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Wireless Router Supports Analog Dialup Modem 

by on December 28, 2007

Q: I have a Windows XP laptop with wireless capabilities. However, I do not have access to high speed internet at home; the downside of living in the middle of nowhere. I still use 56k dialup and have come to accept this but I would like to setup a wireless modem/hub/station that would allow my wireless laptop to connect to the dialup. I’m tired of being leashed to a phone line.

A: Too bad you did not ask 6 months ago or more. They used to make many wireless routers with the ability to do dialup but now they are very hard to find. I searched high and low on Amazon.com, eBay, and other sites to find only a handful of devices for sale that will do what you want.

Many of the companies have just stopped making the routers with analog modems in them because most people who wanted the ability already have it and the rest of the people are busy moving over to using a broadband service like DSL or cable.

Even a few months ago Apple still had refurbished versions of their aiport router had a modem in it but when I went to their site today to look they no longer listed the product. I was very surprised that the only one I found on eBay was not even in working order.

So my suggestion to you is to search high and low, you will find something eventually. I was able to find a few routers that did dialup but were not wireless. This would then require you to buy another wireless router/access point to connect to it though so it will cost you twice as much.

So the great news is that 6 months or a year ago these products were in every single store you walked in. Today they are very hard to find so you will probably have to end up getting a used one and to do that you are going to have to hope someone posts it on Amazon.com, eBay, or another site in order for you to get your hands on it.


Creating A Wireless Network With Verizon’s Wireless USB720 Broadband Modem 

by on December 27, 2007

Q: We live in a rural area where our only options for getting on the internet are to either use dial-up or use Verizon’s wireless broadband service. Verizon’s wireless broadband service is the faster of the two options but since we have two computers we would like to try to share the connection between them. We talked to customer support at Verizon to see if we could connect the USB720 broadband modem to a wireless router but they said they do not support this. So now we are trying to figure out if it is possible or if there is another alternative that we could try besides paying another $59.99 a month to get another account for the second computer.

A: Verizon is correct in a way. There is no way to just connect your USB modem to a wireless router and have it work because the USB modem needs to be connected to a computer. However, once the modem is connected to your computer you can share the connection using connection sharing.

In order to do connection sharing you must either have an Ethernet card or a wireless card in the computer that has the Verizon broadband card in it. If you have a WiFi card in both your computers then you will be able to setup an adhoc network, which just means the two wireless cards will talk to each other instead of having to spend money on getting a WiFi router.

I am going to direct you over to the Microsoft site on how the exact steps to set this up but it is really easy there are just too many steps to list here. The page you want to visit is http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306126 and it will walk you though the entire process of setting up your connection so you can share it with others on your network.


How To Stop Programs From Starting Automatically In Windows 

by on December 26, 2007

Q: How do I stop programs from starting automatically when I start up my computer that I don’t need open when I start up my computer?

A: Great question! Especially if you are using an older system, preventing certain programs from turning on when your computer starts is a good way to increase the speed of your computer. There are basically two different methods of doing this in Microsoft Windows. Some programs like Windows Live Messenger, RealPlayer, and many others have an option buried somewhere within Edit => Preferences that allows you to prevent them from turning on when your computer starts. Since you do not mention in your question which programs’ behavior you would like to modify, I cannot provide exact instructions for you. Each program has the necessary option located in a different place.

Something that I can provide instructions for is a system wide tool in Windows called msconfig. This tool allows you to manually configure which programs start with your computer and which ones do not. There is a great page at netsquirrel.com that has instructions for Windows 95 through Windows Vista called How to use MSCONFIG. It is worthy of your time to read. Here are the highlights:

  1. Go Start Menu => Run button => and then type msconfig into drop-down menu => press the OK button.
  2. You should then see a new window called System Configuration Utility. Find the tab that is labeled Startup.
  3. You should now see a list of programs, each accompanied by a checkbox. All that you have to do to keep one of these programs from turning on as your computer starts is to remove its checkmark left-clicking. But be Careful! While some of these programs are not important at all, others are critical to the security and stability of your system.
  4. A website called sysinfo.org has what seems to be a thorough Startup Applications List, telling you which programs in the Startup list do what in Windows.
  5. If you are ever unsure if a program is important or not, leave it on. That is, leave a checkmark in the box.

Good Luck!


Using A Seperate Hard Drive For Your Games 

by on December 25, 2007

Q: I have two hard drives in my computer and they are the exact same size. Would it be better/faster to put my games on the opposite hard drive to the operating system hard drive?

A: From the stand point of having less programs to sort through to run your games you will notice better performance form having your games on a separate drive. If you are choosing to do this then make sure that you use the drive only for games otherwise it defeats the purpose of having two drives. Reserve this drive for only game related programs.

When you download driver updates such as DirectX download the files to your primary drive. The drivers involve your operating system more than anything else so you don’t need to put them on your game drive. This will keep the amount of superfluous programs, file fragments and unused files to a minimum.

Fortunately there are enough system diagnostic programs out there, like McAfee and Norton System Works, to maintain your drive. Be sure to run maintenance and/or diagnostic programs on your game drive just as you would your primary drive. Setting up a drive for performance means maintaining that drive more than usual. Treat your primary drive like your everyday car and your game drive like your sports car. You may not use it as often but when you do you intend to get your money’s worth.


Copying Downloaded Files To DVD 

by on December 24, 2007

Q: I would like to transfer downloaded files to a DVD.

A: Transferring files to a DVD is no different then transferring them to a CD. Obviously you need some sort of burning software like Nero. Burning software will generally have you select the type of disk you are burning. If you are just burning data files than you will select the data disk option or equivalent.

For data DVDs you should just drag and drop what files you want to burn into the copy from window. For downloaded files the best thing to do is to organize them into a single folder so that you can drag and drop the folder into the copy from window. It makes it easier and more expedient to copy files.

The program should have a gauge to tell you how much space you have left on the disk you are burning to. Remember that a DVD can hold 4.7 GB of data. When you put all of your files into a folder in Windows it will tell you how much data is in that folder. If you are burning files to a DVD then you must have a lot of data so use the disk efficiently. Remember to use folders for your downloaded files so that for the purpose of backing up data everything is ready for a simple drag and drop.


Sony Vaio With Windows XP Has Become Unresponsive 

by on December 23, 2007

Q: My Vaio with Windows XP has become completely unresponsive to shutdown. Trying to close it down the regular way, Start -> Shutdown -> Shutdown, does nothing, absolutely nada. It’s like I’ve never hit the shutdown button at all. Trying to shut it down through Start -> Run -> Shutdown -s gives me a notification window that my computer will shut down in 30 second and then again nothing happens. It will shut off when I hit the button but that’s as responsive as it will get. I’ve tried looking online for in hope for a cure. But all I can find are hugely complicated solutions which are (I think) also not completely compatible with my problem. What can I do?

A: Believe it or not, most versions of Microsoft Windows are rather fragile. So, Windows requires regular maintenance in order to function properly. Oftentimes, problems like your shutdown issue occur when these regular maintenance routines have not been done for a while. You should do the following to your system at least once per month:

  1. Go Start => My Computer.
  2. You should now see your computer’s main hard drive. Most computers use the letter C to indicate the main hard drive.
  3. Right-Click on the main hard drive => choose Properties => left-click on the Disk Cleanup button, the choose the Disk Cleanup tab. Put checkmarks in all of the boxes, except Compress old files. Choosing to compress the old files on your computer will make your problems worse, not better!
  4. Once that part of the maintenance is finished, navigate back to My Computer => Properties, Then continue on into Tools => Error-checking and put checkmarks in both boxes. When you click Start, a message should appear asking your permission to schedule this particular maintenance routine for the next time your restart your computer. Please accept the message, but do not restart yet.
  5. You will now need to go into Defragmentation. When your computer’s hard drive becomes fragmented, it is difficult for your computer to access files and folders on your system. These hard-to-locate files can include those responsible for turning your computer off. To correct this, you need to do a defragmentation. You can ignore the Analyze button. When you press the Defragment button, your hard drive will be analyzed automatically. Also, do not believe your computer if it tells you that you do not need to run defragmentation — that is often false information.
  6. Once the disk defragmentation has finished, restart your computer. This will cause the routine that you scheduled earlier to run.
  7. If you have never done a defragmentation of your computer’s main hard drive before, you might want to do it twice this time. So after you computer has restarted, defragment again.
  8. If your computer has more than one hard drive, repeat steps 1 through 7 on all of your computer’s hard drives.

Did that solve your problem? If not, consider reinstalling Windows. Sony most likely provided a system restore utility with your Vaio.

NOTE: This is not the system restore utility that is part of Windows itself — that is different. You may also have access to a true Windows XP operating system installation disc. If you do not want to reinstall all of the extra software that came with your Vaio, use the installation disc instead of the system restore utility. Remember to create backups of your important computer files before reinstalling Windows.

Good Luck!


Install Mac OS X On A Dell 

by on December 22, 2007

Q: I have a Dell desktop computer with Windows XP and Internet Explorer, an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, and a 250 GB hard drive. I would like to format my hard drive and install Mac OS X. Is it possible? If so, how can I do it?

A: I am elated whenever a computer user asks about switching away from Microsoft Windows. Allow me to provide a little bit of background information, so that you can better understand my upcoming answer to your question. Apple (the creator of Mac OS X) has always had a vastly different business philosophy from Microsoft (the creator of Windows). Apple believes that it is best for a company to retain full control over its own products, while Microsoft believes that it is best to partner with other companies in order to reach the largest number of potential customers.

This explains why Microsoft Windows comes pre-installed on computers from literally hundreds of computer manufactures — Acer, Dell, Gateway, HP, etc. — while Mac OS X is only pre-installed on Apple hardware such as Macs and iPhones. When one purchases a copy of Windows from a store, it will run on any PC. Windows can even run on Macs, thanks to an Apple technology called Boot Camp! But when one buys a copy of Mac OS X from a store, it can only be installed on Macs.

Obviously, hackers and other geeks are a resourceful bunch! So despite Apple’s wishes, it is possible to install OS X on your Dell and other Windows-based PCs thanks to the OSx86 Project. However, the installation process is extremely complicated. Only the geekiest computer users should attempt the installation of OS X on non-Mac hardware. Here is a list of reasons why you should consider NOT attempting the installation:

  1. It is illegal to run OS X on non-Apple hardware, such as your Dell.
  2. Thus, if you were to encounter any problems with Mac OS X while using it on your Dell, Apple and many Mac users would be totally unwilling to help you.
  3. The skills required to install and maintain OS X on a Windows-based PC are quite honestly beyond 90% or more of today’s computer users. This may seem like a harsh analysis of the situation. But it is the truth.
  4. OS X is “optimized” to run on Apple hardware. Running OS X on non-Apple hardware will not provide as pleasant an experience as you would get running OS X on a Mac.
  5. Mac OS X is known for its stability. But on a Windows-based PC, you could encounter crashes and other undesirable behaviors. You might even lose your important computer files!

So in short, I am advising you to not attempt the installation of OS X on your Dell at this time. But you do have some alternatives. Please think about the following:

  1. From the specifications that you have provided, it is obvious that your Dell is rather new. But if you have some extra money in your bank account, consider purchasing a Mac. Websites where you can purchase a Mac include the Apple Online Store and Amazon.com. That is the surest way to use Mac OS X successfully. And if you have a retail copy of Windows, you can even install Windows on your Mac.
  2. Mac OS X is based on an operating system called Unix. There are many offshoots of Unix. One that you may have heard of is called Linux. Unlike Mac OS X, Linux can be installed on just about any computer in existence. Furthermore, Linux is free!
  3. The version of Linux that I recommend is called Ubuntu Linux. In fact, Dell has recently become a supporter of Ubuntu.

I wish you luck in choosing an alternative to Microsoft Windows! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any further questions, or something to share.


Are Country Specific Domain Names Actually Hosted Within The Country 

by on December 21, 2007

Q: Are the country specific domain names like .cn or .tt. required to be hosting in those countries? Do they have anything to do with those countries (i.e., do they get routed through there?). Would national instability affect them? Can they handle massive surges of traffic, do you think?

A: When you register a domain name, there will be an IP address sitting behind that (i.e. your web server, file server, or whatever the domain name is intended for). This IP Address will dictate how routing happens to/from that domain name, not the name itself.

Can civil unrest in countries result in problems with the domain name? Realistically no. The name is registered to you on an IP address somewhere else in the world. The only thing that may affect you is if China decides to no longer allow outside-of-country people to own .CN names. This isn’t likely to happen, but I suppose it’s a very small risk no less.

Everything else you have asked (Throughput etc.) is really dictated by that IP address you have assigned to it. If the server that is handling the traffic can handle 10mb a second, then it can handle 10mb a second regardless of what the domain name associated is. Domain names are simply there to make addresses easy to identify and remember (Could you imagine having to remember numbers such as “ for Microsoft updates, and is my Anti Virus vendor”; it would be near impossible to navigate anywhere!


Installing Norton Antivirus 2007 And Webroot Software On Multiple Computers 

by on December 21, 2007

Q: I have Norton Antivirus 2007 and Webroot Spy Sweeper 2007 installed on my home desktop computer, which uses Windows XP. I recently purchased a Dell XPS laptop for use while I am on assignment away from home. Can I use my Norton and Webroot software that I have on my home computer on my new laptop? Or do I have to purchase new software?

A: I can definitely answer your question. But first let me advise you that there is a superior alternative to Norton Antivirus. It is called Avast! Antivirus. I encourage you to take a look. Moving now to your question, the legal use of a computer program is governed by something known as a EULA (End User License Agreement). Each program has its own EULA. Sometimes, it is legal to use the same program on multiple computers. Other times, it is not.

For home and home office users, there are two different versions of Norton Antivirus 2007. There is the kind that can only be installed and used on one computer at any given time. Click here for an example of the single-user version. Then there is the kind that allows you to install the software on as many as three different computers. Click this to view the multi-user version. If your copy of Norton Antivirus 2007 was included with your desktop, chances are almost 100% that it is the single-user version. If you downloaded the program instead of purchasing it on CD, contact Symantec (the company that makes Norton software). As you can see from the previous two links, there is a large number 3 on the box of the multi-user version, while no such number appears on the single-user version.

The EULA for Webroot software is more obvious. Webroot provides a customer support article entitles Installing Webroot products on multiple computers. According to the information contained on that webpage, no purchasable Webroot software may be installed on more than one computer at any given time. In other words, you will need to purchase an additional software license for your Spy Sweeper software.

It is worth mentioning that Apple’s Mac OS X and Linux-based computers are currently immune to computer viruses, etc. You may wish to consider switching to one of those operating systems the next time you are in the market for a new computer.

Hopefully you have found this answer to be informative and helpful.


Transfer Video From A Canon zr200 To A Computer 

by on December 20, 2007

Q: I have a Canon zr200 DVR. How do I transfer video that I have recorded on tape to my computer?

A: Thank you so much for your question. I can certainly answer it for you. But first, you and I need to agree on some common terms. Otherwise, my answer may seem like nonsense. You call your Canon zr200 a DVR. It is actually a digital video camera — or camcorder if you prefer. Don’t feel too bad! Your misuse of the term DVR is understandable. After all, DVR is short for Digital Video Recorder. But a DVR is a piece of home theater equipment that is designed to record television programming (think ultramodern VCR).

Interestingly, I have previously discussed the Canon zr200 here at AskAGeek.com. My previous post about this camcorder provides instructions on how to record video straight to your computer, without a video tape. While fascinating, it does not quite answer your question. As I understand it, you need to transfer video from a tape to your computer. Since you do not mention in you question what kind of computer you are using, I will assume Windows XP. Other operating systems, such as Mac OS X and modern versions of Linux, can import and edit you video as well. Please consult the instructions for Windows XP below:

  1. Windows XP includes a program called Windows Movie Maker. Microsoft has created a very informative online article entitled Download video from your camera to your computer. You may wish to visit that webpage, as it contains lots of helpful screenshots. You my also wish to consult the Canon zr200 Owner’s Manual.
  2. Your camcorder uses something called FireWire to easily connect with your computer. There are other options, but FireWire is by far the simplest choice. FireWire is a hardware port that exists on you camcorder, and hopefully on your computer as well. If you cannot find a FireWire port on your computer, do not be concerned. You can purchase inexpensive FireWire hardware at most electronics and computer stores.
  3. When you connect your camcorder to your computer, a window should appear asking if your want to Capture Video using Windows Movie Maker. You will chose OK, and a wizard will guide you the rest of the way.
  4. If Movie Maker fails to start automatically, there are two places where the program might be hiding. Go Start Menu => All Programs => Windows Movie Maker. If you do not see it yet, continue from where you are to Accessories => Entertainment => Windows Movie Maker.
  5. If you have had to start Movie Maker manually for some reason, use the Capture from video device option in the program to begin copying video from your camcorder to your computer.