Some FAQs about PCs you wish you knew before you bought it!

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Q: My Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer crashes with an error in FLT.DLL. What is the problem?
You installed a program that piggybacked this thing called FlashTrack. The primary suspect is iMesh, that P2P network client. Follow this link to fix it:

In general, I am weary of ALL P2P networks. There is NO WAY they can make money from it unless they sell all SORTS of things on it, including watching you, serving you ads, and do other nasty things with your personal info. And let's not even get into the part about copyright violations...

Q: Ok today i dug up my old scanner and when i connect it up i have to connect the printer into the scanner then the scanner into the computer. this is all good and proper but when i try to print it just prints computer Jargon! can someone please help me!
This is ACTUAL question posted, and this person made several mistakes...

== He did not include ANY detailed information, such as scanner brand and model, printer brand a model, driver model, operating system, and so on
== What exactly is "computer Jargon"? You may think you're describing it correctly, but I can't read your mind and see your problem. If you can't describe it properly, then you will get no help.
== He did not explain what program did he print out off that looks like jump. Does Text dump work? Or only Windows programs print junk?
== While the connect IMPLIES he's using a parallel pass-thru connection, this is not certain, and indeed cannot be assumed.

The net result: a frustrated newbie becoming even MORE frustrated as he cannot get an answer to his problem, because no one can understand his problem, muchless diagnose it. Don't make the mistake he did.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Q: I've seen custom icons in the IE Favorites menu for certain websites. How do I create one for my own website?
Read this PC Magazine online article.

Q: What are DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW? What are the differences among them? Which one should I get?
Read this article by PC Magazine. It explains everything.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Q: I added a new harddrive that is well over 2 gigabytes in size. When the new drive came up it says it's only 2 gigabytes. What's wrong?
In general, it means your BIOS does not understand large drives. You need a new IDE controller, or a BIOS upgrade from whoever made your mainboard / computer. Another possible solution is to load the software that came with the new harddrive. They may have software that let you bypass this limit, but it would be a software patch instead of a hardware fix.

Other possibilities includes: you formatted the drive in FAT16 instead of FAT32 or NTFS. FAT16 is limited to 2 GB per partition, though you can sort of get around that with multiple partitions, provided your BIOS is compatible.

Q: I use MSN and Outlook Express. What choice among POP3, IMAP, and HTTP should I choose for my mail?
Pick HTTP. MSN uses Hotmail, which is HTTP (i.e. webmail).

Q: Can DSL or Cable "modems" be overclocked?
No. Again, there's no 'clock' inside for you to adjust. DSL or Cable has its own set of timing standards and thus are not adjustable.

You can optimize your network setup for slightly better throughput, but that's another thing altogether.

Q: Can regular phone line modems be overclocked?
No, for a very simple reason: there's no "clock" inside a modem for you to adjust.

The term overclock is applied when the actual operating speed can be controlled, either by hardware or software. A PC does not really care what speed you operate it at, neither does a video card, unless it's overheating and such. That is not true for a modem. The data rate of a modem is strictly defined by the V.90/V.92 standards. If you somehow changed the oscillator inside a modem to be, say, 10% faster, you end up with a useless modem, since no one else can understand you.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Q: Can I use a Sony Playstation dual-shock controller on a PC? How about a Playstation 2 controller?
Yes, with Soyo's Kiki-Joy adapter. If you can't find that, look in your local Radio Shack for product 26-164, USB Game Port Adapter.

Q: I don't have those "front-panel" ports for my USB/Firewire ports and so on. Can I add them?
If you are willing to sacrifice a drive bay or two, FrontX makes a series of products that can bring almost ANY port to the front of the PC, from sound cards to joysticks, USB to network.

Q: Can video cards in laptops/notebooks be upgraded?
In general, the ONLY things upgradeable in laptops or notebooks are the harddrives and memory. Everything else is either NOT upgradeable or is so proprietary to that specific manufacturer that it may as well as not upgradeable.

Supposedly some of the newer laptops/notebooks have a somewhat more modular architecture, but no one has made any claims to have made replacement cards yet for them.

Q: I downloaded some ZIP files. When I try to unZIP them, I get CRC errors. What does that mean?
It means the ZIP file has beeen corrupted and has been damaged. Just download it again. Compressed files that have been corrupted are useless.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Q: Can CD burners be "overclocked"?
Technically, no. It's a misunderstanding. Here's the explanation.

The company, Lite-On, makes a whole range of CD-RW drives of different speeds. However, someone found out that the drives are physically the same. And if you update the slower drive with the firmware of a faster drive, the result is a faster drive. For example, say you have a 32x drive, and you flash it with firmware from a 48x drive, since the drive is physically capable of 48x, your drive is now a 48x drive.

So to answer your question, you can't overclock a CD burner as there's nothing "adjustable" inside. The circumstances described above is a very special circumstance.

Q: I clicked on a link and now this Xupiter program won't leave me alone. What can I do?
Go to and it should take it out.

Q: Is it possible to build a custom laptop or notebook computer like one can do with desktop?
Unfortunately, no. The parts for laptops and notebooks are specialized for individual models. Some models may be sold under different names (some American machines may be sold in Asia under different names by the original manufacturer), but in general, the ONLY thing you can upgrade in a notebook are memory and hard drive.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Q: How do I get camcorder output into my PC so I can do some editing?
Assuming you have an analog camcorder (RCA plug output), you need is a video capture device

If you have a video card with TV-in capability, use that. Video cards such as ATI's All-In-Wonder series or Compro's Personal Cinema series are good video-in solutions.

If you don't want to replace your video card just yet, you can get devices or expansion cards that can give you nearly the same capability as well. Many of these go through the USB port, while some hook in via the PCI slot. Here are some manufacturers of these devices:
Belkin VideoBUS II
Pinnacle Studio Family (use the AV one)

So how do you know if your camcorder is AV or DV? In general, unless your camcorder has an IEEE1394 (Firewire) port, it's AV. An AV camcorder usually has 3 output plugs of white, red, and yellow, which are video, left audio, and right audio. The output may be on the camera itself (hidden behind a door) or on a "base station".

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Q: Is there a music keyboard combined with a computer keyboard? Sort of like the one in "Revenge of the Nerds"?
Believe it or not, there is. Creative (the SoundBlaster People) made one called Prodikeys. Picture is below:

MSRP is $99, which is not too bad for a MIDI keyboard and a keyboard that can be used regularly.