Set Up a New PC Part IV: Install Peripherals

The final steps setting up a new laptop include connecting peripherals, such as a mouse, keyboard, printer and external monitor. My Logitech MK700 combo worked immediately after the unifying receiver was plugged in, and didn’t even require a pairing process. However, the mouse felt a bit sluggish. Installing Logitch software solved the problem. The rest, however, took a bit of effort and are explained below.

12. Print through router

My laptop only has three USB ports. Without using a USB hub, two of them were already occupied by the Logitech receiver and a laptop cooler. I wanted to reserve the third one for flash thumb drives, so my only option is to add the printer to my Asus RT-N16 router which has two USB ports available. This way other computers on my home network has access to the printer as well.

The process isn’t straightforward and goes like this:

  • Open up the router’s admin interface (mine was flashed with TomatoUSB firmware);
  • Under USB and NAS, select both USB Core Support and USB 2.0 Support, as well as USB Printer Support and Bidirectional Copying;
  • Restart router and the printer should appear in the Attached Devices section at the bottom of the USB configuration page;
  • Go to Windows 7’s Devices and Printers, and press Add a printer;
  • Press Add a local printer;
  • Select Create a new port, then Standard TCP/IP Port and press Next;
  • Type the router’s IP address (can be found in the router’s config.) and give it a unique Port Name;
  • Windows will say the device could not be identified, select Custom settings on the next screen;
  • Enter the port name and IP address again and select “RAW” in Protocol, set Port Number to 9100;
  • Confirm the settings and the new port should now be properly configured;
  • Proceed to add the printer using regular procedures. Select the printer’s manufacturer and model, and Windows will install the appropriate driver;
  • The printer – connected to the router through USB – should work now and a test page can be printed. If other functions are desired (scan, copy, fax, etc.) the manufacturer’s software can be installed.

13. Use laptop cooler

I wasn’t planning to buy a laptop cooler but came across the Cooler Master U2 Laptop Cooling Padon Amazon and was convinced by its rave reviews. Amazon had a 50% off at the time so I got one. It turned out to be quite nice. The two fans on the cooling pad can be easily placed anywhere, making it easy to target hot spots. They are very quiet and effective – the laptop’s fan rarely starts while sitting on the cooling pad. The pad has rubber feet that hold the laptop in place, and even at an angle there is no slipping at all. It can be doubled as a protective cage (with fans removed) for the laptop as well.

However, there is one annoying problem: The cooling fans stay on even if the laptop is in sleep mode. As long as the AC power cord is connected to the laptop, the cooling pad manages to draw power from any of the USB ports and will simply stay on. I haven’t figured out a good way to stop it other than pulling out the USB cord, but eventually will probably buy a USB hub with an on/off switch.

14. Connect to external monitor

The laptop is going to replace my desktop so I want to use my external LCD monitor as the primary display. The Lenovo L412 comes with VGA and DisplayPort, but no HDMI or DVI. The monitor, however, only has VGA and DVI. I don’t want to deal with VGA in this day and age so my only option is to buy a DisplayPort to DVI cable or converter. As always, I went to Monoprice and picked up a 6ft cable for a few bucks.

After setting the correct resolution in the control panel, everything worked right away and Windows looked crystal clear on the external monitor. I also changed font size to 150% for easier reading. However, Google Chrome was all fuzzy and blurry. After some googling (what else?), here is the solution that worked for me:

  • Go to Windows Control Panel, Display, Adjust ClearType text;
  • Enable “Turn on ClearType” and go through the calibration process;
  • Find where chrome.exe is located, or use the shortcut on the desktop, right click and select Properties;
  • Under Compatibility, check “Disable display scaling on high DPI settings”
  • The fuzziness in Chrome should be gone;
  • Go to settings in Chrome, then Show Advanced Settings, and experiment with font size and page zoom.

15. Attach a NAS

The NAS (Network Attached Storage) can be readily accessed after setting up the new PC, by simply mapping a network drive to it (in Windows explorer, click on Computer, then Map network drive, select a drive letter and type the server and share name which was assigned when NAS was set up, and finally type user name and password to establish the connection). I originally thought about summarizing the steps to configure a NAS for the first time, but will leave it like this for now.

This five-part series is enough for an immigration blog 🙂 and I’ll get back to what you’ve come here to look for. However, it is still summer time, right? I’m thinking about posting a little more “geeky” stuff just for fun. This time it is about setting up IP security cameras for home surveillance – I just went through the entire process and felt like sharing.

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