July 31, 2012

Troubleshooting Common Sound Problems

It’s happened to pretty much everyone. It seems like someone always running into issues with their sound functioning. If things were as simple as playing movies in your direct tv, then running into PC sound problems would not be such a big deal. There are a number of things you can check to help you get your sound back working again. One of the first is to simply make sure your speakers are turned on, that is if they use power. You should also make sure the speaker volume is up, but not too loud so that if you get it working it blasts in your ear. If you speakers aren’t coming on make sure the power supply is plugged in.

Next you need to check the physical connection to your PC. Make sure the speakers are plugged properly into the personal computers input. Typically, this is 3.5mm green jack, although optical or coax inputs are more commonly being used to connect computers to speakers. Whatever your computer uses make sure that both ends are plugged in properly. In addition ensure that if your speakers have the ability to become unplugged from a subwoofer, ensure they have not come loose. If you have a keyboard with sound controls make sure you do not have the computer muted.

Finally you need to check your computers settings. In Windows you can double click the sounds icon bringing up the controls for the sound settings. Make sure the volume slider is up at least half way, there may be more than one depending on your version of Windows. In Windows 7 the volume sliders are application specific, meaning that each application that uses sound will have its only volume slider. Also ensure that the application you are watching video or listening to has its volume up at least some of the way.

Keeping Yourself Secure On the Internet

Keeping Yourself Secure On the Internet

It’s important to keep a watchful eye out when browsing the internet. Pay attention to sites with popups and trying to sell you things. Visit reputable places and only use your credit card with them. Always remember if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Of course these are a few common knowledge steps everyone should know, but there are things you can do to protect your computer and your network at home. You can do this affordably without having to spend a lot of money.

Your computer most likely has a built in firewall, if you are on a Mac or PC. But just that is not enough you need to make sure that you keep it updated with all the fixes and system updates that are currently available. In addition using a secure browser such as Firefox, Internet Explorer 8, or Google Chrome can help you stay secure. Add-ons for these browsers can help block malicious websites from running noisy flash ads, or java exploits, or attempts to download malware.

You should also keep your network secure and you might ask yourself, how can I secure what is just some cables and a box plugged into my computer and internet modem? For starters if you have wireless, you can keep it locked down using a WPA key. This means your wireless will now require a password. Odds are good if you have WiFi you may have an external router. Having an external router, can help keep your ports closed and your computer from being directly exposed to the internet. Ensure that you change the password on your router as well, because it can help keep people out as well.

Resolving Keyboard and Mouse Issues

Resolving Keyboard and Mouse Issues

If you are on a desktop computer, not on a laptop, and you are having some problems with the keyboard and or the mouse, there are some things you can do to test and see where your problem is, or if you need to replace hardware. As your primary input devices keyboard and mice see a lot of use and abuse. It’s not uncommon to spill things on keyboards or for them to become clogged with hair and dirt. Today most mice are less susceptible to problems.

One question to ask is, do you have a wireless keyboard or mouse? If so you could have a couple issues. One might be to check the batteries in both the mouse and the keyboard. If they are low the device won’t function properly. Among other things you should check your receiver for your wireless input devices. Are they plugged in properly and is the receiver close enough to the keyboard and mouse? If not it can sometimes cause delays in typing or mouse movement.

Check and make sure that they are plugged in properly, if they are you may try unplugging them and plugging them back in. Also rebooting your computer could resolve the issue. One thing to consider is that they just might be worn out. If you have had them a while it might just be time for a replacement. If you are using a combo that came with your computer you might opt for something wireless or perhaps just more ergonomic for yourself. If none of these items work, you could possibly have serious issues with your hardware or your operating system, and at that stage it may be wise to consult some help.

Dell Streak 7 Review

The Dell Streak 7 is one of many new tablets that have recently been introduced. Featuring the Android operating system, the Streak blends smartphone and tablet functions. If you are looking for something versatile and mobile, the Dell Streak 7 could be right for your needs.

The Dell Streak 7 has a seven inch multi-touch screen for easy viewing and overall mobility. Not only does it include Android 2.2 for its operating system, but the Streak is one of the first tablets to support Adobe Flash. This is a feature rarely seen on an Internet tablet, which will enable you to view websites, emails, and your favorite e-books.

There are plenty of other cool features on the Dell Streak 7 as well. You will find 16 GB of storage on the device. Additionally, the Dell Streak 7 has a five mega-pixel camera which allows for video chat as well as normal video capabilities.

The versatility of the device, as well as its features, makes this a perfect choice for powerful features and mobility. Simply put, you receive the functions found on standard tablets, but with the portability of a smartphone. Casual and business users alike should find it very well.

Consider the Dell Streak 7 for your next computer-related purchase. It is an Internet tablet and smartphone which combines the advantages of each. Powered by the Android operating system and with new features to boot, the Streak deserves serious consideration. This device could certainly replace a couple of your current ones.

Installing an Operating System

Installing an Operating System

The first thing you need to do is determine why you need to install an operating system. Is there something wrong with your existing install that cannot be fixed? Or perhaps you are doing an upgrade and would like to install a new version of an operating system. One more option might be that you have replaced your hard drive and simply need to install the same operating system you were using before. Presuming you know the whys, next ensure that you know exactly which operating system you wish to install.

Next is to make sure that you backup all your data. Bookmarks, Pictures, Documents and even things like game saves. When you are sure you are ready to go you can proceed. Even if you are just going to do an upgrade installation it is wise to have everything backed up in case something fails or goes wrong. Also avoid making a simple mistake like backing up your things on the same drive, put your backups on some type of removable media. Now you are ready to install the operating system.

It’s advisable to have an extra computer if you run into problems so you can look on the operating system developer’s website or search the internet for tips on your issues. Start by placing the media into the CD or DVD Rom drive and then boot the computer, you may need to enter the computers BIOS and change the setting that sets the boot order, ensuring that the optical drive boots first and not the hard drive. The computer should start booting from the disks and then you can proceed following on screen prompts to complete the installation.

Replacing the Power Supply in Your Computer

Replacing the Power Supply in Your Computer

Power supplies are a very common item to fail in a computer. Unless you have your computer plugged into a UPS or Uninterruptable Power Supply, your power supply work very hard absorbing small fluctuations in power, including protecting things inside from things like voltage drops and minor spikes and power flicker all things that happen in a normal power grid. This can present a lot of wear and tear on a power supply and as such they fail often and need to be replaced.

If you suspect your power supply might need to be replaced, first you can do a little preliminary testing. On some computers entering the BIOS can yield information about what voltages your computer is actually getting. Look for values of 3.3v+, 5.0v+ and 12v+ and ensure the voltages that your computer is reporting aren’t significantly higher or lower than these. Also you can buy a small tester should you suspect issues with your power supply. Additionally if you have problems starting your computer or it shuts off randomly, the power supply can be the culprit in some cases.

Inside your computer, your power supply is the large brick looking item with all the cables coming out of it. You can be certain it is correct by looking to see where you plug your power cable into. To remove it, simply unplug every cable that connects to it inside the case and unscrew 4 screws on the outside and slip it out. When you are ready to install your new one, start by carefully slipping it in, then replacing the 4 screws you removed from the back and plug all of your cables back in. Replace the computer and the cabling and start it up!

Installing a New Hard Disk

Installing a New Hard Disk

Once you have spend the time figuring out just exactly what type of drive you require, and what size you would like, you can now take your time installing it. As always ensure that you are well prepared for the swap. Make sure all of your data is backed up and that you have whatever disks you need to re install your operating system. When you are certain you have everything you need and are properly ready you may proceed to the next step of physically replacing the disk.

Turn your computer off, and carefully remove all the cables, ensuring that you label any ones that you are unsure where they might go, or if you think you might get them confused with another one. Pull the computer out, and remove the side panel. Look inside, you may choose to clean out the inside of your computer if there is significant build up at this point, simply used compressed air in a can or do it carefully with a vacuum. Now find your hard disk inside and carefully remove the cables that go to it, there may be clips you need to push depending on the drive.

Now examine how the existing drive is installed, if it on slide rails push the clip inward and slide the drive out. If it is not and is screwed in like most drives are, using a screwdriver remove the screws holding it in. with some computer this may require removing the other side of the case to get at all the screws. With the old drive removed, replace it with the new drive and reinstall the screws or rails in the order you took them off. Being careful plug the cables back into the drive. You may now replace the side panel (s) and put the computer back plugging all the cables in. You are now ready to install an operating system on your new drive!

Selecting a New Hard Drive

A 2.5" laptop hard drive sitting on a 3.5...

Image via Wikipedia

Selecting a New Hard Drive

When installing a new hard drive there are many things that you need be aware of. The first one is simply what type of computer are you installing this into; a desktop or a laptop. If it’s a laptop, odds are good you will be doing a replacement and not simply adding a drive. When purchasing a hard drive for a laptop ensure that you have the right kind of connection. If it is parallel drive, it will utilize a large connector with many small pins, if it is a SATA or Serial ATA, it will depend on one smaller connection with only a few pins.

The same advice applies when purchasing for a desktop. Ensure that you get a drive that’s compatible. Check your user manual or your manufacturer’s website for more information about your computer. If you are also replacing your primary drive on your desktop, like the laptop you will need to ensure you have new operating system disks, restore CDs and that all your data is backed up so you do not lose anything when the new drive is installed. If you are simply adding an additional drive this isn’t needed just ensure you have the physical space to install it in your computer.

There are many sizes of drives these days; an average size would be between 250 and 500 gigs. It can be very tempting to purchase large size drives right now, with their sub hundred dollar price point, but ensure that you take into account, that the more storage you have, the more that you will need to backup, and backing up over a terabyte of data can be a major task. It is much more data and will not fit on a CD or even a single burnable DVD disk.

Help the Elderly Maintain Their Computer Hardware

If you have parents that are in their 70’s or an elderly neighbor of the same age, lending a hand regarding the maintenance and upkeep of their computer hardware can mean a lot. Whether it’s defragmenting their system or helping install the proper security software, you’re help can go a long way toward prolonging the life of their computer and enhancing their surfing experience.

While most of us these days 40 and under have been exposed to computers through work and school, to the elderly, the computers can be a frightening thing they just don’t understand. When you start tossing around terms like RAM and hard-drive the elderly shake their head knowingly but don’t really get all the new fangled technology.

So here’s a novel idea, lend a helping hand.

There are numerous articles on the internet about how to speed up the performance of a computer. If your parents or another person only knows how to turn the machine off and on, telling them to defragment their system will only cause panic.

Some things you can do to help.
1.    Check out the performance of their computer – In the pantheon that is conversation with the elderly take a few minutes twice a year to visit with them about their computer’s performance.
2.    Ask them to show you where they are saving items like emails, documents and pictures. If the answer is the desktop, encourage them to purchase an external hard drive where they can start saving these things.
3.    Offer a helping hand – Old people are not illiterate and some of them just need a little nudge to get started. Some quick advice on how to send and receive pictures in the email or how to create a Christmas card will help them immensely.

Make it a goal this year to visit with your parents and see if their computer hardware could use a helping hand.

Adding Hardware to Avoid at Home frustration

Many people are active computer users who have multiple programs running at the same time. The very act of toggling between open windows can be maddening and many are circumventing the problem by adding a second monitor to their computer system.
A second monitor has proven to be very beneficial for photographers, artists and programmers that need access to more open windows to compare products and line items of computer code.
Here are some steps to help you determine if your computer will accept a second monitor or hook up to a projector screen.
1.      Turn off the computer.
2.      Connect a video cable (and an adapter, if necessary) from the video output port on your computer or graphics card to the video input port on the second display. (You’ll need an adapter if your second display is a television or similar device.)
3.      Verify that the connections are solid.
4.      Turn on the computer and the second display.
5.      Once the new display is connected, you can configure it in System Preferences>Display.
6.      If your computer supports an extended desktop, click Arrangement. Follow the onscreen instructions.
7.      If you computer does not support extended desktop, click Arrangement and select Mirror Displays.
As you become more adept at using programs on your computer, it’s probably a good idea to add more USB and FireWire hardware. If you’re finding that you have to unplug one thing to hook up another it’s probably time to upgrade. By purchasing USB and hubs or cards, or FireWire cards you can leave everything plugged in.
Listen, sometimes it’s all about what works for you. If you’re looking for the best solution to some of the frustrating things that occur while you’re working on the computer it’s time to upgrade your hardware and think outside the box to maximize your working experience.