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Tips Of The Day For February 1998

Tip Of The Day For February 27, 1998: If you need to set up a simple, two-computer network, you can do this easily using Windows 95 or Windows NT. All you need are two network cards and a special cable to connect them called a crossover cable. If you go with generic 10baseT cards, you can get everything you need for the network for about $50. It's the best way to attach two PCs if you will be transfering a lot of data between them.

Tip Of The Day For February 25, 1998: When troubleshooting your PC, be sure to use your various senses; go beyond just looking at what's on the CRT. Your ears can be very helpful in providing information to help you identify the causes of certain types of problems. For example, listening to the types of sounds your disk drives make when booting up the PC can tell you a lot about how far the boot process is proceeding, and also about the status of the drives themselves.

Tip Of The Day For February 22, 1998: Your monitor is probably the only part of your PC that can be considered a long-term "investment". Make sure you buy a good one, and it will serve you well for many years. Also make sure you take care of it; a simple way to prolong its life is to just turn it off when you won't be using it for a long period of time.

Tip Of The Day For February 19, 1998: In the market for a CPU? If you are buying mail order then you have the option of purchasing either a "regular" CPU or one that is "boxed". The "regular" CPUs are purchased in bulk by OEMs and usually sold by themselves; boxed CPUs are sold in standard retail boxes. While the chip inside is essentially the same, the retail box has a couple of advantages: boxed Intel CPUs for example come with a three-year warranty, and an attached CPU fan (which saves you time and hassle). You also have better (but not foolproof) protection against remarking. The difference in cost between boxed and OEM processors is often less than the cost of a CPU fan, so shop around!

Tip Of The Day For February 17, 1998: When connecting your case LEDs to your motherboard as part of building or upgrading your PC, you may notice that you can't tell which way the connector goes. The motherboard usually labels which pin is positive and which negative, but the wires themselves are not labelled. A rule of thumb: usually one wire will be black or white, and the other will be a color such as red, green or blue. If so, the black or white wire is ground (negative) and the colored wire is positive.

Tip Of The Day For February 16, 1998: If you experience a blackout, make sure to turn off your PC and monitor before the power comes back on. For the first fraction of a second that the power is restored, it is very "dirty", and sometimes will come on and then go back off a couple of times before being restored for good. It's best to not have the equipment plugged in while this happens.

Tip Of The Day For February 14, 1998: I had an interesting experience troubleshooting a 486 machine this week. The system was working and then died, no video and the classic 8 beep beep code that suggests a failed video card. However, swapping the video card didn't fix the problem. It turned out that the culprit was a failed I/O card; its failure was presumably causing the video card to malfunction. The moral of the story is obvious: component failures can cause a ripple effect and lead to misleading failure symptoms. Keep an open mind and, well, expect the unexpected. :^)

Tip Of The Day For February 11, 1998: If you have a 1.2 GB hard disk that is pretty full, and it is in a single partition, and you are using the conventional FAT16 file system on your system, you can potentially gain hundreds of megabytes of space by partitioning your hard disk into 1 GB and 200 MB partitions. Why? Slack. Look here if you want to know more.

Tip Of The Day For February 10, 1998: Do you know where your boot floppies are? You usually need these only when you are setting up your machine, but they are also sometimes needed when troubleshooting problems. They also need to be kept up to date. It's easy to forget about them and lose them. Read all about boot floppies here.

Tip Of The Day For February 8, 1998: If you spend a lot of time working on your PC, here's a handy little tip: get a magnetic screwdriver. These tools have lightly-magnetized tips that have just enough power to hold a screw to them. They make it much easier to reach into tight places in the case when attaching hardware, and also much easier to remove screws without dropping them inside the PC.

Tip Of The Day For February 6, 1998: Most people install PCs either on the floor or on a desk, and usually with the back of the PC near a wall. If you do this, be very careful not to push the box too close to the wall. Doing so can result in the cables that connect peripherals to the PC becoming damaged if they are bent excessively. It can also cause system overheating if the power supply fan cannot properly exhaust.

Tip Of The Day For February 4, 1998: One very common problem with mail order PCs is difficulty with the machine when first turning it on. This is usually due to components becoming accidentally loosened when the box containing the PC is jarred in transit. I recommend opening up a new PC received by mail to inspect its interior and ensure that everything is still connected properly (as long as you won't void your warranty in doing this). Also, in colder climates, don't forget to make sure the PC is acclimated before turning it on.

Tip Of The Day For February 2, 1998: Nothing makes using your PC more difficult than not being able to see the image on your monitor properly. While much of the focus is on the hardware itself, and perhaps with good reason, one should not forget to look at the environment in which you use the monitor as well. Glare from  the monitor is one of the worse problems many PC users face, and can result in headache or blurry vision. Glare can be mostly eliminated by purchasing a monitor with an anti-glare coating, or by using a polarizing filter. But you can also fix many problems by changing the lighting in your room or office, or drawing the blinds on any windows. Also, don't forget to adjust the brightness of the monitor based on the time of day, this can help substantially if you have natural light in the room where the PC is located.


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