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May 2005 Issue

 

Below, find our archived issue of the 5 Star Support Monthly Newsletter.

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April 2003 June 2003 December 2003 January 2004 March 2004 April 2005
May 2005 July 2005        

5 Star Support Monthly Newsletter  

May 2005 Newsletter

Inside this issue:

1) Notes from the Editor
2) Industry News: Keep your wi-fi top-notch shape with these tips
3) Computer Security 101
4) Tips and Tricks
5) Building a budget gaming computer
6) Setting Up A Wireless Network (Home and Business)
7) Problems and Solutions
8) Contact Information

[1] Notes from the Editor:

Welcome to all new subscribers and welcome back to all loyal 5 Star Supporters! I hope that the 5 Star Support newsletters will be an effective vehicle for your computer learning!

5 Star Support is moving in a very positive direction and continues to add valuable support related content on a regular basis. Here is what I have added in the last month:

<> Site Updates:
Be sure to check out the April updates as well as the current updates from time to time. This is a great way to catch the newest tips and tricks for a variety of computer topics.

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<> E-mail Support:
5 Star Support’s email support continues be as strong as ever. We have over 80 technicians that are willing and very able to offer advice on nearly any computer related issue.

http://www.5starsupport.com/support.com

If you find this web site a useful tool, please support us by sending in a small contribution so that we can continue our work here on the web. Follow the link below to find information on how you can donate to 5 Star Support.

http://www.5starsupport.com/donate.htm

Thank you for your support!

Now, just sit back and relax with your favorite beverage of choice and enjoy your 5 Star Support May 2005 newsletter.

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[2] Industry News: Keep your wi-fi top-notch shape with these tips
By Lauri Sowa

Wireless connections are becoming more and more popular in the computer world. Their popularity is from the lack of cords and the freedom to move about.

Instead of connecting machines with wires, wireless (also called "wi-fi") uses radio frequencies that connect devices by bouncing signals from access points. Those access points can be a stand-alone unit or can be a card attached to a notebook, device or desktop machine.

Ultimately, however, all wireless devices still connect somewhere with a wire. An access point, basically, converts the wireless connection to the wired network. An access point can be included with a router, the device that allows multiple machines to share an Internet connection.

Wireless technology is still in its infancy and is being improved constantly. As with everything, the more we use it, the better it seems to get. Here are some ideas to keep your wireless humming:

First and most important, secure your network. Many of us consider our wireless network successful when we can share files and get to the Internet.

However, if proper security features are not in place, we remain far too vulnerable, and anyone passing by with a wireless card has free access to our Internet connection.

Recently, some wireless users in Nipomo received notices from a local hacker telling them their system is unsecured. Our Nipomo hacker is a perfect example of why we all have to remember security. Someone breaking into our networks is just like a burglar breaking into our houses.

Next, strategically place your access point or router. It is easy to install a wireless network only to find that it won't function in certain areas of the home. Any electromagnetic field will interfere. Your network can be working just fine until you turn on your microwave or cordless phone.

Strategic placement helps with your signal. Care has to be given to such obstructions such as brick walls, cordless devices and metal.

But, a weak wireless signal can also be the result of a long distance between the router and computer. One way to solve that problem is to upgrade the antenna or install a second access point.

Changing your channel can also help reliability. Equipment can transmit on any of several different channels, similar to televisions. Most wireless routers ship with the same channel number, and most us of never think about changing it.

However, if a person experiences interference, it could be from a neighbor's router or some other piece of electronic equipment. Changing the channel just might be the best way to avoid it.

Finally, there are upgrades that can be installed. Wireless routers contain built-in programs called "firmware." The manufacturer installs that firmware. Just like Windows, updates become available to improve service. As your router gets older, consider upgrading its firmware periodically.


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[3] Computer Security 101:
Check out this article about network security.

http://netsecurity.about.com/cs/compsecurity101/a/aa112903.htm

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[4] Tips and Tricks:
Generated from 5 Star Support

[Windows XP]

Off-Line Web Browsing

Here is a feature that I have personally never used, but I have always had a reliable Internet connection. If you are not so lucky, then you may find this feature useful at times. To configure IE for offline browsing:

1. Open up the web site of choice and click the Favorites button.
2. Select Add to Favorites...
3. Tick the box that reads; "Make available offline"

Note: If you would like to be able view even linked pages of this selected web site, you can click the "Customize" button and follow the Offline Favorite Wizard to help you determine how much content you would like to make available offline.

4. Select a favorites folder to place it in
5. Click OK

To remove a web page from offline browsing:

1. Select Tools>> Synchronize...
2. De-select the check box next to the web page you would like to remove
3. Click Close

The de-selected web page will no longer show in this menu when re-entered.
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[Windows 98]

Menu Speed

When you click on the Start menu button and begin navigating the Programs, the menu speed can be so fast that you will slip out of one program into another. Here is how to slow the menu speed:

Using TweakUI, choose the Mouse tab. Move the slide-bar from Fast to Slow for the Menu Speed option and click Apply.

Note: You may have to readjust the menu speed to get the speed that suits you.

Download TweakUI here:
http://www.5starsupport.com/info/techinfo3.htm#tweakui

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[Internet Explorer]

Open new Windows/Close all Windows

While browsing thru the internet with more than one window open can really speed things up. Press Ctrl-N to launch a new window displaying the contents of the window you are currently viewing. Or, Shift-click a hyperlink to open a page in a new window.

Now you have a bunch of windows cluttering up your screen. Here is a trick to use to close all of the windows at once:
Press the Ctrl key while clicking the windows in the taskbar. Once you have all your windows selected. Right-click any one of the windows and choose Close. All windows will be disappear.

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[Mozilla Firefox]

Removing engines from the search box

All of the searches listed in the toolbar search box are by default all US based. You are given the option to add new search engines to this list. However, you are not given the option of removing items from this list. Below, you will find removal instructions:

Windows: Go to C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins (I don't know if Mac will be different).

Each search engine has two files; .src and either .png or .gif. All you have to do is delete the two files (for example google.src and google.gif) and restart Firefox.

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[Paintshop Pro]

Creating a custom gradient

In the Styles palette click on the small triangle on the right of the bottom box, to bring up the options of fill type. Choose Gradient.

Click on the Edit button.

The resulting dialog box is the Gradient Editor.
Click on New and name your gradient.
In the gradient options click on the first little indicator below the color bar. Next click on the color selector box and set the color. Do the same to set the second color. You can add more colors by clicking in the area between the two indicators and setting the color in the same manner.

The little diamond above the color bar is the blend indicator. It can be used by sliding the diamond itself back and forth across the line or by typing a value in the Location box. This determines how your colors blend into one another.

The next area is for setting the transparency of the gradient. If your gradient needs to be opaque (solid) then you don't need to worry about this box (as in the example shown). But if you want your gradient to have a level of opacity this is where you set it.
First you need to select which indicator will have a level of opacity. Then set the opacity level by typing it into the Opacity Box or by clicking the little slider next to the number and setting it to the value you want.

Then you can slide the indicators to find the result you desire. You can see the result in the Result box below.

Now you have created a custom gradient.
Click OK.

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[5] Build a budget gaming computer
By Santana Holcolm
5 Star Support Technician

I think starting off with building a budget system first is the way to start off.
First and foremost thru this whole article is price and how much you want and are able to spend on building your budget gamer. To keep cost down you can use your old case unless it is a Dell or HP/Compaq since they use power supplies built to their size specs to fit their cases. There are plenty of low cost cases out there for you to choose from. You can get a nice case for 50 dollars without the cheap power supply included.

You will need a good power supply unit (psu). Next to the CPU this is most important in a good stable and reliable system. To figure what you need is this list with what each component typically uses in wattage. Add the watts for each component in your system and multiply by 1.8 for what you need.

Motherboard----------------------------------20-35w
Intel P4 CPU----------------------------------70w
AMD Athlon XP, 64or FX CPU---------------60-95w
Hard drive 5,400-7,200-10,000 rpm-------10-20w
AGP Videocard-------------------------------30-55w
PCI card---------------------------------------5-15w
RAM (memory)-------------------------------20w per 256mb
Case fans--------------------------------------3-5w each
CPU fan----------------------------------------3-5w
Optical (CD or DVD) drive-------------------10-20w
Floppy drive (3.5)-----------------------------5w
Cold Cathode Lights--------------------------3w each.

Source for above: PC Power and Cooling

Buy the best PSU you can afford because you don’t want to not be down and not able to play because you used a cheap PSU and had it damaged one of your components. It can and has happened before since cheap PSU will not try to even out small power spikes and sags. Buy a PSU that will have the power connectors you need for your hard drive and motherboard. The minimum should be a 350watt unit. I recommend a 400watt unit for your budget gamer. A good brand name 350watt unit runs about 70 dollars and a 400 watt unit runs about 80 dollars….

See the rest of this article here:
http://www.5starsupport.com/tutorial/build_gaming.htm

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[6] Setting Up A Wireless Network (Home and Business):

The tutorials below will cover setting up and securing a wireless network for the home and a business.

* Setting Up A Home Wireless Network
* Setting Up A Business Wireless Network
* Guidelines For Securing Your Wireless Network
* Related Terms

What is Wireless Networking?:

It is a type of networking technology that allows computers to communicate with other computers (as well as other wireless-equipped devices) without using cables. Instead, wireless networking uses radio signals to receive and transmit data between wireless access points and wireless network cards operating on the 2.4 GHz frequency band.

Each wireless device exchanges signals with an Access Point, also called a Router. Access points, in turn, communicate with other network devices. An Access Point is typically a piece of hardware, but solutions are also available that allow a computer with a wireless card to act as an Access Point.

Setting Up a Home Wireless Network:

First, you will need to choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Many ISP's offer a flat rate service while others may charge an hourly rate. In either case, choose one that makes sense for your needs. If you currently have a wired connection, you can inquire with your current ISP, they may provide wireless services as well.

You will need to purchase a wireless 802.11b wireless broadband router. Most routers will connect to a broadband modem, a 10/100 Ethernet backbone, or wireless network. They typically support a range of 300 feet indoors and 1,500 feet outdoors. When placing your router, keep in mind that walls, water pipes, cables or anything that could produce interference can decrease your range. Try to keep to a range of around 150 feet. This will create a greater throughput (A measure of the data transfer rate through a typically complex communications system or of the data-processing rate in a computer system).

Now it is time to install the PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) card into your desktop computer. Many of the newer laptops come equipped with mobile technology so the need for additional cards may not be necessary.

Next, turn off your broadband connection device and your PC. Then unplug the cable from your broadband device (Ethernet cable) and plug it into a Local Area Network (LAN) port on the back of the wireless broadband router. Keep the other end connected to your PC....

See the rest of this article here:
http://www.5starsupport.com/tutorial/wireless.htm

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[7] Problems and Solutions:
Generated from 5 Star Support

Problem:

All of the sudden and for no apparent reason, my screen on my laptop will just go black. What can cause this?

Answer:

The problem is most likely a faulty hinge switch on the laptop. What gives this problem away is that the screen will not go completely black. If you look closely, you will see a feint image on the screen.

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Problem:

I had a virus and found instructions to disable system restore in order to rid the virus from my system. After disabling system restore, then running my virus scan, the system restore tab has disappeared from the system properties window. How do I get this back?

Solution:

In order to restore your system restore tab, you will need to edit the registry. Be sure that you make a backup copy of the registry prior to making any changes.

Go to Start>> Run. Type in: regedit [Enter]

Navigate to the following registry key;

HKLM\Software\Policies\Microso­ft\Windows NT\SystemRestore

Single click once on the entry; "SystemRestore" to empty its contents into the right pane.

Find the entry "DisableSR", right click on it and delete it.

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Problem:
I keep getting this error message: "Virtual memory minimum is too low. Windows is increasing the size of the virtual memory paging file."

What does this mean?

Answer:

The virtual memory is the space your computer uses when it runs short of RAM memory. The paging file is the place where Windows handles your virtual memory settings. If your computer wants to change it, you should go ahead and let it because XP will adjust the setting to meet the current memory needs. I do not recommend changing these settings manually as Windows can manage the size much more efficiently than the user can. Making your virtual memory setting larger will increase the number of addresses and will make Windows lazy.

Adding more RAM may also be of benefit as this will reduce the need for virtual memory to be used in the first place. For running Windows XP, I suggest at least 384MB. In general, adding more RAM is the most cost effective means of boosting a computer's performance.

I recommend buying quality RAM from a reputable company. Some cheap (unbranded) RAM can on occasion be defective resulting in 'unexplained' crashes or freezes. Brands to look for are Mushkin, Crucial and Kingston. To determine the price and availability for a particular computer, select its manufacturer and then the model from the menus on Crucial's site:
http://www.crucial.com

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Question:

How do I backup the Windows Registry?

Answer:

Instructions on how to back up, edit, and restore the registry in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 can be found in the following MSKB article:
http://support.microsoft.com/?­kbid=322756

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[8] Contact Information:

I hope that you have enjoyed 5 Star Support’s May 2005 Newsletter. If there is anything that we can do to make it better, please don’t hesitate to contact us:

We are looking for people to run their own tips sections of the newsletter. If you would like to make your name known as an author, this is a great place to start. Send all inquiries to:

admin@5starsupport.com


Regards,

Newsletter Staff

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