Volume 21 Issue 6 August 2003
August 4th General Meeting
Acoustica MP3 CD Burner
Presented by Joseph ClarkeJoseph Clarke CEO of Acoustica, Inc.
! Rip your CDs to MP3, WAV or WMA!
(Automatically tags them via FREEDB)
! Burn custom music CDs from MP3s,
WMA, or WAVs or existing play lists
(M3U, PLS) (OGG coming soon!)
! Organize all the music on your computer Bring a Music
via drag and drop. lovers They
will love this
! EASY TO USE interface! meeting!
! Auto-detection of incomplete songs
! Specify exact amount of silence between
! Mix (segue) between adjacent tracks if st R
! Automatically trims silence from the
beginning or end of songs
! Supports CD-TEXT if supported by the
! Supports “Burn-Proof” CDRW
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
THE OLD COMPUTER GUY .............................................. 3 BE PART OF THE FPCUG MEMBERSHIP DRIVE ................... 8
AWARD BIOS ........................................................... 3 AUGUST’S RAFFLE: MP3 PLAYER .................................... 9
FPCUG LIBRARY CD OF THE MONTH .............................. 4 AD TO MEMBERS ........................................................... 9
SMART COMPUTING: HARD BUT NOT DIFFICULT .................. 5 MEMBER ADS .............................................................. 10
SANITY SAVERS ............................................................. 7 ACTIVE SIGS .............................................................. 15
Despite their titles, FPCUG copy
RAM Pages editors do not check the final RAM Directors to Meet
Pages before printing. Articles that are
Newsletter Staff reprinted by permission are not edited
For information, compliments, and by the Fresno PCUG staff.
complaints concerning the RAM Pages, This publication was prepared on an
please call ............................ 496.3974 “x86 Family Model 8 Stepping 3
GenuineIntel ~800 Mhz” machine with
Co-Editors/Co-Layout Editors Office XP, PageMaker 6.5 Plus,
.. Nancy Mason & Susy Ball Photshop 7.0, and Photoshop
Copy Editor Elements. It was printed on a Okipage
20 page printer and then photocopied The Board Meeting of the
.............................. Jo Townley
for distribution by Sir Speedy Printing. FPCUG will be held on the
................................. Mike Ball
2 nd Monday of this month at
.... Susy Ball & Nancy Mason
Valley Users Groups 7:00 PM. Board meetings are
If you have information about PC-related open to any FPCUG member.
Graphics users groups in Fresno and nearby
...........Publication Committee communities, contact the Editor to have Note: the Sept. meeting will be
Circulation it included in the Calendar of Events. held on the 3 rd Monday.
.............................. Jo Townley Tule Fog PC Users Group (Visalia) This month’s will be at
Review Coordinator 2ND Wed., 7:00 PM Visalia Senior Center. Hope Lutheran Community Center
......................... Don Cummins For more info call 625.3936 or e-mail Fresno, CA 93727
Bob Dowell at misterbob
RAM Pages is the monthly newsletter of @comcast.net.Website:http:// 497-2349
the Fresno PC Users Group, a nonprofit www.tulefog.org.
corporation chartered by the State of
California. Each FPCUG member Investment Club (Fresno)
receives a subscription as a benefit of Contact:
Please contact Wes Rose @ 439.4218
membership. A membership application for current meeting dates and times. Editor, RAM Pages
and renewal form is printed on the last Fresno PC Users Group
inside page. Fresno Commodore User Group
Meetings on the third Saturday at 10 AM 5730 N. First St.
Subscription Problems? Please inform
the membership director Krikor Geyoghlian in the Senior Citizens Center, outside Suite 105-321
at 434.0941, if you miss your issue or have door north of Longs Drugstore, Fresno, CA 93710
any changes or corrections in your Manchester Mall, Highway 41 and
or see Web site:
Shields Ave., Fresno, CA Contact
Reproduction Rights. Original articles may person: Robert Bernardo at http:// w w w .
be reproduced by other computer users (559) 627-2438. E-mail address: fresnocomputerusers.org
groups for internal, non-profit use, provided Rbernardo@value.net. Web site:
credit is given to the Fresno PC Users
Group and the author(s) of the reproduced
articles. This notice does not supersede
the rights of authors whose copyrighted MAC Group (Fresno) in the
material is used by permission.
Disclaimer. Trademarks used in this
1ST Tues., Hope Lutheran Community
Center @ 7:00 PM. Call Judy Haber at
publication are hereby recognized and 431.2102 or e-mail the FMUG to Commercial Ads must be supplied
acknowledged. The information provided firstname.lastname@example.org or visit camera ready by the first of the month.
in this newsletter is believed and intended their Web site at http://www. Member Ads are free.
to be correct and useful. However, the
Fresno PC Users Group cannot assume
fresnomug.com ! For a detailed description regarding
responsibility for errors contained in the advertising, please contact a member
articles or misapplications of the
information provided. Unless specifically
Writers for 2003 of the newsletter committee. (Names
and phone numbers can be found in
stated otherwise, opinions expressed are Susy Ball
the list of commonly contacted
those of the individual author(s) and do not Laura Ryals John Morgan
represent the opinions of, nor endorsement Barnard Chris Myers
by, the Fresno PC Users Group. The Fresno Display Advertising Rates:
Doug Barnard Sue Sidebottom
PC Users Group is an independent, non- One Month Three Months
profit users group and is not affiliated in any Don Cummins Steve Sidebottom Full Page (9.3"h x 7.4"w)
way with any vendor or equipment Carol Cummins Walt Slocomb $ 75.00 $150.00
manufacturer. Krikor AK Padgett Half Page (4.68"h x 7.4"w)
Vendor Notice. Only review products that Geyoghlian Townsend $ 37.50 $ 75.00
have been obtained by the product review Dean Mason Fred Townsend Half Page (9.3" h x 3.5" w)
coordinator and received through the Nancy Mason Tony Turano $ 37.50 $ 75.00
FPCUG address shall be considered the Quarter Page (4.68"h x 3.5"w)
responsibility of the FPCUG, unless $ 18.75 $ 37.00
otherwise indicated by the Board of Eighth Page (2.375"h x 3.5"w)
Directors and with the full knowledge of the
$ 10.00 $ 20.00
The Old Computer Guy
By Ken Harbit,
a Fresno PC Users Group Member
I’ve been called “the old
computer guy.” It’s not the proprietary one, several expansion cards and
because I’m old, it’s interfaces.
because I have a In those days, computing was much different than it is
lot of old now. We didn’t go to the nearest CompUSA or Circuit City
computers. The to buy software or hardware, We built the hardware
oldest in my IBM
ourselves. Then we developed our own programs using
collection is a machine code, assembly or basic. Our tools were soldering
Cosmac Super Elf. irons, wire wrap and our own imaginations. !
r on l
Pe s a r
Com p te
began it’s life in
August of 1976 as
an article in AWARD BIOS
Popular Electronics Beep Sound
magazine. Called a Massage
hobbyist computer, it
had a two digit 1 short(Beep) ............... System booting is normal.
hexadecimal LED 2 short(Beep) ............... CMOS setting error
display, 256 bytes (yes, 1 long - 1 short(Beep) .. DRAM ERROR
I said bytes) of 1 long - 2 short(Beep) .. Display card or monitor connected
memory, and error
was 1 long - 3 short(Beep) .. Keyboard Error
1 long - 9 short(Beep) .. ROM Error
switches. Long(Beep) continuous DRAM hasn’t inset correctly.
Early in 1977 Short(Beep) continuous POWER supply has problem.
developed for the Fresno PC Users Group
Elf. Elf Toggle General Meetings
Operating Meetings are held at the Hope Lutheran Community Center,
System (ETOPS) which used 32 bytes of memory, and Elf 364 E. Barstow. The meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. and are
Hex Operating System (EHOPS) which used 74 bytes of open to the public (dates listed in text below). Guests are
memory. Because the operating systems were taking such welcome. Members and guests are eligible to win prizes
a huge bite out of memory, a memory expansion was at the end of the meetings.
developed that provided a whopping 1024 bytes of RAM. Have a donation for the “Silent Auction”? Contact
1977 also saw the addition of Elf graphics. By adding an any Board of Director member with your donation.
RCA 1861 “Pixie” graphics chip, it provided a 64 X 128 If you have suggestions for program topics
graphics. To see graphics, you had to build your own or would like to submit a donation toward
composite monitor interface and have access to a monitor. the silent auction, please contact the Program Coordinator
By 1979 the ELF had gained a hexadecimal pad AK Padgett Townsend/Don Cummins voicemail at 496.3974
(keyboard), proprietary expansion bus, and external or send e-mail to: email@example.com
cassette tape storage interface, and display monitor
interface. With those enhancements came third party Aug. 4, 2003 Nov. 3, 2003
RAM expansion, a monitor ROM, and Tiny Basic. Sept. 8, 2003 Dec. 1, 2003
Through the 1980s the ELF was expanded and cloned by
Netronics, RCA, and Quest Electronics. It gained a Oct. 6, 2003 Jan. 5, 2004
whopping 32k of RAM, an S100 expansion bus to replace
August 2003 RAM Pages 3
CD of the Month
SC2 ................. DirectShow webcam software featuring
for August 2003 FTP, HTTP, and streaming support
By Dean Mason, SFall Screensaver ..... Little, funny screensaver for
Librarian of the FPCUG Windows
Freeware SoftCAT ......... SoftCAT is a database application
A1 Hangword ............. A wonderful FREE program for designed to help you organize your
Kids to learn English Word Building. software
Address Office (Win) Address Book Advanced Splittur ........... Split any file into a number of parts with
address book and PIM this great tool
Ashampoo Internet Accelerator ....... This program Yahoo Status Manager ...........Yahoo!Messenger allows
optimizes your internet connection for you to add custom status messages such
faster, more efficient performance as “Be back in 10 minutes”, but there is no
Ashampoo IP Spam Blocker .............. Get rid of easy way to delete them or sort them. This
annoying advertising IP messages forever! free utility makes it possible to manage
your custom status messages
Ashampoo Media Player .......The Media Player of the
Ashampoo Startup Turner .....Display programs that are Copy DVD to CD-R .. Copy DVD is a DVD conversion
started automatically and edit the entries application, which converts DVD to VCD/
that launch them! SVCD/AVI. It also burn VCD/SVCD
Bootword ....... Bootword enables you to save your data directly
into hidden area located on each floppy J-Stock downloader .. Download unlimited free historical
disc stock quotes. View the data directly in a
FaFdB ............ an image processing program designed to spreadsheet or import into your favorite
correct (sharpen) pictures made fuzzy by technical analysis software.
camera motions pnpMail ......... Control your computer from a cell phone,
Group Mail free ........ Master your group email with or from any other e-mail account!
style! Each CD of the month contains approximately 20 programs and
Image Browser Arctic ............a free graphics viewing cost $500 to members. The shareware and freeware programs are
program which enables you to view and distributed to customers free of charge. The $500 fee to members
manage images on your PC covers the cost of making the CD and any profit goes to the
treasury of the FPCUG. The non-member price will remain $1000. If
Magical Glass Magnifier, located above a cursor, the after reading the descriptions above, you would like an in-depth
overlay is used.Setup of a size of description of the software on the CD of the month or you wish
magnification. There are no additional to make a special request, contact the librarian, Dean Mason, via
windows. his e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the Web site of
the Fresno PC Users Group at: http://
Popup Bopper a small utility that runs silently in your
system tray and closes all popups by Contact Dean if you wish to purchase a CD at the
looking at the window titles that match the General Meeting and would like to reserve your copy of the
customized blacklist. CD.
Pre-Flight ...... Multiplayer capability, improved physics. ANY READER OF THIS NEWSLETTER IS WELCOME TO ORDER
PRE-Flight is a fully user-configurable
Quantities are available to other PC Users Groups. Again
flight simulator and aircraft designer in one contact Dean through the addresses listed.
The librarian sometimes adds extra software on the CD
PrintFolders .. PrintFolders writes a list of files and between the time this notice is published and the time of
folders into a plain-text file. purchase at the General Meeting. !
4 RAM Pages August 2003
Hard But Not Difficult
Optimize Or Troubleshoot Your Hard Drive
By Marty Sems
Like your hall closet, the desk in your office, or your briefcase magnetic recording material. As these discs spin inside the
or purse, your computer’s hard drive contains all sorts of drive at 5,400rpm (revolutions per minute) or 7,200rpm, an
things essential to your life. As the previous article explained, arm moves tiny electromagnetic coils called read/write heads
the hard drive is the major repository for all the data you deal back and forth above the surfaces of the discs like a needle
with, from your word processor documents and electronic tax on a record player. The heads cause or sense magnetic fields
returns to your digital photos and music files. on a disc’s surface to store or read data.
The hard drive also stores your OS (operating system), such Internal hard drives in most desktop computers use an
as Windows 98 or Windows XP, which helps your computer interface (a combination of a type of cable and the electronic
boot (start up) quickly and reliably. Finally, your drive contains “language” it uses to carry data) called EIDE (Enhanced
your applications (programs), such as office suites, personal Integrated Drive Electronics). EIDE comes in many varieties,
finance software, entertainment programs, and so on. although they’re all more or less compatible with each other.
The trouble comes when your hard drive starts to take Such drives may be called UltraDMA (Direct Memory
longer to access your data and load your programs. Some Access), DMA, UltraATA (Advanced Technology
hard drives might also start to “forget” a few bits of data here Attachment), ATA, or just IDE. Regardless, hard drive
and there, which means you’ll see error messages as interfaces are more practically described by how fast they
Windows or your applications try to access those files. And, of can carry data, such as ATA/100 (100MBps [megabytes per
course, you can put so much data on a hard drive that it second]) or UltraATA/133 (133MBps).
simply can’t hold any more. All of these problems can make Some computers use the new Serial ATA interface instead
your PC frustrating to use. of EIDE for their internal hard drives. In addition, a few
In this article, we’ll give you tips on a broad range of topics, performance-oriented systems use the SCSI (Small
all aimed at helping your hard drive work the best it can. Computer System Interface) interface. External hard drives
Some of these can be a little tricky for novice users, so if you can use many other types of interfaces to connect to a
don’t feel comfortable doing what a particular tip computer such as FireWire, Hi-Speed USB (Universal Serial
recommends, save it for another occasion. Over time, as your Bus) 2.0, USB 1.1, SCSI, or a parallel port cable in older
familiarity with hard drives and data storage grows, so will systems.
your confidence in trying more technical tips.
How It Works As your hard drive gets cluttered with data over time, it takes
Before we dive into tips and tricks for making the most of longer for it to find the files you need. Here are a few things
your hard drive’s abilities, we’ll explain a little about how it you can do to help. (Note: Where possible, we’ll provide
works. examples of how to follow a tip in Win98 and WinXP, which
A bare hard drive looks like a rectangular box that’s a bit are currently the most popular home computer OSes.)
shorter than a VHS videotape. It’s made of metal or metal 1. Disk Cleanup. Windows accumulates many “junk” files
and plastic and may be silver and/or black. The drive’s during normal use, such as temporary ones with .TMP
underside may have an exposed PCB (printed circuit board). file extensions, as in Junkfile.tmp. The Disk Cleanup
The rear of the drive will have a few electronic connectors utility makes it easy to delete unnecessary files like these
for data transfer and electrical power and probably a few from your hard drive and free up their space for other
rows of pins with a jumper uses.
(a small plastic block with a In Win98/XP, click Start, Programs (click All Programs in
wire inside) or two that WinXP), Accessories, System Tools, and Disk Cleanup.
enable some drive settings Choose the drive you want to work on and then click
by connecting certain pins OK. Click the items you want to delete, then click OK
together. and Yes.
Inside a typical hard 2. Drive scanning. Next, it’s time to give your hard
drive, there are aluminum
or glass discs coated with
drive a basic checkup. A drive-scanning utility, )
August 2003 RAM Pages 5
such as Win98’s ScanDisk, can give you a heads-up on store much more on a hard drive than would normally be
some possible problems your hard drive may be facing. the case, the fact that your computer has to compress or
These utilities check for errors in file storage and decompress every file it reads or writes means that your
management, which can indicate anything from a PC will slow to a crawl.
common electronic hiccup to a potential drive failure on Today, hard drives are so spacious and cheap (around
the horizon. $105 for an 80GB drive at this writing) it doesn’t make
In Win98, click Start, Programs, Accessories, System sense to bog your system down by trying to squeeze more
Tools, and ScanDisk. In WinXP, right-click Start and data onto its existing hard drive. See the “Upgrading Tips”
select Explore to launch Windows Explorer. Right-click section in case you’re considering replacing or augmenting
your hard drive’s entry in the left panel, such as Local your drive.
Disk (C:), then click Properties and the Tools tab. Click
the Check Now button, select the options you want, and General Tips
click Start. This section is a catchall for tips on making data backups,
If the scanning utility reports any errors or bad sectors naming your drive, and recovering data you thought was
(small divisions of data storage), skip ahead to tip 11 in the deleted.
“Problem-Solving Tips” section of this article. 5. Drive naming. In Windows Explorer (right-click Start
3. Defragmenting. Fragmentation happens when a hard and select Explore), your hard drive’s partition(s)
drive can’t find a large enough chunk of free storage (electronic section[s] of a drive’s storage space, each with
space to store a big file, so it splits the file into smaller its own drive letter, such as C: or D:) probably appear as
pieces that can end up scattered all over the drive’s “Local Disk (C:)” or something similar. You can rename
surface. Of course, it takes longer for the drive to a partition to help you remember which is which,
locate and read all the parts of the file later, such as “Applications” or “Personal
which slows down your system. Data.”
“If you’re constantly adding files, In Win98, right-click a partition you
constantly removing files, or constantly want to rename and select Properties. Type
installing and removing software, the new name, such as Windows, which will
(your drive will) tend to get appear in the Label field. Press ENTER. In
fragmented,” says Michael WinXP, right-click the partition and choose
Turner, product manager of Rename. Type the new name in the blank, then
Internet security at McAfee (http:// press ENTER. WinXP will add the drive letter in
www.mcafee.com). Turner says that parentheses, as in “Personal Data (E:).”
fragmentation can really be an issue when you’re 6. Deleted files. When you delete a file by
working with large files, such as when you’re editing highlighting it in Explorer and pressing DELETE or by
video or burning (writing) audio CDs. right-clicking it and selecting Delete, the file isn’t really
After Disk Cleanup and ScanDisk (or an equivalent), deleted. It’s waiting in your Recycle Bin for the day you
make Disk Defragmenter your next stop. It will move either empty the Bin (right-click it and click Empty
files around until few or none are fragmented, perhaps Recycle Bin) or the Bin gets full, pushing out old data to
taking an hour or more depending on the size of your hard make room for new.
drive and how much data it contains. If you ever delete a file by mistake and it’s still in the
In Win98, click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Recycle Bin, right-click it and select Restore.
Tools, and Disk Defragmenter. In WinXP, click the Note that you can right-click the Recycle Bin and choose
Defragment Now button just below the Check Now Properties to adjust how much space it takes up on each
button mentioned in the last tip. Click the entry for your drive partition. Just resetting it from the default 10% to a
drive in the Volume column and then the Defragment lower percentage of the drive can free up a bunch of
button. Alternatively, the Analyze button will tell you storage space (at the risk of losing some “deleted” files
whether you even need to defragment the drive. currently in the Bin).
4. Compression. Utilities that compress (compact) 7. Secure deleting. It’s nice that Windows helps you
individual files, such as WinZip (http://www.winzip.com) temporarily keep deleted files in case you change your
or Win-RAR (http://www.winrar-rog.com), are very mind, but maybe you really want to delete something so
handy when you need to email or back up a large file. that it never comes back. Even after you empty the
Utilities that compress the entire contents of a hard drive, Recycle Bin or redelete some file in it, Windows simply
such as Win98’s DriveSpace 3, though, have become less
desirable. Although DriveSpace and its ilk can let you Hard Drives cont. on Page 11
6 RAM Pages August 2003
C ONTENTS OF THIS PAGE IS A BENEFIT OF MEMBERSHIP !
August 2003 RAM Pages 7
C ONTENTS OF THIS PAGE IS A BENEFIT OF MEMBERSHIP !
8 RAM Pages August 2003
C ONTENTS OF THIS PAGE IS A BENEFIT OF MEMBERSHIP !
August 2003 RAM Pages 9
C ONTENTS OF THIS PAGE IS A BENEFIT OF MEMBERSHIP !
10 RAM Pages August 2003
Hard Drives cont. from Page 7 10. Cooling. Like your PC’s microprocessor, your hard drive
will live longer with adequate cooling. Some faster drives
marks its entry in the file system (which describes the get downright hot during use, so check inside your
way the OS stores data on a hard drive) as ready to be computer’s case to make sure your drive has a bit of
overwritten rather than fully erasing the file. Software space above and below it. If other devices are crowding
such as Undelete 3.0 Home Edition ($29.95 download; it, carefully unscrew and remount the offenders in other
http://www.execsoft.com) can recover such files that locations if possible. Touch a bare metal part of the case
haven’t been overwritten yet, and specialized forensics often to dispel any harmful static in your body.
labs can piece together some data even after it’s been
Note that you can replace your PC’s wide, flat ribbon
overwritten multiple times.
cables with round data cables, available for about $6
To minimize the chance that a snoop or even someone apiece online or at computer stores, to promote good
you donate a computer to can glean your business plans airflow and a longer-lasting hard drive. Buy cables rated
or credit card number, use a file shredding utility such as for ATA/66/100/133 speeds and make sure you connect
McAfee QuickClean 3.0 ($39.99 download; http:// them correctly.
www.mcafee.com) or Ashampoo WinShampoo
($49.98; http://www.ashampoo.com). Put Problem-Solving Tips
another way, “with shredding and the Although drives sometimes fail, the problem often lies
secure erasure that it provides, you’re elsewhere. Here are a few things to check.
protecting data you no longer want to 11. Disk diagnostics. If a disk-scanning
keep,” says Turner. utility reveals bad sectors on your drive, try
There’s no guarantee that a determined downloading and running a free diagnostic
entity with unlimited resources couldn’t utility from the drive’s manufacturer, such as
circumvent commercially available file Western Digital’s Data Life-guard Tools
shredders, Turner says, but you can adjust them (http://www.westerndigital.com). If your
for higher security. For example, QuickClean can drive’s manufacturer doesn’t offer a specific
overwrite data as many as 99 times in case you’re diagnostic utility, try Seagate’s SeaTools (http://
8. Backups. Hard drives are complex devices with moving Follow the provided instructions to run the utility.
parts and as such can fail. Don’t forget to copy important SeaTools, for example, requires you to install it to a floppy
personal or business files to a backup medium such as diskette and then leave the diskette in the floppy drive as
CD-R (CD-recordable) or tape at regular intervals. You you restart your computer.
can use special backup software to do this or simply copy 12. Master and slave. Master and slave hard drive settings
files and folders using Windows Explorer. simply describe two jumper settings used on the back of
For backups of home movies, audio files, digital photos, EIDE hard drives. As a single EIDE/ATA/DMA cable
and personal documents, Turner recommends recordable can connect to two drives, the computer needs a way to
4.7GB DVDs such as DVD-R (DVD-recordable) or tell one drive’s signals from the other’s.
DVD+R. Suitable drives include Sony’s DRU-510A If your drive acts up intermittently, check the position of
($349.99; http://www.storagebysony.com) and its rear jumper or jumpers against the diagram on the
Pioneer’s new DVR-A06 ($329; http:// drive or the manufacturer’s Web site. Use tweezers to
www.pioneerelectronics.com). Both drives can write move the jumpers if necessary.
to DVD-R, DVD-RW (DVD-rewriteable), DVD+R, and
A single drive should connect to the end of the cable with
DVD+RW, as well as to CD-R and CD-RW (CD-
its jumper in the master position. If there’s a second drive
rewriteable). Use write-once R media to avoid accidental
on the cable, attach it to the middle connector and set its
overwrites and store backups in a different area than the
jumper to slave. Avoid putting the jumper(s) in the CSEL
(cable select) position, as this can sometimes cause
9. Recoverable backups. In addition to creating backups errors.
of your important files, some backup utilities can back up
13. Cables. Here’s a simple fix to a common bottleneck.
your OS and everything on your hard drive. These
Today’s ATA/100/133 EIDE drives require slightly
backups may let you reinstall your system just as it was
different data cables than ATA/33 and earlier drives.
when you made the backup, in the event that your
Although current cables still have 39- or 40-pin
computer suffers a catastrophic data loss. Follow the
connectors, they contain 80 wires. If you use a 40-wire
instructions religiously to make sure your backup will
work if you need it. Hard Drives cont. on Page 12
August 2003 RAM Pages 11
Hard Drives cont. from Page 9
If your unprotected system does get a virus, use another
PC to look for repair information from http://
data cable, you’ll artificially limit your drive to www.sarc.com or McAfee. This information may help
approximately 30MBps and slower. Replacement cables you remove the virus or worm. Next, buy a current
cost just a few dollars, and this is a perfect time to antivirus program and install it according to its
upgrade to rounded cables as described above. instructions. Create emergency recovery disks during the
Speaking of cables, it’s a good time to make sure that installation if you have the option. Enable all scanning
hard drives and other devices such as CD-ROM or Zip options, then let the program go online to download the
drives are on separate cables. Pokey devices can slow latest updates. Finally, do a full system virus scan.
down a hard drive on the same cable.
14. System recovery. WinMe and WinXP have a feature Upgrading Tips
called System Restore, which uses part of the hard drive Sometimes your existing hard drive may be more trouble than
to store a “snapshot” of the computer’s settings. If you it’s worth. Take advantage of today’s tremendous bargains
encounter major errors with your system, such as after and move up to a new, bigger drive. Most manufacturers
installing or uninstalling something, don’t reach for your provide installation software that will walk you through the
backup discs just yet. steps to copy your old hard drive to the new one if you like.
In WinMe/XP, click Start, Programs (click All Programs 17. Handling. Treat any hard drive as the fragile device it is.
in WinXP), Accessories, System Tools, and System Don’t drop it, bump it, or subject it to static electricity.
Restore. Follow the easy instructions to roll your system Also, don’t touch its exposed PCB with your bare fingers,
back in time, so to speak. as your skin’s natural oil can degrade the solder and
15. OS reinstallation. Some OSes, such as WinXP, let you components over time.
perform a repair installation without much disruption of 18. Preparing a drive. Hard drive installation is beyond the
your installed applications or saved files. Of course, scope of this article, but here’s the general sequence to
many factors can affect your system’s ability to prepare a drive: First, install the drive and connect its
successfully do this, such as whether you cables. Partition it with one or more partitions, choosing
have your OS and applications on a suitable file system. (See tip 23 in the “Advanced
separate partitions (see tip 24 in the Performance Tips” section for more details.)
“Advanced Performance Tips” Next, format each partition, which means
section). WinXP’s Setup utility will ask prepare it for data storage. Again, the
you if you wish to repair an existing installation software in the drive’s
WinXP installation before it begins. software bundle or found at the
If you can’t recover your system from a manufacturer’s site should automate this
backup or System Restore, and you can’t repair process for you. Finally, install your OS and
your OS installation, verify that all your personal apps if you didn’t copy your old hard drive during
data is backed up. You’ll need to reinstall your OS and the installation of the new one.
applications, but at least your hard drive will be relatively 19. External drives. External hard drives generally
clutter-free when you’re done. come preformatted and often work as additional storage
16. Avoid a virus. Even if you use modern antivirus space as soon as you plug them in. Opt for a USB 2.0 or
software, such as Norton AntiVirus 2003 ($49.95; http:// FireWire drive if possible, even if that means you’ll need
www.symantec.com) or McAfee VirusScan 7.0 to install an adapter card ($49 or less) to make it work
($49.99; http://www.mcafee.com), and pay $15 to $30 with your PC. USB 1.1 and parallel port connections will
per year for access to updates, you can still get a brand- work, but they’re extremely slow.
new virus or worm on your hard drive if you don’t set the Of course, if your OS doesn’t support USB or FireWire
utility to automatically look online for new virus (say, for example, you use the original release of
definitions. However, you must also give your antivirus Windows 95), a parallel port drive might be your only
time to update itself. external option. In this case we strongly recommend an
“When you’re connecting to the Internet, these [antivirus internal drive, which will run much faster.
utilities] will try to grab an update right away before you 20. Adapters. Besides adding support for faster, newer
start doing much of anything,” Turner says. “One good interfaces, some adapter cards will let you use drives that
practice is probably just to give it a minute or so, however are larger than your system could normally use. For
long it takes . . . to let the update take,” before you open example ATA/133 and recent ATA/100 devices support
capacities greater than 137GB. Note that your OS
any email or surf to any Web sites.
12 RAM Pages August 2003
may still limit you to certain partition sizes. Win95’s first with Win98’s Drive Converter (click Start, Programs,
version, for example, can only recognize 2GB and smaller Accessories, System Tools, and Drive Converter). To
partitions because it’s limited to the 16-bit FAT (file convert a FAT or FAT32 partition to NTFS in WinXP,
allocation table) file system. click Start, All Programs, Accessories, and Command
21. Drive not detected. If your computer is more than a Prompt. Type convert d: /fs:ntfs (substituting your drive’s
few years old, its BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) letter for “d”) and press ENTER. Note that neither
might not be able to auto-detect your new drive. You may method of file system conversion is readily reversible.
have to press DELETE or some other key during startup A last-resort option to change a partition’s file system is to
to enter the BIOS setup screen, then manually enter format the partition in Windows Explorer but be aware
numbers in the Cylinders, Heads, Sectors, that this will erase any data stored there. For example, in
Precompensation, and Landing Zone fields according to WinXP’s Explorer, right-click the partition’s drive letter
the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Save your and select Format. Select NTFS or FAT32 (if available) in
changes and exit. the File System drop-down menu and then click the Start
Note that some newer drives, such as Western Digital button. NTFS is a more secure file system than FAT or
Caviars, have alternate jumper settings that may make it FAT32, meaning that you can set it to keep unauthorized
easier for an older system to detect them, but such users from accessing its files. However, if you have a
settings may limit a drive to 32GB or less storage space. computer with an NTFS drive partition connected to a
An adapter card may let you install the drive without network with Win95/98/Me PCs on it, those systems
losing any speed or storage space. won’t be able to access the NTFS files.
22. Serial ATA. Although new SATA drives aren’t much 24. Partitions. Speaking of partitions, it’s not a bad idea to
faster than their EIDE equivalents, you may still want to use them to separate Windows, your applications, and
buy a SATA drive ($115 and up) and an adapter card ($35 your data on your hard drive. As long as you don’t forget
and up) if your system’s motherboard doesn’t support this to install applications to your D: partition, for example, and
interface. SATA will keep your system upgradeable save your documents and personal files to the E: partition
longer than will EIDE. Also, SATA’s thinner cables won’t on a drive with three partitions, you can keep everything
block your computer’s fans. in its own compartment.
SATA drives only need one power cable. You can use a As with choosing a file system, you can create separate
regular, white 4-pin connector from your computer’s partitions using PartitionMagic or Partition Commander
power supply or a small adapter to convert that power without losing the data on your hard drive. Follow the
cable to a SATA connector but don’t use both. software’s instructions closely. You can probably also
partition a new drive as you’re using its installation
Advanced Performance Tips software.
This section’s tips are intended for more advanced users. 25. Cluster sizes. Windows’ built-in file systems only have a
However, they offer good information for any user. certain number of clusters (very small storage units, often
23. File systems. Various versions of Windows can use 2KB to 64KB in size, depending on the file system and
different file systems. All can use FAT. However, larger the size of the drive or partition) to go around in a single
hard drives or partitions require a file system such as partition. The situation is similar to ZIP+4 postal codes,
FAT32 (32-bit file allocation table), available in Win95 which can only direct mail to 10,000 individual homes no
OSR2 (original equipment manufacturer Service Release matter how big an area the original 5-digit ZIP code
2) and Win98/Me/XP, or NTFS (NT File System), covers (such as 68521-0000 to 68521-9999).
available in WinNT/2000/XP. Put simply, FAT32 and If a partition is too big, its clusters will be relatively large.
NTFS can accommodate larger partitions than FAT and This will waste a lot of storage space, such as the 31KB
can also store data much more efficiently, meaning you’ll wasted when it takes two 32KB clusters to store a 33KB
be able to store more data on a particular drive. file. If you balance overall partition sizes with the file
If you are offered a choice when installing Windows, system’s capabilities, you can make the most of your
preparing a new hard drive, or while using a third-party drive’s space with 2KB or 4KB cluster sizes.
drive-partitioning utility such as PartitionMagic 8.0
($69.95; http://www.powerquest.com) or Partition End Of The Drive
Commander ($49.95; http://www.v-com.com), choose Hopefully, some of these tips helped you regain some control
FAT32 or NTFS over FAT for any hard drive larger than over your hard drive. As for that messy hall closet of yours,
1GB. however, we’re afraid you’re on your own. !
Some OSes include utilities to let you convert a drive Taken from the September 2003, Vol.9 Issue 9, Page(s)
partition to a different file system, such as FAT to FAT32 22-27 in print issue of Smart Computing in Plain English.
August 2003 RAM Pages 13
Use the coupon for MarketPro
on the back page
" $ % MarketPro Shows are held at
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14 RAM Pages August 2003
If you are a PC Users Group Member, join a Special Interest Group — a great way to share information with others having
similar interests. Special Interest Groups are subgroups within the Fresno PC Users Group that meet on their own
schedules to discuss specific topics. Bring items to share, programs, hints, and blank disks. E-mail SIG Leaders ahead
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For more information about SIGs, or starting up your own, contact SIG
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SIG Leader/Host E-mail Meets
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2 Wednesday of the month at 7:00
PM at CompUSA on N. Blackstone.
Windows 3.1, 95,98 & Troubleshooting Windows
Bill & Chris Myers firstname.lastname@example.org 4TH Wednesday of the month at 7:00
PM at CompUSA on N. Blackstone.
Digital Nancy Mason & email@example.com 1ST & 3RD Saturday of the month at
Photographty Susy Ball firstname.lastname@example.org 10:30AM at CompUSA on
Man Dean Mason email@example.com 4TH Monday of the month at the 7:00
PM at the Sierratel Business
As of this time the MOUNTAIN PC MAN SIG is dark.
CompUSA is located in the RiverPark Shopping Center, just north of Herndon and Hwy 41 at 7502 N. Blackstone.
The Sierratel Business Center is located at 40044 Hwy 49 in Oakhurst.
NON PROFIT ORG.
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August 2003 September 2003
Month in Review Month in Review
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2 10:30 AM Digital Photography 8 7:30 PM General Meeting -
4 7:30 PM General Meeting - TBA
Making audio files Cancel
6 10:30 AM Digital Photography
13 DARK Novice SIG
7:00 PM 10 7:00 PM Novice SIG
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16 10:30 AM Digital Photography 20 10:30 AM Digital Photography
27 DARK Windows 3.1, 95, 98
7:00 PM 24 7:00 PM Windows 3.1, 95, 98
& Troubleshooting & Troubleshooting
Windows SIG Windows SIG