Q: I see ads for computers with "combination" slots--what are those?
A: Once, combination slots referred to video cards. Today's combination slots refer to central processing units, or CPUs.
For many years, the ISA, or Industry Standard Association, slot predominated. This evolved into something called a VL (video local) slot, the PCI (peripheral component interconnect) and the AGP (accelerated graphics port) slots in motherboards.
When the VL video cards were in their heyday, you would see motherboards with one slot that could take a VL card or an ISA card--the traditional combo slot.
CPUs--the "brains" of the computer--have appropriated the name. Once, there was a socket on the motherboard where the CPU would plug in. CPUs changed and got so big that they had to be physically altered and installed into a, well, a slot.
So a combo slot now often refers to the ability of the CPU slot to accommodate an upgraded central processor.
Q: How can I get the current drivers for an ALS 100+ sound card?
A: Go to www.realtek.com.tw/cp/cp.html and select "downloads." You will see groupings of boxes. Scroll down until you see "audio drivers." From there, it is a snap--click on the correct box, and the file--for example, als+100.exe--will be placed in your Windows subdirectory.
Find the file with your Microsoft Explorer and double-click on it--it's a self-extracting file. If there are no audio drivers on your computer now, go to Start, then Control Panel, then Add New Hardware. Follow the prompts to select your ALS 100+ sound card.
If you get no sound, you may have to use one of the built-in troubleshooting methods in Windows. Go to Control Panel, System, Device Manager and look for any yellow exclamation points beside any one of the audio devices.
That yellow flag means trouble. If you see one, you will have to remove the current driver and reinstall the new one. This is easy with the Remove tab.
But ALS has a special file that you will have to remove as well. Go to the WINDOWS\INF\OTHER directory and delete the AVANCE*.INF file. You can now restart the system to install the driver again or simply install through the Add/New Hardware under Control Panel.
Q: I recently decided to upgrade from AOL Version 4.0 to AOL 5.0; I moved the 4.0 icon to the waste bin. My computer still goes to 4.0. What gives?
A: It takes more than trashing an icon to get rid of a program such as AOL 4.0. Your machine is still set to go to 4.0 as the default. But this can be easily fixed.
AOL actually recommends that you make sure you are happy with the new version before you dump the old one. AOL 5.0 is written so you can keep version 4.0 at the same time without any problem.
Once you're online with 4.0, you can just click on your new 5.0 icon. You can keep doing it this way indefinitely, but if you want to remove one version, here's how: Go to Control Panel, then Add/Remove, and then select the version you want to delete.
Incidentally, many readers have AOL as well as another Internet service provider--if that is the case, AOL 5.0 has a new feature that helps you manage your connection. An icon in the lower right of the screen gives you three choices: Your computer can launch AOL once you have an Internet connection, it can ask you first if you want to launch AOL, or it can just blink whenever a connection is present.
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.