it Real
When you're waiting for the latest streaming video of Britney Spears, the last thing you want is trouble with RealPlayer. Find out how to avoid connection problems before you miss a beat. Plus, out-of-sync monitors and firmware updates for your video card.

PC Mechanic: The shocking truth
What we have to tell you may shock you. But better you than your expensive electronic devices. Our expert shows you how to reduce the risk of electric shock. Plus, get better sound quality from your speakers, and improve your monitor's image. From C|Net.com

XP can wreak havoc on your DVD drive
It's all XP, all the time.
Get answers on upgrading to the new OS
Relocate your PC's ports
Is Your PC a Workaholic? C|Net's PC Mechanic shows you how to turn it down a notch.
Back by demand! How to run smarter Web searches--for free
Outsmart the snoops! How to protect your privacy on the Web
Slow PC? No problem! Fix up your clunker for under $50
I know what you did on your PC last summer...Thought you deleted that data? Think again!
Can You Trust Important Data to CD-Rs? Here are some importqnt tips.
How to win the war against spam, scourge of the in-box
The trouble with Internet Explorer (and how to handle it)
Need more Help?


Make the autorun.inf file for your burned CD-ROMs

Burning CD-ROMs has quickly become a common and accepted business practice. CDs are one more good way to communicate with customers, investors, and employees. The autorun.inf file can simplify a user's experience, and you don't need sophisticated software to make it.

PROBLEM
Contrary to what you may have heard from the RIAA, burning a CD-R or CD-RW is not restricted to music pirates. In many business situations, the burned CD is the best way to distribute information to a target audience. For communications involving PowerPoint presentations, HTML, PDF forms, Flash animations, or a number of other applications, the portable and durable CD has become a common delivery method.

The compact disc drive autoplay feature, common to most operating systems, is a good way to simplify user experience. Autoplay is controlled by a simple text-only file called autorun.inf. While there are dozens of software utilities available that will help you create the file, all you really need is a text editor and some basic knowledge.

Solution

The basic configuration of the autorun.inf starts the program to run when the CD is inserted in the drive, and the icon to display when the disc is viewed by Windows Explorer or other directory listing software. The text-only file, which resides in the root directory of the CD, should look like this:

[autorun]
open=myprogram.exe
icon=myicon.ico

The icon file should also reside in the root directory of the CD.

Variations

Often the program you want to run will not be located in the root directory of the CD. If that is the case you must include the path:

[autorun]
open=folder1\folder1A\myfile.exe
icon=myicon.ico

Sometimes you may need to pass an argument to the program to be autoplayed:

[autorun]
open=myprogram.exe /argument
icon=myicon.ico

Not a program

Sending customers, salespeople, investors, and employees presentations, PDF files, and HTML documents requires a slight variation to the basic autorun.inf file and the addition of a DOS batch file to the CD root directory. The autorun.inf file opens a batch file, which then opens the file using the default program designated for that file type. For example:

[autorun]
open=autorun.bat index.htm
icon=myicon.ico

And the autorun.bat file reads:

echo off
@start %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9
@exit

Using the autorun.inf file to autoplay your burned CDs will prevent another headache for your users and increase the likelihood of reaching your target audience. And because it is a simple text file, it can be created with a text editor and your normal disc-burning software.

Some Freeware Utilities that will help you make an Autorun CD

AutoMenu 1.0 pop
Easily create start-up menus that run when you insert your CD.
OS: Windows (all)
File Size: 186.12K
License: Free
Autorun Inf Editor 1.0 pop
Create autorun INF files for CDs.
OS: Windows (all)
File Size: 121K
License: Free
ShellRun 1.0.5 pop
Auto-run a chosen file as soon as your CD is inserted.
OS: Windows (all)
File Size: 285K
License: Free

Q: What is partitioning?

A: Partitioning allows you to split one huge drive into several other virtual drives. Why would you want to do this? Let's say that you wanted to have a dual-boot system with Windows on one drive and Linux on the other. The fact that you don't have two hard drives does not prevent you from doing this. You can virtually create these multiple drives by partitioning. Here's another scenario: perhaps you'd like to have your operating system and applications on one drive, and your data on another. This multiple hard drive setup is a nice thing to have. For one thing, each drive can have a separate purpose. Instead of packing one drive full of files that will be hard to find, you can split them up logically.

There are a couple of ways to partition your drive. One of the tried and true ways of doing this is by using the DOS tool called Fdisk. It's best to use Fdisk when you want to wipe the slate clean and start over. Doing this may be a little too complicated for many of you, so I'm going to suggest an alternative. The biggest name in partitioning has to be PartitionMagic. While this tool will require an outlay of cash, it is worth it. Using PartitionMagic, you can split up your drive in its current state without losing files. Wizards are available in the software to help you to understand what you're doing. Other partitioning tools such as Partition Manager and Partition Commander are also on the market.


What The Heck's A VoIP? 

Q: I have heard a lot of people talk about this VoIP thing recently. What exactly is it?

A: Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls via your broadband Internet connection instead of your regular phone line. You've probably seen voice chat in applications such as MSN Messenger. Instead of the basic functionality found in software like that, you can get a complete phone service. Some of the VoIP solutions out there will only allow you to call people that have that same service, but many others will enable you to call anyone that has a telephone number. You can use a regular telephone if you purchase a special adapter, or in some cases you can just use a microphone connected to your computer.

You've probably heard the buzz about a company called Vonage, lately. They provide complete packages that feature a nice set of included extras. One of the things that I found particularly interesting is that they allow you to pick from any of the area codes that they offer. If you have desperately wanted to live somewhere else, you can get closer to this dream by having that location's area code - that's some pretty cool stuff. Use their savings calculator to see how much money you would save under one of the plans that they offer.

On the other side of the fence is a free program called Skype. It allows you to make free phone calls to other Skype users from around the world. You can even talk with up to five friends at the same time. Recently they released PocketSkype, which will allow you to make calls from your PocketPC device when in range of a WiFi hotspot. This software would be a good choice if you want to keep your regular phone service, but would like to talk with your group of friends (nationally and internationally) for free.

It's hard for me to envision moving over completely to a VoIP service, but I guess that if the reliability, features, and pricing is competitive, it just may be a smart move. What? You can't hear me? Let me call you back when I get a better connection.


Adding A New Hard Drive
Reader Brandon writes:

Q: I would like to add a second hard drive to my machine. The one that I currently have in my computer is getting filled up, and I want more space. What exactly does adding a hard drive involve?

A: Your wish to add another hard drive to your computer is definitely reasonable. There are a number of reasons to do this, and you brought up a good one: more space. After using your computer for an extended period of time, all sorts of files will start crowding out the free space on your drive. This can decrease the performance of your machine and also make things a little hard to manage.

Another good reason to have a second hard drive is for backing up your data. You can copy all of your "important files" (illegally downloaded music) to the other hard drive for safekeeping. If your primary drive fails, you'll have a backup available to you.

When you buy a new computer, you'll probably want to get the data off of the old computer and onto the new one. This process is simplified by sticking the old hard drive into your new computer as a secondary drive. Even if you don't leave it in there forever, it's good to have it present so you can keep getting files that may be vital to you.

Those are just a couple of the benefits of having another hard drive. If you're ready to crack open your case and get to it, this tutorial will come in handy. The guide will give you step-by-step instructions and provide a few screenshots to help you out. Explanations are provided for upgrading your old hard drive and installing a second one. The tutorial is straight forward, and should be of great help to you. Now you just have to get cured from your common illness called scaredtoopenthecomputercaseitis.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

While we are on the subject, take a peek at this freeware:

HDCopy v2.104 [161K] Win98/2k/XP FREE 
http://home.tiscali.de/zdata/hdcopy_e.htm

{Copy old hard drive configuration onto new} Getting a new computer is great, BUT (there is always a but) it can sometimes be a pain to copy your old computer's hard drive onto the new system. You could use the Windows configuration to accomplish this, OR you could use the great freeware application HDCopy. It's a no frills, easy to use tool that will have your new hard drive set up identically to your old hard drive's Windows configuration, including hidden files


What's A Router?

Q: What is a router, and how does it work?

A: You're probably thinking of the routers that you can buy for your home, but the fact is that the entire Internet is made up of routers. Essentially, routers are responsible for directing traffic on the Internet. They figure out where the information needs to go, and what the best way is to get it there. You can liken this in a way to traffic lights. They inform you when you can proceed safely without interfering with other drivers headed in a certain direction. This helpful service assures that traffic moves smoothly and without any problems.

When you bring this all down to the home office level, routers help you to split up an Internet connection among multiple computers. You plug your broadband connection into the back of it, and are then able to plug other corresponding computers into the output connections on the router. The router handles the various connections in a stable way, assuring that each computer has the proper access. No doubt you have also heard of wireless routers that allow devices such as laptops and PDAs to get in on this Internet sharing party. These home routers also have built-in firewalls that help to protect you from shady things on the Web that could harm your computer.

If you've got a little time on your hands, check out this site for a more complete and technical explanation about what routers do. After all, you have routers to thank for making the Internet work properly.


Grunge! When it comes to keyboards, cleanliness is the best policy

I faced one of the nastiest jobs any computer tech can confront - cleaning my keyboard. I'm guessing that loud sound I heard was the simultaneous jaw-drop of thousands of BLCOW'ies.

However, it's true. I do clean my keyboard now and then. After about 2 years of use, it's either that or have it declared a hazmat disaster. "But why?" is the cry I can hear. Why clean a keyboard when most new ones cost $10 or less? Trust me, there are reasons. First, I'll go over a reason or two and then give you some tips in case you're one of the people to whom a keyboard is a little more than disposable.

First off, if you spent as much time 'pounding the plastic' as I do, you'd build up quite an attachment to the right keyboard. More puzzled looks, hmm? The right keyboard can affect productivity in the range of probably 20-30%. Yeah. That much. Right now I'm not on my main keyboard and I can tell you it's true. It's not one of the glitzy new ones from Logitech or Microsoft, but I'm used to the key size and placement and I've always liked the travel and amount of force needed to tap out a character. I'd rather change banks, houses,  phone companies, or children than change keyboards. 

So, after the thing starts showing its age a bit, with dirt in all the corners and a couple of keys worn down to blank buttons, how do you clean up your act? First, you're going to need to put together your tools, because this isn't all that easy a job. Not that you need to strip the thing into bits too small to see with the naked eye, but it's a job that takes more than a piece of tissue and a toothpick. Needless to say (I hope!), the very first thing you do is unplug it from your system.

Then gather the following:

After that, it's just drudgery. Pop the tops off keys and drop them into the cleaning solution. I recommend doing more than one at a time. It will make getting the grunge out much easier. What the heck, take them ALL off if you want to, but there generally isn't THAT much space in the cup you're using to hold the solution. You can spray if you like, but it wastes cleaner and can make its own mess. Once the key-tops are off, you'll be faced with one of the most horrible collections of general grunge you can imagine. I'm not going to try to describe what I found in mine. It wasn't alive. At least I don't think so. It's gone now and that's the way I wanted it. When the job is done and you have a sparkly clean keyboard, DO NOT rush right back and plug it in! Let it sit and air dry for an hour or so. If any of the cleaning solution found its way into the inner workings of the key switches, you really don't want it to cause trouble. If you've done it right, you may have only one problem left...

Anyone have any good ideas on how to renew the letters on key-tops? (And I really hope no-one says 'use a marker!')


Question: I am selling my computer but want to clean my hard drive first. what should I do? - Joan
Short answer? Use it for target practice.

Answer: There are a number of things that can be done to protect your personal information on old hard drives.

The first is to remove the hard drive from inside the computer and donate or sell the computer without the drive. You can store the drive as a tertiary backup of old data or destroy the drive - take it apart, use it for target practice in the desert, etc.

Many feel that reformatting and reloading the operating system will securely remove the data, but many companies routinely retrieve data from drives that have been accidentally reformatted, so it isn't really very secure. An easier way to assure that your data is scrubbed clean from the magnetic platters of the drive is to install a program that uses a sophisticated overwriting scheme to ensure that data is irretrievable. The more times a file is overwritten, the less chance there is of its data being retrieved. There is also the possibility of using forensic software to recover data. The FBI does this routinely.

Many people think that once you have emptied your recycle bin the data contained within it is gove. This is not the case at all, nor has it ever been, even from the days when DOS was king.  What happens when you actually delete a file or emptiy the recycle bin? Windows, as was the case in the old DOS days, trunkates the file with a "?". This tells the File Allocation Tables that the file which has been thus trunkated,   is all right to overwrite this file if the space is needed. The file, unless overwritten, may remain on the system for years if the disk space it holds is not needed.

For Windows users, I have long recommended a free program called Eraser. This simple program installs into the operating system and becomes an option whenever you right click on any file. The 'Erase' option that will appear in the dialog box will open the program and ask for your confirmation to remove the file and overwrite it 35 times.

The standard delete function in Windows actually only removes the first character of the filename, but the file remains intact, magnetically. Eraser will actually scrub the file from your hard drive and will not send it to the Recycle Bin.

Eraser also allows you to securely remove a file, a folder, subfolders or scrub the empty space on your hard drive clean (since the empty space contains the file fragments of your previously deleted data).

Mac OS X users can download a free utility from CodeTek called SafeShred and older Mac OS users can try Mireth's Shredit to accomplish the same task.

No, a MAC is not a Windows component. Or is it? Remember, the founder of Apple once worked with Bill Gates. Many have accused Gates of stealing from Apple to create Windows. Not true. Both of the computer operating systems founders actually stole from the first microprocessor machine the CP/M-80 under Xerox (From Xerox Palo Alto Research Center) Xerox, for all intent and purposes, is the grand daddy of both Apple and Windows. Unix, at the time, was attempting to re-invent itself. John Sculley (Then CEO of Apple Computers) and Bill Gates were at MIT together in the very early days of what is now known as the personal computer age. John Sculley's biggest mistake was that Apple chose not to adopt Intel chips and didn't license its software development for the Apple computer, thus killing a potentially vast market. Gates, on the other hand, embraced the idea and has never looked back.

Since computers were a rarity, the question of standardization was ignored, since there were so few computers to be standardized, and consequently the OSes were tied to the capabilities and purposes of each system.


Definitions of the various media types
Reader Sabrina asks:
What is the difference between the different media types, 3.5 floppy,CD-R, CD-RW, and DVD?

Answer: Here is the true definitions of the various data types Sabrina,

CD-R = Compact Disc Recordable. A recordable CD-ROM which can be read by normal CD-ROM drives; data can only be recorded once onto a CD-R, and cannot be changed.

CD-RW = CD-ReWritable. A CD-ROM that can be written, erased, and rewritten by the user. CD-RW discs usually will only play on Multi-Read CD-ROM drives; some CD players with exceptional speed may have the sensitivity to read CD-RW discs.

DVD = Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc. An optical storage medium which has greater capacity and bandwidth than a CD. DVDs can be used for multimedia and data storage. A DVD has the capacity to store a full-length film with up to 133 minutes of high quality video in MPEG-2 format, plus audio.

Bandwidth in this case = The amount of data that can be sent through a network connection, measured in bits per second (bits per second).

2. The range of transmission frequencies a network can use, expressed as the difference between the highest and lowest frequencies of a transmission channel (in Hertz, or cycles per second). High bandwidth allows fast transmission or high-volume transmission.

MPEG in this case = Moving Pictures Experts Group.

1. An ISO (International Standards Organization) group that sets standards for compressing and storing video, audio, and animation in digital form.

2. The standards set by this group. MPEG is a lousy compression method. MPEG-1 is a standard for CD-ROM video and audio. MPEG-2 is a standard for full-screen, broadcast quality video. MPEG-4 is a standard for video telephony. ( Transmission of voice or other sound by means of electrical signals sent over wires or radio waves. The sound waves are converted into electrical signals for transmission, and converted back into audio signals at the receiver).

DVD+ReWritable = A DVD-based storage format similar to CD-ReWritable (CD-RW).

3.5 Floppy Datadisk = Useful as a coffee cup coaster.

Hope this clears things up a little for ya


Essential Windows Tips - From PCWorld.com
Scott Dunn From the August 2001 issue of PC World magazine
A dazzling array of secret shortcuts, speed tricks, and special settings that help you become the master of your Windows domain.

PC Mechanic: When XP attacks
Our expert explains why upgrading your OS can wreak havoc on your DVD drive. Also: Selfish printers and why monitors hate traveling long distances.

Easy Steps to Partitioning Your Hard Drive
Divide your hard drive into multiple partitions to improve performance and simplify backups.

More to come so come back often. And thanks for visiting..hope to see you again real soon.

Tim asks, "What is the difference between DDR vs SDRAM"?

DDR vs SDRAM Modules

DDR DIMMs and SO-DIMMs have the same physical dimensions as their SDRAM counterparts, but have a different footprints. DDR DIMMs have 184 pins compared to 168-pins for SDRAM DIMMs. DDR SO-DIMMs have 200 pins compared to 144 pins for SDRAM SO-DIMMs.

DDR DIMMs and SO-DIMMs also have a different notch (called 'key') that will only fit motherboards and systems especially designed for DDR.

DDR modules will not fit into PC100 or PC133 sockets and are not backward compatible.

The difference between DDR and SDRAM DIMM modules is shown below.

DDR - PC1600, PC2100, PC2700 or faster


To enlarge, Click Here

  • 184 Pin DIMM
  • Single Notched (or Keyed)
  • Two operations per clock cycle


VS

  • 168 Pin DIMM
  • Double Notched (or Keyed)
  • One operation per clock cycle

SDRAM - PC100 or PC133

There are a few technical differences between DDR and SDRAM.  DDR 256, for example, claims to be 266MHz although it runs only at 133MHz just like PC133 SDRAM.  The difference is that DDR can send two data bits per clock cycle, while SDRAM can only send one.  What they've done is effectively widened the data bus.  Think of it as turning a 2-lane highway into 4 lanes but keeping the same speed limit.  DDR 256 isn't quite 2 times faster than PC133, but the difference shows, especially in memory-intensive applications.  The same goes for any DDR memory when compared to regular SDRAM.

If you are running Windows XP the bare minimum that you should consider is 256 MB SDRAM and 512 is much better. Win XP will run with only 256 SDRAM but, trust me, the system is extraordinarily slow. If you plan to stay with SDRAM consider 512 MB for a much better experience. DDR should be at least 256 MB. Remember, you can not mix and match SDRAM and DDR. If you have a machine that has slots for SDRAM and DDR, you have to decide which you prefer, DDR or SDRAM, you can not use both. SDRAM is pretty cheap right now and DDR is coming down (As of 4/5/03).


What's Up With My 100 MB Zip Drive Going Click Click?

Question: I have a 100MB Zip disk that has developed a problem. The Zip drive just repeatedly clicks when the disk is inserted, and finally responds with a "This disk is not formatted. Do you want to format it?" error message. Is there any software that can retrieve the data stored on this disk, or is there a service that can help with this problem that doesn't cost a lot of money?

Answer: You are experiencing the dreaded "Click of Death" (COD). In many cases it isn't your disk that is bad, but the drive. Either way, this error is catastrophic, as you will likely lose data. I wouldn't rush off to one of those data recovery services quite yet, though. Steve Gibson, has released a freeware tool for diagnosing and a paper outlining the Click of Death. The freeware application is called Trouble in Paradise (TIP), and it was really meant to help you determine whether your Iomega drive was prone to the Click of Death problem. You can also use this application to help you determine whether it is a disk drive error or just a disk error.

Good luck. I'm rootin for ya. We're all in this together.


Make an audio CD? If you have a CD Audio media, a CD-RW and software, you have all you need.

Question: Regular CDs (music CDs the type you buy in the store and play on a CD player), can also be played on a computer. What is the file format for a regular CD, and is there any way of making an MP3 or some other audio file type playable on a regular CD player?

Answer: To answer your first question, the file format for a regular CD is CDA, which stands for CD Audio. CDA files can only be played from a CD-ROM/CD player. Now we will move on to the stuff that you really want to know. Yes, you can move an MP3 or WAV file to a CD and make it playable on both on a computer and a CD player, and the key to this process is your CD creation software. Most CD burners come with either Nero or Easy CD Creator as bundled CD creation software. Each of these software packages gives you the choice to create a data CD or an audio CD. You need to choose the audio CD option. If you have the choice to make an MP3 CD, just keep in mind that this isn't the one that you want for this project. The audio CD project/option will allow you to select or drag in all types of audio files, such as WAVs or MP3s, and then it will convert them to the CDA file format during the creation process. Again, the key to this problem is to stay away from the data CD or MP3 CD option, as that will not create a true "regular" CD. If you only had WAVs to copy to the CD, then the data CD option may work, but there is no reason to risk it.

Transversely, if you just want MP3's and have an MP3 player on your computer, for example, then you can use a Data CD as MP3's are actualy data streams but you won't be able to play them on a regular audio CD player. I hope this helps to point you in the right direction


Configure a USB keyboard for DOS

Question: I recently bought a new USB keyboard. It works fine in Windows, but if I try to execute a key command - such as that for entering the BIOS - then it just acts like it doesn't see it. My computer is only about a year old so I would think it would have full support for a USB keyboard. Am I doing something wrong?

Answer: It isn't that you are doing anything wrong; it's just that you need to make a little change on your system. I don't want to get too technical, but basically your Windows has support for USB, which means it is configured to listen on the computer bus/port. This is why, with the help of drivers, your keyboard works in Windows. Now let's think about your BIOS and the fact that there aren't any active drivers loaded in the BIOS. This doesn't mean that your BIOS can't be configured to listen for traffic on your USB bus. Some BIOSes have a setting for "USB Legacy" support or even just a setting for "USB Keyboard" that just simply needs to be enabled. Most the time you can find this setting on a "Peripherals" page in the BIOS. I would suggest that you check with your motherboard or computer manufacturer for the specific steps to enable this feature. Once done, your computer should recognize the USB keyboard as it would a PS2 keyboard. Keep in mind that to enter the BIOS to turn on "USB Legacy" support you will need to use an old PS2 keyboard.


PC Mechanic
Our PC expert explains why XP can wreak havoc on your DVD drive.

Windows Help Desk
It's all XP, all the time. Get answers on upgrading to the new OS, sharing files, graphics support, and more.

PC Mechanic: relocate your PC's ports
Tired of climbing under your desk to get to the ports on the back of your PC? Find out how you can move 'em to the front of the chassis. Also: Improve laser output and solve your CD-ROM drive's stutter.


PC Mechanic: Is your CPU a workaholic?
How to improve your PC's gaming performance, without killing the fun factor. Plus, keyboard care and the truth about cloning and routers.

Return to the index F   

Back by demand! How to run smarter Web searches--for free

Tired of not being able to find what you want on the Web? You're not alone. Preston digs up three completely free search tools (as suggested by our readers) that help you mine the Web with style.

Return to the index F   

PRESTON GRALLA

Outsmart the snoops! How to protect your privacy on the Web

When you surf the Web, sites and snoopers can quietly collect your private information without your knowledge. Don't let them get you! Preston finds three downloads that'll keep your personal data safe from roaming eyes.

Return to the index F   

 
JANICE CHEN
JANICE CHEN

Slow PC? No problem! Fix up your clunker for under $50

Sure, if you have a need for speed, you could buy a new PC. But you can also streamline your older PC by tuning up your hard drive with a good utility. Janice hunts for bargains (and freebies!) that'll rev you up in no time.

Return to the index F   

 
ROBERT VAMOSI
ROBERT VAMOSI

I know what you did on your PC last summer...

Thought you'd deleted that personal file? Think again. Even reformatting your hard drive isn't enough to completely erase your data--and someone with the right tools and skills can bring it all back to life. Rob shows you how to "shred" your sensitive data so it's truly beyond recovery.

Return to the index F   

Can You Trust Important Data to CD-Rs?
Putting data on CD-R discs is easy. Their care and feeding takes some effort.

Return to the index F   

ROBERT VAMOSI


The trouble with Internet Explorer (and how to handle it)

Microsoft's policy of piecemeal patches has kept Internet Explorer vulnerable to exploitation. What can you do to toughen it up? Rob Vamosi investigates.

Return to the index F   

How to avoid spam

C.C. HOLLAND
C.C. HOLLAND

How to win the war against spam, scourge of the in-box

SPAM: Are you overwhelmed by unsolicited offers to make you richer, thinner, more beautiful, more successful? Don't need to be in on pyramid schemes, X-rated sites, or questionable gadgets? Then join C.C. and fight the good fight against spam--she shows you how.

The lowly Windows key

Ahhhhh, the lowly Windows Key (The key between your Ctrl key and your Alt key). What is it? Ever use it? Probably not. The mouse was a great invention, face it, most of us are lost without it. Still, there is allot to be said for keyboard shortcuts. Why tunnel miles deep into layered links and commands when a simple touch of a couple of keys on your keyboard can do it faster and far more efficiently. In that light, try these shortcut keys:

Windows+R=Open the Run Dialog Box Windows+T=Opens the Tools menu in MSIE Windows+F=Open the Search or Find Dialog Windows Key alone, of course, opens the Start and Programs dialog
Windows+E=Open Windows Explorer Windows+D=Minimize all open Windows on the desktop Windows+M=Switches to the next open program Windows+F5=Saves the current open document
Windows+F7=Open Microsoft's Spell checker
Try them for yourself.

Sometimes Windows Doesn't Recognize My CD-ROM drive

Question: For some time now, there has been a problem with my CD-ROM drives (CD-ROM and CD-RW drives). Sometimes the drives are recognized by Windows, and sometimes they are not. When they are not recognized, I can't open or use the CD drives, and the drives are not listed in My Computer. I even opened up the PC to make sure the drives were properly connected to the motherboard by removing and attaching the cables again. But even this did not solve the problem. Would someone know what the problem could be? I would really appreciate your help.

Answer: The clue here is "intermittent." Your BIOS is not able to detect or maintain the detection for which ROM is the master, and which is the slave.

If either ROM cannot be detected or its detection cannot be maintained, detection for both ROMs will suffer from it and Windows will not see either one.

A primary and little-known cause of this problem is that one of the jumpers on the back of either ROM is becoming loose or is tarnished, creating an intermittent "nonconnection." Quick fix? Replace both ROMs' jumpers with fresh ones. Jumpers should offer some resistance when they're installed, indicating they're making a connection. Assuming that the ROMs suddenly developed a nondetection issue, here's the troubleshooting order:

(1) Loose or defective IDE cables (common) (2) Loose jumpers (common) (3) A defective ROM drive (not often but it happens) (4) Intermittent power supply or supply connector issues (rare but happens) (5) Faulty motherboard connections or circuitry (very rare)

Note: Normally, reading ROMs are masters, and writers are slaves--both being on the second IDE bus.


My New 40 Gigabyte Hard Drive Only Shows 37.2 GB in Windows. Did I get Cheated?

Question: I just bought a new computer that was advertised with a 40 GB hard drive, but when I look at it in Windows, it shows up as only a 37.2 GB. Where is the rest of the space or did I get cheated?

Answer: There are a combination of factors that will reduce the reported size of your hard drive in Windows from what the manufacturer reports. Since the maxim of 'more is better' tends to rule our society, it is not hard to figure out how this confusing method of reporting drive size has come about. Any marketing person will tell you that if you could advertise a computer that has a 37.2 GB hard drive as one that has a 40 GB hard drive, it's a good thing. The primary difference in how hard drive manufacturers and software programs view disk space comes down to a basic math component.

The technical method for calculating digital space is by using 'binary' measurement. One Kilobyte (KB) in binary is actually 1024 bytes (2 to the 10th power). This is the method of reporting disk space used by software programs and operating systems (Windows). Hard drive manufacturers use 'decimal' measurement for reporting disk space, so one Kilobyte in decimal is only 1,000 bytes (10 to the 10th power). At this micro level the difference in reported space is 24 bytes, which is negligible, but when you start to increase the amount of space being reported, the difference becomes exponential.

One Megabyte (MB) in binary is 1,048,576 bytes (2 to the 100th power), but in decimal it is only 1,000,000 bytes (10 to 100th power). The reported size difference is now 48,756 bytes

One Gigabyte (GB) in binary is 1,073,741,824 bytes (2 to the 1000th power), but in decimal it's only 1,000,000,000 bytes, which is a difference of 73,741,824 bytes.

When you get into 40 and 80 GB drives the difference can be quite noticeable (almost 7%). If you divide what a manufacturer calls a 40 GB drive (40,000,000,000 bytes) by an actual Gigabyte (1,073,741,824) you will get 37.2 GB of binary measured space.

If you look closely at most hard drive labels and Web sites, they have a disclaimer stating that, to them, "1,000,000,000 bytes = 1 GB and that operating systems use binary numbering systems, which will result in lower reported capacity." You did not get cheated; you just got introduced to the 'marketing math' used by every hard drive manufacturer. If any of them were to start reporting their drives in binary measurement, they would appear to have smaller hard drives than the competition, so don't count on this changing any time soon. If you think this makes a difference in a 40 GB hard drive, wait until we start getting into Terabyte drives! There is almost a 10% difference in reporting size in a 1 Terabyte drive, which translates to a 100GB difference. That means when the drive manufacturers eventually produce a 900 GB hard drive, it will surely be hailed as the first 1 Terabyte drive and they will get away with it!

Return to the index F   


Trouble accessing old hard drive in new computer

Reader Wayne writes: My old computer died, so I bought a new one. I took my old hard drive out of my old computer to use it as a second hard drive in my new computer and to access the data stored on my old drive. After installing the old hard drive on my new Windows XP Home edition computer, I find that the only task the Disk Management feature will let me do is format my drive. Can anyone help or tell me how I can access the information on my old hard drive? My old drive had Windows XP Home edition on it also. Could this be the culprit?

Most Likely Answer:

Wayne, let's not jump the gun and blame the folks in Redmond so quickly! In all likelihood, you are dealing with a hardware issue.

Windows XP's Disk Management utility is designed to enable you to perform disk-related tasks such as initializing new disks, and creating and formatting new volumes. Having said that, you should have been able to open or explore the contents of the drive through it, just like you would through My Computer. If the only option you were given was to format the old drive, your operating system might be detecting the hardware but not recognizing it correctly. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell from your description whether the drive is being detected at all. What you are experiencing might be Windows XP's way of letting you know about an incorrect hard disk installation or some other hardware problem. For now, I will assume that your old hard drive is functional--a risky assumption given your first four words: "My old computer died."

The first thing you should do is visit the website of the manufacturer of your new computer, and look for a document discussing how to add a second hard drive to your system. You should find this information in the website's Support Section or Knowledge Base, or in your Owner's Manual under "Adding Parts" or "Upgrading Your Computer." In all likelihood, the document will feature illustrated, step-by-step instructions on how to add a drive. Just as important, it might alert you to potential issues you might encounter and suggest troubleshooting steps. Even if you consulted such a document while installing your drive, it wouldn't hurt to double check to make sure you did not skip any steps.

Hard drives are not exactly "plug-and-play" devices, and adding one requires a bit more work than merely plugging it in. Your computer might be failing to recognize the data present in your old drive if the drive jumper settings are incorrect, you failed to configure the system's setup (BIOS) after installing the second drive, or the latter is incompatible with the IDE data cable in your new computer. Let's examine these possibilities.

Drive Jumper Settings: 
There are two protocols used to determine the order in which IDE devices (such as hard drives and optical drives) attached to a single data cable are detected by the motherboard. The first protocol is known as the Master/Slave relationship, in which the position of jumper blocks adjacent to the drives' IDE connectors designate one device as the Master or Primary Boot Drive, and the other as the secondary or Slave drive. When you start your computer, the operating system in the Master drive will be loaded by default.

The second protocol is known as Cable Select. It assigns Master or Primary status based not on jumper block position, but rather on the location of a hard drive along the IDE data cable. The device plugged at the end connector of the cable is the Master drive, whereas that on the middle connector is the Slave drive.

Chances are your new PC supports the Cable Select protocol. But your old, defunct computer might have not, in which case the jumper setting on your old hard drive might be the cause of your present problem. If this is the case, visit the website of your old drive's manufacturer to find out the appropriate jumper configuration, and reposition the jumper block. Often times, the different jumper settings will be labeled on the drive itself.

Just as incorrect jumper settings will prevent your motherboard from detecting your drive, so will incorrect cable connections. Make sure your old drive is compatible with the data cable being used in your new computer, that the cables are oriented properly, and that they are securely in place. Again, the drive's manufacturer should provide the necessary information in its website.

If you rule out both drive jumper settings and incorrect connections as culprits, check your computer's BIOS. Configuring your BIOS (Basic Input/Output Service) is often, though not always, a necessary step when adding a second hard drive, and one that can be easily overlooked. Consult your computer's documentation or manufacturer's website for information on how to enter setup and configure your BIOS. I know I am being repetitive, but there is a good reason for my not providing step-by-step instructions here: The BIOS is critical to your computer's performance, so you need to carefully follow the instructions for your specific computer and BIOS version. Generic advice in this area might leave you with another dead PC!

If everything else fails, consider the possibility that your old hard drive is defective - that the reason your old computer "died" was that your old hard drive kicked the bucket. You might be able to obtain diagnostic tools from its manufacturer's website to corroborate or rule out this conclusion. You might be able to salvage most (if not all) data, though you will require the services of a company that specializes in that sort of thing. It might be easier - and considerably cheaper - to restore your data from your back up discs. You have been backing up your data, right?

Hopefully your old drive is fine and you will be able to access it after tweaking the jumper blocks or performing another of the aforementioned troubleshooting steps. I would strongly suggest that you copy its contents to the newer drive, especially since it is likely to be larger and faster. Then use your old drive as a place for backups (though you should still consider removable media for this task), or as a dedicated drive for storing multimedia files or pictures.

Good luck!

Need more Help? Check out the rest of Bo's Help & How To Pages

| Try Bohunky0's Tech Support Help Web | Windows 98 Tips & Tricks Index 1 | Bo's Registry Tweaks |
| Windows 98 Tips & Tricks Index 2 | Windows Millennium | Windows FAQ's |
| Explanation of Error Codes Generated by Device Manager | Windows Error Messeges & What They Mean |
| How to use the Windows Extract.exe Command
| Error Messages by Product and What to do About them |

Stuck with something on Microsoft Office 97/98? Give one of these a try:

| Microsoft Office Index 1 | Microsoft Office Index 2 | MsOffice General Tips |
| Microsoft PowerPoint 97 | Microsoft Bug of the Month |
| Index of all Windows and Office Commands |

That's right! A blatant attempt at self promotion!

Return to the index F   


 DDR vs. DDR2

Reader Scott asks: I have been seeing a lot of new systems out lately using something called DDR2 RAM. I'm familiar with the DDR standard, but what exactly is DDR2? What are the advantages / disadvantages of using DDR2?

Answer: DDR2 is successor to DDR memory technology, and has just recently become something worth looking at in a new system. A major problem with DDR is that its speed will not go any higher than 400 MHz (that is official standards: there is DDR533 out, but it is not certified). DDR2 allows for much higher memory speeds, in part because of a redesign in the electrical architecture. The DDR2 chips also require less voltage because of this architecture, reducing the 2.5 volts needed for DDR to 1.8 volts for DDR2.

Although higher memory speeds can be achieved, this is not without its disadvantages. Due to the way the increase in speed was implemented, the DDR2 chips have considerably higher latency than comparable DDR chips. However, it has been reported that although the latency of the first chips out were extreme, this issue has been fixed as the technology grew, reducing latency some (although it is still higher than DDR). Most DDR2 chips now shipped are not as heavily handicapped as the earlier models.

Whether to go DDR2 or not really depends on your needs. If you need a processor that requires a DDR2 RAM (for example, dual core processors), it is safe to go ahead and build with it. If you do not require a new dual core machine, it is probably your best bet to stick with DDR for the time being, until DDR3 is released in 2006.

More to come so come back often. And thanks for visiting.hope to see you again real soon.

Declaration by Larry Blaisdell
To Organizations Involved in Direct Marketing

Version Dec 7 Copyright (C) 2001 Larry Blaisdell
Click here for declarations