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volume 6 number 4 april 2001 TipSheet

Welcome to the April issue of MicroMetric's TipSheet.

This monthly newsletter is targeted at addressing the needs of our customers.

This month we'll continue a series of tips aimed at Troubleshooting.


Confirm that your printer is online, that it has paper, and that its ink or toner cartridge is properly installed. Turn the printer off, wait a bit, and turn it back on.

Next, select Start Shut Down Restart in MS-DOS mode and click OK. At the DOS prompt, type cd\windows, press , and then type dir /s >LPTI and .

If a list prints, but you can't print from within Windows, click Start Settings. Printers, delete your printer's icon, and use Add Printer to reinstall it. Have your printer's and Windows' CD-ROMs ready.

If the list doesn't print, check your printer cable and then your parallel port settings. In your PC's CMOS setup program, set your parallel port to Standard mode.


Trouble: The USB port on your keyboard is convenient but inconsistent--some connected devices work and some don't.

Fix: What you have is a power shortage. A USB port doesn't just connect the PC to peripherals, it also delivers electricity to power them. Some USB ports, like those on a PC or on the base of a monitor, are self-powered and can easily run USB devices. But ports with no power source of their own, including those on a keyboard, provide less power.

Adding an item with limited power requirements, such as a mouse, usually doesn't pose a problem. But power-hungry USB devices, such as speakers and scanners, can cause an overload--or sometimes even shut down the entire USB port. You have two choices: Either connect the power-hungry peripheral to a self-powered port (like one on a computer), or invest in a multiple-port, self-powered hub.


Trouble: All of a sudden your system is running unusually slowly, crashing, and issuing Low Memory errors.

Fix: My first thought: Invest in a new CPU and/or RAM upgrade. But there may be a less drastic way to fix things.

Windows 98 and Me users should have at least 64MB of memory. If you run multiple applications at once, anything less than 64MB will feel like computing in quicksand. If you already have plenty of RAM, then you have two other options: Beef up your PC's virtual memory, and look for a memory leak.

Virtual memory is a special file on the hard disk--often called a swap file--where the PC stores overflowing data that won't fit in RAM. Windows adjusts the size of the swap file as memory needs grow and shrink. But if the hard disk starts to run out of free space, the swap file may not be able to grow to the size it needs, and the machine will run sluggishly as a result.

Either delete or remove files to make room on the hard drive. Or move the swap file to a partition or an additional hard disk that has available space. On the Windows 9x or Me desktop, right-click My Computer, select Properties, go to the Performance tab, and choose Virtual Memory. To see a list of available partitions and disks, select 'Let me specify my own virtual memory settings.' For Windows 2000 users, select Advanced, Performance Options, Change.

The other option is to check for a memory leak. Sometimes software--because it's damaged or poorly designed--won't let go of its assigned memory when it's done using it. If you keep opening and closing the application, it gobbles up more memory until the system has no available RAM. Rebooting the machine can temporarily fix the problem by resetting your memory to its normal settings.

Finding the source of the leak is a lot more work. Select Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools and use the System Monitor utility to monitor your PC's memory usage. If it's not there, install it from the Windows CD using Add/Remove Programs. Shrink the utility's window to a manageable size, and select View, Numeric Charts and View, Always on Top. Then select Edit, Add Item. In the 'Category' list of the dialog box that appears, select Memory Manager. Then hold down Ctrl and select the following memory statistics in the Item list: Unused physical memory (Free Memory in Windows 95), Swapfile in use, and Swapfile size.

Watching those stats as you open, use, and close different applications will give you an idea as to which programs are using up a lot of memory. Also keep an eye on the Kernel category's Threads statistic; it should decrease when you close an application.

Copyright 2001, MicroMetric, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy in total, with this statement and copyright, is hereby granted.

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