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Tips Of The Day For April 1998

Tip Of The Day For April 27, 1998: If you hear your hard disk start making a "clunking" sound, watch out. This is a clear sign that your disk may be having mechanical problems. It doesn't always mean the disk is going to die, but it should definitely be considered an "early warning" to you. Make sure your hard disk is fully backed up, and if the problem continues, contact your hard disk manufacturer's tech support department.

Tip Of The Day For April 23, 1998: Have you discovered Linux yet? Linux is the PC-based version of the UNIX operating system. It works on most PCs and is growing rapidly in popularity, with more and more users signing on all the time. It provides an alternative to Windows for those that want a high-performance open platform operating system. You can set up your hard disk to dual boot to either Linux or Windows.

Tip Of The Day For April 19, 1998: My mouse at home recently died (with a little help) and I purchased a new Logitech 4-button mouse with a scroll wheel. I'll most likely not use the wheel much but I like the extra buttons. I paid about $50 for the mouse, which is a lot, but I don't regret it. Why? It will probably last me for five years, and it will be comfortable to use for all of that time. I will always be able to get current drivers for it. Better to spend a bit extra on quality than to buy junk and have to replace it every year.

Tip Of The Day For April 14, 1998: Don't let technical support people or PC companies push you around. Time and again, people tell me about companies that won't honor their warranties, or claim a problem "can't be fixed" and expect the customer to just live with it. PCs are assembled from components, and can always be fixed; it is just a matter of replacing components until the problem is resolved (some of those components may in fact be software.) If you have a warranty, you do not have to put up with a machine that isn't working properly. If they can't fix it, they must replace it. Politely but firmly stand up for your rights, requesting to speak to a manager if necessary. It will usually work, and if it doesn't, there are other avenues open to you as well.

Tip Of The Day For April 8, 1998: If you are using your PC for entertainment and want quality sound, you need a good sound card but also good speakers. There are lots of kinds of speakers out there, and the ones designed specifically for use with the PC differ from regular ones primarily because they include an amplifier and shielding (to prevent interference with your monitor). However, I have had good luck feeding the sound into a regular stereo's input jacks and using detachable speakers. This saves money and the sound is usually better than low-end PC speakers. You just want to be careful not to put the speakers themselves too close to the monitor.

Tip Of The Day For April 6, 1998: The parallel port is old, and relatively slow. It hasn't really changed that much since the days of the original PC. It's not anyone's first choice for a high-speed peripheral interface, but it has one great advantage: it is almost universal. I have a Zip drive that I've owned since 1995. It's not very fast, and it's not very large by today's standards. But I can connect it to virtually every PC I have ever run into. That gives it tremendous flexibility for transfering larger files than are practical for a floppy disk.

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