Grandpa's PC not up for gaming

Helpline

January 10, 2000|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I have a Hewlett Packard Pavillion 166-megahertz Pentium that has been upgraded to 64 megabytes of RAM and a 10-gigabyte hard drive. The computer is highly adequate for what I do, but my grandson is pressuring me to purchase a new computer. He is 17 and says this computer stinks and he could do a lot with a new computer. Is this just a ploy to get a computer to play online games, or is there merit to his vague argument?

We grandfathers are easy targets for this kind of scam by our grandkids, which is one of the really great things about being graced by having our children's children under foot.

Of course it's a ploy, but it also is true that a 166-megahertz Pentium that is just great for us grandfatherly types can be terribly lame in the world of a 17-year-old, where game-playing looms far larger than word processing or Web surfing as the reason for having a PC in one's life.

Your souped-up Pavillion is a superb machine and will more than handle your own needs well into the future but, alas, the youngster is quite correct in his assessment of it in the game-centric world of 17-year-old computer fans.

Two or three years ago you had an article on a site to get a "Popup Monitor" that would keep America Online from timing out after its time limit of no activity. I have taken a hit on my hard drive and that is part of the data lost. Could I get the site address again from you?

Nothing irks computer users more than the America Online automatic hang-up if the customer doesn't touch mouse or keyboard for 15 minutes or so.

Designed to keep as many phone lines open as possible when users forget they are online and step away from their machines, the automatic disconnect feature also kicks in to spoil lengthy downloading sessions when subscribers attempt to acquire software, music or other big files on the Internet.

The best solution this writer has seen is called Download Wonder, a superb free program from Forty Software LLC that not only outfoxes AOL's nasty hang-up feature but that also makes the rest of downloading far easier by creating a database of all downloads and handling the decompressing of ZIP files that must be done with the majority of downloads.

Check out the sample version of Download Wonder at www.forty.com.

Can you suggest any way to print only one page at a time off the Internet? Usually when it appears to be only one page, I select Print and off it automatically goes, usually printing out two pages, with the second one being a few inconsequential lines at the top ... a real waste of paper. (Poor trees!)

To be certain that only a single page will be printed you could copy a Web page by using the Control + A (select all) and Control C (copy) command and then pasting it (Control + V) into a word processor that would show page breaks and thus let you eliminate the over matter by simply erasing all the stuff beyond the page break.

In my humble opinion that's a lot of trouble for saving a few trees. But if you've got the time, I'm sure the Sierra Club will be grateful.

Send e-mail to jcoates@ tribune. com.

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