Bits & P.C.s: Tips & tricks

Bits & P.C.s: Tips & tricks

By Richard Heller

This week, let’s see if I can give you some tips that could make using your computer a little easier.

Did you know that the data, whether music or programs, is actually on the label side of a CD? The laser reads from the bottom side of the CD, through the clear plastic until it is reflected off the underside of the label. The label side on a recordable CD is essentially “painted” onto the plastic and is very thin. So, the side that you need to protect from scratches is actually the top of the CD.

For this reason you should not paste sticky notes or tape on the label side of the CD. If you use disc labels, you should not attempt to remove a label if you make it wrong. If you do, you will more than likely peel the reflective coating right off the CD. The best thing to do is to either make another CD or apply another label over the first.

Every computer system should have a battery backup system, or UPS. The price has dropped to the $50 range and will protect your computer from voltage surges and brownouts and will keep your system from crashing due to a sudden power loss.

With more and more devices being made with a USB interface, it is becoming difficult to find a printer that connects to a parallel port. If your computer doesn’t have USB ports, you can purchase a card for $30 that will let you hook up that new printer. If you need additional ports, you can add a USB hub that gives you four more ports also for $30.

Do you hate tying up your computer while you copy CDs? For $250, e3works offers DiscClone II, a stand-alone duplicator. The box contains a 52X reader and a 40X re-writer that will copy a CD in five minutes without a PC. It also has a USB port that allows you to connect it as an external writer to a PC or a Mac. It supports almost all CD formats.

If you are having trouble shutting down your computer, i.e. it hangs at the safe to shutdown Windows screen, you may want to check your computer for “phantom devices.” To do this, you will need to hit the F8 key as the computer boots and choose Safe Mode. Once you are in Windows right click on the “My Computer” icon and choose Properties. If you then click on the “Device Manager” tab, you will see a list of categories such as CD drives and Hard drives on your system. By clicking on the plus sign next to each category, you will see all the devices for that category.

Click on each duplicate item and then on the “Remove” button. You will need to do this for every duplicate item. When finished, restart the computer and Windows will re-install the device. Have your Windows CD and driver discs handy, and you may be lucky and have your problem resolved.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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