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[ The PC Guide | Site Guide | Version History and Old Site Updates ]

Old Site Updates - October 1997

October 29, 1997, 9:30 pm EST:

  • Already?: Today is the one month anniversary of The PC Guide! I want to thank all of you for supporting the site, because obviously without you, my readers, this site would be nothing. I hope that the site will continue to grow in size, quality and popularity. Thanks again!
  • Working On It: I'm currently working on more procedures for the Procedure Guide, as I work through the steps of the New PC Assembly Procedure. I will also be revamping some of the information in the Reference Guide section on memory, adding links and making other changes with the next update.

October 28, 1997, 9:15 pm EST:

  • Great Time To Buy: Processor prices are falling rapidly and will probably stabilize over the next week or so, providing great opportunities for upgrades or those looking to build new systems. Expect shortages in the pipeline and many dealers to be out of some CPUs. This is normal at around the time that prices are cut, as distributors do not want to be caught with stock when prices are decreasing. If you are buying a CPU, make sure you specifically ask if the vendor has stock before agreeing to the order (or to being charged for it).
  • Don't Be Shy: Just want to remind all of my readers that if you have any feedback about what you'd like to see more of (or less of) on the site, let me know! You're my customers and knowing what you want helps me to make the site better.

October 27, 1997, 11:00 pm EST:

  • Update to Downloadable Version Survey: Based on initial response to the survey on a possible downloadable version of the site, I have made a number of changes to my original plan and clarified my intentions. Please take a look if you have any interest.
  • Update to SCSI Configuration Page: As a result of some Real Fun that I had today trying to set up a new machine, I have updated the page on SCSI configuration with some important information on termination and the mixing of narrow and wide SCSI on the same bus.
  • Links Added to DRAM Identification Pages: I have updated the page discussing memory packaging and the component-specific links page with references to some new pages I found at www.chipworks.com, which contain lists of part numbers by manufacturer for DRAM (system memory) chips. You can use these to help identify the exact type of memory in your system.
  • Smooch, Smooch: Intel Corporation and Digital Equipment Corporation settled their famous legal battle. In essence, Intel won by buying out its opponent, taking possession of Digital's semiconductor operations for around $700 million. This will have lasting repercussions in the computer industry and may seriously impact future PC processors. Read about it here.
  • Better In Your Pocket: Unsurprisingly, Intel has formally announced significant price cuts. Expect AMD and Cyrix to follow suit.

October 25, 1997, 1:30 pm EDT:

  • Feedback Sought on Possible Downloadable Version: Many of you have written to me asking if a downloadable version of the site is available. It isn't, but I am considering making it available. However, I need some feedback from you on my proposed plan so that I can gauge how much interest there is. I have put up a special page that discusses this matter, and put it on the master index as well. Please take a look if you have any interest in this and let me know: please realize that there will be a cost for this service, which is explained on that page (this web site of course will always be totally free).
  • Another Procedure Guide Overhaul: I have again made a number of changes to the Procedure Guide. In particular, I split up some of the existing procedures because they were not elegantly arranged and there was too much duplication. This sort of revamping is normal for a new site area until I feel comfortable that the structure makes sense.
  • New Procedures: This site update brings five new procedures to the Procedure Guide: the Case Cover Removal Procedure, Hard Disk Drive Connection Procedure, Floppy Disk Drive Connection Procedure, CD-ROM Drive Installation Procedure, and the Motherboard Configuration Procedure. Two of these were based on splits from two other procedures. All of these procedures have been linked from other relevant areas of the site.
  • Stolen Hard Drive Warning: As I reported a few days ago, Western Digital Corporation has started refusing warranty coverage on drives that it has listed as stolen. I have added a warning to this effect to the New PC Assembly Procedure.
  • Updated ESD Warning: I made a small change to the section that warns about ESD damage. Thanks to Rene Clabaugh for the feedback.

October 24, 1997, 10:15 pm EDT:

  • "God, he talks so fast I can't understand a thing he's saying": The PC Guide and its silly author will be featured on Andy Graham's Computer Beat radio show tomorrow at 5 pm Central Time. The show airs on KKLO radio, 1410 AM, Kansas City, and is also broadcast over RealAudio, if you have a player. See the Computer Beat site for more details on this program if you are interested in tuning in and seeing why people prefer when I communicate in writing. I recommend a cup of coffee first.
  • More Updates Coming: I've started updating the content on the site somewhat less often due to other demands on my time. However, I'm still hard at work behind the scenes. You will start to see less frequent updates each of which will contain more changes. I'll still be providing news and the Tip Of The Day each day, as long as I can anyhow.

October 23, 1997, 9:45 pm EDT:

  • Fell Off A Truck?: Apparently, the recent rash of hard disk and other technology thefts has reached epidemic proportions. As a result, some companies are starting to crack down, and in a way that may affect you directly. Western Digital Corporation has started refusing to provide warranty coverage for failed hard disks whose serial numbers are listed as stolen. Now I've used Western Digital drives for years and their warranty support has always been excellent, so for them to take this step the situation must be quite serious. I urge you all to be careful, because innocent end users are being burned after buying hard drives from questionable sources. Read about this policy and also a way that you can check your drive's serial number against the current database of stolen drives, on this page at Western Digital's site. I can't repeat it often enough: TANSTAAFL (there ain't no such thing as a free lunch).
  • No, It Doesn't Work: I've been reading rumors about a program floating around the net that claims to "upgrade" Classic Pentium CPUs to have MMX capability. I don't know what this program is or what it really does. I do know that there is no way that a piece of software can do this. The whole point of MMX is that it puts into hardware operations that used to be done in software. So anything you can do with MMX you can do without it, only much slower. This is why there are indeed MMX emulators, which are legitimate. But nothing that's going to make a Pentium 166 the same as a Pentium with MMX 166. And incidentally, many Trojan horse programs are spread around with the promise that they do something wonderful for your system if you run them, so watch out, and remember: TANSTAAFL.

October 22, 1997, 7:15 pm EDT:

  • Swamped: I've been receiving quite a bit of email from folks who are looking for advice or help with problems. I'm happy to try to help out where I can, but I am limited in the amount of time I have available, and I don't want to respond too quickly and provide bad advice. Therefore, on some occasions it may take a bit of time before I get back to you. I will however respond in all cases, even if it is only to tell you that I cannot help with your particular situation. Thanks for your understanding.

October 21, 1997, 11:45 pm EDT:

October 20, 1997, 8:00 pm EDT:

  • Uncle Sam Takes On Uncle Bill: In a dramatic move that may have lasting repercussions throughout the computer world, the United States Justice Department today charged Microsoft Corporation with violating a 1995 consent decree prohibiting it from linking the shipment of applications to the shipment of Microsoft Windows. The application that is causing all the fuss, of course, is Internet Explorer, and this no doubt has been at least partially prompted by the ancitipated release of Windows 98, which integrates the Explorer browser into the operating system more than ever. You can read an overview of the story here, or view this collection of related news articles.

October 19, 1997, 8:30 pm EDT:

  • Behind on Email: I usually try to respond to email within 6 hours during the day and 24 hours otherwise, when possible. I'm a bit behind but will catch up later tonight. My apologies.
  • New Procedure Completed: I finished writing the Floppy Disk Drive Installation Procedure and linked to it from the growing New PC Assembly Procedure.
  • Changes Made to CPU Areas: I made some small changes in a few areas. I changed the section on processor manufacturing and the introduction to overclocking to reflect slight inaccuracies in how I described CPU production lines. Thanks to Dean Kent for the feedback.
  • Information Added to Memory Packaging Page: I revised the page on memory packaging to provide more information on DRAM chip quality factors. Thanks again to Dean Kent.
  • Change to Modem Troubleshooting Section : I added a good idea for solving the problem of a connection not being interrupted due to call waiting when you want it to. This is in the page on modems and call waiting. Thanks to Jeremy Kam for the suggestion.
  • Error Fixed in File System Identification Procedure: The File System Identification Procedure omitted one possible volume type that shows up under OSR2. Thanks again to Jeremy Kam.
  • Quake, Shmwake: Man, what is it with people and this game? :^)

October 18, 1997, 12:15 pm EDT:

  • Please Welcome Real World Technologies!  I want to welcome The PC Guide's first sponsor, Real World Technologies. Please do visit and check out their current deals, and help to support The PC Guide. The owner of Real World Technologies is one of the best people I've ever had the pleasure of dealing with. Real World is currently ranked in the top 5 of 91 companies in Scott Wainner's customer satisfaction survey, based on feedback from customers like you.
  • We All Benefit: I will be donating a full 10% of any proceeds from this site to a children's charity. I will probably change the charity periodically. I'll announce more on this a bit later on.
  • Memory Chip Glut Coming?: We have all enjoyed the dramatic decrease in the price of memory over the last two years. It seems that this trend may continue for some time. As I explain in my page on memory packaging, there are different sizes of DRAM chips used in memory modules. The current standard is the 16 Mbit DRAM, but the coming standard will be 64 Mbit. The problem (for the manufacturers) is that there is still a large surplus of 16 Mbit chips, and this may depress prices on both the new and old technology. The result may be prices that continue to drop well into next year. Read about this in more detail here.

October 18, 1997, 10:30 am EDT:

  • The PC Guide Selected An InfoWorld HotSite: I welcome my new readers from the InfoWorld Electric HotSites page! Many thanks to Jim Battey for bestowing this honor upon my humble site. The site will also be mentioned in the October 20th issue of InfoWorld's print magazine.
  • New Procedure Guide Implemented: I have added a new top-level Guide to the site: the Procedure Guide, updated both site indices to reflect the addition, and added links from other site areas. This Guide is where I will collect together the various "how to" procedures on the site. There aren't very many procedures there right now (8 in this first incarnation), and some of them are kind of oddballs you wouldn't use often, but I will be adding more over time. Trust me, in about a month or so, this will be a part of the site you will really use a lot. I will also be moving many of the procedures that are in other areas of the site to this new Guide. You will find here the beginnings of the New PC Assembly Procedure. This procedure has about 30 subprocedures, most of which are not yet done, but within a few weeks I will have filled these all in. Upon completion, it will be the most detailed, step-by-step procedure for homebuilding a PC on the net.
  • Beta No More: With this update, I have removed the "beta" designation from the site. There are still undoubtedly errors on the site but I think I've found most of the biggies, and the error reports are actually far lower than I had been expecting. I also removed the corresponding question from the site FAQ.
  • Numerous Updates and Changes to the Site: I have made a bunch of updates to the site, correcting various problems and adding clarifications:
    • On October 9th, I copied the version history of the site from the site information page to the new version history page, but I never deleted it from the old page after copying it over. Duh.
    • I had said that the Intel 486DX4 was not available as a stand-alone chip; this apparently was incorrect and I changed the page. Thanks to Alex Butcher.
    • I added a note to the section on the AMD K5 about how it interprets the motherboard multiplier setting. It has been widely reported (including originally on this site) that the K5 chips run with a fixed multiplier, meaning that no matter what you set the motherboard multiplier jumpers to, the K5 would use the same internal multiplier. I have been informed that this is not the case by more than one source. The problem is that I cannot find anything authoritative about how exactly the chip interprets the different standard multiplier settings (1.5x, 2x, 2.5x and 3x). If anyone has anything official that they can point me to, please let me know and I will update the site. Thanks to Jim Navas and Morgan for pointing this out.
    • I made a number of smaller changes to the pages describing specific CPUs, to correct some errors and inconsistencies. I also added a disclaimer explaining that the details on the older CPUs are less likely to be totally accurate due to their age and my lack of experience with them. I also made a note that many of the variants on the older processors are not covered on the site right now.
    • I updated the link to the Windows 95 OSR2 FAQ.
    • I added a step to the system optimization procedure on freeing up a COM port. You have to disable the COM port in the system BIOS in order to actually free it up.
    • The Pentium II uses a similar architecture to the Pentium Pro overall, but there are some differences. I updated the section on system RAM cacheability to reflect the fact that the Pentium II will only cache up to 512 MB of system memory, unlike the Pentium Pro. I also changed another page or two for consistency.
    • I added a paragraph to the discussion of why overclocking is possible, to reflect the fact that some chips are overclockable due to being underrated by the manufacturer. Thanks to Arne Steinarson for the feedback.
    • I revised the table in the section on video card refresh that shows the RAMDAC speed required for various refresh rates and resolutions. The old table did not take into account retrace time, and the numbers were therefore about 25% too low.

October 18, 1997, 12:15 am EDT:

  • Welcome New Readers: Many thanks to Anand Shimpi of Anand's Hardware Tech Page for plugging The PC Guide on his front page.
  • Not a Broken Record... Not a Broken Record...: The significant update to the site that I've been talking about will be up before noon tomorrow, including a new top-level Guide and lots of updates.

October 16, 1997, 7:30 pm EDT:

  • Cyrix Does An End Run: The proliferation of standardized CPU sockets has been one of the key factors enabling Intel competitors AMD and Cyrix to provide compatible alternative processors. One of Intel's strategies to combat this was the creation of the new Single Edge Contact (SEC) package for the Pentium II processor, and the Slot 1 motherboard interface it uses. The SEC technology has numerous patents on it, which has prevented AMD and Cyrix from using it. However, with Cyrix's acquisition by National Semiconductor, it apparently gains access to the intellectual property behind SEC, plus a lot more, on the basis of a wide-ranging licensing agreement between Intel and National Semi. Read more about this interesting turn of events here.
  • Geek In Training: I managed to get my son Ryan (4) to say "single inline memory module" today. I don't think he'll make the mistake of asking me what the green thing on my keychain is again. :^)

October 15, 1997, 7:30 pm EDT:

  • Kind Words Much Appreciated: I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all the support they've given me over the last two or so weeks that the site's been up. I'm very pleased that so many find this site a valuable resource, and I pledge to do my best to make it even better.
  • Slowly But Surely: I am continuing work on a more significant update to the site than I have done since it opened at the end of September. It takes a fair bit of time to develop more content while also answering email and doing the other things necessary to get a new site going. This update will also include a fair number of bug fixes. Thanks for your patience.

October 14, 1997, 8:00 pm:

  • Big News from the Microprocessor Forum: As I mentioned yesterday, this week is the 10th Anniversary Microprocessor Forum, where many major introductions of new CPU technologies and products are made. AMD was expected to announce today its new K6+ processor but in fact announced quite a bit more, including plans for two new processors in 1998, a 100 MHz bus for socket 7 systems, and a neat on-chip secondary cache running at processor speed, similar to what the Pentium Pro uses! Cyrix announced its next generation processor core, code-named "Cayenne", promising improved floating point performance, one of the weaknesses of the current Cyrix chips. Tom Pabst, of Tom's Hardware Guide is at the Forum and has a full report on today's announcements.
  • Please Tell Me This Isn't Happening Again Department: If you refer to the article above, you will see that both AMD and Cyrix are planning proprietary MMX instruction set enhancements. Intel is of course also going to extend the MMX instruction set in its own way. Anyone else think this is going to be a mess unless these arch rivals agree to "play nice"? Yikes.

October 13, 1997, 8:00 pm:

  • Hi Everyone! I just wanted to let you know that I am working on a significant update to the site. It will probably take a few days until it is done, but I think you won't be disappointed. This update will introduce new content to the site as well as incorporating many changes as a direct result of feedback from you, my customers. Thanks for your continued support and kind words. I very much appreciate them.
  • Ongoing this week is the 10th Anniversary Microprocessor Forum, a meeting of microprocessor industry leaders where new products and technologies are announced and discussed. The Keynote Address will be delivered on October 14, 1997 by AMD CEO Jerry Sanders. Expected is an announcement of AMD's plans for 1998, including the forthcoming K6+ CPU, an enhanced version of AMD's popular K6 processor. I'll be providing the highlights here, with links, once more news is forthcoming.

October 11, 1997, 11:30 pm:

  • A new feature on The PC Guide: the Tip Of The Day. Each day, I will be putting up on this front page a different PC-related tip or hint! In most cases the tip will contain a pointer to more detailed information either on this site or elsewhere on the web. Please let me know if you find this feature useful!
  • Four additional pages on The PC Guide have been selected "Outstanding Pages" by the PC Webopedia. They are the Reference Guide sections on the System Cache, System Buses, System Resources, and The Processor. There will be more once I get the time to submit some more pages. :)
  • I added a new section to the Site Information page and made a couple of changes. The new section is called About the Author and describes me in a bit more detail, for the benefit of a few people who have asked.

October 10, 1997, 9:30 am:

  • Some interesting, and in my mind depressing, news in the chipset world. It seems that Intel has decided to discontinue its Triton II 430HX chipset, which in my opinion is the best that they make for the Pentium platform. This isn't really too surprising, since Intel has been pretty obvious in its desire to move people to the Pentium II, and the 430HX has been around for quite a while. I still think it's unfortunate. I will be updating some pages to reflect this new reality. I will also be striving to get more information on alternative chipsets from VIA and other manufacturers, since they are going to be more important than ever now.

October 9, 1997, 11:00 pm:

  • I reorganized the structure of this front page, as well as the Site Guide. I added a new Version History and Old Site Updates page, where I will keep the version history of the site, as well as an archive of the text on this front page. This is useful for those who visit the site infrequently or are new to the site.
  • I added a link to the front page of the site from the noframes text of the front page.
  • The PC Guide is going to be expanding! There's a lot on this site but I am looking to add much, much more. Projects I am working on include two new Guides. The Buyer's Guide will focus on specifying and purchasing PCs and components, choosing vendors and similar topics. The Procedures Guide will be a collection of step-by-step instructions for performing various hardware and software procedures on your PC. Both will be written with the same attention to detail that you find in the existing Guides, but will be written section by section. If you have anything you'd specifically like to see on the site, do let me know!

October 9, 1997, 7:00 pm:

  • This isn't strictly related to The PC Guide itself, but if you're interested, you can hear yours truly on PC World NewsRadio tonight. The subject being discussed is web sites that modify the Windows 95 Registry. Listening to the report requires a system with a browser configured to play RealAudio files.
  • I'll be doing a proper update to the site later on tonight.

October 7, 1997, 10:00 pm:

  • I welcome you to The PC Guide! The site's been up for around a week now. I want to thank everyone who has helped to make the first few days of the site a great success. In particular, I want to thank everyone who took the time to send comments, suggestions and bug reports to me. I have corrected several problems with the site as explained below. Special thanks to Chris Hare for spending a significant amount of time reporting problems with the site to me and helping me with some design issues. Visit his excellent links page, it's the best I've seen on the net.
  • By the way, the PC Guide has been selected as an 'Outstanding Page' by the PC Webopedia!
  • I have completed a mass replace of the incorrect codes that were previously on 391 pages instead of a normal apostrophe. This should correct the problem with apostrophes not showing up on UNIX browsers. I did this using BK ReplaceEm, a very useful software utility. Thanks to James L. Buckley for telling me about this tool!
  • I added a link to the PC Mechanic web site. This is a very nice site containing general hardware information, a discussion forum, downloadable utilities and much more.
  • I added a warning to the system care area on monitors, dealing with the risks of damaging the CRT if you use the wrong type of cleaner. Thanks to Keith Rohrer.

October 6, 1997, 9:00 pm:

  • I have completed the Topic Index for the site! This index shows an indented hierarchy of the entire site and allows you to jump quickly between different areas of the site. This should address several people's concerns that it takes too long to move around the site structure.
  • I have created a no-frames version of the Topic Index, which is similar to the regular topic index but has links that go directly to the contents of the site, without frames. It has been linked by all the framesets on the site, to allow access to most of the site to those who cannot use frames or who don't like them. Note that some areas of the site cannot be used properly without frames.
  • I added a link, labelled "Topics", to the bottom of each page on the site, that goes to the Topic Index.

October 5, 1997, 10:00 pm:

  • In my comparison of SCSI and IDE, and my writeup on SCSI configuration, I added mention of the requirement of using drivers to use SCSI under DOS or Windows 3.x. This is a disadvantage of SCSI on older systems that are tight on conventional memory. Thanks to Stan R. for pointing this out.
  • I removed a bunch of "blockquote" structures that weren't supposed to be on the site.
  • I fixed a problem with a misplaced paragraph on my site information page.
  • I corrected many small bugs and problems, which are not worth listing individually. Thanks to those who submitted them.
  • I clarified the cause of the problem some people have been experiencing with the search engine.
  • I added a link in my links page to Glyn Hall's Hardware / Software Technical Links. This site has tons of links to motherboard manufacturers, motherboard manuals, and more.

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