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Old 02-02-2006, 03:35 PM   #1
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Default PC Tips for Beginners Thread

I spent ages writing some tips for my mate a few days ago, being new to PC's and downloading and the internet. I always thought it was a good idea to have a tips for beginners type thread in here I just never could be arsed to write it, so since I've already done some, I figured I'd post them and people can add their own tips. I haven't wrote anything on torrents so if someone fancies writing a few tips feel free. If you do write some tips, try to avoid writing in IT jargon. I'd like this thread to be usuable by people who don't know their way around computer, and they're not gonna know what you're talking about if you make it too technical. I'll try and add some more to it when I get chance to write it.

Here's what I've got to start up with:

E-Mule:

Leave e-mule running as long as possible. The longer it's running the more upload quese you'll be added to, the quicker you download.

Always have between 15-20 files downloading (depending on your bandwidth - this is based on a 1Mb cable link). When you notice a file has completed, start another one.

Don't sit and watch it download. It's like watching a clock tick when you want time to go faster, it has the opposite effect.

E-mule and Bearshare will slow your PC down the longer they are left open, so if you want to play a game or do anything else and the computers running slow, close down emule/bearshare AND restart the PC. Restarting the PC clears out the memory and so speeds it right back up again.

You may find if it's been on for a particularly long time without a restart (like a few days) that the PC is unresponsive when you press keys or move the mouse. It hasn't necesarrily crashed, it's just e-mule/bearshare has used all the available memory and there isn't any left to deal with what you're telling it to do. A restart will sort it.

E-mule is the best application to use for downloading video files in my opinion, because there almost anything you could wish to find available on there, and the files are usually what they say they are.
On the Transfers screen in e-mule the downloads are broken into a bunch of different headings - File Name, Size, Completed, Speed, Progress, Sources, Priority, Status, Remaining.



File Name: On some downloads under this heading you'll see exclamation marks. If they are green, it means the file is what it says it is. If they are red, chances are it's either something else. The way to check this is click on the file with the right mous button and go to and select Details. This will bring up a window with a bunch of tabs across the top, the two you're interested in are File Name and Comments. Under the File Name tab it shows all the different names that file has on other peoples PC's. You can check this to see if they all say the same thing. If some say for example Lost.S2E09.avi and some say Teen.Gets.Messy.Facial.mpg, chances are it's porn and not what you think you're downloading. Under the Comments tab, sometimes people leave a comment to say if it's an incorrect file, so check that too.
Also in the File Name heading to check when you're downloading a file is it's in the right language. If the file name has tags in like FR, ITA, they relate to what language it's in.

File types - if you're downloading a DivX or an Xvid which are the best quality DVDRip files, the last three letters of the file name (called the extension) will be .avi. Another video file type is .mpeg or .mpg which isn't as good quality but often used for TV shows. There are other types like .wmv or .mov but I don't bother with them unless I have to. If you decide to download games or DVD's they'll usually be .iso or .img or .bin (for this one you need the .cue file that goes with it) or .mdf (you need the .mds file to go with it). Music you want to try and stick to .mp3's. There are other types, .wma is becoming more and more popular because they can put security into the file so that when you try to play it it asks you to buy a license. It's easier to stick with mp3's.

Size: The full size of the file in Mb or Gb. The way file sizes work is theres 1024 bytes (b) in a kilobyte, 1024 kilobytes (Kb) in a megabyte, 1024 megabytes (Mb) in a gigabyte and so on. A basic rule to go on when downloading is music files will usually be less than 10 Mb (depending on how long the song is and what sort of quality it's been ripped at), T.V shows are usually around 350Mb (sometimes 700Mb) and full movie DivX's will be around 700Mb or split into 2 or 3 parts of 700Mb (like The.Alamo.CD1.DVDRip.DivX.avi 700Mb and The.Alamo.CD2.DVDRip.DivX.avi 700Mb. The reason for this is you can only fit 700Mb on a CD). Full DVD's will always be in Gb's and usually 4.3Gb's (occasionally smaller, especially if it's a game not a movie).

Completed: The amount of data you've already downloaded on that file.

Speed: How fast the file is downloading. On emule it will usually be around 1kb/s - 30kb/s. Sometimes it will peak and go for 50 - 80 kb/s but not very often.

Progress: The coloured bar represents the file you're downloading. If any parts are red and stay red all the time, delete it. That means that part of the file is not available, so it's never going to complete. You want the bar to be blue, the darker blue the better. The darker blue it is the more available the file is, so the easier it is to get. If there are grey bits, those are bits that you've already downloaded. When it turns green it's finished.

Sources: This will be displayed like 384/483 or something like that. The last number is how many people emule knows has the file. The first number is how many people emule has connected to. The higher both these numbers the easier it is to get a file.

Priority: Emule will automatically handle the priority of files. It will set them to low, normal or high depending on how available the file is. If not many people have the file it will set it to high and if loads of people have it it will set it to low. You can manually change the priority of files by right clicking on the file and selecting what priority you want. I use this if I'm downloading say 10 episodes of a show but I want episode 1 to finish first, so I'll set that to high priority and leave the other as they are. Don't set everything to high, it defeats the object and has no effect. If everything is set to high, they are all the same priority, and so no file is going to be prioritised above the others. If you have say 15 files download set a maximum of 3 of them to high priority.

Status: This will only ever say 4 things. Waiting - it's looking for someone to download from, Downloading - self explanitory, Completing - it's finished downloading and preparing the file for you to use, Complete - everythings done you can use the file.

Remaining: This will have a time and a file size in brackets. The time is how long it will take to download at it's current speed. Since downloads stop and start, speed up and slow down, this time will always be changing so it's not a lot of use. The file size is obviously how many Mb's you still need to download.




Bearshare

Bearshare works in a different way to emule. I use it just for downloading music mainly because it's quick. It is subject to legal restrictions. Like if you do a seach and select music, it will only search for wma's, which once you try and play them will ask you to buy a license. This has only just come into place and is fucking shocking if you ask me. The way around it is, if you want to download a song, don't select music, select Any File (or whatever it says), and then in the search box type in mp3. For example if you wanted to find Coldplay - Trouble you'd type in to the search box: coldplay trouble mp3.

If you use it to download movie files too, it's not the same as emule. If you are trying to download 15 files, it will try to download say 5 at a time and leave the rest until those 5 are done. The more files you add to the queue the slower each individual file will download. Thats why I prefer emule, you can queue a load up and just let them download, bearshare you have limitations.

All the headings you can probably work out from what I've said about emule.

General PC hardware info

If you're going to get into PC's you need to understand basically how it works. The 4 main components that you need to know about are the processor, the memory, the hard drive and the motherboard.

Processor: This is the brain of the computer, as in it does all the thinking. Data is sent to it and it processes it - thats why it's called a processor. The faster your processor, the faster your computer can think.

Memory: Most people confuse this with the hard drive, it does a very different job. The memory is where temporary data is held. For example if you click on Word to open it, Word will then load into the memory, and when you close it it will leave the memory. The more memory you have in your PC the more things it can do at once, the faster it'll run. Games use a lot of memory, so the more you have in your PC the better they will run.

Hard drive: Your hard drive is where all your data is stored permanantly. Everything you've downloaded, the games that are installed, it's all stored on your hard drive. It's like the filing cabinet of the PC. Data is just sitting on it waiting for you or the computer to do something with it (like open up a game or play a movie file). The bigger your hard drive, the more data you can store. You can also (just to confuse matters) get different speeds of hard drive, which can improve performance on your PC. Think of it like a record player, different hard drives spin at different speeds - the faster it spins the quicker the computer can access data.

Motherboard: The motherboard you don't really have to worry about other than to know it's what everything else in the PC plugs into. The only reason I mentioned it is because if you wanted to buy a much bigger processor than the one you have, you may also have to buy a new motherboard to support that processor.
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Old 02-02-2006, 11:46 PM   #2
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I got's a question mr Syko. If I'm downloading songs on Soulseek, what's the best KBPS to set my download speed at? At the moment I've got it set at 10 KBPS and it seems OK but I'm also on ADSL so is it screwing with other peoples downlaoding specs?
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Old 02-03-2006, 12:35 AM   #3
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Never used Soulseek but I had a quick look at the FAQ - http://faq.slsknet.org/index.php?act...=40&artlang=en

Your Max d/l KBPS should be set at 0 (usually the same with any P2P share app). This means unlimited so you're taking full advantage of all your bandwidth. If you find you're having trouble browsing the internet, it'll be because Soulseek is hogging all your bandwidth in which case you will want to put a limit on this, but definitely a lot higher than 10. Based on a 1Mb Cable connection - I can d/l at 50kbps and u/l at aruond 10kbps and still browse the net with no trouble.

Your Max U/L should be set to 2 which means 2 people can upload from you at the same time, and your max U/L KBPS I would set to 10 (maybe a little lower if you're on a 512 or slower ADSL connection).
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Old 02-03-2006, 10:32 AM   #4
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Default Building a PC

Building a PC may seem scary but is actually a lot easier than it sounds. So long as you buy the right components and you don't try putting it together with a sledge hammer you should be rocking. It'll probably save you a few quid rather than buying an inferior branded PC off the shelf too.

I'd recommend first timers buy all the components at the same shop (rather than on-line) so the bloke behind the counter can tell you if two components won't work together.

Before starting you need to know what you want from the PC when it's built. Is it going to be a simple office PC for typing documents and surfing the net or something to play the latest and greatest games and multimedia editing. I'm gonna take for granted it's a games machine for this.

What you need to get

Motherboard

Possibly the most important part of the PC. It's what everything else plugs into and can limit or expand what you put into your PC. Since everything else in your PC depends on the motherboard you'll want to buy a good one.

Asrock are good all round boards and not too expensive, ASUS make good performance board usually a bit more costly, Giga-byte make solid reliable board. I've got an Asrock in mine at the moment but I've had boards from all of the above brands. Stay away from MicroStar boards. Cheap and nasty in my experience (and also used in a lot of brand name PC's, another reason to build your own!)

Processor

The processor is the brain of your PC, so you want a fast one. Make sure your motherboard supports the processor you're buying. It should come with a fan too, if it doesn't you need to buy one.

There's two brands of processor: Intel and AMD. AMD were once a part of Intel - they built the 'cheaper budget processors' for Intel, but they were so bloody good they went in business for themselves. I've used both brands and in my own experience AMD have been more reliable, in fact I've never had a problem with an AMD processor.

Both brands have a range of different model processors and different speeds. Intel have Celeron (budget processor, I'd only put one in a PC if it was going to be an office PC rather than a games machine), Pentium (most people have heard of these, this is probably the one you'll want if you decide to buy Intel) and Xeon (for servers really). There are others but these are the ones you'll be interested in. AMD have the Sempron (similar to Intels Celeron), the Athalon (similar to the Pentium, and what I use) and the Opteron (like the Xeon).

Memory (RAM)

Memory is where data is temporarily held when you open an application or game etc.. The more of it you have, the faster your PC will be. Again, make sure you have the correct memory for your motherboard. Also some motherboards require you put the meory in pairs so check that too. A good way of knowing this at a glance is look at the slots where the memory goes on the motherboard. If theres 2 blue slots and 2 black slots (see above motherboard pic at the bottom right) then the memory will go in pairs.

Hard drive (or hard disc)

Where all your data is stored like a filing cabinet. The bigger your hard drive the more stuff you can download or install. There are different types of hard drive but for the average PC you want an IDE. You could also possibly have SCSI or SATA drives if your motherboard supported them but most of the time it'll be IDE. When buying it'll be labelled something like Seagate 200Gb 7200: Seagate is the brand (best brand in my opinion, they hardly ever fail), 200Gb is the size of the disc and 7200 is the speed.

Video Card (or graphics card)

A lot of motherboards will have video built in but they're bloody useless for a gamer. If you don't want it for games then you don't have to worry about this. When buying a video card check how much memory it has (video cards have their own memory separate from the memory you put in the motherbaord) and what type of card it is. The most common is AGP and it'll have a speed if it's AGP - x2, x4, x8 (check motherboard will support it). Obviously the faster the better. If you're motherboard doesn't have an AGP slot you can get a PCI graphics card. Sometimes pricier and usually inferior too. The new type is PCI Express- it's probably going to do away with AGP - don't get it confused with a PCI as it will not work in a standard PCI slot.

Sound Card
Most motherboards come with a sound card built in which is absolutely fine for gaming or watching movie files. You may want to put a different sound card in if you were going to use the PC for audio mixing or if you were fanatical about the purest sound quality on DVD's etc..

ROM/Writer drives

Like hard drives you can buy different types, but it's usually gonna be IDE that you want. I think they've stopped making standard CD ROM drives as writers are so cheap, but you can still get standard DVD ROM drives. Not a lot to know about them - they play or write CD's and/or DVD's. You're going to need at least one ROM/writer drive in your PC so you can install the software later. If you're buying a writer drive check the speed of them (CD writers should be 52x, DVD writers should be 16x if buying new).

Case

A case is just a box to put it all in. You can spend as little or as much as you want on one depending on how flashy it is and if it's got any funky gadgets on it (like digital readout, touch sensitive instead of push buttons and so on).

Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor & Speakers

As with the case you can spend as little or as much as you want on them depending on style and extra doohickeys that you'll probably never use.

Software
You're going to need to get your dirty mits on some software, mainly an operating system. You'll be gutted when you've just built your PC switch it on and it doesn't do a hell of a lot. Get yourself an operating system CD like Windows XP.


Putting it all together

The first thing you need to do is screw the motherboard into the case. Your case should come with all the needed screws and nuts. Before you start lay the motherboard inside the case where it should go and line up the holes in the board to the holes in the case. When you know which holes in the case you're going to be using take the board out again. Screw in the provided nuts to the holes you just lined up. Once those are in you can lay your board on top of them and screw that into place. You then need to connect the power supply from the case onto the motherboard. There's a bunch of wires coming out of the power supply (the metal box inside the case) look for the one which has what looks like a big lego brick on the end (it should be the biggest one). Plug it into your motherboard when you've found it - there's only one place it can go and you can't plug it in the wrong way around so don't worry about that.

From here on in keep you're motherboard manual handy - there's loads of types of motherboards and they're all different so the manual is your bible when you're building.

Next you need to fit your processor. It'll look like a flat square with loads of pins sticking out of one side BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BEND THOSE PINS! Again theres only one place it can go on the board - refer to your manual if you're unsure where. On the picture above it's the white square left of the centre. Take a close up look at the pins on the processor and where you're plugging it into - you'll notice a corner missing in the pattern of the pins - this is to make sure you put it in the right way - so line that up accordingly. Next to the socket where the processor plugs into there will be a small arm that lifts up - pull that up so it's at a 90 degree angle, line up the pins, place the processor in carfully so it slots into place (if it won't go DO NOT FORCE IT! Pick it up, make sure it's lined up properly and the arm is all the way up and try again) when it's in place, put the arm back down and you'll feel it lock into place.

Next you want to fit the fan to the processor. This can be an absolute bastard depending on what fan you've got. The fan is attached to a big block of metal - thats the heat-sink. First off take a look at the flat underside of the heat-sink - there should be a little bit of tape there - pull that tape off to reveal a blob of paste (this is to aid heat transfer between the processor and heat-sink). If there is no tape there you may have been provided with a tube of heat transfer paste instead, use that to put a blob on the centre of the flat side of the heat-sink. Place the heat-sink/fan on the processor lining up the clips at the side (there's catches on the motherboard they attach to if you have a look). This is the bit that can be a bastard depending on your fan. Some newer fans have a handy little mechanism that makes this a piece of piss, if you have a metal clip type - well you've just got to get the clips attached any way you can. There's nothing I can tell you about this, just try it until it's attached.

Next you want to put in the memory. The slots for the memory on the picture are at the bottom left - two blue slots then two black slots under them. Take a close look at these on your board and notice the grooves in the middle - you need to line that up with the grooves in you memory module. It's just so you put it in the right way. There's clips at either end of each slot, open them. Line up the memory module and push down until the clips pop up into place. They can be incredibly stiff so you may have to put some force into it. If the clips don't pop all the way up just put them in place yourself to make sure its securely in place.

Put in your graphics card - if it's AGP or PCI Express there will be only one slot so you can't go wrong. If it's a PCI card you can put it in any of the PCI slot so you still can't go wrong.

Now you want to put in your hard drive and CD/DVD drive. These are IDE devices. You can have up to 4 IDE devices in your PC (as standard, you can put more in if you have a RAID controller but that's for another day). For this I'm going to assume you have one hard drive and on CD/DVD drive and you'll put them both on the same IDE channel. First off you need to set your hard drive to be the master device and the CD/DVD as the slave. If you look at the back of both these devices you will see (this may vary on different brands of hard drive or CD/DVD drive) on the left is a long plug socket - that's where your IDE cable is going, on the right is a much smaller plug socket - thats where the power cable will go, in between those two is a set of pins with a little plastic jumper on. Somewhere on the hard drive/ROM drive it will tell you where this jumper should be depending on if the device is a master or slave. Generally the jumper should be connecting the first 2 pins (top to bottom not left to right) if the device is a master - so thats what you want for the hard drive - and the jumper should be removed altogether if it's a slave - so that's what you want for your CD/DVD drive.

Before you start trying to connect them to the motherboard, screw them into the case. They can go in different places depending on your case but for a standard midi tower case the CD/DVD drives go in at the top opposite the power supply and hard discs below them.

Once they're screwed in look at the motherboard pic again, right at the bottom, underneath the memory slots there's a blue bar shaped plug and a black one to the right of it. These are your IDE channels - 2 channels which can have 2 devices plugged into each. If one of these is blue or a colour other than black (you should have a IDE cable with coloured ends to match) that's the primary IDE channel - if they're not colour coded refer to your manual or check to see which is labelled IDE 0 on the motherboard. Connect the IDE cable to the motherboard, and to the hard drive and CD/DVD drive. Connect a power cable (they're attached to the case, coming out of the power supply) to the hard drive and CD/DVD drive. You may also have an audio connector that you need to connect from your CD/DVD drive to the motherboard/sound card - refer to your manual for this as the plug is always in a different place. Job done.

The last thing to do as far as hardware goes is connect your case to the motherboard - power switch, reset switch, hard drive LED and so on. This is usually different from board to board and case to case so refer to your manual for this. It can be a bit fiddly and it should be the first thing you check if you switch the PC on and nothing happens - it's probably one of these connectors in the wrong way.

Once all this is done, connect your mouse, keyboard, speakers and monitor. Power up the PC, drop your Operating System CD (Windows XP for example) in and follow the on screen instructions to set the software up.

When you've finished instaled the operating system don'y forget to then install your device drivers - all of the parts you bought will come with a CD each. Run all of those CD's (starting with the motherboard CD first) and install the drivers on them.

Job's a good un.
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Old 02-03-2006, 10:54 AM   #5
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Wow syko, i'm impressed with the time you've poured into this. I am also a soulseek user, you can find anything in terms of music on there. don't like to over do it though, if you d/l alot using soulseek inevitably your PC gets sick
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Old 02-03-2006, 11:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradis v.1
Wow syko, i'm impressed with the time you've poured into this. I am also a soulseek user, you can find anything in terms of music on there. don't like to over do it though, if you d/l alot using soulseek inevitably your PC gets sick
I thank you. I'd already wrote the downloading stuff for my brother after I built him a PC the other week and just done the building a PC section (half of it anyway, still a fair whack to do) to kill Friday afternoon at work.
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Old 02-03-2006, 02:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sykopaf
Never used Soulseek but I had a quick look at the FAQ - http://faq.slsknet.org/index.php?act...=40&artlang=en

Your Max d/l KBPS should be set at 0 (usually the same with any P2P share app). This means unlimited so you're taking full advantage of all your bandwidth. If you find you're having trouble browsing the internet, it'll be because Soulseek is hogging all your bandwidth in which case you will want to put a limit on this, but definitely a lot higher than 10. Based on a 1Mb Cable connection - I can d/l at 50kbps and u/l at aruond 10kbps and still browse the net with no trouble.

Your Max U/L should be set to 2 which means 2 people can upload from you at the same time, and your max U/L KBPS I would set to 10 (maybe a little lower if you're on a 512 or slower ADSL connection).
Cheers...I've got it set at 10 at the moment and it seems ok...i've also got the u\l at 2 so should be sweet.
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Old 02-13-2006, 07:19 AM   #8
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I dont know what the fuck just happened, but from the first post I began to vomit blood and feel feverish.

Thanks Sykopaf - I now will never recover from all that techy speccy-talk.
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Old 02-13-2006, 07:27 AM   #9
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p2p is slow and VERY unsafe...use newsgroups/usenet instead
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Old 02-13-2006, 10:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
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p2p is slow and VERY unsafe...use newsgroups/usenet instead
Fancy writing a little how to guide on it then?

The idea of this thread was to make guides for people who don't know their way around a PC. Never used newsgroups myself but I'm assuming it's all IRC and I don't fancy trying to explain that to someone who's unsure what to do with a computer in the first place!
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