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Driver Tip: Check Your Driver Versions

If you are having issues with your computer it’s often necessary to check the versions of drivers that you have installed on your system, especially when the problem is with display drivers, which always seem to have the most issues.

There’s a command line utility that comes bundled with Windows 7 that gives you similar output. It’s called driverquery.

Running the command with no parameters will give you the default output.

To get detailed output you can use the /v parameter: driverquery /v

Or to output in list or csv format instead of the default table format, you can use the /FO switch:

Driverquery /FO [list, table, csv]

So for instance, if you ran the following command to give you detailed information in list format:

driverquery /FO list /v

You can check out the full list of parameters to use with the command here.

BIOS Tip: How to Enter the BIOS or CMOS Setup Screens

We still get asked quite often how to enter the BIOS or CMOS Setup screens. Thankfully, computers that have been manufactured in the last few years will allow you to enter the CMOS by pressing one of the below five keys during the boot. Usually it's one of the first three.
  • F1
  • F2
  • DEL
  • ESC
  • F10
A user will know when to press this key when they see a message similar to Press <F2> to enter BIOS setup as the computer is booting. Some older computers may also display a flashing block to indicate when to press the F1 or F2 keys.

If your computer is a new computer and you are unsure of what key to press when the computer is booting, try pressing and holding one or more keys on the keyboard. This will cause a stuck key error, which may allow you to enter the BIOS setup.

» Perform a BIOS scan now!

Registry Tip: Add a Program to Your Desktop Context Menu

Do you have a program that you use frequently but you don’t want another icon cluttering up your desktop? Here’s a neat little registry tweak to add any program you want to your context menu for your desktop. This way when you Right Click to bring up the context menu, that application will be there.

For these instructions we’ll use Notepad, but you’ll be able to add any application you want.

The first thing you’ll want to do is open up regedit.exe through the Start Menu search or run box, and then browse down to the following key:


Next, you’ll want to create a new key underneath the shell key, the name of which is exactly what is going to show up on the desktop menu. Right-click on the “shell” key, and then choose New \ Key from the menu. Give the new key the name that you want to show up on the desktop context menu. For this example we’ll be using Notepad.

Next you’ll need to create the command key that will actually hold the command used to launch the application. Right-click on the new Notepad key, and then choose New \ Key from the menu. Give this key the name “command” in lowercase.

To complete this step you’ll need the full path to the application that you want to launch. To get the full path, hold the SHIFT key while Right Clicking on the program icon (in this case, the Notepad icon) and then choose COPY AS PATH.

Now click on “command” on the left side, and then double-click on the (Default) key in the right side to edit the string value. Paste in the full path to the executable that you got from the “Copy as Path” step above, or you can put in the full path yourself if you’d like.

Now right-clicking on the desktop will produce the new menu item. Using this menu item should launch Notepad.

» Perform a registry scan now!

Question and Answer
Do you recommend that I encrypt my files before sending them across the internet?
- Jay C., Charleston, SC
If you are just a regular, casual PC user, doing things such as uploading family photos to your favorite site the encryption probably isn’t necessary. However, if you are working with more private information, then encryption is recommended.

If I purchase a "Wi-Fi Ready" laptop, do I still need a router?
- Annie D., Albany, NY
Yes. If you want to use your computer at home without plugging it in, you will need to purchase a wireless router to generate the Wi-Fi signal to your computer. If you do not have a router, you can plug it directly into your cable or DSL modem to get an Internet signal. If you are positioned near a Wi-Fi "hotspot," or a place that offers Wi-Fi such as a local Starbucks, then they have provided the router internally, and you'll be able to pick up their signal with only your laptop as well.

I’ve been trying to use USB headphones with my computer. But when I plug them in, I still get music out of the speakers. How come?
- Richard J., Sacramento, CA
Windows realizes that the USB headphones are attached. However the program that is playing the music does not. It’s still using the audio channel that was set up before you attached the headset. Close the program and restart it. If that doesn’t work, check you programs audio settings to make sure the USB headphones are selected. If the program doesn’t have those settings, go to your Control Panel, under Sound and click Manage Audio Devices. Click the Playback tab and select USB headphones. Click the Set Default button then click OK.

Tech Tip
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Try TouchStoneSoftware UndeletePlus to get that file back.

» Download TouchStoneSoftware UndeletePlus

Quote of the Month
"If you don't see the Internet as an opportunity, it will become a threat. In two or three year's time, the Internet will become as commonplace in the office as the telephone."

- Tony Blair, Sept. 1999

Sites of the Month

Fun Sites
Listen to any song in the world for free. Create free internet radio stations. Search for free mp3's to stream, even upload music free of charge that can be played immediately or added to a playlist.

Techie Sites
Ninite is a service that lets users automatically install popular applications for their operating system. Install multiple apps at once using this helpful service.

Stat of the Month

PC Shipments 2009-2010

March 10th, 2011.

Vocab Test

Domain Name Server, DNS refers to a database of Internet names and addresses which translates the names to the official Internet Protocol numbers and vice versa.

Windows 7 Shortcuts

Shortcut for opening the Run Window

Creates a new folder in Windows Explorer.

Locks your workstation.

Display the Desktop

Browser Add-On

Tin Eye Reverse Image Search
The plug-in adds a right-click menu item that allows you to search for an image to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions.

Windows 7 Gadget

In this gadget you can find the best regular unleaded gasoline prices by zip code or city.

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