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pc_case.jpg I’ve been offline for the past few days doing a complete re-install of Windows XP on my PC. Although the actual installation of XP is rather fast (it only took 45 minutes), what actually takes up a huge amount of time is installing the extras – the drivers and the software which you need. his has taken me the best part of 2 days – and I am still not finished yet.

What has taken so long is that my CD’s with the drivers were out of date and I had to go searching online for up-to-date drivers. A driver is a program which makes something work and controls it so you need a driver for your printer, a driver for your sound card, one for your graphics card and so on. Without the relevant driver, your computer accessories will not work and you need to keep the drivers updated at all times. When you buy a computer accessory, you will get a disk with it that will contain the driver but as I said, these things need to be kept constantly updated so it doesn’t take long for your CD copy to go out of date.

With news today that a $200 PC with pre-installed Google tools, has been brought out which will appeal to first time computer users, I thought it would be a good idea to list some useful drivers as well as the software you should be putting on your computer if you are setting up a PC for the first time.

But first the drivers. For a graphics driver, NVIDIA seems to be one of the best drivers, if not the best. Obviously it will all depend on what graphics card you buy (some graphics cards may have their own preferred drivers).

For a sound driver, I use CMI Audio and it does an excellent job. But when it comes to sound, you also need to download what’s called a “codec”, which is a small program which compresses and decompresses the audio. Without the codecs, you won’t hear anything! A good codec which seems to cover a lot of players and file formats is the AC3 filter but also the DIVX codec is a must. In fact I highly recommend the DIVX player that comes with the DIVX codec because it tells you if any codecs are missing when you try to play a video file. It then gives you the names of the codecs you need. To my knowledge, no other media player gives you that kind of information.

As for the printer, scanner and other peripherals, it all depends on what model and make you have. Just enter the word “driver” and your model / make into Google and it should direct you to download pages. Try and see if the actual company that made the hardware offers you the driver before considering third-party websites, as you never know the quality of third-party downloads.

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Then you need to get the PC to recognise your extras such as your printer. To set up the printer, just go to your system control panel then “Printers and Fax Devices” (wording may vary on foreign versions of Windows). Then do the following :

  • 1. Click on ADD A PRINTER
  • 2. At Welcome screen click NEXT
  • 3. Select LOCAL PRINTER (if printer is attached directly to computer) and click NEXT
  • 4. Choose LPT1 (in most situations) then click NEXT
  • 5. Select your model in the left window
  • 6. Select your specific model and make in the right window
  • 7. Click NEXT
  • 8. Type name for printer or accept default name
  • 9. Click No to “Do you want to print test page”.
  • 10. Click FINISH

The printer should now appear in the list and it should now be ready to go.

Tomorrow I’ll cover the software I added to the computer. I really did a hatchet job, removing a lot of needless stuff and now I think I’ve got a pretty good compilation of useful tools and accessories. I’ll be back tomorrow to discuss that.

As usual, I’d appreciate hearing your comments.

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