COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue

COMPUTER NEWS Inside This Issue
Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group
http://www.
nvpcug.org
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558
COMPUTER
NEWS
Volume 25, No. 5
May 2008
At the May Meeting,
NapaNet brings our speaker
Inside This Issue
2
NVPCUG SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS
2
NVPCUG CALENDAR
2
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
3
OFFICERS LIST
4
EVALUATING YOUR ANTI-SPYWARE
PROGRAM
5
HASTA LA VISTA
6
WIRELESS ROUTER SETUP
8
SCOTTY, I NEED MORE POWER!
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group will meet Wednesday,
May 21, 7:00-9:00 P.M.,
at the Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa, California
The meeting begins with Random Access, an open-floor
question-and-answer period during which attendees can ask
questions about computers and computer-related problems
and receive helpful information from other meeting attendees.
Questions may be submitted before the meeting by e-mailing
them to Random Access moderator Jerry Brown at
[email protected]
10 THE BIG DTV TRANSITION
12 GOOGLE RELEASES UPDATED VERSION
OF “GOOGLE EARTH”
15 THE ART OF KEEPING COOL
16 POWER SUPPLY TIPS
The Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group has served novice and
experienced computer users since 1983.
Through its monthly meetings,
newsletters, online forum, special
interest groups, mentor program and
community involvement, it has helped
educate people of all ages. The
NVPCUG provides opportunities for
people to find friends who share
common interests and experiences.
From January 2003 to October 2007
the NVPCUG provided 783 computers
and 140 printers to local schools.
Additional equipment has been given
to charitable nonprofit organizations
and to disadvantaged individuals.
Just over 15 months ago, on January 30, 2007, MICROSOFT
WINDOWS VISTA was released worldwide to the general
public. The May Computer Tutor session will will be about
the system’s current status and the pros and cons of the
VISTA operating system. Any additional questions, comments
or suggestions for things you can learn in 10 minutes (like
how to rename files and folders, for example), please send
your ideas to the Computer Tutor, Jeff Solomon at
[email protected]
NapaNet, Napa's own internet
s e r v i c e p r o v i d e r o ff e r i n g
numerous ways to connect
to the internet, web hosting,
website building, and more. Jesse Razo, who was recently
hired as the Director of Operations for NapaNet Internet
Services, will be our speaker.
Bring your questions and be part of members helping members.
Could you use some practical information that would help you
make better use of your computer? Come to this meeting! Guests
are always welcome. Admission is always free.
Interested in becoming a member? See page 14 for application
information.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008
NVPCUG
Special
Interest
Groups
President’s Message
In SIG meetings you can learn about
a subject in greater detail than is
feasible at NVPCUG general
meetings. SIG meetings are open to
everyone. M e e t i n g t i m e s a n d
locations occasionally change, so
for current meeting information, see
our Web site, www.nvpcug.org, or
contact the SIG leaders.
Investors SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Monday
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way, Napa
Leader: Jerry Brown
(707) 254-9607
[email protected]
Digital Photography SIG
Meets: Monthly, second Wednesday
7:00 to 8:30 p.m
Piner’s Nursing Home,
Conference Room
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
Leader: Susy Ball
(707) 337-3998
[email protected]
Napa Valley Mac Users Group
Meets: Monthly, second Thursday
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center
1500 Jefferson St., Napa
Leader: Ron Rogers
(707) 226-5352
ronrogersnapamug
@gmail.com
By Ron Dack, president, http://www.nvpcug.org/,
[email protected]
The Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group, Inc. seems to be headed
in the right direction now. Our 2007 tax filing was so simple I almost could not
believe it. Our budget is looking better but we have had to cut many things we
used to do and may have to cut more if we have any unexpected expenses. I do
want to say “Thank you.” to those of you that have opted for the online version
of our “Computer News”. Because of you and the other reductions we will
probably break even this year. Some of the other things we have cut out are the
purchase of speaker gifts we will only be making these gifts when we have
donated gifts to give. We have ended our participation in the annual recycle
event, which will save the cost of printing flyers. We are looking at ways to
reduce the expenses of the annual picnic and holiday party. We are considering
non-member admission fees for presentations and SIGs.
One thing that could help insure that the group continues to exist and
operates with a balanced budget is to increase our membership. If you have
friends and family who live in the area and use personal computers please
encourage them to join. We not only need members that need help using their
computer, we need members that are capable of helping. The larger our
membership is the more willing venders are to come to our meetings and
inform us what they have to offer.
Another way in which you can support the group is to get involved by helping
some of the members that do the everyday jobs that keep the group going,
growing, enjoyable, valuable, and viable. I know that Bob Simmerman can
use some help working with Microsoft Access maintaining our member
database. Susy Ball is always looking for local reviews and articles to use in
the newsletter. Help welcome a guest at the meetings so they feel like our
members are people they would like to associate with. There are many things
you as a NVPCUG member can do to make yours and others participation
more enjoyable.
I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at the monthly meeting
on Wednesday May 21st at 7:00PM. Come early and help Dianne Prior setup
the room and get a good parking space. Oh remember to bring a friend.
Take care,
NVPCUG General Meetings
Held the third Wednesday of each month, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Napa Senior Activity Center, 1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
Ron
NVPCUG Calendar
May 21
Jun 4
Jun 9
Jun 11
Jun 12
Jun 18
July 2
July 9
July 11
July 14
July 16
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
7:00-8:30 p.m.
6:30-8:30 p.m.
5:30-7:30 p.m.
7:00-9:00 p.m.
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
Board of Directors meeting + B
Investors SIG meeting + C
Digital Photography SIG meeting + B
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
Board of Directors meeting + B
Digital Photography SIG meeting + B
Napa Valley Mac User Group + A
Investors SIG meeting + C
NVPCUG General Meeting + A
Meeting Locations
A - Napa Senior Activity Center,
1500 Jefferson Street, Napa
B - Piner’s Nursing Home,
1800 Pueblo Ave., Napa
C - Jerry Brown’s home,
23 Skipping Rock Way,
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 2
Napa Valley Personal Computer
Users Group Contact Information
Officers for 2008
Board of Directors
President
Vice President
Secretary
Treasurer
Other Directors:
Director
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
Dick Peterson
738-1812
[email protected]
Marcia Waddell 252-2060
[email protected]
Roy Wagner
253-2721
[email protected]
Susy Ball, Ron Dack, Jim Gray, Dick Peterson, Bob Simmerman,
Kathy Slavens, Dean Unruh, Marcia Waddell, and Roy Wagner.
Jim Gray
255-6789
[email protected]
Appointed Officers
Computer Tutor Coordinator
Jeff Solomon
553-2114
[email protected]
Facility Arrangements Coordinator
Dianne Prior
252-1506
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Kathy Slavens
251-9193
[email protected]
Greeter Coordinator
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Librarian
Dean Unruh
226-9164
[email protected]
Membership Director
Bob Simmerman 259-6113
[email protected]
Newsletter Circulator
Jim Hearn
224-2540
[email protected]
Newsletter Editor
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Product Review CoCoordinator
Marcia Waddell
252-2060
[email protected]
Programs Director
Susy Ball
337-3998
[email protected]
Publicity Director
Ron Dack
unlisted
[email protected]
Random Access Moderator
Jerry Brown
254-9607
[email protected]
Special Projects Director
VOLUNTEER NEEDED
[email protected]
Webmaster
Ron Dack
unlisted
Sales Coordinator
VOLUNTEER NEEDED
[email protected]
[email protected]
• All telephone numbers are in Area Code 707.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 3
NVPCUG
Computer News
Computer News (ISS
0897-5744) is
published monthly by
the Napa Valley
Personal Computer
Users Group, Inc.
(NVPCUG), P.O. Box
2866, Napa, CA
94558-0286.
Subscriptions: $30 for
one year (12 issues).
Editor: Susy Ball,
[email protected]
The material in
Computer News is
intended for
noncommercial
purposes and may not
be reproduced without
prior written permission,
except that permission
for reproducing articles,
with authors properly
credited, is granted to
other computer user
groups for their internal,
nonprofit use only. The
information in this
newsletter is believed
to be correct. However,
the NVPCUG can
assume neither
responsibility for errors
or omissions nor liability
for any damages
resulting from the use
or misuse of any
information.
The NVPCUG is an IRC
501(c)(3) tax-exempt
nonprofit educational
organization (EIN 680069663) and is a
member of the
Association of Personal
Computer User Groups
(APCUG), an
international
organization. Donations
to the NVPCUG are
tax-deductible as
charitable contributions
to the extent allowed by
law. Copyright © 2007
by NVPCUG.
Evaluating Your Anti-Spyware Program
By Vinny La Bash, Member of the Sarasota Personal Computer Users Group, Inc.,
www.spcug.org, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for Any decent anti-spyware program should be able to run in
publication by APCUG member groups
the background unattended, and not require interrupting
For many years the most acute danger to your computer was your activities. The program should work according to
some kind of destructive virus. Today the danger has shifted your preferences, not the other way around. Choose a
from software that is programmed to destroy files, corrupt program that permits unattended maintenance and
programs, and disable systems to something more insidious, administration.
and perhaps even more treacherous. This threat comes in
It’s also important that an unattended scan can quarantine
two broad categories known as Spyware and Trojan Horses. infections without requiring intervention from you. Why
Spyware started out as a stealth program surreptitiously do some anti-spyware programs ask if you want to remove
installed on your system to track your web surfing habits. infections? Of course you do! Of all the features in antiThe developers of spyware didn’t want to damage your spyware programs, that is the dumbest.
computer. They wanted only to sell you something. That
There are innumerable derivations and iterations of
may be annoying, but there is nothing criminal about it.
spyware being created. This makes it difficult for even the
A Trojan Horse is a program that pretends to be something best anti-spyware programs to catch and destroy them. If
other than what it really is. For example, a screensaver you open the Processes tab in Windows Task Manager,
could be designed to install a program that will take over you will observe the Process Manager in action. You will
your system to forward spam to other machines. Trojan see a list of objects running on your system. Some of them
Horses have been used to initiate denial of service attacks, are applications like word processors. Others are mysterious
where the target such as a bank, credit card service or other entities that don’t provide a clue as so what they do, but
high profile web site becomes so saturated with external you can’t run Windows effectively without them. Among
them would be Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer,
requests that it cannot respond to legitimate traffic.
When selecting an anti-spyware program, start out by Media Center, Windows Mobile Control Center, and many
selecting one with a comprehensive signatures database. others.
Beyond shutting down a process or resetting its priority,
The best anti-spyware programs have databases that can
recognize more than 750,000 different kinds of spyware there isn’t much a non-specialist can do with this feature.
and Trojan Horse programs. Read the documentation or call Clever programmers can create spyware that won’t show
up in the Process Manager. Any decent anti-spyware
the company. This is important.
The best signatures database won’t do you any good if it program has to have its own built-in process manager that
isn’t updated frequently. The bad guys never seem to rest. will recognize, track down, and eliminate malevolent
They release new poison daily. Don’t buy any solutions that software that may not even be in the signatures database.
Anti-spyware programs should be able to monitor
require manual updates. You have better things to do. Insist
programs that load when Windows starts up. There are
on automatic updates.
Another important capability is active monitoring of many very sophisticated spyware programs that to not
your system. Wouldn’t you rather prevent a malicious show up in the Process Monitor or in Control Panel’s Add/
program from installing rather than removing it after the Remove section. If your anti-spyware program lacks this
damage has been done? Avoid any program that removes capability, find another one.
Assuming your anti-spyware program has the capabilities
infections found only after conducting a manual scan. This
probably means avoiding some otherwise adequate free mentioned above, it is an excellent choice for individuals.
programs. There’s an old saying about getting what you pay However, businesses or organizations with multiple
for. The best anti-spyware programs prevent spyware and computers will require even more. Whoever is in charge of
PCs will not have time to manually monitor or administrate
Trojan Horses from ever being installed on your system.
Go for a program that allows you to customize your individual machines. It is simply impractical in a large
scans. We don’t all use our computers in the same way. organization for support staff to visit every workstation,
Some people require more comprehensive scans than others. apply updates, schedule scans, and ensure that infestations
If you are constantly browsing the internet, you are likely are removed. If this applies to you, look for a program with
to benefit from a daily scan that checks active memory, a centralized administration console. This capability has
system folders, the registry, and all hard drives. If you rarely the unfortunate drawback of being quite expensive, but
„
use the internet or find yourself visiting the same six sites the time saved generally justifies the cost.
over and over, a weekly scan may be all you need.
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
You should be able to schedule unattended updates and for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
scans. Your machine should be yours to use as you wish. require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 4
Hasta la Vista
By Lee Reynolds, a member of the Boca Raton Computer Society, Florida and regular
contributor to Boca Bits, the BRCS monthly news magazine, www.brcs.org,
[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
I’m told the literal meaning of “hasta la vista” in Spanish is
“until the seeing.” Or maybe a more adequate translation is
“see you later.” But in this column, I’m using that phrase to
invite you to take a look at Microsoft’s latest version of
Windows: Vista.
Configuring the Taskbar
The Taskbar works very much like previous versions of
Windows, particularly XP.
You can configure some options on how it operates by right
clicking an empty area on it and selecting from a popup
context menu.
For example, you can decide:
• To have various toolbars such as the Quick Launch
toolbar and a Desktop or Documents toolbar
displayed
• Show all open windows “cascaded” like a row of
dominoes one behind the other, or show them side
by side, or one on top of another to cover the
desktop
• Minimize all the windows to show the Desktop
• Start the Task Manager application; or lock the
Taskbar so that its settings cannot be modified
without unlocking it first.
• If you select Properties from the context menu, you
are given further ways of customizing the Taskbar.
As in Windows XP, there are options:
• To auto-hide the Taskbar (it reduces to a very thin
line which only becomes visible as a normal
Taskbar when you put your mouse over that thin
line)
• Keep the Taskbar visible over other open windows,
• Group similar Taskbar buttons for the same
application in a stacked list.
Hardware icon, a Power icon (if you are using a laptop on
battery power), and others. You can put a check mark next to
Hide Inactive Icons and then click the Customize button, in
order to access a list of all icons that have shown up in the
Notification Area.
This is broken down into two lists, those icons that are
currently showing in the Notification Area, and those that
have shown up in the past but are not currently there now. For
each icon, you click to access a drop down list to choose Hide
when inactive, Hide, or Show.
SYSTEM TIME
One of the things that you can show on the Taskbar is the
system time (and that was in previous versions of Windows
also), but this now has some modifications.
Hover your mouse over the system time in the Notification
Area, you get a balloon tip telling the system date and day of
week, but if you click on the system time instead, up pops a
nice looking circular clock and a calendar of the current
month, with a link to the Control Panel area where you can
change the date and time settings.
In that area of Control Panel, you can now click on a tab for
Additional Clocks and configure up to 2 more different
system clocks to be active, each with a different time zone and
time of day perhaps. If you do that, then hovering your mouse
over the system time in the Notification Area will modify the
balloon tip to show all active clocks, whereas clicking on
system time will now show all these different clocks side by
side, together with the calendar of the current month. „
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
NEW OPTION
A new option available in the Taskbar properties page, is to
determine whether or not hovering your mouse over a
Taskbar button shows a live preview of the corresponding
window (thumbnail.)
CUSTOMIZE THE NOTIFICATION AREA
Unlike XP, you now have a separate tab to customize the
Notification Area, which is the part of the Taskbar on the right
hand side, normally showing the system clock, a volume
control for your speakers, a Network icon, a Safely Remove
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 5
Wireless Router Setup
By Bob Elgines, Editor, Colorado River Computer Club, Arizona, www.crccaz.com/,
[email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for publication by APCUG
(Or go to START / CONNECT TO
member groups.
/ click on your SSID and click the
How to change the setup or configuration of your Wireless Router and PC. CONNECT button below. Then you
First we need to get to your router after the original setup by bringing up can right click on your SSID and
Internet Explorer on your direct wired computer (Master) and typing in one select Properties. This will get you to
of the code addresses below:
your Wireless Properties
TYPE
CODE
USER
PASSWORD
CHNL window where you can put
the “check mark” and enter
your Security code.)
Belkin: 192.168.2.1 (No Name)
(Leave Blank)
6
Complete this on all of your
D-Link: 192.168.0.1
admin
(Leave Blank)
6
wireless computers and
Linksys: 192.168.1.1 (Leave Blank) admin
11
Netgear: 192.168.0.1
admin
password
10
remember how you got there!
Second, now we can choose to
A login screen will appear, if you used your own login name and password stop your Router from broadcasting
then use them. If you lost them and you wish to reconfigure your router you your SSID by selecting disable to
will have to push the reset button for at least 30 seconds. This sets the router “SSID Broadcasting” in your
back to its defaults and you can use the default values above.
router setup. All your computers
During your setup you may have seen “Number of DHCP users allowed”,
reduce this to the number of total computers in your network or that number
plus one.
SSID is your wireless network name, for example, Linksys will broadcast
“linksys”. First, we want to rename your SSID and then hide it later. After
changing the name, we need to reconnect with each wireless computer. To
reconnect, right click the icon in the System Tray (or task bar-right).
Windows XP SP2 - Choose Available Wireless Networks / Change
Advanced Settings. Click the Wireless Networks tab, click Add button in the
Preferred Network section.
should be reading the wireless
Type in the Network name you have chosen, then click OK twice.
connection.
Next step is to select a Security
type, let us try WEP first. This may
be slightly different due to different
manufactures. Usually you will find
it under Security or Wireless tabs of
your router setup. Select 64 or 128
bit encryption, then type in a word or
phase and let the router do the coding
by clicking on Generate. Select #1
and write down this code for your
wireless computers. Go to the
Wireless Properties window and click
on the SECURITY tab. Then set the
ENCRYPTION type to WEP and
enter the security code you wrote
down, click OK and Close. Key Index
should remain on one.
Look at the Security Type by
clicking
the down arrow on the right.
Windows VISTA - Select Network and Sharing Center, then left click on
Note
these
are the other types of
View Status (located middle-right). Click on Wireless Properties button. Put
security
allowed:
WPA2-Personal,
check mark on “connect even if the Network is not broadcasting”.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 6
Defrag & Burn
WPA-Personal, WPA2-Enterprise, and WPA-Enterprise. Most newer routers
and computer can operate with this type of security and is considered better
than WEP.
We completed a simple setup to supply a secured wireless connection. You
can go further and use one of the WPAs if all of your computers will accept
this. Just disable WEP and enable WPA and roughly go through the same
process. You could also assign your MAC addresses, but how far do we have
to go?
Following are definitions for MAC, DMZ, WPA,
DHCP, and the router FIREWALL:
•
•
•
•
•
•
DHCP – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol as a server assigns
IP addresses to all computers on the network (in this case the router
is the DHCP server).
DMZ – Dedicated Multi Zone exposes a computer directly to the
internet with a IP address. Some games require this direct access.
You could give a false address not used by your computers to send
intruders to an address that goes no where!
FIREWALL – The router’s firewall gives protection on data
coming in, but not going out. If you wish full bi-directional
protection you will have to use software and replace your windows
firewall which is incoming only.
MAC – Media Access Control is a number related to the network
adapter in a small network. LAN-MAC address is for your internal
network and WAN-MAC address is used for router to modem
connection. You can find your Client table (IP and MAC addresses)
in your router’s configuration utility.
WEP – Wifi Encryption Protection is the old security standard that
can be used with either 64 or 128 bit encryption.
WPA – Wifi Protected Access is the latest network security
standard, but if your equipment is over two years old you may want
to checkout www.wi-fi.org web site for information. For full
instructions on activating WPA see PC Magazine’s step by step
article at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/
0,1759,1819544,00.asp
„
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by
APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author
(see e-mail address above).
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 7
If you burn a lot of CDs or DVDs,
defrag your hard drive frequently.
Hard drives don’t usually store an
entire file in one location; instead,
they split the file into parts and store
each part in gaps created on the drive
when you delete other files. For
example, if you’ve stored five 100KB
files on a hard drive and you delete
the third one, the drive has 100KB of
unused space. The next time it saves
a file, it splits 100KB of that file and
stores that portion in the vacant 100KB
space. When you load that file, the
file system has to search for all of the
file’s components. When you defrag
the drive, you move the portions of
files into contiguous positions,
speeding the data transfer, and
decreasing the likelihood of errors.
Unclog Your Printer
Heads
If you’ve begun to run low on ink, or
if you don’t use your printer every
couple of days, the heads can clog
with slowly drying ink. Run a test
print to see if you notice gaps in the
lines or otherwise unacceptable
printing. If so, you can clean the
heads in a couple of ways. Your
printer’s Properties dialog box
probably lets you activate a headcleaning utility that cleans the heads
by forcing more ink out of them. You
can save ink by doing the job yourself,
though. Remove the cartridge and
clean the nozzles with a clean cloth
and rubbing alcohol.
Clear Paper Path
Whenever you print a photo, make
sure there’s nothing blocking the
paper path. If the paper slows down
even a fraction of a second, you can
ruin the photo by altering how the
colors blend and how the image lines
up. If you’re using expensive photo
paper, feed the sheets through one at
a time. You’ll also want to stand
there and watch to make sure the
paper goes through smoothly and
consistently.
Reprinted with permission from
Smart Computing. Visit w w w .
SmartComputing.com/Groups
to learn what Smart Computing can
do for you and your user group!
Scotty, I Need More Power!
By Alan Mildwurm, President, Diablo Valley PC Group, California,
www.dvpc.org, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for Disposable batteries have several
publication by APCUG member groups.
advantages:
When my kids were young, I bought batteries by the
• they can be used immediately
bushel. All of their toys required some batteries. The
• they have a long shelf life with low loss of energy
phrase “batteries not included” raised almost as much
• they are rather cheap in purchase
terror as “some assembly required.” I still recall going
• they are easy to use and no charger is required
out one Xmas morning in search of “C” size batteries
because we missed the warning on the box. (7-11). One These advantages of disposable batteries however, had
to be seen alongside several clear disadvantages:
very cool pool toy took 16 batteries - in 3 sizes.
• can be used only once and therefore mean
In those days, rechargeable batteries were garbage.
substantial waste and risk for the environment.
Most rechargeables were nickel-cadmium and with a
memory that made them useless after a few charges. Shelf
• have to be purchased over and over again and are
life was a joke and power output dismal. For several years,
therefore expensive considering the life-time of
I bought throw away alkaline batteries at Costco because
your equipment.
they were cheaper than those clever bunny batteries. Not
• are not quite powerful enough in certain
environmentally friendly, but definitely kid toy friendly.
applications (like digital cameras)
As the kids grew up, their needs for batteries diminished
• are being offered in many varieties and special
(actually they now buy their own), but my need for
application-specific types, which confuses the
batteries is increasing. Wireless keyboards, wireless mice,
consumer.
gps, wireless game controllers (the Wii-mote takes 4
batteries per controller and there are 4 controllers), iPod The classical advantages of rechargeable batteries are:
• high performance, especially if high discharge
external power units, camera accessories and on and on. I
currents are required ( like in digital cameras)
am going through more batteries now with my toys than I
• cheap in use, because they can be recharged many times.
ever did with the kids! Luckily, rechargeable battery
technology has come a long way.
• environmental friendly, because one rechargeable
battery replaces 1000 disposable batteries.
Sanyo produces the eneloop (www.eneloop.info).
According to their spec sheet, the AA battery is rated at 1.2
• good performance at low temperatures.
volts and 2000 mAh. Not bad for a rechargeable. Given these advantages, rechargeable batteries also
(A disposable usually is 1.5 volts.)
have some disadvantages, which made consumers
There are two sizes of eneloop batteries, AA and AAA. reluctant to exchange disposable batteries by
They also produce C and D size cylinders in which you rechargeable batteries:
insert AA batteries.
• After purchase, rechargeable batteries have to be
charged before they can be used.
From their site:
•
Rechargeable batteries lose the stored energy
eneloop is a totally new type of battery, which satisfies in
rather fast.
a unique way the needs and expectations of the consumers.
•
The state of charge is hard to determine.
Consumers would like to have a battery, which
• Continuous charging or frequent charge (without
• can be used right after the purchase
complete discharge ) can destroy the battery.
• has a high performance
• Proper charging is complicated for an
• has a long shelf life with no loss of energy
average consumer
• can be used everywhere
• The charging takes quite long and rapid chargers
• is cheap in purchase and usage
are expensive.
• is environmental friendly
All these negative attributes have one root-cause:
• is easy to use
self discharge.
Self-discharge means, that a charged battery slowly
So far these requirements could not be
discharges itself without any equipment consuming any
satisfied by a single type of batteries.
current. This is the reason for rechargeable batteries being
The consumer had the choice between disposable batteries sold in discharged state. And this is the reason for that
keeping charged batteries for some time did not make any
or rechargeable batteries.
sense. When you needed then, the energy was gone.
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 8
How was the self-discharge reduced?
(For you techy folks!)
Modern Ni-MH batteries consist of two metal stripes
(anode and cathode), which are separated by a nonconductive porous plastic foil ( separator ). These three
stripes are laid on top of each other and are wound to a coil.
This coil is put in a metal can and immersed with a liquid
(electrolyte). Then the metal can is closed with a cap.
The self discharge of Ni-MH batteries is caused by
three main reasons:
• the chemical decomposition of the cathode,
• the natural disaggregation of the anode,
• Impurities of the anode.
Now, how could the self-discharge in the eneloop been reduced?
The chemical decomposition of the cathode has been reduced
substantially by the use of a new superlattice alloy. As an
additional benefit the superlattice alloy increases the electrical
capacity of the battery and reduces the internal resistance, which
allows higher discharge currents. Another advantage of the
reduced decomposition of this alloy is the fact that less Cobalt is
needed to stabilize the alloy. The anode has been strengthened by
another new material, which reduces the natural disaggregation.
Additionally the separator and the used electrolyte have been
optimized for low self discharge of the eneloop.
They really are good batteries!
I have been using eneloops for several months. They work
fine. I have both a wall charger and two battery (AA or AAA)
USB charger. Both chargers work very well. I like the USB
charger and I love the fact that they come charged and ready
to go.
The kit shown below lists for $5000 but is available at Amazon
for $3200 It comes with 4 AA, 2 AAA, and 2 spacers each for C
and D plus a charger. I have found even better deals with more
batteries at Costco!!
„
Autoformatting
Microsoft Word 2003 supports autoformatting, which
analyzes the document and its components and then
changes the format to suit established rules. This works
fine as long as the autoformatting matches your vision of
the document, but autoformatting will often make
unexpected or unwanted changes. However, you can
work around this. If you see any formatting you don’t
want (for example, Word turns a URL into a hyperlink),
you can simply click Edit and Undo AutoFormat to undo
that most recent automatic change. If you’d prefer to
disable autoformatting entirely, just click Tools and
AutoCorrect Options and select the AutoFormat As You
Type tab. Now select or deselect the autoformat options
you want and click OK.
Catch The Light At Dusk
A darker scene forces the camera to leave open the
shutter longer (anywhere from 1/60 second or longer),
recording tiny movements your hand makes during the
shot. This, in a blurred image, is called camera shake.
Thus, we recommend using a tripod, even when the
camera is in Night or Auto mode. You can also increase
the camera’s ISO setting (Night mode may do this
automatically) to help avoid camera shake and capture
the light faster. However, this could introduce noise
(specks) into the photo, and you’ll probably still need
the tripod, so why bother?
Use Numbering When Appropriate
While bullets are the most used type of marker on a
PowerPoint slide, it’s better to use numbers when you
need to show a sequence (such as the way that you put
together a machine or how to cook a soufflé). To do this,
first select the paragraphs and then click the Numbering
button. To remove the numbers, click the Numbering
button a second time. Alternatively, switch from numbers
to bullets by clicking the Bullets button.
Wireless Networks
Wireless data transfers all depend on signal strength. As
the range increases, the signal weakens, so the wireless
system slows down the data transfer to maintain its
connection. Better antennas can improve the signal strength,
allowing for faster wireless performance and/or greater
wireless range. However, a new antenna must be compatible
with your router. Still, just dropping cash into new antennas
isn’t a guarantee of improvement. And even if there is an
improvement, there’s no way to tell how much improvement
to expect. Try moving your laptop closer to the router and
see if the data speeds actually improve noticeably. If so,
new antennas might help.
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what
Smart Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 9
The Big DTV Transition
By Sister Dorothy Robinson, OSB, OMUG Newsletter Editor, The Olympia Microcomputer
User Group, Washington, http://www.olymug.org, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
Computer users often speculate about how digital
technology will affect us and our world. We are now
entering the final stage of a rather large digital transition,
that of digital television signals. Didn’t know this
transition was going on? You’re not alone.
On February 16, The Olympian
ran an Associated Press article on
the digital television transition that
is happening in the United States.
The article said that in about a year,
on February 17, 2009, all analog
TV broadcasts will end in this
country. If a TV does not have a
digital tuner, or is not connected to cable or satellite or
other paid services, it will need a digital converter box to
receive and display digital signals. About 13 million
households would be affected — those with older TVs
(no digital tuner) or receiving signals only over the air as
in the past. This is because analog tuners can’t decode
and display digital signals.
Options, said The Olympian, for continuing to receive
TV signals after February 17, 2009 are to buy a digital
converter box ($40-50, according to this AP article), a
new TV with a digital tuner, or get connected to a paid
service. The federal government is offering $40 coupons,
up to two per household, good on the purchase of a
converter box. You can now call 1-888-388-2009 or
apply online at http://www.dtv2009.gov. There
is also an option online to print out an application and
mail it in. You may want to apply early.
http://www.9wsyr.com says “You will still need
an over-the-air antenna in addition to the converter box
to receive a digital signal on your analog television set.
Your current antenna should work the same as before.
Many major chains have been certified to sell the
converter boxes, including Best Buy; Circuit City; Kmart;
Sam’s Club; Wal-Mart; Sears, Radio Shack and Target.”
Best Buy, according to centredaily.com, “will stock an
Insignia-branded analog-to-digital converter box
exclusively, retailing at $5999.”
PRNewswire.com states “Converter boxes at $4997
are on shelves now at Wal-Mart already.”
According to radioshack.com, you can find a Zenith
converter in stores for $5999. It is looking like the
difference between the price of the converter box and the
coupon will be $10 and up.
The Olympian article said the reasons for the
changeover are to allow for auctioning off excess airwaves
(digital broadcasting is much more efficient so there will
be an excess), for new wireless services, and “possibly”
providing emergency air networks for disasters. Digital
signals can also provide better picture definition—but
that depends on whether high definition programs are
being broadcast and on whether a TV is set up to receive
high definition programs. Digital signals can support
high-definition (HDTV) broadcasts—but is not the same
as HDTV.
From How Stuff Works, http://electronics.
howstuffworks.com/hdtv1.htm, comes this
information: “Some people believe that the United States
is switching to HDTV—that all they’ll need for HDTV
is a new TV and that they’ll automatically have HDTV
when analog service ends. Unfortunately, none of this is
true.” If you want more information on how HDTV
works, check this site at the link above.
The government website at http://www.dtv.
2009.gov has this to say about the reasons for the
changeover: “Digital broadcasting promises to provide
a clearer picture and more programming options and will
free up airwaves for use by emergency responders.” It
says nothing about auctioning off air wave spectrum or
the intricacies of HDTV.
The Benton Foundation page at h t t p : / /
www.benton.org/index.php?q=node/1257
has information on the background and time-line for
DTV transition. It states:
“Digital television (DTV) is a new, more efficient
technology for transmitting and receiving broadcast
television signals. But DTV signals are not compatible
with today’s analog TV sets in most American homes.
Under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the amount
of spectrum given to television station owners was
doubled. The policy rationale for this was to enable the
stations to transition US consumers to digital TV without
interruption of analog broadcasts. But after ten years of
digital TV broadcasts, only a small number of US
households have made the switch to DTV, delaying the
return of valuable spectrum that could be used by
emergency officials and auctioned to offset federal deficit
spending.”
Included in benton.org’s time-line called “Getting to
February 2009: Implementing the Digital TV Transition,”
is this step:
“January 28, 2008 The FCC must conduct the auction
of the licenses for recovered analog spectrum,
commencing the bidding no later than this date, and is to
deposit the proceeds of the auction in the US Treasury no
later than June 30, 2008.”
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 10
In other words, this is happening right now, if things are
proceeding on schedule.
CNN.com’s take on this topic in January of 2006:
(http://money.cnn.com/2006/01/04/
technology/pluggedin_digitaltv/
index.htm):
“Once TV stations switch to digital transmission, they
will return to the government a big chunk of the radio
spectrum they currently use to transmit their analog
channels. Some of that spectrum will go to first
responders—police, fire and public safety officials—so
they can better communicate with one another. Breakdowns
in emergency communication slowed the response to the
September 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.
New spectrum should help.
The rest of the spectrum will be auctioned off to the
highest bidders—probably tech companies. The sale of
this valuable, scarce real estate is expected to bring in
about $10 billion, maybe more. That will help reduce the
federal budget deficit.”
CNN also talked about the new technology and services
that will likely be developed using this increased air
availability, for example, cheap wireless broadband access
virtually everywhere. Referring to an historical parallel, it
states:
“Scheduled for 2008, the auction will be the biggest
spectrum sale since a 1994-95 spectrum auction. That sale
helped boost the mobile phone industry, boosting the
number of cell phone subscribers in the U.S. from 24
million to 200 million. It also helped drive down the cost
of wireless minutes from an average of 47 cents a minute
to 9 cents a minute, according to analysis from financial
services firm Stifel Nicolaus.”
Whether we like it or not, the DTV revolution is on its
way. The best we can do is prepare ourselves. For many of
us, the $10 or $20 needed to buy a converter box is not a
problem. Unfortunately, some people on fixed or low
incomes will find it very difficult to get ready for the
change. For them, the TV screen may go dark at midnight
on February 17, 2009.
„
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Use Spybot To Get Rid Of Kazaa
Kazaa loads an inordinate amount of adware,
third-party programs, and other files on your PC.
Use a hefty anti-spyware utility such as Spybot
Search & Destroy to remove it. Open Spybot
S&D and click the Check For Problems button.
Wait while Spybot S&D scans your system and
then click the Fix Selected Problems button. Click
Yes when asked to verify that you want to remove
the selected files. Spybot S&D may not be able to
remove all of the selected files until you restart
your PC. If prompted, restart your PC and let
Spybot S&D complete its cleaning process.
Overheating: What To Watch For
Any component inside your computer can overheat
under the right circumstances, but due to their nature,
there are several pieces of hardware that are at high
risk for heat damage. At the top of the list is the
computer’s CPU. Whenever you launch a program
on your computer or use an application that’s already
running, the CPU must work a little harder to keep
up. Eventually, the CPU is forced to operate at the
peak of its abilities, and that’s when it consumes the
most electricity and generates the most heat. When
the CPU overheats, programs that typically run fine
may generate error messages, or the entire computer
may crash. Some CPUs are designed to reduce their
speed when they overheat, so if you experience
severe slowdowns in programs after a certain amount
of time has passed, heat is the likely culprit. Video
cards are the second most likely type of hardware to
overheat, especially if you use the computer to play
graphics-intensive 3D games. Most video cards
contain their own memory and CPU, and when the
memory overheats, it tends to cause white “sparkles”
to appear randomly on-screen, where-as heat
problems resulting from the card’s CPU generally
cause the game to slow down or crash.
Wireless Speakers
If you’re an audiophile, listen to wireless speakers
before adding them to your entertainment setup to
make sure you’re comfortable with the sound quality.
Some listeners prefer wired audio because it
consistently delivers audio to the speakers. Keep in
mind that although you can buy wireless speakers at
any point, you can’t easily wire your home for
whole-house audio after construction completes.
Reprinted with permission from Smart Computing. Visit
www.SmartComputing.com/Groups to learn what
Smart Computing can do for you and your user group!
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 11
Google Releases Updated Version of
“Google Earth”
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director; Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, Texas; Radio & TV
Show Host, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for
publication by APCUG member groups.
WEBSITES:
http://earth.google.com
http://earth.google.com/downloadearth.html - FREE Version
http://earth.google.com/tour.html
http://earth.google.com/enterprise/
earth_plus.html - $20 Plus Version
http://earth.google.com/enterprise/
earth_pro.html - $400 Pro Version
Houston, TX
Atlanta, GA
It has been nearly two years since I first (and last) discussed
Google Earth in this column. In the ensuing time since the last
review, Google has been busy updating and improving the
product, adding new features, and improving the graphics.
For those who may not be aware, Google Earth is a program
that allows the immense Google database of terrestrial and
satellite images of the earth, along with amazing images of
space, to be utilized and manipulated on the computer.
What is new and improved in the recently released Google
Earth 4.3 (beta) is demonstrated in an interactive video tour
online at earth.google.com/tour.html. One of the new features
in version 4.3 include what Google calls “Photo-realistic
Buildings”, where hundreds of buildings in many of the
world’s major cities are shown in three dimensions (3D). If
a building that is displayed “turns purple” when cursoring
over it, clicking anywhere on the building will open up a
smaller window giving details of the building, and the moniker
of the person who created or updated the digital image. The
images displayed can be manipulated to zoom in or around
them from any angle, effectively creating a dynamic 360
degree panoramic view. These 3D views are not just of cities
and buildings, but there are also spectacular images of natural
beauties such as mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and canyons.
Another new feature on this version is what Google calls
“Swoop Navigation” where the user can virtually “Fly
seamlessly through the landscape with new navigation
controls. Swoop from outer space to street level and leap from
one building top to another. Use the look joystick to view
buildings as if you were standing right in front of them.”
Another aspect of the new version is the “Light and
Shadow” feature where many of the images can be shown in
selected or sequential times of the day, such as displaying a
mountain top from sunrise to sunset. On the top of the screen
is an optional slider which can be moved with the mouse to
display the simulated or realistic image at any chosen time. In
Beaumont, TX restaurants
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 12
some of the more scenic images it
address in the “Where?” box,
appears to show the path of the sun
restaurants will be displayed on the
across the sky with the corresponding
Google map. By clicking on the icon
light and shadows. The new and
displayed for each restaurant, details
improved “Street View” that has been
will be displayed for the selected
previously available online with
restaurant in a window overlay.
Google Maps (maps.google.com) is
Typical information displayed
now integrated into Google earth.
included the name, address, phone, a
Google has a fleet of vehicles which
hyperlink (if any) to the restaurant
cruise major cities taking high
website, any reviews that may be
resolution 360 degree digital photos
available and driving directions “to”
as they drive down the streets. With
and “from” the restaurant.
Beaumont, TX restaurants (DETAILS)
“Street View” the user can virtually
Google Earth does not just provide
visit a city and virtually walk or drive the streets using the maps and images of terrestrial and earthly locations, but
mouse instead of a vehicle. Views are literally from the street also includes celestial maps and images. Clicking on the
level showing cars, people, store fronts, intersections, and any Saturn-looking icon on the top of the screen will open a
other features visible from street level.
“Search the Sky” search box. By
Using the mouse, the user can cruise
entering a celestial body or location,
the streets just as if he was navigating
such as “Mars”, Google Earth will
the city for real. While not yet available
display a sky map with an image of
for every city, a camera icon, when
the heavenly body, and also display
displayed on a map, will zoom in to a
the current geometric coordinates
360 degree panoramic image from
for those using sophisticated
street level. Many street level images
telescopes.
contain additional camera icons which
The basic version of Google Earth
allow the user to travel seamlessly up
4.3 (beta) is a free download from
a selected street, and the mouse can be
earth.google.com. For those desiring
used to turn in any direction.
more features, Google offers Google
The popular features that were in
Earth Plus for $20, which adds
earlier versions of Google Earth have The planet Mars
support for a variety of GPS devices
been retained. One that I periodically
(verified support for Magellan and
use is the “Directions” feature, which does not just give Garmin GPS devices, but can not upload to those devices),
traditional driving directions and maps, but also animates improved network performance, and improved high
the drive by clicking on the play button at the bottom of the resolution printing. For professional and commercial use
driving directions listing. When
Google offers the Pro version for
animated, a detailed sequential
$400.
zoomed-in satellite image is
Google Earth is a fascinating utility,
displayed, with the directions
and will run on Windows 2000 or XP
overlaid on the image. For example,
(Vista is not mentioned), and requires
when I requested driving directions
a minimum of 400MB hard drive
from the Examiner offices on
space, and a video card capable of
Willow Street in Beaumont, to the
1024x768 resolution with a 16bit
Bush Airport (IAH) in Houston, the
color depth. An internet connection
seamless animation in Google Earth
of at least 128Kb/sec is required. I
showed the street images including
suggest that readers of this column at
real pictures of the highway
least download the free version of
showing which lane to be in,
Google Earth and simply play with it.
detailed images of each turn or exit,
Click on the icons at the top of the
and high resolution images of the The Examiner, where Ira works
page, and check and uncheck some of
airport. The images are actual photographs, not computer
the boxes on the left margin, and experiment with it; do not
generated images. By seeing the route in exquisite detail
worry, you can not hurt anything by experimenting with it.
prior to a journey may help ease the anxieties of the drive.
Google Earth is one of my favorite “fun” programs. „
Once at a destination, it may be helpful to find nearby
“points of interest”, such as restaurants. By simply entering This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
the word “restaurants” in the “What?” box, and the current for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 13
Fr om Copies t o Full Co l or Printing
we ’re your
sou r ce for all your printed needs .
Also come see us for your Pr omo tional Items !
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Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
Offering Financial Services
throughout the Napa Valley;
with offices in American
Canyon, Calistoga,
Napa, St. Helena
and Yountville
800-869-3557
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NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 14
The Art of Keeping Cool
Part 1: Computer Fans
By Jerry Goldstein, Vice President & Newsletter Editor, The PC Users Group of Connecticut,
www.tpcug-ct.org/, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for things cool and lengthen the life of your computer.
publication by APCUG member groups.
For gamers, who always want the latest and greatest
With the cold weather you may not be thinking of the need to equipment, (meaning heat generating stuff), there’s nothing
cool down. No matter how cold it gets outside your personal like a huge fan built right into the top of the computer. These
computer still needs to be cooled. Computers generate a great fans are larger than standard computer fans, usually as large
deal of heat and need a means of dissipating it. Heat reduces as the case is wide. They sit on the top of the computer sucking
the life of your computer parts. Block your computer vents the heat up and out as it rises through the computer. Way cool.
and your motherboard will fry leaving you with lots of
Of course a fan cooled computer will do you no good
nothing. Inadequately cooled computers suffer
if you pack your computer into too tight a space or a
crashes and freeze-ups as the parts overheat.
closed environment. Be sure to keep a few inches for
You can check your computer’s temperature
air to circulate in and out of the computer fan vents
during startup by going to Setup when your
and don’t put your computer in a closed cabinet.
computer starts. Unless you do it through a
There is a reason computer desks come with an
reboot after you have been on the computer for a
open back cabinet to put your desktop into. Air
while you will not get a true reading. There is
circulation is also the reason why internal computer
software available to monitor your CPU’s
cables are no longer flat. They found the flat cables
temperature. Constant temperature monitoring is probably blocked air flow. The round sata cables now in use cut back
not needed unless you are overclocking (running your CPU on air flow restriction. Sata cables are also made thinner to
faster than it is set for at the factory) your computer or packed further increase airflow. Check how your cables run and
in way too much gear.
maybe move them to the side to increase airflow.Air circulation
To combat the heat computer users have a wide selection equals good. Closed-in, tightly packed computer equals bad.
of choices, some that work better than others. This article
One drawback to fans is that they run off your computer’s
will introduce you to a variety of means of keeping your power supply. The more fans you put in your computer the
computer cool.
shorter the life of your power supply. Power supplies are a lot
As computers get faster and smaller the parts are getting cheaper to replace than a motherboard, CPU, hard drive, or
hotter and hotter. The smaller the computer case gets the less video card. In fact, you should always invest in a couple more
space that heat has to go. For a while computer cases were good fans to aid in cooling your computer. The manufacturers
getting bigger. About eight years ago I had a nice full size are looking to save costs so they are never generous enough
tower that had plenty of room for lots of gear and open space with those fans. You’ll always save money in the long run
for the heat to dissipate. I still had extra fans running on that with longer lasting parts kept cool by those extra fans. That
computer but the computer ran cool to start with because it is if you remember to install them. Those extra fans won’t
help while they sit on the shelf waiting to be put in.
had space for the heat to go.
Fans also have a bigger drawback: noise. When you start up
In the last few years the over-the-counter computer started
to be made with smaller cases which meant parts are being your computer that noise you hear is the fans starting up and
crammed closer together. That also meant there was less running. The more fans you use the more noise you get. Its
room for the excess heat to move away from the equipment. worth spending a bit more to get a better quality quieter fan.
Adding fans are becoming more of a necessity as more is Check the computer magazines or on-line for reviews. Using
one large fan that moves more air than two small ones will
crammed into less space.
The standard computer comes with at least four small fans also save you noise. The law of diminishing return comes into
built onto the case walls and the CPU. These fans are self- play with fans. At some point adding another fan will not help
contained units that either blow cold air into the computer or anymore as the enclosed space can only move so much air.
The lower you keep your computer parts temperature
hot air out. You will find these fans spread throughout your
computer with their location depending on the manufacturer’s the longer they will last. Taking the time to strategically
design. There is also a fan made to blow cool air directly onto place computer fans will save you time and money
an add-on video card, a notorious heat monger for gamers. shopping to replace those overheated blown parts. Keep
The fan uses one or two expansion slots and sits over the cool year round.
„
video card forcing cool air onto the card. When adding fans This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
think about placing some fans to bring in the cool air while for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
having other fans suck out the heat. Good airflow will keep require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
NVPCUG Computer News, May 2008, Page 15
Power Supply Tips
By Dan Hanson, the Great Lakes Geek, Computers Assisting People, Ohio,
www.capinc.org/, [email protected]
Obtained from APCUG with the author’s permission for computers often have more than one power supply so
publication by APCUG member groups.
that when one dies, the other kicks in and the system
We have all experienced the computer crashing seemingly stays operational.
for no reason. When it does, we blame Windows or a
So what can you do?
hardware problem or maybe a power surge or undervoltage.
Next time you buy a PC, don’t just get a cheapo
All are possible culprits but one often overlooked possibility system with a sub-standard power supply unless you
is the power supply of the computer.
never plan on adding memory, drives or other
The power supply is the metal box with a cooling fan components to the machine.
next to it. Typically it’s in a back corner of the case and
Take care of your power supply by keeping the
you plug your power cord into it. When you
cooling fan away from the wall or anything
plug the power cable into the wall, the
else that might block the air flow and make
power supply converts the AC
the fan work harder (and die sooner).
(alternating current) that runs through
Keep the PC off the carpet or other
your home or office into the DC (direct
surfaces where it may suck in particles
current) that the computer needs.
and clog the fan. Cooler is always
If you bought your computer from a
better with electronic components.
superstore or discount retailer it may a have
Periodically, blow out the fan and
low-cost, low-capacity power supply installed
case with compressed air to get rid of
which may not be enough to handle all the things
dust and other particles that may clog up the fan
you do with your PC.
and overheat the system components.
If you have upgraded your PC with newer or more
Add up the wattage of the components in your system to
components (like another CD or DVD player/burner,
see if you are near the maximum of the power supply. Emore RAM or another hard drive) then the power supply
mail us at [email protected] for a list of
that came with your system may not be up to the task.
Estimated Power Requirements of common PC
The physics of power supplies (ambient temperatures, components.
3.3V vs. 5V vs. 12V, etc) make it so that a power supply
If that is too difficult for you, look to see if most of the
rated at certain wattage, say 300W, may not really provide
slots in the back of your PC are filled and if the drive bays
that maximum wattage load. Some experts claim that
in the front are being used. Those are indications that you
power supplies are most efficient at 30-70% of their
may be close to maxing out your power capacity.
maximum capacity. So if you are nearing that maximum,
If you have a need, you can buy and install (or have
you can be in for trouble.
someone else install) a new, heavy duty power supply.
Because the power supply gets a rush of AC (alternating
They come in several standard form factors to fit in most
current) when the computer is turned on and it heats and
PCs. Warning this may not be a project for beginners
cools each time it is used, it is more prone to failure than
though.
many other components in your PC. You may notice a
Get more tips at www.GreatLakesGeek.com
slight burning smell before it shuts down. Sometimes the
This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely
cooling fan stops working and the system overheats.
Newer systems let you monitor the status of the power for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses
supply from Windows. Servers and other mission critical require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).
Napa Valley Personal Computer Users Group
P.O. Box 2866
Napa, California 94558-0286
Address Services Requested
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