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Q&A

Checking Status of RAM, Available Hard Drive Space

August 03, 2000|JEFF LEVY

Q: How can I find out the size of the hard drive, the amount of RAM and just how much video RAM I have in my computer?

--Joel P., Chatsworth

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A: Double-click on My Computer and then right-click on the hard drive icon. Select Properties and you'll see both the size of your hard drive and the amount of space that remains free and available. There is also a graphic in the form of a pie chart, showing used space in blue and available space in pink.

When you start your system, turn on the monitor first. When you start your computer you'll see information about the graphics card, including the amount of video RAM installed.

In some computers you can find the amount of video RAM by double-clicking on My Computer and then on Control Panel. From there, double-click on Display Properties. Now click on Settings and then on Advanced. If you find a tab that describes the video card installed in your computer, it may contain the amount of video RAM installed on that device.

Your computer counts main (system) RAM on start-up. To determine the amount of RAM installed on your computer from within Windows, right-click on My Computer and then click on Properties. Click on the Performance tab, which displays the amount of system RAM installed, the percentage of system RAM currently available (system resources), the file system (16-bit versus 32-bit) and more.

Flat Screen Monitors

Q: I am looking for a high-resolution LCD flat screen. Scanning photos to my hard drive is my hobby. Space is a problem and a flat screen would help with that, but I want the best image I can bring to the screen. Can you suggest the best way to go for both my hobby and for general use?

--Gerald C., Monrovia

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A: The problem with the LCD flat panel monitors is that they work best in their native screen resolution--1,024 by 768 pixels, for instance. Should you need to change resolution, the screen image degrades. Not good. Your needs would be better served with a high-end, flat-screen monitor. Take a look at a top-end Sony Trinitron or NEC monitor.

Affordable Net Access

Q: I have just purchased my first computer and I'm ready to give the Internet a try. Price is a major factor for me, so could you suggest a starting point with pricing in mind?

--George E., El Monte

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A: If low pricing is important to you, rule out DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable-based Internet. Let's look at your options for a modem (dial-up) connection to the Net. There are several places where you can have Internet connectivity free. The two most popular free Internet service providers are Juno at http://www.juno.com and NetZero at http://www.netzero.com.

Although Internet access is free on both services, you will see endless ad banners--cyber commercials, if you will--that take up part of your screen while you are online. Not quite free, but nonetheless affordable, is a new Internet service offered by AT&T at

http://www.at&t.com. This service will cost you $4.95 per month for up to 150 hours of Internet time. Again, you'll have to deal with ad banners.

Next up the line is a company called RamPage at

http://www.rampageusa.com that offers prepaid Internet at $9.95 per month. You must pay 12 months in advance to get that price. Quarterly and semiannual programs are also offered. There are no ad banners.

Microsoft also has a low-cost Internet option at

http://www.microsoft.com. Under this plan you sign up for a year of Internet access from Microsoft at $21.95 per month. Microsoft pays the first six months for you. So your actual cost for that year of Microsoft-provided Internet works out to $10.98 per month.

The bottom line here is that you'll have to figure out which option works best for you. If you find yourself on the Net frequently, those ad banners may start to get to you. The RamPage and Microsoft options may just start looking better.

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Jeff Levy hosts the "On Computers" radio talk show from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on KFI-AM (640). He can be reached at jefflevykfi@hotmail.com.

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