Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Home Networking Is For You These Days.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

A few years ago building a home network was strictly for professionals and true computer geeks. The cost, the complexity and other factors made it a very rough road for anyone else.

But that has all changed. Today, the costs have come down on every component. Wireless is not much more expensive, and sometimes less, than cabled gear. A bit of Cat 5 Ethernet cable costs not much more than plain stereo equipment wire. A hub costs a few dollars. Even routers, once $200 or more are now available for little more than the cost of an ordinary switch. At the same time with broadband, speeds have increased dramatically.

Reliability has improved for both cabled and wireless networks. The latter were once just for experiments by hobbyists. A cordless phone call, a wall or just a solar flare hiccup could easily knock your network offline. Distances were limited to a few meters, making wireless networks much less attractive for networking the whole home. Now, they can cover the whole of a large, two story home with ease.

But perhaps best of all, besides the lower cost and better performance, home networking is now simpler than ever. Today’s gear comes with better instructions, ones that don’t assume you are a computer or networking expert. The software and hardware both are simpler to configure. The diagnostic tools are easier to use than in times past.

At the same time, most people have increased their basic computer knowledge by leaps and bounds. With the Internet, cell phones, iPods, iPads, and tablets being a daily part of everyone’s lives, the intimidation factor is at an all time low. Everyone today knows how to use email. Most people know what HTTP or HTTPS is, how to ping something and other things once considered esoteric. Discussing routers, IP addresses and other aspects is no longer just for wild eyed guys with glasses.

Security consciousness has been raised, too. As a result of thousands of articles on credit card or identity theft and other computer related issues, people are much better informed and more cautious. They may not follow all the standard recommendations touted by security professionals, but they’re no longer indifferent. Anyone who has ever been hit by a computer virus, which is just about everyone today, has seen first hand the need for some efforts in this area.

There are still a few minor hurdles to overcome. The biggest one is usually just absorbing a fair number of unfamiliar terms, such as protocol, NIC (Network Interface Card) and other related words. Once that wall is breached, the rest is pretty straightforward.

Even adding an Internet connection to the home network, so that it can be shared by all systems instead of just one, is very simple today. A little bit of homework, sometimes a modest amount of troubleshooting, and you’re in business. So get in gear and start hooking together those computers owned by each member of the family. You’ll find that printer sharing is easy. You’ll be able to pass files without emailing them from one system and downloading them from another. You’ll find your security enhanced. Most of all, you’ll have the same kind of fun that used to be limited to computer experts. Who wouldn’t want that?

Watch for future articles that will help you with your Home Network.

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What Is a Home Computer Network to you?

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Your home network is a computer network you have in your home. True, but not very helpful? Let’s look a little deeper.

Most people know by now that in order for one computer to share information with another, it’s necessary to connect them together in some way. Those connections and the computers that are part of them form a network. Just like a spider web, when the trapped fly tugs on one part, a signal is sent to the spider at the other end.

In the case of a home network, the web is made up of either cables or wireless signals. Those two basic options make up the difference between what is called a cabled or wired network versus a wireless network. As recently as five years ago, a lifetime in the computer world, the wireless option was complicated and expensive. Today, wireless home networks are often less expensive and easier to create.

At different points along the web there are junctions called nodes. Those nodes can be in the form of computers, switches or routers.

Switches provide a place to plug the cables in that allow a physical connection between communicating computers. Routers perform a similar purpose but with more functions, such as the ability to connect multiple networks together and (as the name suggests) route traffic intelligently between them. In many cases, computers themselves can perform those functions. Software within the system can use the network cards in each computer, with a simple switch in between, to allow communication between them. Though routers have become commonplace, that’s still possible and if your needs are fairly simple it can be the cheapest, easiest way to create a home network.

But computers, switches and routers aren’t the only possible components of a home network. Familiar devices that go under the general name of peripherals are often part of the home web.

One of the reasons for undertaking the expense and effort of creating a network is often to share folders, printer, fax or scanner among multiple computers. If you splurged for a color laser printer or a fax machine at home, you save money by only needing to purchase one device each, instead of multiple printers and faxes for each computer. A home network allows sharing those devices. As part of the basic home network system, you’ll often want to include software and/or hardware known as a firewall. A firewall allows for passing some information sent by trusted sources, but blocks other types of data, or unfriendly malware, viruses, etc that are sent from any other source.

With wireless networks or any home network connected to the Internet, they are a must. Fortunately, routers typically contain some inherent firewall functions. Even software within the OS today can usually perform that function. Putting all these different pieces together in a coherent way that allows you to send and receive files, share printers and more is the process of creating a home network.
Of course, doing it in a way that doesn’t get you tangled up in a sticky web requires a bit of homework.

Probably by the year 2015 all of your appliances in the kitchen along with every entertainment device you have in the house will be connected to the internet.

Watch for future articles that will help you with your Home Network.

Having Problems Accessing The Bios Setup?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

You may need to access the BIOS setup utility for a number of reasons like managing memory settings, configuring a new hard drive, changing the boot order, resetting the BIOS password, etc.
Entering BIOS is actually very easy once you determine which key or combination of keys on your keyboard to press to access BIOS.
Follow the easy steps below to access the BIOS setup utility on your computer.

Here’s How:

1. Turn on your PC or restart it if it’s already on.
2. Watch for a “entering setup” message in the first few seconds after turning on your computer. This message varies greatly from computer to computer and also includes the key or keys you need to press to enter BIOS.

Here are some common ways you might see this BIOS access message:
• Press [key] to enter setup
• Setup: [key]
• Enter BIOS by pressing [key]
• Press [key] to enter BIOS setup
• Press [key] to access BIOS
• Press [key] to access system configuration

3. Quickly press the key or keys instructed by the previous message to get into BIOS.

Note: You may need to press the BIOS access key several times to enter BIOS. Don’t hold the key down or press it too many times or your system may error or lock up. If that happens, just restart and try again.

These tutorials are a one-person effort. Please donate if you find them useful.

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Something turned my screen sideways!

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

There’s a hidden “feature” in Windows that can turn your screen sideways. Most people who “activate” this feature do so by accident and are freaked out because they think they’ve been hit by a virus or a hacker attack.

The first time I ran into this, I got a call from my youngest daughter and my granddaughter had be using the computer (she was four at the time) and when my daughter returned to it the screen was sideways.

Before your neck starts to hurt from trying to view your computer screen sideways, here’s the secret key combination that restores your screen to its normal orientation:
(This means pressing and holding the Control key, together with the ALT key and your UP arrow key)

There are a number of graphical display cards that support this feature (screen pivot) and most of the time it is used in conjunction with a computer monitor that can rotate.

It was originally invented for graphical designers and web developers to check long pages, but the key combination to activate screen pivot is a little close to the very often used CTRL+ALT+DEL key combination.
Pressing CTRL+ALT+UP ARROW restores your screen to its upright position, and CTRL+ALT+RIGHT ARROW or CTRL+ALT+LEFT ARROW pivots your computer screen.

Unfortunately sometimes people spend hours trying to solve this “problem” while the actual solution is very simple. But this is obviously one of those things you “need to know” to get it sorted out without performing a clean install of your Windows system or without running out to go and buy a new monitor.

Not to worry if in the meanwhile you tried hitting on of the CTRL+ALT+ ARROW combinations and nothing happened on your screen, because that simply means that your graphical display adapter doesn’t support this functionality.

These tutorials are a one-person effort. Please donate if you find them usefull.

Transfer Data From a Hard Drive on a Dead Computer!

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

A dead computer is not exactly a technical diagnosis, but in general people refer to a computer as being dead when it won’t start at all. This is usually because of a dead power supply, motherboard or something similar. In most situations, you can recover the information from the dead computer’s hard drive and transfer the information to another computer. The only time you can’t transfer the data is when the hard drive is dead or corrupted.

1. Open the case on the dead computer. The case can usually be opened by unscrewing the access door from the back of the case. Sometimes one or two buttons or a sliding bar must be pushed to open the case.

2. Disconnect the power and data cable from the back of the hard drive. Pay close attention to how the cables are connected. Unscrew the hard drive from the case. You may have to remove the access door on the other side of the case to completely unscrew the hard drive.

3. Open the case on a second computer that has the same type of hard drive connections. Find another hard drive cable connection on the motherboard. You may have to refer to the user manual to locate it. Connect a hard drive cable from the motherboard to the hard drive. Connect a power cable from the motherboard to the hard drive. Sit the hard drive somewhere where will not fall or interfere with any fans.

4. Start the computer. Windows will find the second drive and give it a letter. Click on the files you want and copy and paste them onto the computer’s main hard drive.

These tutorials are a one-person effort. Please donate if you find them usefull.

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