Issue 171 - January 23, 2002

ISSN 1488-3163; PC Improvements © 2002
==== 2209 Subscribers in 58 Countries ====

Welcome to the 171st issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly of news and tips. There is something for everyone, and if this is your first issue, I'm sure there will be something for you. If you give me two or three issues, I know that you will come back for more!

You can reach me at with any suggestions or comments.

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Last week I asked for people to send in their comments regarding their first computer. I've heard from a few, but hope to hear from many more. Let me know what kind it was, why you got it, how much it was, what you did with it, how long you kept it for, etc. I will have a special issue in a week or 2 that contains most of these. Send your stories to

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Amazon Makes First Profit on Strong Sales

" Inc. on Tuesday posted its first-ever net profit as strong turnout from holiday shoppers fueled a 15 percent rise in sales and helped the online superstore trounce even the most optimistic expectations.
The Seattle-based retailer, which has lost nearly $3 billion since it went public in 1997, said its fourth quarter net profit -- including charges like acquisition expenses, stock compensation and interest payments on debt -- was $5 million, or 1 cent a share, compared to a loss of $545 million, or $1.53 a share a year earlier."

For more info:

Bloomingdales Reconsiders Online Sales

"This Wednesday will be an Internet milestone for Federated Department Stores - a milestone in backtracking. That is the day the company's Web site plans to begin pulling items from its virtual shelves, as it is transformed into a site primarily offering marketing information, with only limited sales transactions. The move is part of a major scaling back of what had been the most aggressive e-commerce strategy among all the major department store chains."

For more info:

'Sucks' sites to be doled out for free

Cyber-gripers, take heart. You and your '' Web site have a patron. Free speech lawyer Ed Harvilla is worried that too many 'sucks'domains have been taken away from owners and given to their target companies. So he and some silent partners have developed a system to dole out 'sucks'Web sites - and he's given them away for free.

For more info:

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POLL of the WEEK

Here are the responses from the last poll:

Do you use your computer more at work or at home?

Home: 59.09%
Work: 40.91%

Total Votes: 66

Visit to participate in the new poll this week:

Which computer "brand name" do you prefer?

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Visit the PCIN FreeHelp Forum to post your questions or answer others. Each week I highlight a question, and where to go to get the answer.


How can I change a sound card or find out if my computer has one?


To find out if you have a sound card go to START/SETTINGS/CONTROL PANEL and click on the SYSTEM applet. Then click on the DEVICE MANAGER tab. In the list you should see SOUND, VIDEO and GAME CONTROLLERS listed if there is a soundcard installed. You may have an integrated soundcard which is a soundcard that is integrated into the motherboard and cannot be changed but can be shut off if you want to install a separate soundcard of your own. First you will need to remove the cover from the computer case to see if there are any available slots. The sound card would go into an empty expansion slot such as a PCI or ISA slot. If the sound card is separate from the motherboard it will be in one of the expansion slots on the motherboard. To change this type of soundcard you would remove the soundcard from the slot and then put the new soundcard in the same slot or another slot depending on what type of card it is PCI or ISA. If the soundcard is integrated into the motherboard and all of the slots are full then you would need to buy another motherboard that has more expansion slots to be able to install another card.

Do you know the answer or have a suggestion? Visit and check out the Hardware Forum. Post your answer or post a question of your own.

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Check out these new or updated pages on the site:

WE Compute Magazine's Cheap Tricks of the Week
(The entire collection is in Microsoft Word format and currently has 100 tips and tricks. You can download the file from here)

Windows Registry Tips and Tweaks
(The entire collection is in Microsoft Word format and currently has 85 registry tips. You can download the file from here)

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Cheap Trick of the Week

Get rid of the pause that refreshes

In Windows when the contents of a folder are changed, such as when you add or delete a file, the systems may take a few seconds for the system to update the screen. To update the screen manually you can press F5 on your keyboard to force an update after you've made changes.
Or you can try this Registry tweak. (For instructions and important precautions on editing the Registry, check
In the Registry Editor, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Update. Under the Edit menu, select New and DWORD Value. Right-click on this new value and select Rename. Type "UpdateMode" and press Enter. (If the value already exists, you don't have to create it again. Just double-click it and edit it to make the last two digits "00".)
Restart Windows and from then on your screen should refresh itself quicker and without you having to prompt it.

Get your own copy of "The Little Black Book of Cheap Tricks: 2001" by visiting

Windows Explorer Tips

When you open up Windows Explorer, either from the Start Menu or by using the Windows Key + E hotkey, it always opens up the same. There are some shortcuts that you can make that will change that though.

explorer.exe /n
Opens Windows Explorer in single-pane view, which is similar to the view you see when you open My Computer.

explorer.exe /e
Opens Windows Explorer in multipane view, which is the view used when you open Windows Explorer from the default Windows Explorer shortcut on the Start menu.

explorer.exe /root, c:\
Specifies the folder that you want Windows Explorer to use as the root for the view. You can change the part that has c:\ to anything you want.

explorer.exe /select, c:\
Makes Windows Explorer select the file or folder specified.

You can also combine several of these and separate them with a comma ",". For instance, if you wanted to open up Windows Explorer in multipane view, with a root of c:\windows and you wanted your cookies folder highlighted, you would use the following command:
explorer.exe /e, /root, c:\windows, /select, c:\windows\cookies

Learn How to Spot a 16-Bit Application (and more)

I've highlighted Microsoft pages before because they do offer some good tips. Visit to learn how to spot a 16-bit application. While there, click on the Tips link and see a complete list of tips for Windows XP Professional.

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PCIN is brought to you by PC Improvements. The opinions expressed are those of the editor, Graham Wing. PC Improvements and Graham Wing accept no responsibility for the results obtained from trying the tips in this newsletter.

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