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Adding Memory

The term "memory" in computers refers to RAM (Random Access Memory). A computer uses RAM to hold temporary instructions and data needed to perform tasks. Then the computer's CPU (Central Processing Unit) can use this information extremely quickly. If a program is loaded into memory, you can work more quickly with less time spent waiting for the computer to perform tasks. The more RAM a computer has the faster the computer operates.

Most computers today require 256-512 Megabytes of RAM to run basic applications. Add an additional 512MB or more for running graphic, multimedia and game programs.

That in 1981, referring to computer memory, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft said, "640K (about 1/2 of one Megabyte) ought to be enough for anybody."

  1. Unplug the computer and remove the cover. The electronics inside can be easily damaged. Probably the biggest danger is static electricity. Touch an unpainted grounded piece of metal before proceeding. There are also anti-static wrist straps you can purchase to help prevent static electricity.
  2. The most popular memory stick used today is 168-pin DIMM-type memory (See Figure H-1). Most computers have two, three, or four slots. The slots are marked on the motherboard as DIMM 0, DIMM 1, etc.

    Figure H-1
  3. Memory sticks are held in place by plastic clips on each end of the slot (See Figure H-2). To remove old sticks, carefully push the plastic clips outward until the stick pops free. Grab it by the ends and lift it straight up.

    Figure H-2
  4. On the RAM sticks there are two notches on the bottom. The memory slots have two ridges that will match up with the memory stick. You can only insert the sticks one way.
  5. Insert the first stick into the first DIMM slot (DIMM 0). Apply even pressure straight down with your thumbs on the top of the memory module. The plastic clips should pop into position all by themselves. Make sure that the stick snaps firmly into the socket and the plastic clips snap into place. DO NOT FORCE THE STICK INTO THE SLOT! If it doesn't snap into place, you might have the memory modules inserted the wrong way. Repeat this with each memory stick.
  6. Reconnect your computer and turn the power on. Right-click on "My Computer" and then left-click on "Properties". The total amount of RAM will be shown in the lower right corner of the properties window (See Figure H-3).

    Figure H-3
  7. If the properties window shows the incorrect amount of RAM, this could be due to the wrong type of memory installed. Review your motherboard documentation to find out what type of memory is correct for your machine. Memory suppliers such as Kingston and Crucial feature easy to use programs to help you determine the correct type of memory for your system.

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Adjusting Your Monitor - Section 1

The monitor screen is more commonly known as the "Desktop".

There are several adjustments you can make to your desktop:

  1. Right-click on any blank area of your desktop
  2. Left-click on "Properties" to open the desktop properties window. (See Figure H-4)

    Figure H-4
  3. Left-click on "Appearance"
  4. Left-click on the "Effects" button. Here you may select "Use large icons" to get symbols on your screen which are easier to see. (See Figure H-5) Next, under "Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts" choose "ClearType" ONLY if you have a flat-panel LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitor. If you have a big, bulky CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) type monitor, select "Standard". The rest of the options can be set according to your own taste.

  5. Figure H-5

  6. Another button on the "Appearance" window is the "Advanced" button. (See Figure H-6) There are almost 20 adjustments you can make to the Windows appearance. You can play with them and see what suits you best or you can just leave as they are.

    Figure H-6

  7. To save changes, click "OK" until the Properties window closes.

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Adjusting Your Monitor - Section 2

The next tab on the Desktop Properties window to look at is the "Settings" tab (See Figure H-7). Look at the "Screen resolution" setting. If you have a flat-panel LCD display, there is a native resolution that should not be changed. See your display's manual. For all other displays, you can change the screen resolution by sliding the arrow left and right. Find the one that looks good for you. You should not go below 800 x 600 and I recommend a minimum of 1024 x 768. The higher the resolution, the smaller the characters will be but your desktop will be larger.

The "Color quality" should be set to the "Highest" setting (32 bit). This determines how many colors your monitor will display.

Figure H-7

Next, click the button labeled "Advanced" on the Settings window. Click on the tab labeled "Monitor". (See Figure H-8). Here you can adjust the Screen refresh rate. This determines how fast the lines of resolution on the screen are re-drawn. PLEASE NOTE: If you have a flat-panel LCD display, do not change the refresh rate. For CRT displays, make sure the box that says "Hide modes that this monitor cannot display" is checked. Then select the highest refresh rate that appears on the drop-down list when you click the downward arrow. When you raise the refresh rate you reduce the amount of flicker on the screen which, in turn, reduces eye strain.

Figure H-8

To save changes, click "OK" until the Properties window closes.

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Adjusting Your Monitor - Section 3

Now that you have the display set up the way you want it, there is a way to save the settings so you can always reset the display if something should change it. From the Display properties window, click on the "Themes" tab. Click on "Save As" and give your settings a name. (See Figure H-9)

Figure H-9

You can create multiple desktops with different colors and pictures and give them different names. Just open the drop-down list called "Theme" and your unique themes will be listed there. Remember to click "OK" when you're done with the desktop properties window.

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