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Jewish World Review March 6, 2001 / 11 Adar, 5761

The Computer Maven by James Derk

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Consumer Reports

Apollo printers...CD problems...more -- THE mailbag is bulging again...let's jump on in.

Q. Can I mix speeds of RAM memory (133, 100, etc.) in the same computer?

A. In 90 percent of the motherboards out there, yes, though you will notice a performance hit if you use slower memory than the optimum for your motherboard. In my own case, my motherboard wants PC133 memory, though I am cheap so I bought PC100. Still works but I figure I am losing 20 percent in performance in some applications.

Q. I have an "Apollo" printer but I lost the manual. I need some new cartridges for it...where can I find out what kind to order?

A. Apollo is a low-cost division of Hewlett-Packard. You can see the specifications and details for your printer (and the manual) at

Q. Why won't my CD-ROM drive read any CDs?

A. A couple of reasons pop to mind. The disk could be dirty...carefully clean the underside with a soft cloth. Try another CD. Does that help? The ribbon cable that connects the drive to the motherboard could be loose or defective. Have a nerd friend reseat the cable. The drive could be clogged with junk as the door and spray some compressed cleaning air from a can in there. If it works with data CDs but won't play music CDs, keep in mind you need a special cable that connects your drive to the sound card or motherboard. They cost four bucks at a computer store.

Q. My mailbox is filling up with junk. What can I do?

A. Not a lot. Some people keep their "real" e-mail box a closely guarded secret and use a free account like Hotmail for everyone else. It helps. But I have a couple of accounts that no one knows about and they still fill up with spam. Consider it the price of nearly free worldwide communications.

Q. What is going to replace Napster when it shuts down?

A. My bet is with Aimster or a version of Gnutella, both of which don't rely on a central server to share data. They are harder to use but are really peer to peer (person to person) transfer versus using a central server to find files. Obviously something has to be worked out so artists get paid, or there won't be any more artists. But Napster was quite a good research tool...I often sampled music on the service then bought the CD to hear more.

The next killer app will be a Napster-like service for music videos, I predict.

Q. I just installed a cable modem about a week ago. After reading your article on firewalls, I decided it would be wise to purchase and install one. I purchased Norton's Internet Security package and was shocked to see several hits minutes after I installed it. I had no idea how much hacking goes on these days as there have been several attempts each night. Thanks!

A. You are welcome. Help spread the word that you are nuts to have a cable modem, DSL or ISDN connection these days without a firewall product to protect your data.

WEEKLY WEB WONDER: Help the thousands homeless and starving because of recent natural disasters. Please visit

James Derk is computer columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. Comment by clicking here.


02/27/01: Good firewalls to keep your computer safe
02/12/01: How to set up a LAN party
01/30/01: Used computers... picture.exe...other problems
01/23/00: Cool computer tricks

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