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Computer Articles of Interest


AMIDiag Suite v.2 Review  -  E.S.
AMIDiag Suite is a comprehensive set of diagnostic and system information programs designed for both on-line and off-line diagnostics. The Suite includes both AMIDiag 2.0 for Windows and DOS-based AMIDiag 6.20. 

Multiprocessing  -  Phil Croucher
Using multiple CPUs could only be done with Intel chips at first, except for the Celeron and some older Pentiums, but Abit has made a dual Socket 370 (Celeron PPGA) board that bypasses the SMP limitations inside the chip. 

Video BIOS Settings  -  Phil Croucher   updated with new info
Many manufacturers, such as AOpen, are beginning to allow access to the Video BIOS as well as the System BIOS, to allow the use of various display devices and to extract maximum performance from the more complex chipsets available, even down to adjusting the speed of the fan on the video card. In AOpenís case, at least, you get to them by pressing the Insert key as the machine starts. These are becoming more relevant as nVidia brings its own motherboard chipset more into circulation, which contains its own high speed, quality graphics subsystem. Otherwise, you may find these settings available through software supplied with your card.

Deleting Temporary Files Painlessly - Hardware Hell
This article is not intended to be a DOS lesson or tutorial, but to show you a simple and painless way to keep your drive free from useless temporary file clutter. There are other command variations to do this, however, this is what I have found to work best for me. 

The A+ Reference   -  Phil Croucher
Excerpts taken from the book is intended not only to get you through the exam, but to be a constant source of reference afterwards.

RAM Guide   -  Phil Croucher
SRAM can only store a quarter of the data that DRAM is able to.  Synchronous SRAM allows a faster data stream to pass through it, which is needed for caching on fast Pentiums. Because of its expense, SRAM is used in caches in the CPU and between it and system memory, which is composed of Dynamic RAM.

Meaning Behind Ram RAS and CAS  -  Phil Croucher
Y
our system will operate most efficiently when the RAS and CAS timings are optimized, but you lose stability as speed is gained. The idea is to keep the figures as low as possible, consistent with your machine working properly. 

AMIDiag Suite 1 Review   -   Hardware Hell
AMIDiag Suite is a complete hardware diagnostics package, which I had a lot of fun testing. I have always loved dinking with utilities and diagnostics programs. That is where I fed my fascination and also learned the most in the early days of DOS and Windows 3.1. AMIDiag Suite includes both AMIDiag 6.11 for DOS as well as the brand new AMIDiag for Windows. No such software will ever be 100% perfect, but this is  probably the most reliable available today. 

SDRAM Explained  -  Phil Croucher
SDRAM works like standard DRAM, but includes interleaving, synchronization and burst mode, so wait states are virtually eliminated (SDRAM DIMM's also contain two cell banks which are automatically interleaved). It's not actually faster than DRAM, just more efficient.

A Few of My Favorite "Functional" Registry Tweaks  -  Hardware Hell
If you are not familiar and comfortable with the Windows registry, educate yourself before attempting anything on this page and without fail...always backup your registry before attempting any changes. This information is a personal opinion only and not an invitation to make these changes to your registry. They work for me and I will take NO responsibility for you lousing up your own system. Use the information provided at your own risk.

Hacking Your Password - Checking Option and Clearing Chips   -  Phil Croucher
When you really need to hack your password...You must discharge the CMOS. This article covers an assortment of ways to do this. (At your own risk of course.)

Understanding Your BIOS Power Management Settings   -  Phil Croucher
This is for Green PCs, or those complying with the EPA Energy Star programs; the intention is to save unnecessary power usage if the system becomes inactive.

Choosing a Network that's Right for You   -  Joseph Cheek This article will discuss available network solutions from different vendors. IntranetWare from Novell, Windows 95 and Windows NT from Microsoft, and UNIX, available from various vendors. Keep in mind that no decision has to be absolute; networks can include all three operating systems, as well as parts from many other vendors.

Networking and Why it May Make Sense For You   -  Phil Croucher
A network exists where a number of PCs are connected together to share a resource, which could be a printer, or data on a hard disk. The reasons for doing so could be down to cost, productivity or both. In fact, the combined processing power of the PCs has made networks a viable alternative to minicomputers in many companies. 

Setup Masquerading for Linux Security   -  Phil Croucher
Linux has routing built into the kernel, which usually only needs to be activated with ipfwadm. Masquerading is what turns a machine into a router. This has relevance when you want to hide several computers behind one IP address so they can all access the Internet, both for convenience and security.

Understanding the Functionality of Your Motherboard Chipset  -  Phil Croucher
The chipset consists of two main components, the North- and South- Bridge chips, which are connected over the PCI bus. The CPU, Memory and AGP talk to the Northbridge and the Southbridge handles all the I/O, including the ISA bus.

A Newbie's Guide to USENET   -  Shery Ma Belle Arrieta
If you deal with computer problems often and are not familiar with USENET, then you don't know what you are missing. This article will get you started with one of the best help resources you can find on the web.

My COMDEX Review...Blue Man Group; Live at Luxor  -  Hardware Hell
Meanwhile, while everyone is writing reviews and so on of all the latest hardware, I would like to share my experience with the Blue Man Group Live at Luxor. From an entertainment perspective, this show was worth every bit as much mention as any new product at COMDEX. The only problem is how to put it into words. Definitely not your usual Vegas type show.

Secret of Computer Training: Treat Your Brain as an Individual   -  Paul Goodison
How come when asked about a training course or study text one person can say "I just passed my MCSE with this - great!" But the next guy says, "This sucked - the information was so poorly presented!" How are you supposed to make the right choice? How can they disagree so much? So what IS going to work for you? Here's the five point "Self Exam" to take, before you part with any money.

Maintaining and Troubleshooting Your Laptop Battery   -  Bill Platt
The actual life of a laptop battery will vary with computer usage habits. For most users, it is not uncommon to experience differences in battery life, of anywhere from just under one hour to over two hours in each sitting. If you are experiencing shorter battery life cycles, say 10 to 15 minutes, it may not yet be time to order that new battery.

The Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) and Related Registry Setting Explained and Tweaked  to Increase Your Surfing Speeds  -  Phil Croucher
The Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) of a network is the largest packet size that can be transferred in a frame, including headers and trailers. 

Quick View of the Pentium III and Celeron CPU   -  Phil Croucher
A quick look at the differences, pros, cons including Pentium II.

How old is my BIOS?   -  Phil Croucher
If you want to check how old your BIOS is, the date is on the start-up screen, usually buried in the BIOS ID String. If not, this explains how to find out using debug.

About Plug n Pray including ESCD   -  Phil Croucher
Although Windows '95 or a PnP BIOS can do a lot by themselves, you really need the lot, e.g. a Plug and Play BIOS, with compatible devices and an Operating System for the best performance.

The Lowdown on Ethernet    -  Phil Croucher
Ethernet is the most common of many ways of allowing computers to talk to each other.

Parallel Communications Explained  -  Phil Croucher
Parallel communications are used over very short distances; typically inside the computer itself and to printers. This method, together with the connector, was developed by Centronics and used by IBM in its first PC.

Shadow RAM   -  Phil Croucher
Shadow RAM is the process of copying the contents of a ROM directly into extended memory which is given the same address as the ROM, from where it will run much faster. The original ROM is then disabled, and the new location write protected.

UART Explained   -  Phil Croucher
The Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter is the device inside your computer that turns the internal parallel data stream into serial for transmission down one cable. 

Flash BIOS Upgrades   -  Phil Croucher
Your manual should state whether the board has a Flash BIOS (most modern ones do), but if you don't have a manual, or just want to make sure, look under the sticker and look for these codes on the chip (xxx just denotes the capacity):


Other Info by Phil Croucher


BIOS Tweaks Archive
A collection of past BIOS settings and tweaks provided by Phil Croucher, author of  
The BIOS Companion.

About Hard Disks
Hard disks were originally called Winchester drives, after one that IBM made for mainframes, which had 30 Mb fixed and 30 removable, after the Winchester 30-30 caliber rifle.

Memory Markings
Numbering on a chip is split into two, although it never looks like that. The first part 
indicates complexity, and the second the data path size, or how many bits can be read 
or written at the same time.

ASCII
ASCII (pronounced "ask-ee") is short for American Standard Code for Information Interchange, an internationally agreed standard (laid down by the American National Standards Institute-ANSI) which gives each character of the alphabet a number, translated by other equipment according to what country it thinks it's in.

Dead Hard Drives
The days of reconstructing broken files with a sector editor are long gone. The best way out of trouble is not to get into it,  you must always have backups! However, in case they don't work...

USB
The Universal Serial Bus is a standard replacement for the antiquated connectors on the back of the average PC; computers will likely come with two USB ports as standard.

FireWire
A similar idea to USB, but faster, originally developed by Apple, and now called IEEE 1394, or even HPSB (High performance Serial Bus)



Thanks to  Phil Croucher, author of  The A+ Reference Book,, The BIOS Companion, Communications and Networks  and others, for sharing his knowledge with us. You can find more information about his books here. Articles from other sources will be noted. Contact us if you would like to submit an article to be included on Hardware Hell.

 

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Updated 07/06/04

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