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Tips Of The Day For July 1998

Tip Of The Day For July 31, 1998: Compressed air is incredibly useful stuff for a PC owner. It's the best way to clean inside your PC, since it removes dirt without the risk associated with using chemicals or liquids (which you should never do!) Also good for occasionally reviving a flaky floppy disk, for cleaning power supply fans, and lots of other uses. Available in metal cans from any computer or electronics store.

Tip Of The Day For July 29, 1998: All else being (nearly) equal, purchase a motherboard that has a user-replaceable battery. Many newer motherboards use an integrated battery in them. If a non-replaceable battery dies, the motherboard becomes a fancy dish drying rack. Unfortunately, many new motherboards use this design. (Why else? To save money.)

Tip Of The Day For July 27, 1998: If you are using Windows 95/98/NT, double-clicking on the time display in the system tray will pop up a neat calendar you can use to check dates in the future. If you use it, however, make sure to hit "Cancel" to exit, and not "OK", or it will change your system date! I've done this numerous times by accident. Duh.

Tip Of The Day For July 23, 1998: Whenever you purchase a new PC system or component, always retain the documentation and packaging materials. The boxes should be kept for at least 30 days, in case you need to return the product for refund or exchange; most stores won't even consider taking something back without them. (You also need your receipt.) The documentation should be retained permanently, as it can be of invaluable help if you ever have to upgrade or repair the item in the future.

Tip Of The Day For July 18, 1998: On most modern systems, you can add features or correct problems with your motherboard by flashing your system BIOS. A word of warning however: be very careful how you do it, and make absolutely sure that you are using the correct BIOS image for your motherboard. If you mess up your system BIOS you will no longer be able to boot your PC. The only fix for the problem when that happens is to get a new BIOS EPROM chip from the manufacturer. These sorts of problems are rare, but they do happen.

Tip Of The Day For July 13, 1998: Windows 95/98/NT use a "driver" for your monitor. Of course, the monitor is exterior to the PC, so what is it that is being "driven"? Nothing really, but that driver is an information file that describes the monitor to the system. The primary use of this information is to control the refresh rate settings of your video card. Having the wrong monitor type set up in Windows can lead to irritating flicker on the screen, or to a scrambled picture when you change graphics modes. Make sure yours is set correctly; up-to-date files should be available from your monitor manufacturer's web site.

Tip Of The Day For July 7, 1998: Some people find it irritating when their PC accesses the floppy disk every time they boot it up. This is in fact an option that you can control by changing this BIOS parameter. Allowing the floppy to seek is useful if you suspect a problem with your drive, especially with the power to the drive, but otherwise isn't necessary.


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