Q: I recently ordered a computer with an Intel Celeron 400 chip. The vendor claimed the unit's original box was damaged, and I got the machine in a box that was not marked Celeron 400. How can I check if the machine really runs at 400 megahertz?
A: Years ago, you could open up the computer and look at what kind of a motor (central processing unit, or CPU) it had. It's not that simple anymore. As the computer business has grown, some vendors have begun pulling tricks that aren't entirely ethical: putting fake labels on the CPU, or modifying the motherboard to make a CPU run faster than it's designed to, a generally dicey practice called overclocking.
If your machine has a Pentium III processor and you have questions about its actual speed, you can get the Intel Processor Frequency ID Utility at support.intel.com/support/processors/tools/frequencyID. The program is labeled fidENU04.exe.
Unfortunately, it doesn't clock Celeron 400s. So I'd advise trying one of the utilities that measure speed on a variety of hardware. You may want to go to Ziff-Davis's site at www.winbench.com and download a utility called Winbench to see what speed it reports.
Q: Using Windows 98, I recently installed Office 2000 on my computer. When I was done, WordPad was gone. How do I get it back?
A: Windows 98 contains a collection of small programs, including a limited-feature word processor called WordPad. Office 2000 is a group of application programs that includes a very powerful word processor called Microsoft Word.
My guess is that when you installed Office 2000, you installed something along with it at the same time and altered WordPad somehow. These things happen--often there's no logical explanation.
The place to start is to see if WordPad's executable file (write.exe) is still on your hard drive. It's usually found under the Windows subdirectory, but you can use the search function in Windows Explorer to look for it. If you find it (perhaps it got moved), you can click on it and use it.
If it's not there, you need to reinstall it. Go to "Start/Settings/Control Panel." Double click on "Add/Remove Programs," then on the Windows Setup tab. Select "Accessories," "Details," check the box next to WordPad in the components list box, select Wordpad. Click "OK." From there, the system should ask you for the Windows 98 CD. Pop it in and you should have WordPad back again.
Q: I am thinking of moving up to a 19-inch monitor. How much memory should I get in my video card?
A: Most users will be happy with 4 megabytes of memory (often called RAM, or random-access memory) on the video card; gamers will want to move that up considerably.
How good an image on a monitor is determined in large part by the number of colors it can display and the resolution. My unscientific survey shows that the typical monitor today is a 15-incher with 16 million colors at a resolution of 800 by 600 pixels, the tiny dots that make up an image.
With a 19-inch monitor, you would keep a similar "look" if you move up to 1,280 by 1,024 resolution with the same number of colors. A 4-megabyte video card should handle that with no trouble.
What I've said so far applies to what's often called Windows graphics, the image quality you need for standard applications such as spreadsheets and databases. Increasingly, it's called 2-D graphics. Many gamers out there want 3-D graphics, which are considerably more demanding on a machine, but a 4-megabyte card will only give 800-by-600 resolution when a 3-D game is running.
So, for gamers, I would recommend at least 16 megabytes of RAM. This allows use of "z-buffering," a bit of digital magic that creates the appearance of depth (the 3-D) in the monitor. If you want to move up to 1,600 by 1,200, you may even have to consider a video card with 32 megabytes of RAM.
John Gilroy of Item Inc. is heard on WAMU-FM radio's "The Computer Guys" at 1 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. Send your questions to him in care of The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071-5302 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.