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Upcoming EventsWednesday March 13, 2013 Meeting
9:15 AM Set up your computer
9:30 AM Lesson 9, Office templates, Google Search, Google Voice
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Back to Basics Connecting Things to Your Computer – The USB Port
Jim Cerny, Director, Sarasota PCUG, Florida
2012 issue, Sarasota PC Monitor www.spcug.org jimcerny123
Printers, cameras, flash drives – is there any limit to what you can connect to your computer? Today we want to look at how to connect all those wonderful devices to your laptop or desktop. Almost all such connections (which are not wireless connections) are through a “USB” port cable. USB stands for Universal Service Bus and just like a city bus can carry all kinds of people a USB connection can connect almost anything. The purpose of this article is to provide you with the information you need to connect things using the USB connection port. All computers have at least two and maybe three or more USB ports. They are rectangular “holes” in your computer, approximately one-half inch wide by 3/16 inch thick. Any device you purchase which can connect to your computer will probably come with a connection cable with one end being a USB port connector. The other end of the cable will probably have a different shape which plugs into the device you are connecting (camera, printer, mouse, etc.). Here is how you connect something to your computer using this port:
1.. Using the connection cable, plug your device into your computer’s USB port. (The USB plug does have a “right side up,” so if it doesn’t fit one way, turn it over).
That’s it. There is no second step. Oh -- maybe you have to turn on the device you are connecting.
Yes, it’s simple, but I think it is helpful to know a little of what is going on and how to best use your USB ports on your computer. For example, did you know you can have as many USB ports as you need? If you have three USB ports and they all are used and you have a fourth device to connect, what do you do? You go to a store a buy a USB multiplier (or “splitter”) that connects to one USB port and provides four more ports! Believe it or not, you can connect over 100 different devices through one USB port.
So what basically happens when you connect something to a USB port? Well, the computer, all on its own (please make sure the device you are connecting is turned on), identifies the device and establishes the communication code or language it must use to work with the device. If the computer does not have this code it its memory it will go to the internet and get it. So it is usually a good idea to be connected to the internet when plugging in something new to your computer. Pretty neat, huh?
If you are connecting some kind of memory device, such as an external disk drive or a flash drive, there will be an exchange of data to and from the device while you are using it. You can save files to the device and you can change or delete files already on the device. The only danger here is what if you disconnect the device (i.e. unplug it) while it was receiving information from the computer? The file could be incomplete – a file error. So, the idea is to make sure that the device is done transferring data before you disconnect it. Here’s how to safely disconnect a memory device:
In Windows, when you connect a memory device to your computer you will see a new icon in your SYSTRAY– those little icons by your clock on the right end of your taskbar.. The icon will look like a USB cable connector plug and a green circle with a white checkmark in it (in Windows 7). It will be tiny, so look closely. (If you don’t see it, click on the little arrow to the left of these icons to reveal the icons that didn’t fit into this area). Whenever you connect a new memory device to your computer Windows assigns it a drive letter. Most computers have the main “C” drive and a CD/DVD drive assigned the letter “D”. When you connect another memory device to your computer it would then be assigned the letter “E”. When you are ready to disconnect your device, click on this icon. You will then see a list of all the memory devices connected to your computer (most of the time it will be only one device). Click on the specific device on the list to tell the computer you are through using it. You should then see a message displayed that says it is safe to remove the device. It is just a little extra step to make sure you are not unplugging a device while it is in use. Another way is to simply turn off the device before you disconnect it.
There are other connection ports (i.e. “holes”) in your computer where you can plug things in, like the ISDN connector, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other cables. Make sure you are plugging your USB plug into a USB port – match the shape carefully! Remember, there IS a “right side up” on the plug too, so if it does not go in one way, turn it over and try again. Never force a plug into a port!
USB ports have made connecting many devices very easy. So go ahead and buy that camera or jump drive and plug them in!
My First Steps in Windows 8By Tom Kuklinski, President, Computer Users of Erie, PA
January 2013 issue, Horizons
tkuklinski (at) gmail.com
I know you were breathless in waiting for Microsoft's release of its newest Version of Windows. It is simply called Windows 8. It is now here for you to use and enjoy. Are you familiar with it? In this article I hope to give you a little insight into it.
Microsoft offers Windows 8 as a download for only $39.95. This is actually an upgrade. You will need to have a previous version of Windows in order to upgrade. The versions that qualify are Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. If you do not want to download this upgrade then you can order the disc for $69.95.
I purchased the disc version of the upgrade. It is Windows 8 Pro. In the box are One disc for 32 bit and one disc for 64 bit installation. Also in the box is a paper credit card size Product Key for Activation. The packaging is tasteful, clean and simple.
One more card contained the instructions for installation. It simply showed three steps. 1. Insert disc. 2. Follow the steps and 3. Enter your key. It also gave instructions in Getting around with a touch screen or a mouse. Again, clean and simple instructions.
So, I did as instructed. I first made a complete backup of my Windows 7. I did this just in case I wanted to go back to it if I did not like Windows 8. Once you go to Windows 8 as an upgrade, you cannot reverse this process. You will have to reinstall your previous version if you want it back.
After I made the backup of Windows 7, I inserted the Windows 8 upgrade disc. It would not start. I received an error. It said that I had no 'autoexec.dll' file. I could not get the upgrade to work. So then I went to another version of Windows for upgrade. I decided to convert a Windows XP Home Edition to Windows 8. I inserted the disc and received the exact same error. This was confusing to me. I did not have any more options for converting a previous Windows version without fixing my old versions. Since this was an upgrade of Windows 8 I decided to try installation without a previous Windows version to see what would happen.
I inserted the Windows 8 disc and proceeded with an installation. Windows 8 seemed to install. After a while, the process completed and I had Windows 8 running. WOW!
This was not an upgrade but a new install from the Upgrade disc. I just installed the 64 bit version. I decided to look around this new version of Windows. I was impressed. It certainly is different. It was exciting for me to see this new look of Windows 8. I decided to try to change the background. Windows told me I first must Activate this installation. I pulled out the Product Key and typed in the required numbers and letters. This version would not Activate because the Product Key is for an upgrade. So much for that. However, this installation of Windows 8 continued to work with the exception of a few areas.
So I decided to start from scratch. I made a new installation of Windows XP Professional. Now I tried to install Windows 8 Pro Upgrade. No good. This Windows 8
said I must have Service Pack 3 installed. Okay. I have come this far so I downloaded and installed the Service Pack 3 to Windows XP Professional. Finally, I said, this must be what this upgrade wants. Viola! Windows 8 Pro began to install. The installation completed and I activated the product.
Windows 8 Pro is finally up and running. Now to spend some time looking around. If you are a Windows user now, then this version will look foreign to you. It is quite different
in its layout.
Upon first glance, Windows 8 has two faces. One face is composed of rectangles and small squares. This is the foreign side of Windows 8. Then there is the side that looks familiar. It appears like a typical Windows desktop however, it does not have a Start Button or a true Taskbar as I knew it. Navigating around the screen was different. I quickly learned that different keys and certain areas of the screen would do different things to Windows 8. Now what do I do? I soon found a friend. I also have to tell you that I am doing this from a laptop and not a touch screen device. I have a keyboard and mouse or trackpad. The friend is the WINDOWS KEY on my keyboard. This KEY is really 'Key' to getting around Windows 8. I began to experiment and learned how to navigate. I learned where things are placed in this new version. Believe me, it is different but yet felt similar. As I continued to use Windows 8, I became more familiar with it.
I will not go into further detail in this short article. Instead, I am saving that up in a future article. However, I must tell you that as I continue to use Windows 8, I am feeling comfortable with it and have good feelings about it. I will tell you that later. Stay tuned.
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