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IT and Internet briefs

June 04, 2004

Photo - AFP
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Washington — Want to know how U.S. President George W. Bush must feel in his search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Go to the popular search engine Google (www.google.com), type the words "weapons of mass destruction" (without quotation marks) into the search field, and then click the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. A screen similar to the "page not found" error appears, except that the text is a joke, including the words "The weapons you are looking for are currently unavailable. The country might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your weapons inspectors mandate."

System Restore utility

Protect yourself against errant installations in Windows XP by using the operating system's System Restore utility liberally. System Restore allows you to establish "restore points" –snapshots of your computer system at a time when it is working properly. If you install something that causes your system to malfunction, you can use System Restore to roll back to a previous state. Access System Restore by opening the Start menu, and navigating to All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore.

Wireless component

Wireless capability should be integrated into your next notebook computer. Be sure that the wireless card or component in your notebook is compatible with the new 802.11g standard. This is a wireless standard that allows for transmission speeds up to five times faster than the previous standard. It's a meaningful speed boost, and the standard is set to become popular quickly. The older 802.11b standard is still around, but when buying for the future, go for the newer standard.

Windows sound control

Need to quickly adjust the sound volume in Windows? You can by double-clicking the speaker icon in the System Tray, located in the lower right-hand corner of your taskbar. The Volume Control panel will appear. On it, you'll see a series of sliders for adjusting sound levels. The slider on the left is the main volume control for your PC sound. You can also click the Mute box for an immediate helping of silence. While you are exploring the volume control panel, experiment with adjusting and equalizing your sound using the other controls.

USB and FireWire devices

It's safe to plug and unplug USB and FireWire devices with your Windows XP computer while the machine is running. Windows XP is designed to recognise and configure itself for changes to connect peripherals dynamically. The first time you plug in a USB or FireWire peripheral, you'll be asked to supply a driver file, usually found on a disk that came with the device. After that, plugging the device in and unplugging it should be a seamless procedure.

Flash memory modules

Solid state storage devices, usually in the form of flash memory modules and a USB interface, let you carry up to 1 gigabyte (GB) of data around in your shirt pocket – and move that data easily from one computer to another. These devices, which include popular models such as Lexar's JumpDrive (www.digitalfilm.com/jumpdrive/jd_pro.html), tend to be slow at reading data and even slower at writing it, but their size makes them truly useful – great replacements for the floppy disk. Best of all, lower-capacity solid state storage devices are cheap – as little as 20 dollars for 64 MB of storage space.

Memory auctions

Prices for computer memory (RAM) are relatively high these days. That's not necessarily good news if you're buying memory, but it is good news if you need to unload your old RAM. In weaker RAM markets, putting memory up for sale on auction sites such as eBay tends to bring next to nothing. Now, at least, you can get a reasonable price for your old memory. So look to sell memory that's not being used while prices are attractive for sellers. Sapa-DPA

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