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August 22, 2006

Sharing a DSL or Other Broadband Connection

Sharing a DSL or other broadband connection is very common place and real easy to set up.

Being a BellSouth FastAccess DSL subscriber myself, I am very familiar with the equipment they provide and will answer you with that in mind. For other readers who may not be a BellSouth subscriber, the principles outlined here will apply to you also.

For starters, BellSouth has, for a few years now, being providing residential subscribers with a Westell Wire Speed modem. This modem provides a network interface connection and a USB connection and acts as a router. This allows you to plug in a PC and give it access to the Internet while still keeping it private from the rest of the world.

Besides the security protection it gives you, it also allows you to share one Internet connection with multiple PC's. Since it only has one network interface connection, you just need a way to share that connection. The way to do that is with a device called a network hub or a network switch (there is a technical difference between a hub and a switch, but hubs are rarely produced today since a switch is much faster and just as cheap to produce).

A network switch allows multiple network devices to plug into it and sends the data from a network device that is transmitting to the network device that is waiting to receive it. Think of it as an old time phone operator who would connect you to the person you were trying to reach by telephone.

By plugging a network switch directly into your DSL modem, you can then plug multiple PC's into the network switch, as many as the switch will allow, and they can all share the same DSL Internet connection.

Since you are only going to be plugging in two PC's, I would recommend a network switch such as the LinkSys SD205 10/100 Desktop Ethernet 5-Port Switch
, which sells for about $30 at Office Depot.

You will also need an extra patch cord or two (these are the cables the run from your computer to the network switch). You already have one patch cord currently running from your PC to the DSL modem, that cable will be unplugged from the PC and plugged into the network switch. You will need two more patch cords, one for each of your PC's so that they can be plugged into the network switch.

Although you can buy a patch cord from Office Depot or other retailer, the mark up on patch cords is unbelievably high. If you already have an eBay account, I would buy them from someone on eBay. (I cannot vouch for this eBay seller, but he has the patch cords in stock at a good price and even after Priority Mail shipping costs, two cables will still be less than 50% of the retail cost of one cable.)

For cable broadband subscribers, all of the above applies, however, instead of a switch, you will need to purchase a switch/router combo such as the LinkSys BEFSR41 EtherFast Cable/DSL Router with 4-Port Switch
combination. I haven't seen a cable modem deployed yet that also provides the router services of a DSL modem.

Posted by admin at 6:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 20, 2006

Finding Old Files

Disk Cleanup is a utility first introduced in Microsoft Windows ME to help get rid of unwanted files. In Microsoft Windows XP, the Disk Cleanup program can be configured to check for and delete files that match different criteria, such as Internet Explorer applets, temporary Internet files, files that are in the Recycle Bin, etc.

One of the options is, as you mentioned, to compress old files that have not been accessed in a while. Rather than delete the files, they are compressed to save space.

You can configure the number of days that Windows will wait before an unaccessed file will be compressed (the default is 50 days), by selecting the Compress old files option and then clicking on the Options button.

As for finding these files yourself to delete them, it is a little trickier. You can use the Windows Search utility to find them.

Click Start->Search to open the Windows Search Utility.

Select All files and folders when asked "What do you want to search for?"

Leave the search boxes for file name and word or phrase blank.

If not already expanded, click the double arrow pointing down next to "When was it modified?".

Click Specify Dates and then click on the down arrow next to Modified Date and change it to Accessed Date.

Now you can change the date range to search for. In the From box, you can just change the year to 1980 (don't go too far back, otherwise the utilty won't accept the date). In the To box, pick a date that is about two months back or further, depending on how much housecleaning you want to do, and then click Search.

Don't just blindly select all the files that were found and delete them. Only delete files that you know you will no longer need and are not part of any programs you may have installed.

Also, the Accessed Date can be misleading. Simply clicking on a file to check it's File Properties is enough for Windows to update the Accessed Date.

Posted by admin at 1:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 9, 2006

Windows XP Memory Requirements


Microsoft recommends a minimum of 128MB ram to Windows XP Home and it is certainly possible to run XP Home with that amount. XP does a much better job of managing resources than previous releases of Windows and with the low cost of memory, not many people have had to worry about it.

Previous versions of Windows included a small applet named Resource Manager that would show the amount of free resources still available. Microsoft is now providing similar information on the Performance tab of Windows Task Manager (press CTRL-Alt-Del to start Task Manger, you may need to click on the Task Manager button if you get a dilog window instead).

On the Performance tab you will notice several graphcs as well as three boxes listing Physical Memory, Kernel Memory, and Commit Charge. It is this last one, Commit Charge, that is the most important to look at. The three values it displays are Total, Limit, and Peak.

Total is the amount of memory currently being used, this includes both physical memory and virtual memory. This value will change as you open and close programs.

Limit is the maximum amount of physical and virtual memory available on your system and should never change unless you do so manually by modifying the size of your swap file.

Peak is the maximum amount of memory that was used at any one time since you last started your PC.

Your Limit amount should be between 1 - 1.5 times the amount of physical memory installed in your machine. You can modify this value by changing the size of your Paging File.

Right-click on My Computer
Select Properties
Click the Advanced Tab
Click the Settings button in the Performance box
Click the Change button in the Virtual memory box
Modify the values as needed

Custom size is recommended with the initial size set to 1 - 1.5 times physical memory and the maximum size can be set to the same value or higher.

The Total and Peak values are the ones you need to watch. If Peak is consistently 50% higher than your total physical memory, you are probably trying to run too many programs at one time. Remember that Peak gets reset everytime you restart your machine, so you have to watch its value over several restarts.

Total should level off no higher than 125% of total physical memory. You can spike higher, but if you are consistently higher than that 125% of total physical memory, you should look at quiting some applications or adding more memory.

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