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THIS WEEK’S FOCUS: Upgrading Your PC


The most common type of external connector on PCs today is the USB port. USB is a great concept in that virtually every type of new peripheral comes in a USB version. Want to add a second hard disk? Don’t open the PC case; get the USB version. Want to add a new printer? Forget the parallel port; get the USB version. Want to add a wireless network adapter? Don’t bother with Ethernet cards; get the USB version.

USB is so popular because it’s so easy to use. When you’re connecting a USB device, not only do you not have to open your PC’s case, you don’t even have to turn off your system when you add the new device. That’s because USB devices are hot swappable. That means you can just plug in the new device to the port, and Windows will automatically recognize it in real time.

The original USB standard, version 1.1, has been around for awhile and, if your PC is more than three or four years old, is probably the type of USB you have installed. The newer USB 2.0 protocol is much faster than USB 1.1 and is standard on all new computers. USB 2.0 ports are fully backward compatible with older USB 1.1 devices. You want to use newer USB 2.0 connections when you’re installing devices that transfer a lot of data, such as external hard drives.

To connect a new USB device, all you have to do is find a free USB port on the back of your system unit and connect the new peripheral. Windows should automatically recognize the new peripheral and either install the proper device driver automatically or prompt you to provide a CD or disk containing the driver file. Follow the onscreen instructions to finish installing the driver, and you’re done. (The only variation on this procedure is if the peripheral’s manufacturer recommends using its own installation program, which you should use if it exists.)


On March 5, 1868, C.H. Gould of Birmingham, England, received a patent for his design of a stapling device. And what would we do without our red Swingline staplers? (Trivia note: When the movie Office Space was in production, Swingline actually didn’t make a red stapler; the production designer of the movie had to spray-paint a standard black Swingline red.)


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