Q&A STEVE ALEXANDER
Q I have Minneapolis Wi-Fi service, and I get decent service on my desktop computer from a US Internet antenna at the end of my block. But the signal to my laptop is poor. I connect US Internet's Ruckus modem by cable to my own Wi-Fi router so I can use the laptop 30 feet away, with a couple of walls in between. Do I need to configure the router somehow to send out a better signal? Also, can the desktop and laptop be online at the same time, sharing the 1 megabit of bandwidth I pay for?
BOB MARTIN, MINNEAPOLIS
A Your laptop problem isn't related to your US Internet connection. It's caused by the weak signal the laptop is getting from your in-house router, probably because the router's Wi-Fi signals aren't penetrating your walls effectively. (Not all walls are equally transparent to radio waves; one bedroom in my house has never been able to get a good Wi-Fi signal.)
There are two things you can do. To boost the power of your Wi-Fi signal, you'd need to buy a new router that can broadcast farther than your present one.
But you also can make small adjustments to your existing router that may solve the problem. Because Wi-Fi signals bounce around a house in addition to traveling in a straight line (through the wall), you can sometimes improve reception in other rooms by realigning a movable antenna on your router. For example, my neighbor reports that a small realignment in my router's antenna allows him to pick up my router signal inside his house -- which seems clearly to be a result of changing the signal's bounce by moving the antenna.
Yes, your laptop and your desktop can share the 1 megabit of Internet service you get US Internet, the operator of the Minneapolis Wi-Fi network. And yes, you can use them both at the same time.
Q I have a Windows Millennium PC with 1 gigabyte of RAM [random-access memory]. When I've tried to install new software, the programs stall and give me the message "There is not enough memory available to run this program. Quit one or more programs, and then try again." But I'm not running any other programs. What should I do?
THOMAS LOTZER, EDEN PRAIRIE
A Having more RAM usually is good because it makes programs run faster. But your two-generation-old version of Windows can't easily handle a gigabyte of RAM; it actually runs best with half a gigabyte. To use a gigabyte of RAM, you need to alter the settings in Windows Millennium Edition (also known as Windows Me). Check out Microsoft's explanation of the problem and how to fix it at www. support.microsoft.com/kb/253912.
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