Archive for the ‘How Tos’ category

How To : install computer hardware at difficult times

February 10, 2013

In my experience in installing hardware inside, I’ve learned that nothing goes in easy all the time. As much as manuals and booklets tell you that ZIF means no pressure to push down the lever on CPU sockets, the reality is, there is going to be some pressure involved.

The first time I installed an AMD Athlon XP 3200+ processor in a PGA ZIF socket, I thought I broke it because I had to use a lot of pressure to push down the lever to lock the CPU in the socket correctly. But then, when I finally turned on the computer, apparently I had done it correctly, because it booted up fine and I actually still have it to this day.

So yeah, hardware is going to be a pain to install sometimes. That’s reality.

Another reality is, installing RAM sticks in RAM slots.

Another one of those “it’s real easy, no problem” deals.

You’re going to run into difficulty.

So during my experiences with hardware, I’ve also learned easier ways of installing hardware, without hurting yourself or the hardware.

We can start with the CPU I suppose. This of course goes for PGA ZIF style socket processors. Ol skool Intel processors, modern AMD processors.

The thing you need to remember is as follows. Stay away from electric or magnetic tools. If it creates any outside force (i.e. magnetic or electrical field) it’s bad! Computer hardware is very sensitive and expensive.

So get yourself a nice screwdriver with a plastic handle and push bits.

There is a metal latch on both sides of the stock heat sink and fan unit that came with the processor on PGA style CPUs. That latch is for the plastic unit that will hold the heat sink unit onto the motherboard.

You want to get the other latch holding the plastic on the opposite side. And then put a screw driver in the hole of the latch with a hole and pull towards yourself. It will automatically do what it’s suppose to do.

RAM sticks.

They can be a pain for sure. They are thin and you want to be careful to take precautions not to touch or damage the black chips on either side. But what happens when they refuse to be inserted into the slot?

I’ve had this happen many times before. I hated installing RAM because of this. But then I got smart.

The handle on my non magnetic non electric screw driver was all plastic. So I just pressed down on one side of the RAM stick and snapped it into the plastic latch and then used the plastic handle on my screwdriver to push the other side down. It locked into place perfectly.

And my finger was saved the aggravation.

You can do the same for those pesky video cards if they are AGP style. Just remember to insure the latch is locked when you push it in.

Obviously you don’t want to overdo it and break the cards. Exercise proper ESD methods  and use some common sense. But tools can be used to properly install hardware in the computer when your fingers just won’t do it.

As for other problems that I’ve had with computer hardware, if the hardware isn’t fitting in the slot or space where it’s suppose to be fitting, it’s good to ask why?

Sometimes something is in it’s way. For example, I’ve had computer chassis houses that the optical drive wouldn’t fit in. And after a few minutes of trying to shove it in the 5.25″ slot, I pulled it out and looked in the slot. One of the metal levels was bent up. Therefore the optical drive could not slide into the slot properly. I had to go and bent it back down and make sure it was leveled before I could put the drive inside. Which, once I did, it slid in perfectly.

Same thing goes for the plastic front face panel. You can take that off with a screwdriver as well. Just remember not to accidentally short out any circuit board for the USB or front audio or whatever.

Another tip, don’t assume the motherboard is dead until you have at least tried to boot it up properly. For example if you spilled something on the boards surface or dropped something and think you’ve ruined the board. Don’t assume it until you’ve tried to boot it up. I’ve done this a couple of times and feared the worst until I tried to boot it up and realized it was actually fine. Yes computers are sensitive, but make sure it’s broken before you try to fix it or throw it out.

You’re going to want to make sure that whatever you’re storing computer parts in is a standard anti static bag. Another stupid mistake i’ve made before, using old poor quality anti static bags. If you need to store these things, or at least have a platform for working with them, I’d recommend getting new ones from time to time. The last thing you want to do is short out a customers video card because you were too lazy to have a proper work area and follow the safety rules.

How To : Find your Temporary Internet Files in Windows

April 18, 2010

I haven’t been surfing around in Temporary Internet Files folder for ages. Ever since IE and Firefox had the option to automatically clean them out when I closed down my browser.

However, these days, it seems that IE and Chrome are neglecting their duty with my Temporary Internet Files.

So, I went searching for them. I had to recall how to get to them. I remember something about Local Settings in the user profile.

So I set my folder options to show everything and went looking for them. Then I found out there were only two folders in my local settings. Application Data and Temp.

Where was the old Temporary Internet Files folder?

So I entered the path that would normally have my Temporary Internet Files in Run and a window popped up with all my Temporary Internet Files.

Where did that come from?

Strange? Yes I noticed.

So in order to get to the Temporary Internet Files in Windows XP, now you have to know the new process.

Click Start, RUN

C:\Documents and Settings\XUSER\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files

replace XUSER with your profile name. if you don’t know your profile name, click START and hover over Log Off above Shutdown. The name it says to log off of, will be the profile name.

How To : install new fonts so that Microsoft applications can use them.

March 21, 2010

Installing fonts onto your Windows computer so that Microsoft applications such as the Office suite (Word, Powerpoint, etc.) can use them is actually very easy.

You can get virus and cost free fonts from

Other websites that I’ve run into all have fonts for cost. This was a website that has many different fonts for free.

So download the font of your choice onto your computer. It will be zipped so you need to either have a zip utility installed on your computer or use Windows zip program, which comes as default anyways. They all pretty much work the same if you’re just using them to unzip.

Once you’ve unzipped the font, it should be a paper size icon with two T’s. One light and one dark. The T’s represent TEXT. Because it’s text that you just downloaded.

Alright, let’s put that font in the appropriate folder so we can use it on our programs.

1. Close any open Windows applications, such as Word or Outlook.
2. In Control Panel, click Appearance and Themes.

Note:  If you are using Control Panel Classic view or Microsoft Windows 2000, double-click Fonts, and then go to step 4.

3. In the task pane, under See Also, click Fonts.

Note  If a folder tree appears instead of the task pane, click Folders on the toolbar, and then under See Also, click Fonts.

4. On the File menu, click Install New Font.
5. In the Drives list, click the drive you want.
6. In the Folders list, double-click the folder that contains the fonts you want to add.
7. Under List of fonts, click the font you want to add, and then click OK.


* To select more than one font to add, in step 6, hold down the CTRL key, and then click each of the fonts you want to add.
* You can also drag OpenType, TrueType, Type 1, and raster fonts from another location to add them to the Fonts folder. This works only if the font is not already in the Fonts folder.
* To add fonts from a network drive without using disk space on your computer, clear the Copy fonts to Fonts folder check box in the Add Fonts dialog box. This is available only when you install OpenType, TrueType, or raster fonts using the Install New Font option on the File menu.

When you install new fonts, remember that each font will only work with the computer you’ve installed it on. If you share Office documents with other people or plan to use or view your document on a different computer, the new fonts you’ve installed on your computer might not be displayed the same way on the other computer. Text that is formatted in a font that is not installed on a computer will be displayed in Times New Roman or the default font.

To make sure that you can see the fonts on different computers, you can either install the new font on the other computers you plan to use, or, if you are using a TrueType font in Word or Microsoft PowerPoint®, you can embed the font to save the characters with your document. Embedding fonts can increase your document’s file size and may not work for some commercially restricted fonts, but it is a good way to make sure that your document with new fonts will look the same on other computers.

How To : stop unnecessary services from running everytime you boot up.

March 18, 2010

Have you ever installed something on your computer, yet you don’t need it every time windows starts up?

You can choose what services start up with Windows every time you boot up the computer.

You can do it through System Configuration, which is a utility that comes with Windows. It’s for configuring the start up process, boot configurations, etc. However you must be an administrator with full rights to your computer in order to edit these settings.

Simply open up Control Panel and go to Administrative Tools. It will be listed as System Configuration.

In here, you can stop services running during boot up, if they are not necessary to the boot up process. A lot of the stuff in here is a lot like Safe Mode (F8) except that you can choose it while inside Windows GUI.

If you can’t get into your GUI and need those options, you need to log into Safe Mode (with it’s varying options). When the computer restarts continually press F8. You’ll probably hear a few beeps if you do it too much, but it won’t hurt the computer.

How To : kill processes in Windows Task Manager

March 18, 2010

For all those Windows users out there that use Task Manager to kill processes and applications that refuse to close down themselves.

When you go into Task Manager, whether it’s XP or Vista, there’s a lot of options. But basically I’m assuming most people are using it to kill applications and processes that refuse to close down themselves.

So, if you must kill a process or close an application down, go into Task Manager and find the process that is associated with the applications. It will be under the PROCESSES tab.

If you can remember the name of the process you can call the process back up right after you kill it. This is when applications bottleneck in the system or for some reason the application ran into memory error faults or something.

For example, on my computer I have a process called photosle.exe. It’s the process that runs Photoshop Limited Edition on my computer. If I right click on the process in the PROCESSES tab and kill the process, I will kill or terminate the active running process, thereby ending or closing the application.

Now, if you go to File and Choose New Task and type in the box: photosle.exe, it will relaunch the application.

You can also relaunch applications from the desktop or their shortcuts, wherever they may be.

But if it’s a driver or specific process, then you can’t just launch an application and it re appears.

For example:
On my computer, I have PDVDserv.exe. This is my DVD decoding drivers. It’s Power DVD software.
It’s always running as soon as I start up windows because it’s a driver. So if I were to kill the process, I couldn’t watch DVDs on my computer, because the driver would not be loaded.

That’s where manually running the driver again comes in.

Go to File, New Task. Type in PDVDserv.exe. If it was just a minor fault, the driver will be run again. Therefore you can use the drivers abilities (DVD watching). However, if the driver fails to re run through task manager, try rebooting or restarting the computer. This knocks out half of the easy problems associated with computers today.

Failing a re run through task manager, and a restart, you may have to uninstall the application or driver and reinstall them onto computer again. Things get corrupted sometimes. It happens.

Failing even that, I would have a check at the drive that software is sitting on. It may have a bad sector or something. A bad sector is physical. It’s the physical condition of the media itself. Whether solid state (flash drives) or platter based (spin hard drives), the parts inside could become damaged or compromised.

So that’s how to kill processes if they begin to bottleneck or become a problem somehow.

How To : Installing Intel Processors into LGA sockets

March 12, 2010

Over the years, microprocessors have been installed onto common motherboards in basically two ways. Sockets and slots. Even if they’ve been soldered onto the board, it was still soldered onto a socket or slot.

Intel has recently made a lot of changes to its socket design for its processors to fit in. While AMD still uses the Zero Insertion Force Pin Grid Array style of socket for its processors to sit in, Intel has made some changes.

Normally in a PGA (Pin Grid Array),  the bottom of the processor has pins that stick out (male connection) that fit in the holes in the socket (female connection). The grid and the processor are arranged in such a way that the processor can only fit one specific way, so you can’t install it backwards or anything.

This actually caused problems because sometimes the pins would bent or even break and then you couldn’t get it on anyways. The slot method was more preferred because of this. However slots have their own issues, or they would have replaced sockets altogether.

Well, Intel decided to get rid of the pins underneath the processor and have contacts instead. You can see these contacts with Core 1xx series. These processors must fit on a socket designed for them. The Land Grid Array socket style.

Intel has made installation of its processors fairly more simple since the PGA style of the clamp down heat sink and fan. Which required the user to use his own tool, a screwdriver to pull the latch down so that the heat sink and fan component were securely fastened to the motherboard.

I must give Intel credit. Any company to improve the design of their hardware, making it easier, or cheaper, or more convenient gets points from me.

So the LGA style socket is pretty much as easy as it comes to install. Simply open up the lid on the socket on the motherboard and slide the processor inside and close the lid and push the ZIF latch down. That easy.

They make the stock heat sink and fan easy as well. Decide how you’re going to plug it into the power connection on the motherboard and line up the four screws to the mounting bracket on the motherboard and simply twist them to secure them.

If you’ve ever installed other style socket processors you’ll know what a pain they can be sometimes.

PGA for example with the screwdriver latch. Though is not such a big deal, I must admit, the LGA sockets are much easier by comparison.

Here’s a video example:

How To : Clean LCD screens

March 12, 2010

LCD screens are pretty much standard today. CRT is out.

Yet many people don’t realize that the cleaning technique has also changed.

Used to be, you could take simple window cleaner and a wash cloth or alternative fabric and clean the screen as if it were a window. No problem.

Times have changed my friends. Now LCD screens are the norm and they are not like CRT screens. They don’t have glass screens anymore.

What you clean them with could harm them instead of care for them.

So, I’ve gotten some questions from people on what to use and how to properly care for your LCD screens.

First off, before cleaning your LCD monitor (laptop monitor, desktop monitor, etc) a good thing to do would be to get an electronic duster canister from any electronic store and just spray off any grit or dust that may be on the screen first. If you begin to wash it before you do this, you may get the grit in the cloth and it may scratch the screen instead of clean it.

I’d recommend a microfiber fabric. A lint free one microfiber fabric for the cloth. They are very soft and will not damage or scratch the screen. You should be able to pick these up in fabric stores or in stores that sell electronics. Microfiber clothes will be different from the wipes and you can reuse them, therefore saving you money.

You can also get wipes called Electronic Wipes, they are usually disposable. Some come pre-soaked in the correct solution to clean the monitor and all.

If not, if you are going to have to make a kit for yourself, then a microfiber lint free cloth.

You’re definitely going to want to stay away from products that contain ammonia or ethanol. It could possibly damage the screen in the long run, causing discoloration and things like that.

Make sure that the commercial cleaner that you buy specifically states that it’s used as a screen cleaner.

Or if you’re like me, you’ll just do the DIY thing and make some yourself.

Here’s how:
Use 50% Isopropyl Alcohol and 50% Distilled Water. Tap water could leave mineral spots.

Spray the cloth, not the monitor. When cleaning LCDs, laptops, computers or televisions, make sure they are unplugged. Do not place or spray the liquid directly onto your notebook or TV. Instead, dampen the special cloth slightly with the cleanser and then gently wipe your screen in a consistent motion, such as counter clockwise, rather than haphazard motions. Use the cleaner sparingly to avoid the leakage of excess fluid into the keypad.

All these suggestions apply equally to laptop displays as well as your other LCD monitors.

Don’t poke or press or be violent with the screen. It’s fragile and will break without extreme care. They’re not CRTs.