May 14, 2004
Q. I'm confused about the relationship between Outlook Express and Internet Explorer. Can you explain the difference between the two or why I need both? Is Windows Explorer the same as Internet Explorer?
A. Here's the skinny on IE and OE: Internet Explorer is your Web browser, primarily used to view Web pages; Outlook Express is your email program, used to send and receive email.
The only relationship between the two programs is that Outlook Express is usually configured to be Internet Explorer's default email program. What that means is this: Let's say you're viewing a Web page (using Internet Explorer) and you click an email link (called a "mailto" link) in order to send a message to a person referenced on that Web page. If Outlook Express is your default email program, when you click the email link, OE will open and the address will appear in the To: field, saving you the trouble of typing it in manually.
If you decide at some point to use an email program other than OE, you'll be able to set that up as your default instead of Outlook Express. Internet Explorer is happy to defer to whatever applications you would like to use. Simply click Tools > Internet Options > Programs, and make your selection.
Windows Explorer (Start > Programs > Windows Explorer or Start > Programs > Accessories > Windows Explorer) is unrelated to Internet Explorer other than sharing the same surname. Windows Explorer is used to explore and manage (view, copy, move, delete) files and folders on your computer’s various drives.
Q. I want to make my own CDs and have been looking at a variety of CD-RW drives, but I’m confused. What do the numbers 16X/4X/32X on CD drives mean, and what’s the difference between a 24X and a 32X CD-R?
A. Those three cryptic numbers are the speeds for writing, re-writing, and reading data. They describe the maximum possible speeds the drive is capable of reaching while recording a CD-R or a CD-RW and reading a CD-ROM. A 16/4/32 drive can record a CD-R at a maximum speed of 16X; it can record a CD-RW at a maximum speed of 4X; and it can read a CD-ROM at a maximum speed of 32X.
As far as 24X and 32X CD-Rs, the number rating of discs is a measure of how fast they can be recorded in a drive rated to be capable of that speed. A 24X disc can be recorded at 24 times normal speed (“normal” is the playback speed of a music CD) in a drive rated at 24X.
Recording a CD-R in real time is like recording an audio or video cassette -- the recording process takes just as long as the playback. A 74-minute CD would take 74 minutes to record, annoyingly slow when a computer can process information far faster.
Q. My printer has three quality levels of printing: Draft, Normal and Best. For most of my printing I like to conserve ink by using the Draft mode. Is there a way I can fix it so my computer always prints in Draft mode? It keeps reverting back to Normal whenever I reboot.
A. You didn't mention what type of printer you're using so I can't tell you specifically how to change those settings, but you can generally do it by following these steps. The wording may be slightly different on your computer:
Click Start > Settings > Printers, then right-click on your printer's icon and select Properties.
Click the Advanced tab followed by the Printing Defaults button. In this area you can change your layout and print-quality selections. Click Apply > OK to exit.
If you can't find anything that resembles the above on your system, check your printer manual, your printer vendor’s Web site, or any help that may be available within your printer software itself, which you should be able to access by clicking Start > Programs > and look for your printer in the list of installed programs.
Q. I know my new computer has one hard drive, the C drive, but when I click My Computer or use Windows Explorer, I see three drives, a C, D, and E, in addition to my A drive and my CD drive, which is F. What are those other drives?
A. It sounds like your hard drive is divided into several sections -- think of them as several smaller drives called "partitions." Some PC manufacturers and users partition the large C drive to permit the segregation of data from programs or, for example, business from personal files. Partitions are also a popular way to run multiple operating systems on one computer. For example, digital masochists might run Windows 98 and Windows 2000 or Windows XP on the same computer, but on different drives to keep them separate.
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