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Laptops For Dummies
Laptops For Dummies
Laptops For Dummies
Laptops For Dummies
Laptops For Dummies
Laptops For Dummies
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Laptops For Dummies



Laptops For Dummies Laptops For Dummies

Laptops For Dummies

Table of Contents


About This Book

And Just Who Are You?

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: Choosing a Laptop Just for You

Chapter 1: Sometimes You Can Take It with You

The Power Cord Can Stretch Only So Far

The Osborne 1

The luggables

The Model 100

Hybrid beasts, or the “lunch buckets”

Early PC laptops

The search for weightlessness

From laptop to notebook

The modern notebook

The future of the laptop

Why You Need a Laptop

Why You Don’t Need a Laptop

Chapter 2: Buying a Laptop Just for You

Buy That Laptop!

The five steps to buying any computer

The hunt for software

Figuring out how much basic laptop power you need

Finding out what you don’t need

Special laptoppy issues

Laptop expansion options

Communications options

Energy management hardware

Docking stations and port replicators

Hunting for Service and Support

Where to Buy

The Final Step: Buying Your Laptop

Part II: I Have My Laptop, Now What?

Chapter 3: Out of the Box and into Your Lap

Basic Box Unpacking 101

Making piles for the various things in the box

“How long should I keep the box?”

When to send in the warranty

Setting Up Your Laptop

Do you need to charge the battery?

Is some assembly required?

Finding a place for the laptop

The last thing to do: Plug it in!

“Should I plug the laptop into a UPS?”

What to Do Next?

Chapter 4: Laptop Goes On, Laptop Goes Off

Turning It On

Before you turn on the power!

Open the lid

“Where is the power button?”

“What is the moon button for?”

Random power button symbols

Power on!

A Brief Foray into Windows

Windows for the first time

Special deal software

Windows every time

Exploring the Start thing

Various Options for Turning Off (Or Not) the Laptop

Properly shutting down your laptop

“I need to restart Windows”

Putting your laptop to sleep (Stand By) mode

Waking up from sleep (Stand By) mode

“What the heck is hibernation?”

Turning on Hibernation mode

Shutting down when the laptop doesn’t want to

Changing the Whole On-Off Scheme of Things

Setting the function of the power button

Changing the sleep button’s function

What happens when you just close the lid?

Chapter 5: Basic Laptop Hardware Tour

Your ’Round the Laptop Tour

A place for your CD/DVD

Does Mr. Laptop have a floppy drive?

A home for Mr. PC Card

Mystery things called ports

A place for the old ball and chain

The thing’s gotta breathe

Look at the Pretty Lights!

This Isn’t Your Daddy’s Keyboard

The general keyboard layout

Where did the numeric keypad go?

The Fn key is the Fun key!

Mind these specific keys

This Isn’t Your Momma’s Mouse

The mouse pad

Where is the wheel button?

IBM’s “happy stick” keyboard mouse

Controlling the mouse

Get a real mouse!


Cleaning the case

Cleaning the keyboard

Cleaning the screen

Chapter 6: Windows and Your Laptop Software

Places to Do, Things to Go

My Documents

My Computer

My Network Places

The Network Connections window

What’s Important in the Control Panel

Setting the best Control Panel view

The optional Start menu approach

Display options

Network connections

Power options


Phone and modem options

Printers and faxes

Wireless link

Laptop-specific icons

Goodies in the System Tray

Where Your Programs Lurk

Installing new software

Removing old software

Software you want, software you don’t want

Logging On to Windows

The User Accounts icon

Changing your password

Changing your image

Adding new accounts

Removing an account

Disabling the Guest account

Logging on as administrator

Do you really, really hate to log on?

Chapter 7: Expanding Your Laptop’s Universe

Beyond Your Lap

The miraculous expandability options of the USB port

Doing the USB thing

What are the A and B ends of a USB cable?

Connecting USB gizmos

USB-powered devices

Adding a hub

Adding external USB storage

Removing external storage

Using a PC Card

Inserting a PC Card

Using the PC Card

Removing the PC Card

Adding Some Big Boy Toys

Using an external keyboard

Connecting a second monitor or video projector

Using two monitors at once

Gotta getta mouse


Setting up the printer

Printing in Windows

Options for when you don’t have a printer

Chapter 8: Power Management Madness

The Battery Will Get a Charge Out of This!

Types of batteries

Finding your laptop’s battery

Monitoring the battery

What happens when the power gets low

Charging the battery

The spare battery

Don’t fall off the battery cycle!

Should you keep the battery in the laptop when you use AC power all the time?

RIP battery

Managing Your Laptop’s Power

Part III: Between Your Laptop and the World

Chapter 9: All That Networking Nonsense

Adding Your Laptop to an Existing Network

The hardware connection

Setting up the connection in Windows XP

Adding and removing your laptop to and from the network

Finding other computers on the network

Getting into another computer’s disk drives

Accessing network printers

Sharing a folder on your laptop

Unsharing a folder

Networking with No Strings Attached (Wireless Networking)

The ABGs of 802.11

Wireless networking hardware

Connecting to a wireless network

Scanning for wireless networks

What if you don’t know the SSID?

What is the computer’s MAC Address?

Renewing your lease

Accessing a pay service wireless network

Disconnecting the wireless connection

Chapter 10: Laptop to Internet, Hello?

What You Need to Get on the Internet

Bonus Laptop Goodies Your ISP Can Offer

Getting ISP access from all over the country

Check for Web-based e-mail access

Connecting Your Laptop to the Internet the Ethernet Way

The Ethernet connection

Getting on the Internet

Connecting your laptop directly to a DSL or cable modem

Connecting to a router

Dial-Up Internet
Configuring a dial-up connection

Finding the connection

Making the dial-up connection

Dialing a specific connection

Don’t forget to disconnect the dial-up connection!

Chapter 11: A Very Merry Modem

The Modem Hardware

Where the Modem Dwells in Windows

Setting the modem’s volume

Adding special modem command settings

Options for disabling the modem

Adding an External Modem

Setting Up Dialing Rules

Location, location, location

Creating a new location

Area code madness! To dial or not to dial

Automatically using a calling card

Finding the Various Disconnect Timeouts

The general timeout

Timeouts for each session

Putting the Fax into Fax/Modem

Setting up the fax modem

To send a fax

Fax Central
Canceling a pending fax

Receiving a fax

Chapter 12: Online Security

Setting Up a Firewall

The Windows XP firewall

Monitoring the firewall

Setting Up Antivirus Software

Scanning for viruses

Shutting down your antivirus program

Good advice to help protect you from the viral scourge

Running Anti-Spyware Software

Protecting yourself from spyware

Anti-spyware software

How to tell if something is really spyware

Avoiding a Hijack

Chapter 13: Handy Web Browsing and E-Mail Tips

Web Browsing When You’re Out and About

E-Mail Away from Home

Accessing e-mail on the road

Reading your e-mail on the Web

Getting a Web-based e-mail account

Accessing your e-mail from a friend’s computer

Forwarding your e-mail

A forwarding mail rule for Outlook Express

E-Mail Options Worthy of Consideration

Omit your password

Disconnect after picking up e-mail

Disabling automatic checking

Sending everything in one batch

To pick up or leave on server

Skip messages over a given size

Chapter 14: The Desktop-Laptop Connection

Connecting Desktop and Laptop

The easy way: Over the network

That ugly wire thing

Using the infrared port

Toiling with Windows Direct Connection

Synchronizing Files between the Desktop and the Laptop

Creating a Briefcase

Populating the Briefcase with stuff

Moving the Briefcase over to the laptop

Using Briefcase files on your laptop

Synchronizing the files

Accessing the Desktop from Elsewhere

Avoiding Windows XP Remote Desktop

Real Virtual Network Computing

Part IV: On the Road Again

Chapter 15: Before You Hit the Road

The Proper Laptop Case

Avoid the manufacturer’s case

Things to look for in a case

Recommended brands

I’m Leaving, on a Jet Plane Check List

Things to do before you go

Things to pack in your laptop bag

Looming Questions at the Airport

Is your laptop case one carry-on bag or half a carry-on bag?

Laptop inspection

All aboard!

Up, up in the air

The secret 747 exit wall socket

Chapter 16: The Road Warrior (Or Computing in the Strangest of Places)

Cafe Computing

Where to sit?

Be a socket sleuth

Other tips ’n’ stuff

Laptopping in Your Hotel Room

Dealing with the Low-Battery Warning

Mind the Laptop’s Temperature

Chapter 17: Laptop Security

Laptops Are Easy for the Bad Guys to Steal

What to Do before It’s Stolen

Mark your laptop

Don’t use an obvious laptop carrying case

Register the laptop and its software

Be mindful of your environment

The old ball and chain

Protecting Your Data

The BIOS password

Use the NTFS file system

Set a password on your account

Disable the Guest account

Lock Windows

Encrypt important files or folders

Disable the infrared port

Back up your data!

Having the Laptop Phone Home

Chapter 18: Giving a Presentation

Setting Things Up

Creating the presentation

Hooking up to the video projector

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts Worthy of Knowing

Part V: Troubleshooting

Chapter 19: Major Trouble and General Solutions

Soothing Words of Support for the Computer Weary

The Universal Quick Fix

The Miracle of System Restore

Enabling System Restore

When to run System Restore

Setting a restore point

Restoring your system

Safe Mode

Entering Safe Mode

Testing in Safe Mode

The laptop always starts in Safe Mode!

Common Problems and Solutions

The keyboard is wacky!

Making the mouse pointer more visible

The laptop won’t wake up

Power management woes

The battery won’t charge

Chapter 20: Upgrading Your Laptop

How ’bout Some New Software?

Upgrading your software

Updating Windows

Upgrading Windows

Giving Your Laptop New Hardware

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Chapter 21: Ten Battery Tips and Tricks

Don’t Drop the Battery, Get It Wet, Short It, Play Keep-Away with It,

Open It, Burn It, or Throw It Away

Every Few Months, Drain the Battery All the Way

Turn Down the Monitor’s Brightness

Power Down the Hard Drives

Add More RAM to Prevent Virtual Memory Disk Swapping

Run as Few Programs as Possible/Close Unused Programs

Guard the Battery’s Terminals

Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Store the Battery If You Don’t Plan on Using It

Batteries Will Drain Over Time!

Chapter 22: Ten Handy Laptop Accessories

Laptop Bag or Travel Case

Spare Battery

Docking Station or Port Replicator

Cooling Pad


USB Lamp

Full-Sized Keyboard

External Mouse

ID Card or Return Service Sticker

Theft Prevention System

Chapter 23: Ten Things to Throw in Your Laptop Case

Power Cord and Brick

Spare Battery

Mouse or Trackball

Screen Wipes and Cleaner

Laptop Lock

Removable Media



Cables, Cables, Cables

Not the End of the List


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