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Tips Of The Day For September 1999

Tip Of The Day For September 30, 1999: Don't be fooled by sales and marketing folks who try to tell you need the latest and greatest CPU in order to "unleash the power of the Internet" or somesuch. The fact is that if you are using a regular modem to work online, as most of us do, 99.9% of the time your CPU is twiddling its thumbs, unless you are doing very heavy Java work for example. If you want to speed up your Internet access, focus on the hardware that connects you to the 'net.

Tip Of The Day For September 26, 1999: Sometimes I offer to help someone who has a software configuration or operating system problem with their machine, and when I explore the details I find that there are in fact many different problems. In most of these cases, all but one of the problems were created by the owner of the PC when they were trying to fix the first one. Attempting to correct problems yourself should always be your first step; this can save time, money and gain you useful experience. At the same time though, trying "anything and everything" to fix a problem can often lead to disastrous results, so it pays to be careful and to know when to "call in the cavalry".

Tip Of The Day For September 22, 1999: When you build a system, or buy a system new, make sure that you configure the system so that your CD-ROM's drive letter is not adjacent to your hard disk drive letters. If you do not, then if you ever add another hard disk volume, your CD-ROM's drive letter will shift and break most of your CD-ROM-based software. I see this happen to people all the time, and there's no easy solution for this after the fact, but it's very easy to avoid. See here for specific instructions on what to do.

Tip Of The Day For September 19, 1999: To restart Windows without rebooting the entire PC from scratch, hold the "Shift" key down when selecting "Restart the computer" from the "Shut Down" menu. Remember that in order to activate any changes to your system that required changes to your AUTOEXEC.BAT or CONFIG.SYS files, you must do a full reboot, not just reboot Windows.

Tip Of The Day For September 16, 1999: Want to know the fastest, quickest and easiest way to improve your video image quality? Clean your monitor frequently. :^) It's easy to forget to do, as I well know.

Tip Of The Day For September 14, 1999: If you store any critical information on floppy disks, you shouldn't. :^) They are not exactly the most reliable storage media. However, if you are going to store any data long-term on floppies, it is a good idea to check their integrity periodically, say, twice a year. And always have at least two copies on two different disks.

Tip Of The Day For September 12, 1999: Phone cords are pretty tough, but the connectors on the end are pretty fragile, and it's easy to snap off the little tab that holds the cord in the phone jack. For this reason, it's good both to be careful with the cords, and keep a spare around, since they are pretty cheap.

Tip Of The Day For September 9, 1999: When purchasing any hardware device that relies heavily on drivers, especially video cards, be very careful to check out the track record of the manufacturer for providing updated drivers. Many companies are quick to abandon products that are as little as a year old, leaving their customers high and dry. This also applies to integrated PCs such as laptops, as I (unfortunately) can personally attest...

Tip Of The Day For September 7, 1999: When installing your new PC, be careful not to push the equipment against a wall or the back of a desk in such a way that the cords become bent excessively. This can cause premature failure of the wires.

Tip Of The Day For September 4, 1999: If you have a problem with any device that connects to your PC through an adapter, converter, or extension cord, be sure to test the intermediary device before assuming that the peripheral is bad; these adapters sometimes go bad themselves.

Tip Of The Day For September 2, 1999: Generally, you shouldn't waste your money on fancy CRT cleaning products, unless you have a special application. A damp cloth works fine in most cases, and reduces the risk of damaging any special coatings on the surface of the screen.


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