No matter which brand, chips have enough power for most users

Help Line

March 06, 2000|By James Coates | James Coates,Chicago Tribune

I am about to purchase a new Gateway computer and was presented with a minor dilemma. In the past I have been a victim of the name brand syndrome and believed Intel and Pentium equaled the best way to go in a computer.

Now the Gateway salesperson has presented me with alternatives: two equal systems, one with a Pentium chip and one with an AMD chip system called Athlon, which was cheaper and was supposedly the better one for the money. Would I be making a mistake not buying the Pentium computer, or are these both reliable chips and comparable systems?

It's six of Pentium vs. half a dozen of Athlon as far as this writer -- and the bulk of benchmark testers -- are concerned. The latest Pentium IIIs and the AMD K6 Athlons are hugely overpowered microprocessors for any of us ordinary computer users. They both go faster than they need to and AMD is neck and neck with Intel. That's why Gateway, Compaq, IBM and a host of lesser makers offer both chips side by side in their product lines.

Chip speed gets less important as time goes on, much as automobile horsepower became less of an issue as highways got crowded and the 55 mph signs went up.

What good comes from having chips that move data just a couple of tics below the speed of light when the data they move trickle in over a 56-kilobit-per-second modem or even a 1.5-megabit DSL line?

I have a friend who is sending me .txt files. After downloading, when I try to open the file I get a message that says the file is too big to open in Notepad, do I want to open in Wordpad? I click yes and the file opens, but I can't read it (it is gibberish). Can you help?

I can't help, but your friend sending those files certainly can. The problem is that those files may be labeled .txt but they are really complex word processing files containing binary codes used for fonts, formatting and other fripperies.

Such files almost always exceed Windows Notepad's 64,000 character limit, so you get that query about using Wordpad, which tends to get stymied unless the file was written in a program sold by Microsoft.

So tell your friend that merely changing the file extension to .txt does not turn a file into plain text. You must use the Save As command and then make sure the choice of "Text" or "ASCII" is selected before saving a file to send your way.

I leave my IBM Aptiva and G94 monitor running untended for more than an hour, the light button goes on standby and I can't get my monitor back unless I reboot. Once I start the boot sequence, my monitor shows the following message in BIG letters: NO SYNC INPUT!

I have no clue what that means. Do you?

Your problem lies in the fact that your computer thinks (if you'll pardon the expression) that it is hooked to a monitor other than the one you describe.

A fix is pretty simple. Click on the My Computer icon on the desktop and then choose Control Panels and then Add/Remove Hardware. Follow the prompts to one where you are asked whether to have Windows search for a new device and select No.

You will get a window that lets you select Displays and then get a huge list of just about every monitor ever made. Pick your brand and then model (G94, I would guess). The proper drivers will be installed and you'll be out of the World Wide Woods in a click and a wink.

I have three PCs -- one at my office and two at home. I want to update my Favorite Places on the Microsoft Internet Explorer running on each of these PCs with what I saved on any one of them.

You can move Internet favorites from computer to computer using a floppy disk. When you open the Favorites menu in the Explorer Web browser, you will find a choice for Organize Favorites. Choose this and you'll get a list of all your favorites. Right-click on them and you'll get a choice box including Send To, and one of the Send To options is Floppy Disk.

Once the floppy disk is filled with your favorites, you can move it from computer to computer and use the floppy instead of the browser to call up Web pages.

Netscape users can do the same thing by tapping Control + B for Bookmarks and then right-clicking bookmarks or bookmark folders to get a Save As prompt.

With the Microsoft browser you can transfer the contents of the floppy disk into the folder called Favorites in the Windows directory.

Netscape keeps its bookmarks in a file called bookmark.htm, which you could also move into each machine's hard drive from that floppy disk. This file is best found by clicking Start and then Find Files/Folders and typing in bookmark.htm.

Send e-mail to jcoates@

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