header



Welcome to the Micro Center Tech Support Blog!
Find free technical support on a variety of products featured at Micro Center and plenty of how-tos on new technology. Start searching our Blog below or search our Tech Center archives »

Can't find what your looking for? Take advantage of our Tech Support services »

Join the MC Tech Support Community Forum: Get direct advice from the Knowledge Experts @ Micro Center.
Click here to access the Forum »

Search This Blog

Loading...

Friday, September 23, 2011

How to Change the Shut Down Button Options on the Start Menu in Windows 7

This article is a how-to for changing the function of the Shut Down button in on the Start Menu in Windows 7. This can be useful if the preferred setting would be to put the computer to sleep, or hibernate, or just have the user log off.

The power button that will be changed in this article is located on the Start menu at the bottom right.

Shut down button
  1. Right-click on the Start button in the bottom left and choose Properties.

    Properties
  2. On the new window, locate the Power Button Action dropdown box.

    Taskbar and Start Menu Properties
  3. To have the computer shut down when the power button is pressed, click on the dropdown and select Shut Down from the list.
    Shutdown option
  4. To have the computer go to sleep when the power button is pressed, click on the dropdown and select Sleep from the list.

    Sleep option
  5. To have the computer restart when the power button is pressed, click on the dropdown and select Restart from the list.

    Restart option
  6. To have the computer lock when the power button is pressed, click on the dropdown and select Lock from the list.

    Lock option
  7. To have the computer log off the current user when the power button is pressed, click on the dropdown and select Log Off from the list.

    Lock option
  8. To have the computer show the Switch User logon screen when the power button is pressed, click on the dropdown and select Switch User from the list.

    Switch User option
  9. Click Apply once the appropriate setting is selected. The setting is now saved.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to Backup or Copy Blocked Senders List

This document will assist in the back up of the Blocked senders list from the Junk Mail on both Windows Live Mail and Windows Mail. This will make it easy to transfer to a new computer.

To create a copy of your Windows Live Mail or Windows Mail blocked senders list for backup or copying:

  1. Go to your Windows Live Mail or Windows Mail settings in the Windows registry.
  2. To locate your Windows Live Mail settings in the Windows registry.
  3. Type "regedit" in the Start menu's Start Search box.
  4. Click regedit under Programs.
  5. Travel down the registry tree to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\­Software\­Microsoft\­Windows Live Mail.
  6. Expand the Junk Mail key.
  7. Click on the Block Senders List key.
  8. Select File > Export from the menu.
  9. Change the location to the directory where you want to keep the backup copy of your Windows Live Mail or Windows Mail blocked senders list.
  10. Type "Blocked Senders" in the File Name box.
  11. Click Save.
Find Your Windows Mail Settings in the Windows Registry:
  1. Type "regedit" in in the Start menu's Start Search box.
  2. Click regedit under Programs.
  3. Travel down the registry tree to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\­Software\­Microsoft\­Windows Mail.
  4. Expand the Junk Mail key.
  5. Click on the Block Senders List key.
  6. Select File > Export from the menu.
  7. Change the location to the directory where you want to keep the backup copy of your Windows Live Mail or Windows Mail blocked senders list.
  8. Type "Blocked Senders" in the File Name box.
  9. Click Save.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

How to Change the Location Mozilla Firefox Saves Downloads

Mozilla Firefox by default saves files to the Downloads directory of your user account. This guide will walk-through how to change the location to which Mozilla Firefox saves downloads.

  1. Open Mozilla Firefox by clicking Start » All Programs » Mozilla Firefox folder » Mozilla Firefox.

    Open Firefox
  2. Click Tools across the top of the window.

    Tools menu

  3. Select Options.

    Options menu

  4. Select the Main button.

    Main menu

  5. Click the Browse button to the right of the Save files to category.

    Select browse

  6. Select the location in which you would like all downloads to be saved and click OK.

    Choose folder

  7. Click OK and close Mozilla Firefox.

    Confirm changes

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Art Nouveaux Case Mod Completed

Lighting Effects and Wrap Up

Special Lighting:

When I used the bench light to illuminate the glass window from the inside of the case, I realized that just illuminated fans and other LED lighting were not going to show off the case to the best effect. To give a uniform white-light illumination on the system board side, a dual-lamp Cold Cathode Fluorescent kit was installed with one tube at the top and the second along the bottom edge. The CPU block and pump have blue LEDs and the two 120mm fans I have installed on the radiator and in the bottom of the case are lit with green LEDs.

[caption id="attachment_497" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Two white CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps) light up the interior system board, cables and tubing."]completed case, interior[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_498" align="aligncenter" width="293" caption="The white tube illumination lets the subtle blues and greens add interest behind the textured clear glass side window. "]completed case[/caption]

The second side panel and the glass panel in the front bezel get a custom LED treatment. The gap between the side panel and the sheet metal behind the motherboard is not wide enough for a fluorescent tube to fit (at least not while still in its protective plastic tube.) I saw a lighting kit called "The Chameleon" that consists of three potentiometers (variable resistors) that connect to four small multicolor LEDs. The red, green and blue LED in the package each have a single connecting pin, with a common ground. By adjusting the red, green or blue knobs, you can achieve any color illumination you want. To this end, I assembled four LED light bars, each with three red, three green, three blue, and three white LEDs. (I added the white LEDs so I can dial up pure white illumination instead of the rainbow-tint white, and to get washed-out colors like pink, lavender or sky blue.) This many LEDs are going to draw much more current then the four in the Chameleon kit, and rather than build four adjustable voltage circuits, I used a Sunbeam Tech Rheobus fan controller. Each of the LED color clusters on a single bar is connected in series with a 240 ohm resistor to limit the current, and I alternated the colors across the bar to diffuse the light more (red, green, blue, white, red...). Wires from each color group are connected together and then attached to a single output of the fan controller. (I replaced the dual-color LEDs in the fan controller with a single-color red, green, blue, or white LED to indicate the color you are adjusting.) Three of the light bars are placed around the edge of the case behind the second side window and the fourth light bar is behind the front bezel.

There is no lighting in or behind the Thermaltake water reservoir. This makes it difficult to view the fluid level, so I created one more LED bar that connects directly to a 12v Molex disk drive connection. This bar has 12 ultraviolet LEDs that are directed at the rear of the plastic fluid reservoir and create a bright green glow.

[caption id="attachment_501" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Three LEDs connected in series for connection to a 12v DC source (or in this case, a 0-12v adjustable fan controller.)"]wire diagram[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_502" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Multicolor LED light bars attach to the fan controller outputs."]LED parts[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_503" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Three of the light bars are installed behind the second glass window on the left, right and bottom edge."]side panel[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_504" align="aligncenter" width="265" caption="The color tint of the side panel and front bezel are controlled with the Rheobus in the upper drive bay."]front panel[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_506" align="aligncenter" width="182" caption="Front view with door closed"]front panel[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_508" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Two views of the right panel illuminated by the color-selectable LED bars."]side panel with door[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_509" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Top panel with white glass insert."]top panel[/caption]

completed case design







Project summary for Nouveaux Mod: 

TIME: 119+ hours

  • Time carving and constructing shell: about 103 hours

  • Time assembling light bars (4 multi-colors LED, 1 ultraviolet LED
    bar to illuminate reservoir): about 6 hours

  • Time installing, removing, and rearranging components, including air-cool
    solution, water-cool solution, and final installation of lights and
    wiring: about 10 hours


MATERIALS:

  • Cost of craft materials (wood, glass, etc.): $500

  • Cost of (final) computer components:

  • Motherboard - Gigabyte GA965P-DS3 $125

  • CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo 6300 $180

  • RAM - OCZ DDR2 Gold 6400 2GB kit $229

  • Video - EVGA NVIDIA 8800 GTX $630

  • PSU - Antec TruePower Trio 650 $119

  • HDD - WD 500 GB SATA $160

  • DVD - Samsung PATA LightScribe DVD-RW $35

  • CDR - Sony PATA CD-RW $25

  • FDD - I/O Magic bulk floppy drive $15

  • Atech Flash Card Reader $35

  • Thermaltake BigWater Kit $140

  • Sunbeam Tech Rheobus Fan Controller - (LED Light Bars)
    $22

  • 12" White Cold Cathode Light Kit $10

  • Green LED Fans (2 pc) $36

  • FoxConn Diabolic Case [salvage] "Free"


Current computer parts value (as of July 2007): $1761

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Change DVD Region Settings

When playing certain DVDs in an optical drive, you may receive an error indicating the region settings for your drive are incorrect for that particular disc. The following guide will show you how to change the region settings to match the correct region.

  1. Click Start. Right-click on Computer and select Manage.

    Select Start button
  2. Click Device Manager on the left.

    Open device manager
  3. Expand the heading for DVD/CD-ROM drives.

    Select DVD drive
  4. Right-click on the desired drive and select Properties.

    Open device properties
  5. Click the DVD Region Tab.
  6. Select the desired region and click OK.Note the warning regarding the remaining changes to this setting.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Art Nouveaux Case Mod, Part 5

The wood shell is just about complete except for some final details. Feet were finished out and glued onto the bottom plate. Once the wood glue had set, the bottom panel and feet were lightly sanded and sealed.

Air, Water, or a bit of both?
A second fan hole is made in the bottom of the case and positioned to direct air across the hard drive cage. Using a photocopy fan template, holes for mounting screws are drilled at the corners, and a 4.5" circular opening cut using a hole-saw. Unlike the top fan hole that is positioned under the decorative carving, the bottom fan cuts through both metal and wood. A wire grill is mounted over the opening to keep fingers out of the spinning blades.

After cleaning the case again, the power supply and drives are installed in the bays. Some shuffling may occur before I am done, but this is necessary to figure out cable runs and get the system ready for the first POST. I installed the motherboard in the tray after changing out the North Bridge heat sinks and attaching the frame for a Zalman CPU cooler.

If I was using the factory heat sinks, and Intel CPU solution, everything could be attached with the motherboard installed in the tray or case. Keep in mind that you put a fair amount of pressure on the stock Intel heat sink when you are snapping the retaining clips through the motherboard. I prefer to install the CPU and heatsink into the board before mounting it in the case to avoid stressing or damaging the motherboard later.

Air cooling considerations
The Zalman CPU cooler requires the installation of a two-part mounting bracket with one piece behind the motherboard, and the mounting bracket screwed through the board from the front. Some case designs have an opening in the approximate location of the CPU, allowing you to access the bottom of the board without first removing it from the case. If you don't have this feature (like this Foxconn case), then you will have to pull the system board to attach the bracket assembly.

The Gigabyte motherboard uses passive (no fan) cooling for the North Bridge, South Bridge, and voltage regulators. Some after market coolers are available for common chipsets, but how your manufacturer mounted their stock cooler will determine if you can easily replace this.

The power supply wires are not sleeved except for the motherboard connector, so I used some blue split-loom tubing to cover the multicolored wires running around the case. To add a bit of blue color on the motherboard itself, I replaced the yellow North Bridge heatsink with one of the larger Zalman North Bridge passive heatsinks (just visible below the copper-colored CPU heat sink.)


[caption id="attachment_478" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="POST (Power On Self Test) is done with a Zalman CPU cooler. Exposed wires from the power supply are concealed with blue split-loom tubing."]case interior[/caption]

Water cooling considerations:
Water cooling usually requires some sort of CPU bracket or nut-and-bolt configuration mounted through the motherboard first. To install a water cool kit, most everything has to come out of the case again.

Other considerations include where to mount the pump, radiator, and reservoir, and any other custom liquid cool components such as hard drive cooling blocks, flow indicators, thermal sensors, etc. You may need to consider where water hoses must be able to run, especially if you choose to mount the radiator or other component outside of the case.

Mounting everything internally to the case is probably one of the more difficult projects, only because most computer cases are not designed with enough clearance around the fan opening to mount the radiator. You might be able to make room to mount it on the top or front if you are willing to give up drive bay expansion or are ready to rearrange their placement.

Water cooling in the "Demonic" FoxConn case would be difficult without totally removing the plastic hard drive assembly or mounting the radiator on the outside of the case.

Challenges you would encounter installing your first water cool system would probably have hose connections are at the top of the list. Related concerns will include how much hose will you need, getting all of the necessary parts, getting the correct fittings, and also what order should you make those connections.


[caption id="attachment_480" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Reduce the anxiety during a first-time water cool build by using a kit."]water cooling kit[/caption]

One way to minimize these issues and reduce or eliminate your anxiety might be to start with a water cooling kit for your first project. This is probably the easiest way to make sure that you are not leaving anything out and that you have a series of step-by-step instructions to work from. Don't get me wrong, even with a kit, you still have to make some choices, like where to mount the radiator and pump, and you will still have several opportunities to cut the hoses too short or too long.


[caption id="attachment_482" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="What's in the Bigwater kit? Clockwise from the bottom left: Instructions, top and bottom brackets, drive bay reservoir, bottle of UV reactive coolant, radiator, CPU cooling block, pump, and UV reactive green tubing."]water cooling kit parts[/caption]

To give you a better idea of what this means, I chose to use a Thermaltake Bigwater kit in the Nouveaux Mod case. This worked out for internal mounting, only because of the severe modifications I made to the side panel and latch. The latch mechanism would have been visible through the glass side panel, so I removed it. To make the radiator fit, I had to take out the small hinge and lock tabs as well. Finally, the only reason the Thermaltake radiator can fit inside is that the clearance around the edge of their radiator is much smaller than those found in the Swiftech, Danger Den, or similar radiators.

One disadvantage of this kit is the small hose size and reduced water flow from the pump as a result. It would be easy enough to add additional components like a flow meter or other cooling blocks, but for this project, I chose to keep it simple by only using the parts included in the kit for cooling just the CPU.

The instructions that come in the kit are tiny, but are illustrated and contain the detailed step-by-step process for installing the components. They start with mounting the CPU cooling block using a metal back-plate, insulated with foam and Mylar pads, and held in place to the system board with a series of bolts with insulating washers and nuts.

case interior

Step 1. The CPU is installed, thermal compound spread over the surface, and then the copper water block placed in position. Another bracket holds the block centered and is held in place with four more nuts.

Step 2. The manual shows you how the radiator can be mounted, either inside the case or outside. In either configuration, the cooling fan is attached to move air from inside the case across the radiator's cooling fins. I installed the radiator in the rear, with a green LED illuminated fan attached to the radiator.

Step 3. The reservoir included in the kit is installed an open 5.25" drive bay, keep in mind, you need to be able to slide this out of the bay to fill with fluid. (That turns out to be a real pain with the Nouveaux Case Mod; the front panel must be removed to pull this out far enough to fill.)

Step 4. The pump can be installed most anywhere, so I positioned it in the relatively clear space above the expansion card slots.

Step 5. Cut and connect the hoses. (Shown here in four steps)

water cooling installation
Step 5a. Attach a length of hose between the CPU block and the radiator.
I chose to connect the hose to the outside connection to minimize the curve
with the hose. If bent too sharply, it will eventually kink unless you have
something like an internal spring or external spiral wrap to keep the bend
supported.

water cooling install

 

Step 5b. Attach a length of hose between the reservoir intake and
your second connector of the radiator. The reservoir has two connections;
the intake is located higher on the tank, about even, or slightly above the
recommended "full" water line. The output of the reservoir is lower,
and well below the recommended fill level.

water cooling install

 

Step 5c. Connect the reservoir output to the pump's intake. This connection order means that the reservoir supplies a constant source of liquid to the pump, and water returning to the reservoir can release any trapped air bubbles before returning to circulation.

water cooling install

 

Step 5d. Connect the pump's output to the remaining CPU block connector.

 

[caption id="attachment_490" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Add coolant and run the pump until all of the air is out of the lines. Then you are ready to turn on the computer. If you don't clear the air and get the fluid flowing, the CPU can overheat and shut down to protect itself."]water cooling install[/caption]

Step 6. Fill the reservoir, watching for any leaks at the connections. Connect the pump to a power supply and briefly start it to begin moving fluid through the lines and radiator. Add more fluid and repeat. Use a stand-alone power supply to run the pump until you clear all of the air from the line.






BYO Testing Tip: How to turn on a stand-alone power supply 
On a computer power supply that has the ATX-20 or 24 pin connector with color-coded wires, you should see a single green wire You can use a paper clip or piece of wire to short this pin to one of the black wires. When the supply is plugged in and turned on, it should power on full without being attached to a system board.

Alternative to shorting pins: Use a Power Supply test module. These
connect to the 20/24 pin connector and perform the same operation, and also show you with LED lights or meter that the supply is working.


The actual order of flow through your cooling blocks and radiator is not too critical, but there are some common sense rules, such as passing the hottest water (from a block) into a radiator before going through another block, or at least cooling the hottest parts first.

If you were to add graphic card, chipset, memory or hard drive cooling, you might want to use more than one radiator to have the coolest possible fluid passing through the blocks. Using larger tubing and a more powerful pump will also improve the overall efficiency of a water-cool solution.

I would also arrange the flow through the most critical, then the greatest heat sources first. A reasonable sequence would be CPU, then graphics card, then chipset, memory, and last, the hard drives. Hard drives may generate more heat than chipset or memory, but since they usually are air-cooled without any fins, and should be less critical of the need.

Next time: Nouveaux Case Mod wrap up with lighting and effects.

How to Boot in Safe Mode

This How-To Guide will walk you through how to boot your computer into safe mode via either a basic, or an advanced option.

Basic Instructions
  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Turn the computer back on then immediately begin tapping the F8 key across the top row of keys on the keyboard repeatedly.
  3. The display should then show the screen below. Use the arrow keys to highlight Safe Mode and press the Enter key.




  4. When prompted log into your normal account. Should you be using Windows XP. click Yes on the window that appears upon login. Your computer is now operating in safe mode.

Advanced Instructions
  1. Click Start.
  2. Windows XP users click Run, type "msconfig" (without the quotes) in the box and click Ok. Windows Vista and Windows 7 users, type "msconfig" (without the quotes) in the bar directly above the start button and press Enter.
  3. Click the Boot or boot.ini tab in the System Configuration Utility window.



  4. Click the check box to the left of Safe Boot.



  5. Click OK.
  6. Select Restart and your computer should then boot into safe mode.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What are Wireless Routers and Access Points?

Wireless Routers and Access Points are wireless controllers that allow wireless devices such as laptops, smartphones and media extenders to connect to a wireless network. So, what makes them different? Essentially, Routers are designed to do everything you need for networking — one product that works with both wired and wireless devices. An access point by itself typically lacks the features to work independently for two reasons. First, Access Points typically do not have firewalls or other security measures. Second, most Access Points do not have a wired network, so desktops and other wired network devices need to be connected via wireless adapters.

What do Access Points offer that Routers do not? One of the most common uses of an Access Point is to connect it to a wired network using a Router then run a cable to another location. This allows the wireless network to be extended, and can be done with minimal configuration of the access point and no additional adjustments for the router.

In simplified terms, the router connects directly to the modem, and an access point provides the wireless functionality for the network.