Q. Maybe I'm just annoyed with Windows XP in general, but every time I launch it, a screen appears that tells me Windows XP is starting. I know Windows XP is starting because I'm the person who started it. Duh! Is there any way to avoid that screen completely?
A. Every version of Windows launches with what's called a splash screen that we can only assume is intended to help orient dazed and confused users. Getting rid of this screen in Windows XP requires editing the boot.ini system file. It sounds more technical than it is: Click Start > Run and enter "msconfig" (without the quotes), followed by OK. Next, select the boot.ini tab.
Place a checkmark beside /noguiboot that appears in the “Boot Options” section. Click Apply > OK, to save and exit, then restart your computer. The splash screen will no longer appear.
Q. What do software "system requirements" refer to? What should I be looking for?
A. Software, whether purchased in a retail store or downloaded from the Internet, provides information that outlines the minimum and recommended system requirements your computer needs to run that program. These requirements are usually divided into four categories: CPU type, operating system, memory (RAM), and hard drive space.
I would recommend ignoring minimum system requirements and instead focus on recommended system requirements. Recommended system requirements, though frequently understated by software vendors, will often list specific hardware manufacturers and models that are supported by the program.
Unfortunately, there is no standard for writing system requirements so interpreting them can be a challenge. Instead of consistent descriptions, you'll often find technical jargon, industry slang and TMAs -- Typically Meaningless Acronyms. Here's a brief look at each category of system requirement:
CPU type: Today's software will usually require a Pentium class Intel processor, which is expressed as a "P" followed by a number, such as P2, P3, P4. (P4 is faster than a P3.) A second type of processor may be mentioned as a Pentium equivalent, such as processors manufactured by AMD.
Operating System: If it says "Windows 2000/NT/XP" and you're running Windows 95, the software is not for you. Be sure you're using one of the recommended operating systems.
Memory (RAM): Arguably the single most important item affecting your computer's performance. It's always preferable to exceed the recommended amount of RAM. Without sufficient memory, programs may be sluggish, freeze unexpectedly, or may not launch at all. RAM is generally available in modules of 64, 128, 256, 512, and 1024MB (megabytes).
Hard Drive: Today’s hard drives are huge, so it is unlikely you’ll need to be overly concerned about running out of disk space if you purchase a new computer. If you need to know how much hard drive space you have available, click My Computer, right-click your hard drive icon (such as Local Disk C), and choose Properties.
Hardware: This is a catch-all category that will generally include audio and video requirements. Other “must have” requirements include a mouse, keyboard, and CD drive.
If you're unsure about the compatibility of any computer component, check the vendor’s Web site for additional information or look for a contact link and fire off an email, just to be sure.
Mr. Modem’s Geekspeak of the Week:
A path in computer parlance refers to the location of a particular file, folder or program. By technical definition, it is the hierarchy of folders created to organize files. The path to a program may be displayed in this manner:
C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\Cool_New_Program
Reading the path from left to right, it tells us that our Cool_New_Program is installed on our C: drive, in the Program Files folder, within the Internet Explorer folder.
Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:
Locate programs that may pay for costs associated with prescription drugs, health care, utilities, and other essential items or services. BenefitsCheckUp identifies available programs based on the information you provide in a simple questionnaire. It does not determine whether you or your loved ones will qualify for any program nor does it enroll you in any benefits programs. www.benefitscheckup.org
Fun for fans of the “No respect” comedian. Here you’ll find a joke archive, tons of WAV files of Rodney's one-liners, a photo album, and video clips. Hardcore fans will want to stop by Rodney's store to pick up "Rodneymobilia," such as a mouse pad, a Rodney T-shirt, or a bottle of Rodney’s red wine. No joke.
Test Your Geography
You might want to try this site in private so you don't embarrass yourself in front of your friends. Start by selecting a continent. I selected Africa. What was I thinking? The question appeared, "Where is Chad?" The first time I selected a country on the colorful map, I felt like I was back in grade school: "No, that's Ethiopia.” I tried it again. "No, that's Uganda," "No, that's Equatorial Guinea." It was a pitiful performance. I couldn't tell Swaziland from a hole in Rwanda.