Section A.3. Plugging In Accessories

A.3. Plugging In Accessories

If you plan on sticking your PC beneath your desk, first position it on the floor in front of your desk so it's easier to plug in your monitor, mouse, and other devices. That saves you from having to perform advanced yoga stretches as you try to plug the right cord into the right port.

A.3.1. Your Chair and Your Posture

There's no one perfect way to work in front of a computer. Some people feel comfortable only when perched in a fully adjustable, $800 Herman Miller Aeron chair. Others like rocking on a huge, inflatable fitness ball. Most settle for the standard office-style swivel chair.

Ergonomics professors advise sitting upright like a "stick person," with all vertical or horizontal lines. Keep your torso straight, for instance, with your thighs and forearms jutting out at 90 degree angles, and your feet flat on the floor. Relax your shoulders.

That's your starting point, from which you should begin adjusting everything a little higher or lower until you find your own sweet spot.

A.3.2. Monitor

Start by positioning the top of the monitor's screen at or just below your eye level. If your monitor doesn't come with an adjustable (up or down) base, and adjusting your chair's height makes you feel uncomfortable, temporarily stack some books beneath the monitor, adding or subtracting from the stack to find that perfect viewing angle.

Once you're comfortable with your seated posture and the monitor's height, measure the stack of books beneath it. Then head to the office supply store and look for the right- sized monitor standa handy little open -ended box that also serves as a parking garage for your keyboard.

If your neck or shoulders still feel sore, make sure you're not scrunching them up as you type. Then show this next paragraph to your boss:

Take frequent breaks, standing up and moving around every half hour or so.

If your wrists, hands, or fingers feel sore, drop by the computer or office supply store and put your hands on an ergonomic or "natural" tilted keyboard (see Section 2.1.1). Some people find them more comfortable for typing.

Tip: Your best protection for a comfortable work area is having adjustable componentsespecially your chair. A fine-tuneable chair lets you sit the way you like and makes everything else conform to you, rather than the other way around.

For complete instructions on plugging in and fine-tuning an LCD (flat panel) monitor, see Section 3.1.1; for CRT monitors (the old school models with hefty backsides), see Section 3.1.2.

A.3.3. Power Strip

Once you plug in your PC and the monitor, you've probably hogged the only outlet on the wall. Where do you plug in the speakers ? Your cell phone? The digital camera battery charger? Or even that desk lamp?

A power strip a long, power outlet-filled boxplugs into one outlet to add six or eight more, enough to handle your extension cords and power supplies (the black " bricks " that drive power to many devices). The good power strips include built-in surge protectors that commit suicide instead of letting that dangerous power surge flow through to your PC. (The best power strips include a light that lets you know when they've committed suicide, so you know when to buy a new one.)

Tip: Power supplies tend to hog so much space that they frequently cover up the adjacent outlet. To avoid that, buy a power strip with parallel slots. That lets plugged-in power supplies dangle over the power strip's edge, rather than covering an adjacent outlet.

A.3.4. Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) provides protection from power outages, but not in the way you might think. When the power goes down, don't expect to start composing your complaint letter to the utility company. Instead, a UPS is meant to protect your PC when the electricity fails, giving you enough time for a grateful exit. Save your work, and shut down your PC (Start Turn Off Computer Turn Off), letting Windows close normally. Dont think of a UPS as a generator. It's protecting only the information you're currently working on.

Plug your UPS straight into the wall outletnot the power strip. Then connect your PC directly to the UPS. Don't plug anything else into your UPS if you can help it. Plugging in nonessential items cuts down on the amount of stored electricity you have available during an outage .

Plug your nonessential itemsyour lamp, cell phone charger, printer, and so oninto your power strip.

A.3.5. Mouse and Keyboard

Most mice and keyboards plug straight into a USB port (see Section 1.8.1). Normally, each one wants its own USB port. If you're running out of USB ports, pick up a USB huba little box stuffed with extra USB ports. One cable on the hub plugs into a wall outlet for power; the other plugs into a USB port.

Some keyboards sport a USB port or two, situated along one side for plugging in a mouse. That not only extends the reach of your mouse cable, but saves one of your PC's precious USB ports for a different goodie.

If you bought a wireless mouse or keyboard, remember they come in two pieces. Plug the mouse or keyboard's wireless transmitter into your PC's USB port. Then install batteries into the mouse and/or keyboard.

For complete instructions on installing mice, see Section 2.2.2; for keyboards, see Section 2.1.8.

A.3.6. Telephone Cable

Almost all PCs come with a phone jack for a modem. It's always a good idea to hook up the modem, even if your PC connects with a broadband connection. Dial-up modems come in handy for several reasons:

  • They let you connect to the Internet on those rare occasions when your broadband connection goes down.

  • They let you send and receive faxes using Windows XP's built-in fax software (covered in the online appendix, "Other Cool Things You Can Do Online," available on the "Missing CD" page at

  • They let your laptop go online during a power outage. Your laptop can always run off its battery. And while a power outage will keep a broadband modem from running, dial-up lines usually stay up when the power dies.

Connect a standard phone cable between the PC's jack and the wall's phone jack (see Section 1.8.4).

A.3.7. Ethernet Cable

Most new PCs come with a built-in Ethernet port, which resembles a fat phone port. Your PC needs that Ethernet port, also known as a network port , to connect with a network or broadband modem. Most new PCs come with an Ethernet cable tossed in, but if yours didn't, the cables are easy to find at any PC store. You'll find complete instructions for buying Ethernet cables and plugging them into broadband modems and routers on Section 14.2.3.

A.3.8. Speakers

Your PC sends its sound through a 1/8-inch stereo jack, just like your tiny iPod. The hardest part is finding that tiny holeit's one of a row of several identical jacks on the back of your PC. You'll find instructions and identification clues in Chapter 1 (see Section 1.9).

Once you've plugged in your speaker cable, position the speakers on your desk, one on each side of your monitor (unless they're built into the monitor itself, of course). For some reason, most manufacturers don't label their speakers as "Left" and "Right," giving you a 50 percent chance of choosing the right positions .

Test your guess by playing a song in Windows Media Player. While listening, slide the mixer's balance lever (Section 7.5.2) from the left to the right side and see if the sound from your speakers matches. If not, reverse the speakers.

A.3.9. Printer

Plug your printer's power cord into the power strip, and then plug the printer's other cable into your PC. Most printers plug into the USB port. You'll find complete instructions for installing a printer on Section 4.2. Don't forget to add paper.

PCs: The Missing Manual
ISBN: 0596100930
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 206
Authors: Andy Rathbone

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