Q: Downloading may be something some people do on a regular basis, but it never hurts to refresh your memory on how to do it properly. The following tip may help you more than you could ever imagine. 

A: So, you've found a piece of software you want to download but aren't sure how to go about the whole process. Well, here's a step by step guide:  Find what you want to download and simply click the download link.  Choose to save to disk and hit the OK button.  Choose where you would like the file to be downloaded to. I normally use the desktop because after the download I can find it easily without having to hunt around my hard drive for half an hour.  You may choose a location other than the desktop though, of course. You can create a folder on the C: drive named "Downloads" if you wish. Then you can keep all your downloaded software in that one location.  If you wish to place a download folder on your C: drive as mentioned above, do the following:  First, double-click the My Computer icon on your desktop. Next, double-click the "C" drive. Select File, New>>, Folder. A folder icon will appear with the words New Folder highlighted. Type in the name you would like for the folder (i.e. "Downloads"). That's it, you now have your very own download folder!   Once you decide on a good location, press the "Save" button. NOTE: Possibly the best way of doing this is to download the software to your desktop and transfer it to a download folder after you have installed the software.  The reason being is sometimes the downloaded file name isn't very descriptive. If you have 40 different files in a folder named "downloads" it may be a little difficult to determine what file you just downloaded.  On the other hand, if you download it to your desktop you can easily figure out where the file is and then later transfer it to a "downloads" folder.  If you want to take this a step further, you could even rename the file in the little Save As dialog box. That's what I normally do. In fact, I've even been known to rename the file and add a couple comments to the name so I could keep things straight later on.  For example, if you was downloading a program called "Cool Clock," You may name the file:  Cool Clock - keeps computer's time right.  Sure, it's long, but you would know exactly what the file was when I went to install it.  Watch the file download (it's really exciting). When the downloading finishes, a message box will pop up telling you that the download is complete (or you may just hear a little "ding"). The file will reside wherever you told the computer to put it in the step above.  Finally, double-click the file you just downloaded. If it's an " exe " type file, the setup program will run and you can install the software.
Q: Should I leave my computer on all the time, or turn it off?

A: This debate comes up often. Sparks continue to fly on both sides of the issue (especially if you don't have a surge protector. Leave it on:  The electronic components within the computer tend to last longer if they aren't constantly cooling off and warming back up. Additionally, you don't get any kind of initial "spike" in power when your machine is first turned on (not a big problem if you have an ATX type motherboard�most newer computers do). Finally, it's much more convenient to just plop down in front of your computer and start working than to sit through a lengthy boot-up.  Turn it off:  Your hard drive may last longer, especially if your computer doesn't put the drive on "standby" after a certain amount of idle time. The constant spinning of your hard drive motor can wear out the internal bearings. Newer hard drives will probably be in good service longer than the computer they live in.  Another "turn it off" argument is that you'll save on your electric bill. Depending on your machine, it uses the same power as one or more 100 watt light bulbs.  Finally, you're going to pull more dust into your computer if it's running all the time. More dust = more heat. More heat = short lived computers, unless you clean it out regularly. Those are the main reasons both ways.  Another reason is that power supplies can go bad and try to catch themselves (and anything nearby) on fire. Again, not something you want to have happen at 2:00 AM when you�re asleep dreaming about program code.  Finally, anyone who uses Windows knows that it should be re-booted on a daily basis. So, by shutting it off at night and turning it back on it the morning is fine.
Q: How do I quiet my modem?

A: The "regular" way to get rid of excess modem noise is to go to the Control Panel, open the Modems icon, click your modem, then the Properties button and turn the volume down from there.  Sometime this tip doesn't work for some people. To get your modem to be quiet when it dials, try this: Hit Start, Settings, Control Panel and open your Modems icon.  You should see your modem listed on the Modem Properties screen. Click it (select it) and hit the Properties button.  Click the Connection tab , then the Advanced button.  You should see a box labeled " Extra Settings. " Enter the following into it:  ATM0 {that last character is a ZERO - don't accidentally use the letter "o"_.  Hit the OK button until you're out of your modem settings and give it a try. The modem shouldn't make a sound when it dials.  With Win XP: just hold down the Alt key and double-click "My Computer" to bring up System Properties. Click the "Hardware" tab, then under "Device Manager" choose the "Device Manager" button. Scroll down to "Modems" and click the little (�) to show your modem, then double-click it. Selecting the "Modem" tab will allow you to turn the dialing volume down.
Q: When I start my computer, it seems to take a long time to boot and sometimes I get strange messages. What does this mean and what can I do to fix it?

A: Fortunately, Windows has something called "Selective Startup" that will help you figure out what's going wrong.  Go to Start/Run and type "msconfig" (without the quotes) in the box. Under the "General" tab, click "Selective Startup." (Screen shot shows XP, but this will work in Win 98/ME and 2K).  You'll see several check boxes. Uncheck everything and reboot. Then check just the first and reboot. Did startup run smoother without any issues?  Then go back to msconfig, check the next box and reboot. Continue this process until you experience your problem.  The next step requires a time commitment.  Let's say that your problem appeared when you checked "Startup Items." Then go to the Startup tab and click the "Disable All" button. Check off half of the boxes on the list and reboot. No issue? Then check the next half and reboot. When the problem happens, narrow down that half until you isolate which item is causing the issue.  Once the offensive item is found, just uncheck it. Continue checking the rest of the boxes and rebooting to make sure you don't have more than one problem.  You should get a clean boot.


Q:  I have an older mechanical mouse, you know the ones with the ball on the base, and it's been acting jittery. How can I clean it?

A: So, you're finding delicate control with your mouse to be difficult? All you want to do is nudge the arrow on the screen by a fraction of an inch, but for some reason it keeps on jumping all over the place?  Well, here's a tip that applies to optical mice which emit a red glow and mechanical mice (the older type with a ball in the base). To begin, turn the mouse on its back (reassure him by tickling his tummy). Look on the underside of your mouse. There will either be four pads (or �feet�) in the corners, or a couple of strips running across the top and bottom. If any gray gunk has accumulated on these, scrape it off and use some water (or that other popular cleaning solution � spit) to get them nice and clean.  That gunk (mostly made up of your old skin cells) is sticky and this makes the mouse stick to the mouse mat. Get rid of it and everything will run smoothly once again!
Q: Does this happen to you?  You're going along, trying to get a program to work, or you're trying to search for something, and all of the sudden...your computer freezes. It just stops! What? Why? It's hard to understand why it does that, but sometimes the programs just don't feel like responding. So, how can you get rid of it and start all over?

A: Try pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL. Once you do that, a box will pop up and tell you everything that's running on your computer. You just look through the list, find the program that's stuck, and choose End Task. That will stop the freeze up and should put you back on your way!
Q: How can I change my Welcome Screen?

A: If you have Windows XP, you have two choices of how your computer logs you in each time you boot up your computer. You can either use the traditional method of using a username and password or you can use what is called the Welcome Screen to log on.  If you want to change the way your computer logs you in each time, you can either disable or enable the welcome screen any time you feel like it. The welcome screen is attached to another XP feature called fast user switching. This is great for anyone who has multiple users of the same PC. The fast user switch method allows one user to leave all of their programs up and running while another person uses the computer. So, then once the second user is done, the first one can go right back to where they left off.  Basically what happens is that when the first user is done, they leave everything the way it is and then they log off for that session. Then they switch the user back to the welcome screen, so it's like a fresh start for the second user.  Now, keep in mind that if this pertains to you, you're going to want to keep the welcome screen feature active. If you happen to have the welcome screen inactive and would like to turn it back on, just go to Start, Control Panel and click on the User Accounts link twice. Choose "Change the way users log on or off" and make sure both the Welcome Screen and Fast User Switching boxes are checked. Then click Apply Options and that part is done.  Now, what if you're just a single user? You may want to disable the welcome screen, because you just may not really need it. The directions for this are almost identical to the ones mentioned above. To disable, make sure you're logged in as the administrator and then go to Start, Control Panel and click on the User Accounts link twice. Choose "Change the way users log on or off" and just uncheck the Welcome Screen box. This will automatically uncheck the Fast User Switching box as well. Then click on Apply Options and exit out of everything else.  Then you're all set. The next time you start up your computer, the traditional method of logging on that was mentioned above will be used, so if you're going to use this method, make sure you're certain you know your username and password.  Now, there's one more option for you. If you don't want the welcome screen or the traditional option, you can disable both of those. To login automatically to a user account and bypass the rest of the prompts, click on Run, type in control userpasswords2 and click OK.  Highlight the account you want to change and then uncheck the box that says "Users must enter a username and password to use this computer."  Once you have done all of that, the next time you reboot your computer, you won't have to worry about the welcome screen or the traditional prompt. You will just be logged in automatically and you'll be set to go.
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