Once a week we round up some of the questions that come pouring into the Ask HTG mailbox and share the solutions with the rest of you. This week we’re looking at installing a second optical disc drive, awesome iPad RSS applications, and how to thoroughly remove apps in Windows.
How Can I Install a Secondary Optical Drive?
Dear How-To Geek,
I’ve been looking at refurbished computers to replace our 5+ year old Dell. I need one, however, that offers dual cd/dvd drives as my husband burns a lot of compilation cds and is not comfortable using disk image (as I would do). All of the ones I’ve found, that are in my price range, only have one cd/dvd drive! How difficult is it to install a second cd/dvd drive? Bonus question: what should I look for in a computer that will be used pretty much solely for playing music and burning cds?
Burning in Brighton
It isn’t that having dual drives is particularly expensive, it’s that manufacturers see little reason to include two drives when many people hardly use their primary drive. Installing a secondary optical drive, especially in a modern operating system like Windows 7, is criminally easy. If you’re comfortable using a screw driver and are reasonably steady of hand (i.e. you won’t drop tools inside your computer case or otherwise cause mayhem while you’re inside the computer) it’s only marginally harder than changing a light bulb. Check out our guide to installing a new hard drive for guidance—the two sections you want to pay attention to are the section about physically installing the drive (you install a new optical drive the same way you install a new hard drive, the only difference is you install it in a bay with an open front so you can access the optical drive) and the section focused on the BIOS (you’ll want to double check the BIOS to make sure your computer recognizes the drive). Once you’ve physically installed it and you can see it in the BIOS, Windows will automatically detect it.
As for what kind of computer you need to play music and burn CDs: these tasks are really light on processor/memory consumption. If the majority of use the computer will see is playing back MP3s, burning CDs, and occasional web browsing, you can get buy with a bargain model from any reputable manufacturer or even build your own (we’ve got a guide for that too!)
Which iPad RSS App Will Knock My Socks Off?
Dear How-To Geek,
I’ve been a long time RSS user on the desktop and I recently, through a work contest, won an iPad. The iPad seems like a perfect fit for casual RSS reading… but I’m not sure where to start. I’d really like to use an app that shows off the touch screen interface of the iPad and makes it easy and fun to read my feeds. What would you suggest?
Paddin’ in Portland
When it comes to RSS apps for the iPad, you have a wide range of choices. Since you’re looking for a wow-factor, the first app you should grab is Flipboard. If you want to read the news like you’re reading a futuristic digital magazine that flows smoothly, updates to fit your news needs, and otherwise makes you feel like you’re chilling on the deck of a starship, Flipboard is it. It’s absolutely gorgeous and absolutely free so there’s no reason to not grab a copy and take it for a spin. We have Flipboard on our iPad for laid back reading-for-pleasure.
When it comes to powering through a lot of RSS feeds (which is part and parcel for the tech work we do here at HTG) there are less stunningly beautiful but more workhorse-like alternatives. If you’re not just fanning through some design blogs at your leisure but using your RSS feeds to stay on top of work-related news, you may want to check out some of the other great readers for the iPad. Perfect Reader syncs with Google Reader and connects to Instapaper, ReadItLater, Delicious, Evernote, Twitter, Facebook and more. Runs $1.99 but you can download a lite version to take it for a spin free of charge. Reeder is another fantastic iPad RSS tool. It’ll set you back $4.99 but it’s a really polished reader that works as a great front end for Google Reader—honestly it’s everything the Google Reader mobile interface should be.
How Can I Thoroughly Uninstall Applications?
Dear How-To Geek,
How can I thoroughly uninstall computer apps when I no longer need them? It seems like after I use the built-in Windows uninstaller there are always little bits and pieces left behind. What gives? Is there a better alternative?
Cleaning Shop in San Diego
Dear Cleaning Shop,
Windows is notorious for leaving digital debris behind when removing applications. Sometimes it’s useful—like if you uninstall a game or web browser, often times things like your save points and browser settings are left behind in case you reinstall the application and want to pick up where you left off—other times it just creates clutter and instability. We’ve been long time fans of Revo Uninstaller—you can check out our guide to using it here—but you may also want to check out a recent showdown between Revo Uninstaller and IObit Uninstaller—you can read about that here. Either one will do a vastly superior job and give you finer control over what is removed when you nuke an application.
Have some additional insight into your fellow readers’ problems? Sound off in the comments. Have a pressing tech question of your own? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to answer it.
Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on Google+ if you'd like.
- Published 01/16/12