Q. I’m new to computers and don’t understand something called RAM. I know that I’m supposed to have it, but what is it? Rollie, Glendale.
A. RAM (Random Access Memory), sometimes referred to as “memory,” is arguably the single most important element contributing to your computer’s overall performance.
RAM is a temporary storage area your computer uses to hold programs, files or other items that are currently open or in use. For example, if you launch your word processing program, it loads into RAM so you can use it. As you open and use additional programs -- a process called multi-tasking -- they also load into RAM so you can switch between multiple programs, and become increasingly dazed and confused, without opening and closing each program each time.
If you're computer shopping and trying to decide between a faster processor or more RAM, go for the RAM. Most new computers today come with 128MB (megabytes) of RAM. If your budget will permit increasing that amount to 256MB or even 512MB, you won’t be disappointed.
Q. I've heard people say they are subscribing to a listserv, but what the heck is a listserv? Diane, Phoenix.
A. The technical definition of a listserv is “an automatic mailing list server that manages additions and deletions to electronic mailing lists.” But Mr. Modem's eyes roll back in his head when he hears technical definitions, so let's just say that a listserv is a way to communicate with groups of people, about a particular topic, via e-mail. When you subscribe to a listserv, the automatic mailing-list server places you on an electronic mailing list. You will then receive e-mail each time a listserv subscriber sends e-mail to the listserv. There is no charge for subscribing to a listserv.
Q. I just bought a new computer that has Windows XP on it. When I click the Start button and go to Programs, I see a whole bunch of computer programs. Where did these programs come from and should I be using them? Michael, Tempe.
A. Those programs were installed by your computer manufacturer. Some of the programs will be worthwhile, while others won’t be worth their weight in modem fumes. The best way to determine what programs you have and how useful any of them might be to you is to try each one. Don't try to learn them all at once, though, and don't attempt to master each one of them. Instead, just take a quick look at one every day or one every week as your schedule permits, just to get a feel for what each program does. You'll know quickly if it's something worth exploring in greater depth or not. Simply double-click each program to launch it and see what it does. You won't hurt anything, so have fun and explore. And remember, June 7th is National Software Day, so take your favorite program to launch.
Mr. Modem's Tip of the Week:
For Internet Explorer users, scrolling up and down a Web page doesn't have to involve a mouse at all. In addition to the Page Down and Page Up keys that catapult you through a page in a somewhat jerky fashion, you can also press the spacebar to glide smoothly down the page or press Shift + Spacebar to slither upward.
Mr. Modem's Web Sites of the Week:
Bill Gates Net Worth Monitor
Not content to simply note dollar value, here you can learn how much Bill's money weighs in dollar bills, how many square miles said dollar bills would cover, how many minutes of long-distance phone time it could buy, and much more. This site won’t transform the world, but it is great fun in an "I-wish-it-was-me" kind of way.
Ultra cool high-tech items are the mainstay of this futuristic-looking site. A huge selection of games, gizmos, tech stuff, bar items, sports gadgets, MP3 players, executive items, bachelor pad stuff, and related crappola, starting as low as $10. The perfect site if you happen to be shopping for Mr. Modem.
Complaining about a product or service to your neighbor is easy,
but thanks to the Web, it's even easier to complain directly to a company itself. Planet Feedback will make sure that your comments reach their target without you having to spend time tracking down a corporate address or telephone number. After filing your complaint with this Web site, you probably won't receive a response from the company, but don't take it personally. Online, that's known as being e-gnored.
http://www.planetfeedback.com/" class= "content-link" target="632">http://www.planetfeedback.com/
Tune into Mr. Modem on PC Chat Radio, Saturdays 2:00 P.M., KXAM 1310-AM Phoenix or Webcast at www.pcchatshow.com. Join thousands of subscribers worldwide who receive Mr. Modem's highly informative, always entertaining newsletter each week. For more information, visit www.MrModem.com.