Originally created 07/18/02

Readers ask about online Army game

More letters fill the column today ...

Q. You wrote about the new, free U.S. Army video game. I downloaded it but it won't run on my machine. What's wrong?

A. The game, "America's Army," requires a pretty new PC as well as a video card with at least 32 MB of on-board memory. Your PC has what's called "on-board" video, which means your video system is built into the system's motherboard. In short, you don't have enough "oomph" to run the game. You can invest in a video card with an nvidia processor with at least 32 MB of memory for about $70 and up. (You can download the 210 MB game at www.goarmy.com)

Q. I am trying to sell my old PC and I am having very little luck. There's nothing wrong with it and it is pretty new. Is the market for used PCs that bad?

A. Yes. Now that the price of new computers (with warranty protection) has dropped like a stone, few used PCs are worth much of anything. You can look at the used-PC listings on eBay if you want a clue of pricing. You're going to be shocked at how cheap used PCs are.

Your best bet may be to give the PC to a relative to introduce him or her to computing or donate it to a nonprofit agency, church or school. All are willing to take decent PCs in working order and you get a tax deduction as well.

I remember paying $3,000 for a 486, so I feel your pain.

Q. What is the best computer out there for DVD editing and burning?

A. Many people swear by the new Apples, which are ahead of the PC in that realm but I have no personal experience with either Macs or PCs in the DVD field.

Q. I am out of USB ports. How can I add more? My new mouse, keyboard and digital cam all connect via USB.

A. The easiest way is to get a "USB Hub," which adds four, six or eight USB slots to one connector, sort of like a surge strip does to an electrical outlet. They are less than $30 at computer stores or electronics retailers. Those with their own power source are more robust.

You also can add internal PC cards to add more slots or upgrade to the new USB 2.0 standard via an internal card as well.

Q. If I get cable modem access, do I need my modem any more?

A. Not unless you want it as a backup when the cable modem goes down for maintenance or fails. There's no harm in keeping it connected; the cable company will bring its own external (likely) or internal (possibly) modem to connect to its coaxial line.

Q. Can I buy my own cable modem and save rental fees?

A. Some companies allow this and some do not. With the pricing of cable modems dropping to less than $100, many people are interested in owning their own and stopping monthly rental charges. Call and ask.

Q. I have downloaded some video files that end in "MOV." My Windows Media Player won't play them. How can I see these?

A. You need to download the free Apple Quicktime Player at www.apple.com for your PC. They offer a free Windows version as well but you need to select that version when you download.

WEEKLY WEB WONDER: As I prepare to head to small-claims court, I found a great site called www.freeadvice.com


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