Fix Sticky Keyboard Keys

Step 1:Cleaning the Keys

Before you begin, unplug the keyboard or remove the batteries. If using a laptop, shut it down and unplug it. Pick a can up from an office supply store and spray around the base of each stuck key to dislodge dust and debris. If you don’t have compressed air, turn the keyboard upside down and tap the back while shaking gently. Dampen a cotton swab or clean cloth with isopropyl alcohol. Run it around the edge of each key to remove grease and dried liquid. Some people have reported success with baby oil, but it can remain in your keyboard, so use at your own risk. If you can see the debris underneath the key, use the toothpick or straightened paper clip to dislodge it.

Step 2:Cleaning Under the Keys

If you need to remove more than a few keys, take a photograph first so you remember which key goes where. Before you continue, unplug the keyboard, Most laptops have keys that are difficult or impossible to remove. In these cases, you’ll need a guide or advice specific to your laptop model, or you’ll need to have your laptop professionally repaired. On desktop keyboards, the outer key covering can usually be pried up easily with a flat-head screwdriver. Most debris is found in the letters and numbers. Other keys tend to be less dirty and more difficult to replace after removal, especially the space bar. Use compressed air to remove exposed dust and debris, and a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol to remove stickiness and stains. For laptop keyboards and other keyboards with delicate internal parts, use gentle swabbing only. If the underside of your keys are discolored or dirty, put them in a colander and run water over them, or rub them in a bucket of soapy water. Let them air dry completely on a paper towel.Try this technique if your laptop key raises or lowers extra slowly. After removing the key, look for a square plastic object around the button. Remove this gently by pushing the corners sideways with a toothpick. Rinse this in water to clean the hinge, then let air dry. On a Macbook, the catch that holds these hinges in place are on the lower left and right.Let all the keys dry, then push them down over the buttons to reattach them. Let the keyboard dry overnight before you use it.

Step 3:Fixing Hardware and Software Issues

If you only have keyboard problems when using a single application, you’ll need to look for help fixing that software issue.Inconsistent results from keystrokes can be caused by low battery power. USB keyboards work best when plugged directly into the computer, not into a hub, keylogger, or other device.Keyboards with a circular, six-pin PS/2 plug sometimes encounter errors if they are connected while the computer is on. Shut down the computer, disconnect the keyboard, and reconnect it again.If some of your laptop keys don’t register when pressed, there could be a loose internal connection. Unless you have a guide for your model and are comfortable disassembling your laptop yourself, you should take it to a professional.

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Do you need a smart band or a smartwatch?

The world of wearable devices is vast and complicated: there are all types, sizes, colors and prices. I’m most often asked about the difference between smart bands and smartwatches, and which is better. In this article, I’ll explain the differences to help you decide which is right for your needs.

What are smart bands?

Connected bracelets or smart bracelets are called smart bands. In most cases, they have a simple form and their main function is to track and analyze your movements during the day. That’s why, most smart bands have a pedometer, and sometimes also an optical heart rate sensor and various other sensors.

Smart bands are closer to the concept of a bracelet than a watch, but there are some smart bands with displays that can tell you the time and various other useful tidbits of information.

What are smartwatches?

Smartwatches are like regular watches, but with smart features. Their shape is close to that of a normal watch and usually these devices are paired with a smartphone to perform their main functions.

Smartwatches, in principle, all have a display that simulates the dial of a real clock, analog or digital. Thanks to the display, many other features are made possible, like reading notifications, interacting with them, using the apps installed on the smartwatch itself or choosing an alternate watch face that fits our style. There are also hybrid smartwatches with real hands and some limited smart functionality.

Which should you choose?

The choice between a smart band and a smartwatch is personal, but there are some things you should keep in mind when deciding which fits your needs best. First, you should ask yourself if you want to be able to read the time on your wrist. If the answer is yes, don’t rule out smart bands entirely, because some can display time. Second, you should determine whether or not you’re interested in monitoring your heart rate. If the answer is yes, you still don’t have to rule out smart bands, as some like the Xiaomi Mi Band 2 have this feature.

Another question to ask yourself is if you want to use the wearable every day, or only when you are doing physical activity? Not only that, the last thing to consider is perhaps the most important of all: do you want to be able to interact with notifications?

The answers to those last two questions are the ones that move the needle from one category to the other. Smartwatches can inform you that a notification has arrived, and you can even interact with them by replying with quick responses or your voice. In addition, smartwatches have a more traditional design so they can fit in everyday situations, elegant dinners or work meetings.

On the other hand, smart bands are more conspicuous and sometimes brightly colored, though it depends on the model. Smart bands tend to have better battery life due to either having no display or just a small one, and no apps or notifications to sync. One of the few exceptions to this is the Gear Fit2 Pro, a smart band with a beautiful display and many apps available.

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5 tips to increase the battery life on your Android smartwatch

If you own an Android Wear smartwatch, you probably already know that the battery in these smart bracelets barely lasts a full day. This is especially the case if you use your watch all the time. So here are some tips and tricks you can try to increase the battery life of your favorite accessory.

  1. Block/manage app notifications

Notifications deplete your smartwatch battery. Although some are essential for you to get the full experience out of a connected watch, some apps may overload you with notifications, which then become quite intrusive. Fortunately, Android Wear offers a simple solution to help you manage notifications. The “Block app notifications” manager will allow you to add and/or delete apps, thus blocking notifications from them

To manage authorized or unauthorized apps, simply:

  • Launch the “Android Wear” app on your smartphone
  • Click on the settings at the top right, next to the three small dots
  • Open the option “Block app notifications”.
  1. Disable the automatic brightness setting

As with all other mobile operating systems, you have the option to automatically manage the brightness of the screen according to the environment you’re in. Aside from this feature not being particularly useful for everyone, this option is a huge power consumer since it constantly tests the surrounding environment and adjusts the brightness of the screen accordingly.

To disable automatic brightness, simply:

  • Enter the app menu
  • Open the watch settings
  • Then go to “Adjust Brightness”.

From here, you can choose the brightness intensity of the screen (between several levels – from 1 to 5), but we advise you to disable the “Auto” option. If you’re in a darker environment, you can quickly lower the brightness of the screen from the notification bar. To access this, pull the top panel down and scroll the screen twice to the right. It’s also worth noting that the Wear Mini Launcher app does the job very well. And it’s available for free on Google Play.

  1. Enable cinema mode

As the name suggests, cinema mode stops the watch from disturbing you. The smartwatch goes into a semi-hibernation mode that turns the screen off and can only be switched on again using the power button. Once woken up, cinema mode automatically deactivates.

To activate it, simply:

  • Pull the panel from the top down
  • Click on the watch icon.

Since the watch remains off during this period of hibernation, your watch’s battery life will last longer. This is useful if you’re going to the cinema (as the name indicates), or even during a meeting or if you don’t want to be alerted by your watch every 30 seconds. Try it and let us know what you think.

  1. Limit connectivity

Limiting Wi-Fi, NFC or location services also saves battery life. Simply speaking, this will allow you to moderate the watch’s time-consuming search for a network each time it seeks a connection.

To disable this option, simply:

  • Enter the app menu
  • Open the watch settings
  • Click on the connectivity menu.
  1. Disable wrist gestures

Disabling wrist gestures can also help increase the battery life of the smartwatch. “Wrist gestures ” allow you to scroll through Google Now cards. To do this, the function in question will query the motion sensor (as you’d expect), which requires power and therefore battery.

To disable this option, you can proceed in the same way as mentioned above:

  • Pull the right drawer on the watch
  • Open the watch settings
  • Then go down to “wrist gestures ” to turn it off

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Laptop Processor Buyer’s Guide

Laptop processors are very different from their desktop counterparts. The primary reason for this is the limited amount of power they have to run on when the laptop is not plugged into an outlet. The less power that the laptop uses, the longer the system should be able to run for off the battery. To do this, the manufacturers employ a large number of tricks such as CPU scaling where a processor scales its power usage (and thus performance) to the tasks at hand.

This presents a major challenge in balancing performance and power consumption.

There are four distinct categories that I classify for laptop computers, each with its own distinct purpose for those using them. To match these systems to the computing tasks you also want to select the proper processor. Just remember, many people don’t need a high-end processor to match the programs they use these days. So be sure to get an idea how you will be using your laptop so you can match the processor to your needs.

Budget Laptops

Budget laptops are those developed to provide a functional portable computer at low price point. This would also include the Chromebook category of computer that often uses the lower performance processors. It should be noted that some Chromebooks do use processors typically found in tablets which are not fast but decent for basic tasks. Budget laptops use a wide range of processors because often they are based on older processors that use to be found in higher end laptops or the newer low-cost processors.

All of the processors listed here should be able to do all the basic computing tasks including web browsing, email, word processing, and presentation. They are also very capable of being used for digital playback as well. About the only thing that value system processors will not be able to do well is gaming and high-end graphics applications.

Here are some of the processors to look for in this range:

AMD A6-7000 and Higher

AMD A6-9210 and Higher

AMD A8-7100 and Higher

AMD A9-9410 and Higher

AMD E1-7010 and Higher

AMD E2-7110 and Higher

AMD E2-9010 and Higher

Intel Celeron N3350 and Higher

Intel Core i3-6100U and Higher

Intel Core i3-7100U and Higher

Intel Core i5-6200U and higher

Intel Pentium 4405U and Higher

Intel Pentium 4405Y and Higher

Intel Pentium N4200 and Higher

Ultraportables

Ultraportables are systems that are designed to be as light and compact as possible yet powerful enough for most common business applications such as e-mail, word processing, and presentation software. These systems are geared towards those people who travel a lot who want a system that is not very cumbersome. They are willing to sacrifice computing power and peripherals for portability. Ultrabooks are a new subcategory of these systems that are built on a specific platform defined by Intel. Below are the processors found in ultraportables:

AMD A6-9210 and Higher

AMD A9-9410 and Higher

AMD A10 Micro-6700T and Higher

AMD E1-7010 and Higher

AMD E1 Micro-6200T and Higher

AMD E2-7110 and Higher

AMD E2-9010 and Higher

Intel Celeron 3205U and Higher

Intel Celeron N2830 and Higher

Intel Core i3-6100U and Higher

Intel Core i3-7100U and Higher

Intel Core i5-6200U and Higher

Intel Core i5-7200U and Higher

Intel Core i5-7Y54

Intel Core i7-5500U and Higher

Intel Core i7-7500U and Higher

Intel Core i7-7Y75

Intel Core M-5Y10 and Higher

Intel Core m3-6Y30 and Higher

Intel Core m5-6Y57 and Higher

Intel Core m7-6Y75 and Higher

Intel Pentium N3530 and Higher

Intel Pentium 4405U and Higher

Thin and Light

A thin and light laptop is one that is able to perform pretty much any computing task at least on some level. These systems can vary widely in terms of their price and performance. They tend to perform better than those in the value category or ultraportables but they are smaller and more portable than the large media-centric desktop replacements.

Note that as ultraportable processors used in Ultrabooks continue to get better, many systems in this category are beginning to use processors found in the ultraportable category for extended battery life. Here are some of the processors that can be found in this category of laptops:

AMD A8-8600P and Higher

AMD A9-9410 and Higher

AMD A10-8700P and Higher

AMD A10-9600P and Higher

AMD A12-9700P and Higher

Intel Core i3-6100U and Higher

Intel Core i3-7100U and Higher

Intel Core i5-6200U and Higher

Intel Core i5-6300HQ and Higher

Intel Core i5-7200U and Higher

Intel Core i7-6500U and Higher

Intel Core i7-6700HQ and Higher

Intel Core i7-7500U and Higher

Desktop Replacements

Desktop replacement laptops are designed to be a complete system that has the equivalent processing power and capabilities to a desktop system but in a mobile package. They tend to be larger and bulkier to fit all the components allowing it to perform at almost the same level as a desktop in all aspects of computing. In general, a desktop replacement will perform exceptionally well. Mobile gaming is getting close to desktop performance, but the cost is much greater and still not the same as the top-end desktop graphics. Of course, the mobile gaming performance will be determined by the graphics processor as well as the CPU. Here are some of the processors that can be found in this category of machine:

AMD A8-8600P and Higher

AMD A9-9410 and Higher

AMD A10-8700P and Higher

AMD A10-9600P and Higher

AMD A12-9700P and Higher

AMD FX-8800P and Higher

AMD FX-9800P and Higher

Intel Core i5-6300HQ and Higher

Intel Core i7-4700MQ/HQ and Higher

Intel Core i7-4930MX and Higher

Intel Core i7-6700HQ and Higher

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How to Keep Your Mac Keyboard and Mouse Clean

The day you unpacked and started working with your new Mac was special; it marked the day when your Mac’s keyboard and mouse were working at their best. From that day forward, little bits of grime, dust, and dirt have been building up on these often-used peripherals. The buildup of gunk will slowly cause your mouse to feel less responsive, and may even cause your keyboard to miss a key click or two now and then.

Luckily, it’s fairly easy to restore a keyboard and mouse to like-new condition. All that’s needed is a bit of cleaning and attention.

Cleaning Suggestions

Start by turning off your Mac and unplugging your mouse and keyboard. If your keyboard or mouse is battery powered, remove the batteries as well.

Have the following items on hand:

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Can of pressurized air
  • Clean water (It doesn’t need to be purified, distilled, or anything else special; just clean.)
  • Cotton swabs or similar cleaning products
  • Toothpicks or similar items

Cleaning Your Mac’s Mouse

Wipe the mouse body with the microfiber cloth. This should be enough to remove any oils, such as fingerprints. For stubborn spots, dip the cloth in the clean water and rub the mouse gently. Don’t apply water directly to the mouse because it may drip into the mouse’s inner workings, where sensitive electronics reside.

Don’t be afraid to use a little pressure to scrub off really dirty spots on the mouse.

Just as long as your not applying pressure near any scroll wheel, cover, or tracking system.

Mighty Mouse

If you have an Apple Mighty Mouse, the scroll ball also needs to be cleaned. Slightly dampen the microfiber cloth and roll the scroll ball against the cloth. You can also try using the cotton swabs to help clean the scroll ball.

Once the scroll ball is clean, use the can of pressurized air to blow out dust and dirt from inside the well the scroll ball sits in. This also serves to dry the scroll ball after you’ve cleaned it.

Magic Mouse

If you have an Apple Magic Mouse, cleaning is vastly simplified. You can clean the touch surface with a wet or dry microfiber cloth, and run the microfiber cloth along the two guide rails on the bottom of the Magic Mouse.

If your Magic Mouse seems to have tracking errors, that is, the mouse pointer stalls or jumps about, use the can of pressurized air to clean around the tracking sensor on the bottom of the Magic Mouse.

Other Mice

If you have a third-party mouse, follow the manufacturer’s suggested cleaning instructions, or take a look at How to Clean a Mouse by Tim Fisher, a fellow Lifewire expert who really knows his way around a PC. In general, use a microfiber cloth to clean the exterior of the mouse. If the mouse has a scroll wheel, you may find that it routinely becomes clogged with gunk. Use cotton swabs to clean the scroll wheel and the can of pressurized air to clean around the scroll wheel.

In the worst cases, you may need to open up the mouse to access the optical sensor in the scroll wheel system.

Not all mice are easily opened up, and some are very difficult to put back together once opened. I don’t recommend performing mouse surgery unless you already have a replacement mouse available, and don’t mind ending up with leftover mouse parts, or looking for that little spring that sailed across the room.

Cleaning Your Keyboard

Clean your keyboard surface using a microfiber cloth. For stubborn surfaces, dampen the cloth with clean water. Wrap a toothpick with a single layer of the microfiber cloth to clean between the keys.

Use the can of pressurized air to blow out any additional debris from around the keys.

Cleaning a Keyboard After a Spill

Spilling a beverage onto a keyboard is probably the most common cause of keyboard death. However, depending on the liquid, and how fast you react, it is possible to save a keyboard that has undergone a spillage.

Water and other clear liquids

Clear and semi-clear beverages, such as water, black coffee, and tea, are the easiest to recover from, with water offering the best chances, of course. When a spill occurs, quickly unplug the keyboard from your Mac, or quickly turn it off and remove its batteries. Don’t wait to shut down your Mac; disconnect the keyboard or remove its batteries as quickly as possible.

If the liquid was plain water, wait 24 hours to allow the water to dry before reconnecting the keyboard or replacing its batteries. With any luck, your keyboard will power back up and you’ll be ready to go.

Coffee and Tea

Coffee or tea spills are slightly more problematic, because of the acid levels in these beverages. Depending on the keyboard design, these beverages can cause very small signal wires within the keyboard to be etched over time and stop working. Many sources suggest flooding the keyboard with clean water, in the hope of diluting the acid levels, and then letting the keyboard dry out for 24 hours, to see if it still works. I’ve tried this method a few times, but it has failed more often than not. On the other hand, what have you got to lose?

Soda, Beer, and Wine

Carbonated beverages, beer, wine, and other hot or cold beverages are death sentences to most keyboards.

Of course, it depends on how much was spilled. A drop or two can usually be cleaned up quickly, with little or no lasting damage. If the spill was larger, and the liquid got inside the keyboard, well, you can always try the water submersion method, but don’t get your hopes up.

No matter what type of spill occurs, the key to possibly salvaging a keyboard is to disconnect it from any electrical source (batteries, USB) as quickly as possible and allow it to completely dry out before you try using it again.

Disasemble the keyboard

You can improve the chances of the keyboard recovering by removing the individual keys. The process is different for each keyboard model but in general, a small flat blade screwdriver can be used to pop the keys off. The larger keys such as shift, return, space bar, will sometimes have retaining clips or multiple connection points. Be especially careful when removing those keys.

With the keys removed, you may notice stains, puddled liquids, or other indications of specific areas on the keyboard that need attention. Use a slightly damp cloth to clean any stains and to soak up any standing liquids still present. You can also try using the can of pressurized air to dry areas where evidence indicates the liquid has gotten into the key mechanism.

Don’t forget to make a map of where each key goes to allow you to replace all of the keys. You may think you know where each key belongs, but when it comes time to reassemble the keyboard, a map may be just the guide you need.​

I can’t tell you how many keyboards we have around our office that work just fine, except for one or two keys, all of which were killed by spillage.

On a brighter note, I’ve never heard of a keyboard spillage causing damage beyond the keyboard itself.

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Qualcomm Claims Its New Chip Will Triple Battery Life on Wireless Headphones

There are currently two major annoyances with wireless headphones: the Bluetooth can cut out in areas with a lot of signal noise, and battery life is mostly terrible. Qualcomm thinks it’s packed a better solution to both of those issues into a new chip.

“It’s a big step forward in the hearable category,” Anthony Murray, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Qualcomm’s Voice & Music business unit, told Gizmodo.

According to Murray, the QCC5100 Low Power Bluetooth SoC reduces power consumption by 65 percent. This in turn gives headphones nearly three times the playback time compared to headphones with previous SoCs.

Murray also said the Qcc5100 has significantly better transmit power, which should reduce the number of times headphones cut out when you’re riding a packed subway or moving through a hellishly crowded airport. The chip supports Bluetooth 5, which was only announced in 2016, and just began to appear in devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Apple iPhone X, last year.

Besides these improvements, the minuscule chip has double the processing capability of Qualcomm’s former solution, which was found in popular headphones like the Jabra Sport Elite and Bose Free Sport.

This means that the chip can provide much more robust active noise cancelling and hearing assistance. For example, it would allow for some conditional sound changes like making sound softer when your headphones detect that an announcement is being made on a train. “We see this as becoming a general requirement,” Murray said. And if you look at the wide range of earbuds in the marketplace right now, and their multitude of auditory bionic features, you might be compelled to agree.

Currently there are no earbud makers who have declared they’re using the new QCC5100, but Qualcomm says it is working with a number of major manufacturers, and as its previous SoC was featured in the best earbuds of 2017, there’s a good reason to get excited for what the future of bionic buds holds.

Re Fuse Power Supply

When your power supply dies, it can mean two things – either a fuse has been blown, or it has a loose wire. Power supply fuses are among the few components that can be serviced. Most fuses are soldered directly to the circuit board. Replacing a fuse would require you to remove the circuit board, unsoldering the old fuse, and soldering a new fuse in its place.

  1. Unplug the Power Supply. Switch off the socket that is connected to the power supply. Unplug the line voltage power cord from the socket.
  2. Open and Unplug the CPU: Use a torx screwdriver to remove the torx screws of the CPU. Remove the CPU casing. Unplug the low voltage cables that are connected to the drives and motherboard. Remove any CPU cards that may obstruct your view of the power supply.
  3. Unscrew the Power Supply. Generally, the power supply is held in place by 4 torx screws. Unscrew them using the torx screwdriver and remove the power supply from the CPU.
  4. Check the Warranty. The warranty is a stamped sticker that is on one of the edges of the power supply. It consists of the warranty date, a bar code and a ‘pass’ stamp. If the warranty has expired, cut across the sticker safety seal and open the power supply case.
  5. Examine the Fuse. The fuse is usually located on one corner of the power supply. Use an ohm meter to check the fuse. If the ohm meter is showing readings below 0.1 ohms, or if there is resistance on the meter, then you will know that the fuse has blown.
  6. Charge the Soldering Iron. Plug in the soldering iron and heat it to about 700 degrees. Touch the tip of the soldering iron to the tin wires on either side of the fuse. As the solder softens, gently push the fuse away from the circuit board. Once the soldering is complete, you can remove the fuse.
  7. Solder New Pins to the New Fuse. Buff each end of the fuse with emery paper to dull the plating. Take the six inch long stripped 24 gauge wire with flux and tin it with resin solder. Tin the ends of the fuse, after which you can solder the wires to the ends.
  8. Trim the Wires and Circuit Board Pins. Use the wire cutter to remove any excess pins from the board. Also, cut the gauge wire with only an inch of space from the fuse joint.
  9. Solder the New Fuse. Place the new fuse onto the circuit board and solder it into place with the soldering iron. Once this has been completed, use the ohmmeter to test the fuse.
  10. Reinstall the CPU. Once the fuse is showing good readings on the ohmmeter, close the power supply case. Keep it back into the CPU and screw it in. Replace the CPU casing and plug it in for use.

Introduction to Computer Network Adapters

A network adapter allows an electronic device to interface with a local computer network.

Types of Network Adapters

A network adapter is a unit of computer hardware. Several types of hardware adapters exist:

  • Many new computers contain integrated (built in) wireless network adapter chips
  • A USB network adapter plugs into a standard USB port to enable computer network connections (typically Wi-Fi or Ethernet)
  • A wireless game adapter (sometimes called a “media adapter”) connects to an Xbox or Playstation game console or other home entertainment product, providing a bridge to Wi-Fi wireless capability.
  • On older PCs,a PCI adapter (often called a NIC) was a type of add-in card installed inside a desktop personal computer. A variant PCI adapter called “PC Card” (also known as PCMCIA cards) inserted into the side of a notebook computer to provide similar capability.

Adapters are a required component to include when building a network. Every common adapter supports either Wi-Fi (wireless) or Ethernet (wired) standards. Special-purpose adapters that support very specialized network protocols also exist, but these are not found in homes or most business networks.

Determine Whether a Network Adapter Is Present

Newer computers often include a network adapter when sold. Determine whether a computer already possesses a network adapter as follows:

  • In desktop computers. look for an RJ-45 jack on the back of the computer. The RJ-45 jack appears similar to a phone line jack but is slightly larger.
  • In notebook computers, look for a thin, removable metal device roughly the size of credit card, but thicker.
  • For notebook computers running Windows that may contain integrated adapter chips, open the Windows Device Manager. Device Manager can be accessed from the Hardware tab of the System Properties section of Windows Control Panel
  • In any type of computing device, look for a small external device with LED lights connected to a USB port

Purchasing a Network Adapter

A network adapter can be purchased separately from most manufacturers that supply routers and other forms of networking equipment. When purchasing a network adapter, some prefer to choose the brand of adapter that matches their router. To accommodate this, manufacturers sometimes sell one or two network adapters together with a router in a bundle called a home network kit. Technically, however, network adapters all offer very similar functionality according to the Ethernet or Wi-Fi standard they support.

Installing a Network Adapter

Installing any network adapter hardware involves two steps:

  1. Connecting the adapter hardware to the computer
  2. Installing any required software associated with the adapter

For PCI adapters, first power down the computer and unplug its power cord before proceeding with the installation. A PCI adapter is a card that fits into a long, narrow slot inside the computer. The computer’s case must be opened and the card firmly inserted into this slot.

Other types of network adapter devices can be attached while a computer is running normally.

Modern computer operating systems automatically detect newly connected hardware and complete the basic software installation required.

Some network adapters, however, additionally require custom software installation. Such an adapter will often be accompanied by a CD-ROM containing the installation media. Alternatively, the necessary software can be downloaded for free from the manufacturer’s Web site.

Software installed with a network adapter includes a device driver that allows the operating system to communicate with the hardware. In addition, a software management utility may also be supplied that provides a user interface for advanced configuration and troubleshooting of the hardware.

These utilities are most commonly associated with Wi-Fi wireless network adapters.

Network adapters can normally be disabled through their software. Disabling an adapter provides a convenient alternative to installing and uninstalling it. Wireless network adapters are best disabled when not in use, for security reasons.

Virtual Network Adapters

Certain types of network adapters have no hardware component but rather consist of software only. These are often called virtual adapters in contrast to a physical adapter. Virtual adapters are commonly found in virtual private networks (VPNs). A virtual adapter may also be used with research computers or IT servers that run virtual machine technology.

Summary

The network adapter is an essential component in both wired and wireless computer networking. Adapters interface a computing device (including computers, print servers, and game consoles) to the communication network. Most network adapters are small pieces of physical hardware, although software-only virtual adapters also exist. Sometimes a network adapter must be purchased separately, but often the adapter is built into a computing device, especially newer devices. Installing a network adapter is not difficult and often is a simple “plug and play” feature of the computer operating system.

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PC Power Supply Buyer’s Guide

How to Make Sure You Get the Right Type of PSU to Match Your Needs

Power supply units (PSUs) are often overlooked when building a desktop computer system. A poor quality power supply can greatly reduce the life span of a good system or cause instability. A high quality one can also help reduce the noise or heat generated within a computer system. Whether you are buying one for a new computer or replacing a old unit, here are some tips for purchasing a desktop PC power supply.

Avoid Power Supplies Under $30

Most power supplies that are priced below $30 generally do not meet the power requirements of the latest processors. To make matters worse, the components used in them are of inferior quality and more likely to fail over time. While they may power the computer system, inconsistencies in the power to the components will tend to cause instability and damage to the computer over time. Because of this, I generally do not recommend they extremely low cost power supplies.

ATX12V Compliant

Developments in processors, the PCI Express bus and graphics cards have all increased the amount of power required to operate them. To help provide this extra power, the ATX12V standard was developed. The problem is that it has been revised over time with various different power supply connectors to meet the necessary specifications. Make sure that it comes with the proper main power leads that you need for your motherboard.

One way you can tell whether a power supplies is compliant with your computer components is to check the type of power connectors are supplied to the motherboard. If it is missing one of the connectors your motherboard needs, it probably does not support the proper ATX12V standard.

Knowing the Wattage Ratings

Wattage ratings on power supplies can be deceptive as this is the total combined wattage of all the voltage lines and generally under peak rather than sustained loads. With the increased demands by components, the total required output particularly for the +12V line has become increasingly important especially for those that are using dedicated graphics cards. Ideally a power supply should have at least 18A on the +12V line(s). The actual load you need will vary depending upon your components. If you are not planning on using a graphics card, a 300 Watt power supply is probably sufficient but if you are running one or more graphics cards, be sure to check out the manufacturer’s recommended PSU wattage.

Having the Right Type and Number of Connectors

There are a variety of different power connectors that come off a power supply. Some of the different connectors include 20/24-pin power, 4-pin ATX12V, 4-pin Molex, floppy, SATA, 6-pin PCI-Express graphics and 8-pin PCI-Express graphics. Take stock of what power connectors your PC components require to ensure you get a power supply with the appropriate connectors. Even if it might lack some connectors off the power supply, check what cable adapters the power supply may include to mitigate the problem.

One other thing to consider is modular cables. Higher wattage power supplies tend to have a large number of cables running off of them. If you have limited space within your case, this may cause issues as you have to bundle the cables up. A modular power supply offers power cables that can be attached only if you need them. This helps reduce cable clutter which can restrict airflow and make it difficult to work within a computer.

Physical Size

Most people don’t give much consideration to the actual size of the power supply. After all, are they not all a standard size? While they are general guidelines for the size of the units, they actually can vary a good deal and make it difficult to git within your computer case.

For instance, higher wattage power supplies tend to be a bit longer to hold the additional power components they need. This may cause issues with cable routing or even fitting in other internal components. Finally, if you are using a small form factor case, it may require a specialized power supply such as SFX rather than ATX.

Low or No Noise

Power supplies generate a lot of noise from fans used to keep them from overheating. If you don’t want a lot of noise, there are a number of options available. The best choice is for a unit that either uses larger fans that move more air through the unit at slower speeds or to get one with temperature controlled fans. Another option is fanless or silent power supplies that generate no noise but these do have their own drawbacks.

Power Efficiency

Power supplies convert voltages from wall outlets to lower levels used by the PC. During this conversion, some power is lost as heat. The efficiency level of the PC determines how much extra power must be put into the power supply to run the PC. By getting a more efficient power supply, you end up saving money through the use of less overall electricity. Look for a unit that has the 80Plus logo showing that it has passed certification. Just be warned that some of the highest efficiency power supplies may cost so much more that the power savings does not match their increased cost.

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Cold Weather Can Mess With Your Phone. Here’s How to Protect It

Apple says its iPhones are made to operate in temperatures above 32 degrees. Much of the country won’t even creep above that mark until the second week of January – and tens of millions of Americans are enduring lows in the negative double digits.

In conditions like these, many smartphones will be start experiencing problems like shutting off, shortened battery life, display problems or even the glass shattering. Most smartphone batteries are lithium-ion, which can stop discharging electricity in extremely cold temperatures, Roger Gurney, owner of Arctic Tech Solutions, explained to USA Today. Here are a few tricks you can use to keep your phone working in Arctic temperatures.

Keep it in your your pocket

Even something as simple as keeping your phone in your pocket or bag can help shield it from icy temperatures. Keeping your phone in your pocket will also allow it to benefit from your body heat to help keep it close to optimal temperatures.

Smartphones are most vulnerable when left out in the cold or without heat for extended periods of time – so avoid leaving them in parked cars.

Use a special case

If you absolutely need to keep your phone out in the cold weather, there are a few cases that are specially designed to keep phones warm. Makers include ClimateCase, Burton Antifreeze and Salt Cases.

ClimateCase uses insulated neoprene to keep the cold out. It also comes with an extra pocket for storage and it’s machine washable. Burton’s case also uses insulation to keep phones warm and offers an extra pocket for cards or cash you may want on hand. Salt Cases are insulated against the cold, but use more traditional phone case style that can be kept on during use. They also have laptop and tablet designs.

Wait to charge your phone

While most performance issues related to cold weather are temporary, Apple warns that charging iOS devices in extreme temperatures can damage the devices further.

Turn your phone off

iPhones, iPads, iPods and Apple Watches all have a working temperature range of about 32 to 95 degrees. However, when not in use the safe range increases to -4 to 113 degrees.

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