iMac-compatible printers Help Line

August 31, 1998|By David Einstein | David Einstein,SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

I've been thinking about getting an Apple iMac, but I'm worried I won't be able to get a printer that will work with it because it has only a USB port. Is anybody coming out with a USB printer soon? And what about other peripherals, such as mice and Zip drives?

All major printer-makers will have USB models within the next few months that will work with any computer that has a USB port. Also, companies are starting to sell cables to convert a standard parallel-port printer to USB. In fact, Hewlett-Packard already has announced USB cables for its DeskJet 670C and 690C printers, and Epson has announced one for its Stylus 600.

USB-compatible mice are available from market leaders Microsoft and Logitech. And Iomega is planning to introduce a USB version of its popular Zip drive soon.

I am in my truck a lot calling on customers, and I want to use a laptop to keep track of my contacts. I will be booting up anywhere from three to 10 times a day after sales calls. Because I won't be near an electrical outlet, I'm afraid I'll run down the battery in the computer. Is there a way to recharge using the battery in the truck?

As Curley would say, "Soitenly." All the big computer-makers sell cables that let you plug your laptop into the cigarette lighter in the car, truck, boat or whatever. You can treat this connection jTC just like a regular plug in your house. That is, you can run the computer off it, use it to recharge or both. Expect to pay about $90.

You also can find cables to convert your regular laptop power cord into a mobile charger. That's a good option if you can't find a car cable for your model laptop.

I've got a Packard Bell with a 75-megahertz Pentium and 16 megabytes of memory. I'm thinking of getting Windows 98, and I'd like to know: Will I need more memory? If so, how can I find out what kind I need? Is it hard to upgrade, or should I let a store do it?

You don't need any more memory to run Windows 98 than you need for Windows 95. But doubling your memory to 32 megs would speed up your system appreciably. So it's definitely worth the upgrade, especially because the kind of memory your computer uses has become pretty cheap. You should be able to get 16 megs for under $30.

I believe your Packard Bell uses standard 72-pin SIMM chips, but check the manual or call the company. That way you'll know exactly what kind and how many chips to buy. Upgrading is a simple procedure, but if you feel queasy about opening the PC, let the store do it for you.

I recently removed several programs I was no longer using by deleting their folders in Windows Explorer. Then I noticed that when I go to Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel, the programs are still listed. When I try to remove them, I get a message saying "Cannot locate install.log." How do I get rid of the programs and make sure they're truly gone?

Don't worry, they're gone. But since you didn't use Add/Remove Programs to delete them, Windows thinks they're still there. It's possible to remove the names, but it's complicated and involves going into the Windows Registry. You don't want to do that. Trust me. Just live with it.

Tip of the week: Want fast access to files you create in Word, Excel or another Microsoft Office application? Put a shortcut to the My Documents folder on your desktop. Just go to My Computer, find the folder in the C drive and drag it to the desktop using the right mouse button. Then click Create Shortcut(s) Here. When you open the My Documents shortcut, double-clicking any item will launch the associated application and open the file.

Jim Coates, who normally writes Help Line, is recovering from surgery. David Einstein is his guest replacement.

Pub Date: 8/31/98

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