Question:  What's a USB port?

Answer: A USB (Universal Serial Bus) port can be used to connect mice, keyboards, printers, cameras, scanners, you name it to the computer so they will work many times faster than if they were connected to the serial port.  Another advantage is that you can hook up several devices to the USB ports and you don't have to do a bunch of special configuration to make them work. Most newer computers have six to seven USB ports and you can also get a hub to add additional devices if needed. The newer computers have a new type of USB port which is several times faster than the original versions.  USB ports will work with some computers running Windows 95b and should be OK with Windows 98 and later. Another advantage of USB devices is you can connect and disconnect them without shutting down the computer and the computer keeps track of what device is hooked up. The cables can also be a little longer than with the serial and parallel devices.

Question: Are digital cameras hard to use?

Answer: Using a digital camera is as easy as using a basic 35mm camera. All you have to do is point and shoot. The hardest part of using a digital camera is finding the best settings to use. Some cameras actually take better pictures if you drop down the resolution slightly and will also hold more pictures. Once you get used to transferring the pictures to your computer you have the process mastered. There are many graphics programs which give you any amount of image editing capability you could possibly want. What you do with the pictures after they are downloaded is a very complex subject and needs to be discussed on a case by case basis. You can use the pictures to attach to e-mail, put on a web site, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Click here for a link to a site with a wealth of digital camera info.

Question: Is it hard to setup a web cam?

Answer: Click here for a link to a site with some great information regarding web cams.

Question: Why does my Internet connection keep disconnecting?

Answer: Could be several things. It's not the ISP disconnecting you unless you just stay online for hours on end without doing anything. Even though it sounds silly, check the wire from your computer to the wall jack. You'd be surprised how many times I find that to be the problem. Also, is there anything else plugged into the same line as the modem, fax, phones, answering machines? If so, try unplugging everything except the modem and see if you are still having problems. Try a different jack. If not these items, and the modem is OK, have the phone company check out their connections.

Question: Why does my computer lock up sometimes when I disconnect from the Internet?

Answer: If you are using Windows 95, sometimes when you disconnect from the Internet and the computer tries to reset the modem the cursor will end up in the middle of the screen and the computer is frozen making it necessary to turn the computer off and back on. I've never seen anything on Microsoft's web site addressing this issue but I do know it affects almost all Windows 95 computers from time to time and I don't know of any fix. At least it only happens once in a while. The problems doesn't seem to occur with Windows 98 and later.

Question: How do I download files to my computer?

Answer: In the later versions of Internet Explorer, when you click on a download link, you may get a yellow message below the menu area telling you to click the area for download options.  This is a safety mechanism, in case you click on a download link unknowingly.  You have to click on the yellow message area for options. 

Click on the Download File option.

Now, a File Download box opens up and has two choices. You can either choose "Run this program from it's current location" or you can choose "Save this program to disk". You want to choose Save this program to disk and then click OK.

Now, a box titled Save As opens up.

Before you do anything else, make sure the Save in box says Desktop. If not, click on the arrow on the right side of the window and select c:\windows\desktop directory (Windows previous to XP) or c:\Documents and Settings\"User Name"\Desktop (Windows XP). In Vista and Windows 7, just click on Desktop in the left pane.  The reason you want to save the file here is, after you download the file there will be an icon on your desktop which is the downloaded file.  After you run the program or view the downloaded file, you want to delete it from your hard drive. If it is on the desktop it reminds you it is there and you won't forget to delete it.  Now you just click Save then follow up with whatever the downloaded file is for.

Question: What is the Windows registry?

Answer: The registry is a database of all the hardware and software on you computer which Windows uses to know things like what fonts and drivers to use when running a program or what driver to use when it wants to use the modem, etc. It is hundreds if not thousands of lines of code telling the computer how to work. THE REGISTRY IS NOT A PLACE FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING TO START MAKING CHANGES. If the registry gets altered or corrupt, there is no method, other than the new system restore or the GoBack programs which can be used to fix a corrupt registry. Reloading Windows will NOT fix a corrupt registry. If you are reading an article about editing the system registry, make sure you back it up first and know exactly what you are doing or you will have a real mess on your hands.

Question: How do I put an icon on the desktop for a program I use often?

Answer: This depends on the version of Windows you are using. Since almost everyone is out of the Windows 3.1 environment, we will start with Windows 95. Right click on the Start button. Left click on Open. Double-click on Programs. Now double-click on the program group containing the program whose icon you want to put on the desktop. Right click on the icon, hold the button down and drag the icon to the desktop, somewhere there is not an icon. Let go of the mouse button and left-click on Create a shortcut, never click on move! Now close out all the windows and your icon will be on the desktop. This process is much easier with Windows 98 and higher. Simply go to the Start button, go to the program you want to move to the desktop and right click on the icon and drag to the desktop. Left-click on Create a shortcut and now you have your desktop icon.  DO NOT click and drag with the left mouse button.  This will move the icon to the desktop from it's menu location on the start button.  Therefore, if you later delete it from the desktop, it will not be available anywhere. ALWAYS use the right mouse button, then select create a shortcut, or copy.  It's always best to use create a shortcut, since this only references the item.  If you create an icon for a file, and then select copy, now the file in the original location will not open when you click on the icon.

Question: When I print my document in Word, it doesn't look right, why?

Answer: There could be several things causing the problem. First of all, make sure to do a File - Print and check to see what the default printer is set to.  If you are getting cryptic looking printouts and page after page of printing on the first line, chances are the wrong printer is selected or the printer driver may be corrupt. Also, Windows uses different fonts to display the file than the printer uses. If you want a true representation of what the final print will look like, try a print preview prior to printing. This mode will approximate what the final printout will look like. Bad fonts, etc. can also cause printing problems. As a rule, you should stick to using standard Windows TrueType fonts, especially if you will be sharing the file with someone else. If you open a file which was made using fonts you don't have on your computer, the computer will substitute fonts which sometimes will make the file look like it was made in a foreign language!

Question: How do I find a file I downloaded?

Answer: First of all, whenever you download a file, take note of the name of the file and the location where the file is being saved. If you need to locate a file, click on the Start button, then, depending on your version of Windows, either click on Find or Search. You can either put in the name of the file or go to the extended search criteria and you can search by date, size, etc. You can also put in any part of the name. Make sure it is searching the C drive and take note of where it finds the file, then you can do whatever it is you want with the file.

Question: What is a shortcut?

Answer: A shortcut is a way to put an icon for a program or a file in more than one place and not causing that file or program to be copied, which takes up a lot of disk space. For instance you want an icon for Microsoft Word to be shown under programs but you may also want an icon on the desktop. If you create a shortcut on the desktop you will have an icon to click on to start Word. Later if you decide you don't want it on the desktop any longer, you can delete it and since it is just a shortcut, the original is still listed under programs.

Please Note: All information provided in The Help Desk web site is in easy to understand terms, in my opinion only, and may not necessarily be the only accepted answers or advice.  I will not be responsible for any problems caused from anyone making any configuration or hardware changes to their computer system resulting from information obtained from this web site.  Please contact me prior to using any content from this web site.