Hello, folks! We’re in for another session of “Ask the Windows Expert,” and boy did we hit the aquifer this week! Lots of questions just spilled into our inbox, and we hope to be able to answer them all. As always, we’re happy to answer even the toughest questions that trouble your minds about Windows. Just remember: There’s no such thing as a stupid question as long as you’re not asking it backwards. If you’d like to submit a question, refer to the “Questions” link on the left side or the “Ask Our Experts Now!” button on the right side of the website.
Q: What does the “Pause/Break” key do in Windows 7?
A: In many games, the “Pause” button was used, as the name implies, to pause the game. Usage has stopped considerably in most games released today, so the key has become rather useless.
A couple of applications in Windows, Linux, and Mac OS still make use of the key to display information or confirm an action, but they are such a rare few that we won’t even list them. As far as the Windows operating system is concerned, you can use the “Win” (“Start”) key together with “Pause/Break” to show the system properties window. This helps you bring up the system’s specification, product key, workgroup name, and other things that might be important for you to know. Other than that, rest assured that you’re not missing out on much.
Q: I would like to connect my laptop directly to my PC. How do I do this via LAN?
A: The answer can be simple or complicated, depending on how versed you are with Windows networking. We’ll try to make this as simple as possible.
Computers generally communicate by means of network interfaces. For a computer to fully work with another one and share an Internet connection (I assume this is what you want), you’ll need to buy some equipment first:
- A second network interface card (NIC). If you see an unoccupied Ethernet port on the desktop PC, then don’t buy one. It means you have an NIC already.
- A cross-over Ethernet cable. This is a special cable that establishes direct links between two nodes on a network and cuts out the middleman (i.e. the router).
Once you have this equipment, hook up the cross-over cable from the extra NIC on your computer to the NIC on your laptop. That’s all there is to it, at least on the hardware end. We still need to configure your PC to be a router. This isn’t hard.
Follow these steps, to the letter:
- Open your control panel by clicking the Start button and clicking “Control Panel.”
- Click “Network and Internet.”
- Click “Network and Sharing Center.”
- Click “Change adapter settings” on the upper part of the left hand column. Here it is:
- In the adapter settings window, you’ll find the second network interface on your computer. Since there is more than one, this might confuse you a bit. Here’s a trick I use: Disconnect the cross-over cable for just a while until it says “Network cable unplugged” on one adapter. Once you see that, you know you’ve got the right one. Now, just plug it back in and continue the steps, knowing which NIC you are going to use as an Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) point.
- Right-click the adapter you’re using for Internet (the other one) and click “Properties.” Once you click the “Sharing” tab, you should reach something like this:
- Go ahead and click “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection. For “Home networking connection,” write the name of the local network connection you want to share your Internet connection with, if you’re not presented with a drop-down list.
- Click “OK” and wait for the network connections to finish self-configuring.
Now, your PC is a router. Right-click the networking icon on the lower-right part of the taskbar and click “Troubleshoot problems.” This will take care of any connection issues that didn’t resolve themselves during the auto-config and hook you up to your PC’s Internet juice.
But, while we’re at it, I might as well duly inform you that you can use a wireless access point attached to your PC to get shared WiFi using a similar method.
Q: My computer is a Dell Latitude D620 laptop and I’m having problems loading programs, with one-minute response times. How can I fix this? I run Win XP Pro SP2.
A: Your computer is like a car. The more weight you put on it, the slower it runs. Would you rather drive a car that weighs 1 ton, or drive one that weighs 8 tons with the same motor? That’s an easy answer!
Start uninstalling programs that you don’t need. Do this from your control panel. After that, consider upgrading your RAM. You told me you have only 1 GB. I have a Latitude D630 at home, and it supports up to 4 GB DDR memory. Try to see if you can get an upgrade for yours, which is only a slightly smaller model.
Here’s a nice little secret: Press “Win+R” on your keyboard, type “msconfig” in the box that appears, and press “Enter.” When you go to the “Startup” tab, you can modify what programs start when your computer starts.
Get your computer a proper anti-virus solution. You might have a few infections.
Try all of these methods, and I guarantee you’ll have at least a slight performance improvement. If you don’t, hit the comments section below. It’s watched constantly.
Q: Every browser on my Windows installation, except IE, runs very slowly and doesn’t follow links. How do I solve this?
A: Try getting your hardware diagnosed. There are way too many reasons this could happen, and I could literally write 20 pages on this. Get your hardware checked. If there’s nothing wrong with your hardware, then you might have a buggy OS. Install another copy of the same OS and see if it works that way. If it doesn’t, try a different version of the OS. Windows normally doesn’t behave that way.
You did mention that you used a reg cleaner. Let me tell you something: Reg cleaners don’t usually do anything to help your computer. In fact, they might cause harm to your registry rather than do any good. You should only go into the registry if you really know what you’re doing and if you have a problem you have to take care of.
If you continue having problems after doing all of the above, contact us through the comments section. That’s what it’s for!
One Final Word
If you’d like to make your own inquiry, just go back to the top of this article for instructions. To discuss current questions, leave a comment! Have a great day!