MadMod Computing The MadMod Computing Newsletter

June, 2009 - Vol. 2009b

Welcome to this edition of The MadMod Computing Newsletter.   We hope that you enjoy the features of each issue and learn some computing skills along the way. For more topics on other newsletters, check out MadMod Computing Newsletters.

First, a reminder to make backups of your important files, and to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.   Second use a software firewall and/or a router if using broadband.   Last, obtain all the critical Windows updates.

Featured in This Issue
1.     Add a 2nd Display Screen
2.     Network Printers
3.     TripAdvisor (website)

1.    Add a 2nd Display Screen
Many laptop computer users sometimes wish that their display could be larger for a number of reasons.  What's nice about laptop computers is that there is a vacant video jack (black or blue) that can take a male plug from a 2nd display screen.  Once connected and configured, the mouse can extend over to the 2nd screen so that separate applications can have their own screen or you can select to use the screen in dual mode for presentations.

Configuration in Windows usually starts with two things to do: 1. CTRL + F8 (or similar dual keystroke pattern) to cause the video adapter to use the two screens, and  2. right-mouse on the 1st screen, choose 'Properties' and then 'Settings' where you can experiment with the resolution and choice of left or right placement of the 2nd screen.  After some trial and error experimentation, you'll have the setting as desired.

Let's suppose you want Firefox on the 2nd screen.  Start Firefox and when loaded click the box showing a square next to the upper right X corner of Firefox.  This should make a reduced rectangle for Firefox.  Next with the left-mouse, hold and drag the top bar of Firefox to the other screen.  Once there click the little square again to maximize the page on that screen.  Now Firefox has its home screen there. (Move it back using the same procedure.)

2.    Network Printers
If you're in the market for a new printer and you have a router used by 2 or more computers and with a vacant switch port, a network printer makes lots of sense.  This is because all the computers may be able to print to this printer--Windows, Apple and Linux computers.

The first issue to overcome is to realize that each computer needs a printer driver for the printer, either from a supplied CD-ROM or via a download from the Internet.  Check the box to see if it's compatible for all your computers. (Windows XP or later, Apple OS 10.4 or later)  For Linux computers I'd suggest that you stay with Hewlett-Packard printers because the Linux kernels these days probably already have a driver for that printer, though really new network printers may not have a Linux driver available yet.)

Next, connected the printer to the router and power it on, inserting cartridges, paper, etc. so it's ready.  On each computer install the software driver.  Once installed go to the utility that allows you to add a printer. (Windows: see the control panel, Apple: use the upper left apple on the screen and select 'Preferences' then 'Printers'.)  During the add printer process be sure to select a network connection rather than USB.  Success is measured here if you can finally print a test page at the end of the install. (Reading the printer manual may be useful.)

I generally don't recommend a wireless printer in a combined Windows and Apple environment as some computers may not connect to the printer even after following all the directions and with multiple attempts.  I've seen wireless printers that claim to work with Windows and Apple computers but which won't connect to an Apple computer.  Connecting a network printer to a router via an Ethernet cable is much more successful in these situations.

3.    TripAdvisor (website)
tripadvisor TripAdvisor claims "Unbiased hotel reviews, photos and travel advice for hotels and vacations - Compare prices with just one click."  The site is popular and lots of reviews to discuss hotels, restaurants, travel spots, vacations of all sorts, etc.  The site is very comprehensive and may save you some cash and travel annoyances.  Booking travel, hotels and so on is easy to do if you find what you want.

In today's economy, being prepared and keeping expenses down is essential particularly for travel and vacations.  So give TripAdvisor a try and see what you may be missing.

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