Welcome to the Builder's Corner Newsletter
Welcome to the latest issue of The Builder's Corner. As always, I keep the newsletter printer friendly if you prefer offline reading. Simply click File --> Print and you're off and running.
Hard Stuff - The Gigabyte MA-790FX-DS5 Motherboard
Gigabyte's latest offering on the motherboard front is the MA-790FX-DS5 . Gigabyte has been long known for the quality motherboards they produce and their ability to stay ahead of the curve. This board is made for the AM2+ and AM2 sockets, with support for Phenom, and Athlon X2 CPU's. With the AMD 790FX chipset, it gives you very nice throughput between the CPU and the Northbridge. The board includes a host of connections including:
- 4 DIMM slots with support for up to 16GB DDR2 RAM
- Dual PCI-e x16 slots with support for ATI CrossFireX
- 2 PCI slots
- 2 PCI-e x1 slot for sound cards, external SATA connections, or LAN cards
- 6 SATA2 connections
- HT 3.0 support for increased memory bandwidth
On the back of the board, you get the following connections:
- Dual eSATA connections for external SATA drives
- 2 PS/2 connections
- 6 USB connections
- 7.1 Audio connections using the Realtek ALC889A CODEC with support for Blu-ray
- LAN port
- Dual Firewire ports
The layout of the board puts the 8 pin power connector near the top, with the 24 pin power connector below the memory slots which makes for nice and easy routing of power cables. There is plenty of clearance between the CPU socket and the memory slots for aftermarket heatsinks, should you desire one.
The only downside to the board is the cables that are included. They are minimal. They are enough to get you up and running, but to take full advantage of the boards connections, you will need to purchase additional cables.
Overall, this is a great board for the enthusiast. The overclocking ability has improved greatly with the latest BIOS, and with support for the latest Phenom CPU's, you'll have one fast computer on your hands.
The featured application this month is Firefox 3. Firefox 3 was released yesterday and is currently available for download. Firefox is a free web browser that is managed by the Mozilla Corporation. Firefox uses what is called the open source Gecko layout engine. Because it is open source, anyone can develop plug-ins or add-ons for the browser.
Firefox is the second most used web browser after Internet Explorer, with around 18% of people using the browser. So why would you want to use Firefox over Internet Explorer? There are 2 main reasons for this.
- Security. Firefox has been proven to be a more secure browser when it comes to phishing, adware, and malware. It's ability to block these nasties from getting on to your computer is a great plus. Firefox is also quicker to put out a fix when a vulnerability is discovered.
- Add-on's and Plug-in's. If you want to enhance your browsing with plug-ins like drag and drop file access, a webmail notifier that checks all your online email accounts, and the Mobilizer that lets you send files to just about any mobile phone, then Firefox is your choice.
Firefox 3 adds one click bookmarking, intelligent site completion, and faster performance just to name a few. All the features of Internet Explorer are present in Firefox. From tabbed browsing (Firefox actually had this before IE) to full history and bookmarking, the possibilities with Firefox are endless. Firefox also has a huge community of people that are constantly creating new and improved plug-ins.
If you would like to download Firefox, you can get it at www.firefox.com. You can install Firefox and run it free, and still keep IE on your computer. In fact, you can use both of them at the same time and compare them for yourself.
Q & A
Our question this issue comes from Karen in Tallahassee, Florida. She asks: I seem to get to many searches back when I use google to search. Are there ways to make google work better?
Thanks Karen - let's take a look at how to get search engines to work for you.
Search engines are becoming better and better at what they do. They are getting better at weeding out the junk sites and returning results that are pertinent to your search. However, they are not perfect. So what can you do to help narrow down your results and get google to give you want you really want?
You have a couple options here. First, you can use an advanced search. This is a built in tool provided by google, and can be accessed on the main site. Right next to the search bar at google.com you will see a link that says Advanced Search. Click on that and you will get a new page with a bunch of different options.
- all these words - use this to tell google that your results should contain every word you enter
- this exact wording or phrase - use this to tell google that your results should match exactly what you type in
- one or more of these words - tell google you results should contain one or more of the terms you enter
- any of these unwanted words - use this to tell google to exclude words from a search
Your other option is to use "operators" to get the results you want. The following are the most common ones:
- AND - use the AND keyword to tell google that you want results that include all the words you enter: dog AND cat will return results that contain both words.
- OR - use the OR keyword to return results that have one or the other word: dog OR cat will return results with either dog or cat in them.
- " - that's a double quote key - put them around a phrase and you'll tell gogle to return exact matches for your search: "dogs and cats" will return results with that exact phrase.
- NOT - tell google to exclude words from your results: dog NOT pet will return results with the word dog, but not pet in them.
Karen, I hope that answered your question. If you have computer questions, feel free to send them to me and I will always get back to you as soon as I can, and may feature it in my newsletter.
Tips and Tricks
A clean computer is a happy computer, and a happy computer will work longer for you. This issue I want to give you some tips on cleaning your computer. I'm talking about physically cleaning it. Dust, dirt, grease, cracker crumbs, here's what you need to know to clean your computer.
- Inside your computer case can be a haven for dust, pet fur, dirt, crumbs, you name it. Over time, this can build up and prevent heat from dissipating out of your case. High heat buildup will cause your components to work harder, and cause them to have a shorter life. So, to clean out the inside of your case, here are a few pointers. One, do not use a vacuum. This can cause a buildup of static electricity and fry your components - very bad. Second, do not use soap and water. It should be obvious, but water is really bad for your computer components - keep em dry. DO a can of compressed air. This is the best way to clean out the case. That and a dry cloth. Oh, and turn off your computer before opening it up for cleaning.
- To clean your monitor of all those greasy fingerprints, dust and odd collections of scum, again, use a nice dry cloth. This is especially important for LCD monitors. The screen on an LCD is fragile, so be nice to it. If your screen requires more than a dry cloth, a small bit of distilled water or rubbing alcohol on the cloth is fine, but don't pour or spray anything directly on the monitor.
- For your keyboard, the compressed air will work well to spray out your sandwich crumbs from between the keys. A damp cloth can also be used to clean the outside of the keyboard and top of the keys. You can also use a vacuum cleaner attachment for your keyboard, just be careful you don't have any loose keys that'll get sucked up. Cleaning your mouse is the same, use some compressed air and a damp cloth.
I would recommend cleaning your computer thoroughly every 3 months, more if you can. If you want your computer to last you a good long time, keep it clean.
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