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Archive for the ‘Hardware & Peripherals’ Category

USB Keyboards in DOS Mode

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

If you have a USB keyboard, you may find that if you boot to a system prompt it refuses to work. Seems no amount of key pounding solves the problem—it’s like the computer doesn’t even know the keyboard is there.

You see, USB sometimes won’t work outside the Windows environment. However, all is not lost—sometimes there is an option to enable USB keyboard and mice buried deep within the mysterious… Continue reading

Wireless Mouse Reset Buttons

Saturday, January 8th, 2005

If your wireless mouse stops working, and you already changed the battery, you may need to reset the channel.

On the bottom of your mouse and the receiver you’ll find a little button. It may be small and require a paperclip to depress, or it may be a good size with the word “connect” near it.

Plugging in Digital Camera

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

I have a digital camera that plugs into my computer. Do I have to shut the computer off each time I plug / unplug it?

Yup. Never plug (or unplug) any component into (or out of) a running computer unless it connects via a USB cable. In theory, USB devices are designed to be plugged in and out when a computer is powered on. The rest… Continue reading

Speaker Arrangements

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

Are you a sound fanatic? Do you have your computer hooked up for surround sound or at least have multiple speakers? Well, if you tell Windows about your sound configuration, you’ll probably enjoy your speakers even more. Here’s how:

1. Click the Start button, Control Panel , then open the Sounds & Audio Devices icon.

2. Under the Audio tab, click the Advanced button… Continue reading

Choosing Computer Speakers

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

It used to be that choosing speakers for your computer was an easy task because there weren’t really any options to choose from. Sound was typically an afterthought and most speakers made for computer use weren’t exactly what you would call “ear candy”.

That has all changed now. Many well-respected audio/video speaker manufacturers have gotten into the computer speaker game. It is

Upgrading Memory–Installing RAM

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

How do I upgrade memory?

Memory is usually an easy one. Here’s how to do it, step by step.

Note that the procedure is only slightly different on computers using older RAM (72 pin EDO type). Usually these machines are 233 MHz or less.

1. Check the manual that came with your computer to find out how much memory your particular machine can upgrade to. It… Continue reading

Having modem problems?

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

Having modem problems?

This simple test will help you determine where exactly your modem problem lies. You may want to try this before you take your computer in for repair.

Go to the Start menu, Settings, Control Panel , and click on Modems . Then in the Modems Properties window, click on the Diagnostics tab at the top of the window.

Select your modem’s port.

Click… Continue reading

Troubleshooting Video problems

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

Does your display flicker? Are your animations not working correctly? Have you been notified that you have “display problems. This program can’t continue”? This tip will help you solve those video problems.

Hold the Windows key and press the R key (Win+R). This will bring the Run command. Type, or copy, the following devmgmt.msc into the field in Run.

What is TWAIN

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

I just got a digital camera and was trying to download my photos on to my computer when I received a “not TWAIN compliant” error? What is TWAIN?

TWAIN is an industry wide standard that allows a computer to communicate with a graphic device, such as a scanner or digital camera. Nearly all scanners, digital cameras, and web cams are TWAIN compliant.

Devices that are not… Continue reading

Set Up a Simple Network

Friday, November 19th, 2004

A Simple Home Network

A home network has many uses. With a home network, each computer in the network may have access to every other computer in the network. This way, all of the music can be on one computer, your kids can play games against each other at the same time (or do homework), all of the computers can share one printer, and countless other reasons. As the high-speed… Continue reading

Card Slot Types

Thursday, November 18th, 2004

I was looking inside my computer and I noticed that I have several types of card slots. Some are short white ones, some are longer black ones.What’s the difference?

The short white ones are PCI slots and the black ones are ISA slots. You may even encounter an AGP slot (usually looks like a displaced PCI slot, brown in color)

What’s the difference? Here’s a run… Continue reading


Thursday, November 18th, 2004

If you are a good typist, you probably find it annoying to hop constantly between the keyboard and your mouse. I find it irritating and I’m not even that great of a typist! So, here are a couple of ways to help keep your fingers safely at the keyboard.

Here’s a trick for generating a “right-click” from your keyboard. Make sure your

Print Perfect The First Time

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

How do you know when the document you’re working on is perfect and ready for printing? Have you ever used the scroll bars to navigate through a large file in the hopes of trying to see if everything is proportioned properly? This can be nearly impossible in a large Excel file. Or are you the person who prints a document over and over, making small adjustments each time, until an… Continue reading

Ahh, I’m losing my mind, I mean, my mouse!

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

Ahh, I’m losing my mind, I mean, my mouse!

Yes, I hear that cry daily… You’re typing along, life is good, then you need to click on something and you can’t find your mouse. Despite moving that little critter all over your desk, your eye can’t seem to locate the pointer. Ugh!

Well, here’s a quick solution for you Windows XP users:

Click on Start , select Control Panel … Continue reading

Wheel Mouse Tricks

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel on it, you can do some cool tricks…

Shift & Spin

Ever wonder what happens when you hold down the Shift key on a web page and spin the wheel on your wheel mouse? Explorer goes either back or forward, depending on which direction you spin.

Give it a try. Open up Explorer and follow a few… Continue reading

The difference between DVD-R and DVD+R

Tuesday, November 16th, 2004

What is the difference between DVD-R and DVD+R?

Short answer? Not much.

Anyone who was around twenty years ago might remember the battle between the two video tape formats: VHS (Victor Home System) and Betamax (Sony). Fast forward to the twenty-first century and we have a similar battle of the formats with DVD.

The… Continue reading

Cranky CDs

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Have you ever been playing a game and it seems like your computer is having a hard time reading the CD? You can hear it speed up, slow down, speed up… you know what I mean.

This can be caused by several different problems.

First off, if it only does it with one CD, you may want to check

CD-ROM drives speeds

Monday, November 15th, 2004

I see CD-ROM drives speeds listed at 24x, 32x, etc. What does that mean?

It means that the CD-ROM drive is that many times faster than the original Proto-CD-ROM drive from caveman times. Just how fast was that? Well, the original CD drive transferred data at a rate of 153,600 bits per second (bps). If you have a CD-ROM drive that has a read speed of… Continue reading

Two Monitors = Too Fun

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Two Monitors = Too Fun

If one monitor is good, two is better, right?

I’ve been using two monitors simultaneously with my laptop for over 3 years now. Let me tell ya, it’s great having all that desktop real estate to play with. Your mouse moves from screen to screen and you can move open windows from one screen to the other just as if you were using… Continue reading

My mouse is acting funny

Monday, November 15th, 2004

My mouse is acting funny. Yes, it’s one of those ancient roller-ball mouses and sometimes I have to move it a few inches before the cursor starts to move. Is it time for a new mouse?


I’m guessing the problem is that your mouse guts are dirty. Don’t worry, you don’t need to get in touch with some sort of computer vet to fix the little… Continue reading

Check Available Disk Space

Monday, November 15th, 2004

Check Available Disk Space

We get readers wanting to know how do do this all the time.

To see how much space you have left, open the My Computer icon on your desktop (or under the Start menu for XP users) and right-click the drive you are curious about (for most people, this would be their C: drive, but this trick works with any drive). Select Properties from the resulting… Continue reading

Slow Cable Modem

Friday, November 12th, 2004

My cable company bragged about how much faster a cable modem was compared to dial-up, so I went with them. It was faster, at first, but sometimes it seems as slow as my old phone line connection. What gives?

Sure cable modems have the potential of reaching speeds of 3Mbps, but keep in mind that you share a wire buried underground with everyone in… Continue reading

The Inkjet Refill Debate

Friday, November 12th, 2004

Cheryl from MI asks:

Should I buy those inkjet refills or budget inks?

You want to save some money by buying ink refills? Well, in general, I recommend not using refills.

They are probably OK for printers with ink nozzles that are NOT built into the cartridge (like Canon

Power Management Setting

Friday, November 12th, 2004

Why does my monitor go black after about 15 minutes of not using the computer?

Windows has a Power Management setting that will shut your monitor off after a specified amount of time. If you don’t like when it’s shutting the monitor off, you can change it by doing the following:

In Windows XP:

1. Hit the Start>Control Panel , then go to Performance and Maintenance

Stick a paper clip where?!

Friday, November 12th, 2004

Did you ever get a disk stuck in your drive? Nothing seems to work—you’ve pressed the button a million times, tried to open by right-clicking the drive and choosing “eject”, maybe even contemplated using a screw driver to pry the thing open.

Before you take out the drive and try to surgically remove the disk, or worse, buy a new drive, try this simple little trick to manually open your… Continue reading

USB Port Speed

Friday, November 12th, 2004

How do I know if my USB port is USB 1.0 or 2.0?

USB is a way for your computer to connect to external devices. It’s fast, easy to use, and allows you to use tons of devices all strung together. Most newer computers have one or more USB ports. Older computers have USB 1.0 or 1.1, while newer PCs have the faster… Continue reading

Liven Up Your Mouse

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

I’ve read about the FDA testing the effect of caffeine on laboratory mice, but that won’t help us here. Adjusting the speed of your mouse pointer and buttons can help liven up your mouse.

If you’re using XP, open Mouse in the Control Panel (click Start>Control Panel>Printers and Other Hardware>Mouse) If you’re using Vista or Windows 7, just type mouse into

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