CIS 1110A - Computer Operating Systems and Maintenance
This lesson discusses a lot of topics the author calls
supporting I/O devices. Objectives important to this lesson:
Installing and supporting Input/Output (I/O) devices
Installing specific devices
Installing adapter cards
Working with video cards, monitors, and dual monitors
The chapter opens with a description on page 266 of a set of
general principles to remember when you need to install a new
computer component or peripheral device.
Devices need software -You can probably think
of some parts of a computer that do not need software to
function, but most add-on devices need drivers to allow programs
and the computer's operating system to interface with them.
Installing a new device and expecting it to work without
installing device specific software is unreasonable. Not
everything "just works" like inserting a USB memory stick. That
would not work without a USB driver as part of the operating
Read the device's manual - Dr. Andrews offers
a lot of advice in the chapter about installation and
configuration, but before she goes any farther she reminds us
that a device's manufacturer puts instructions in a manual
because they apply to that device. You can't know that a device
requires a special installation unless you check for new and
exciting instructions from the manufacturer.
You thought the driver was enough? - Some
devices require proprietary application software. The example in
the text seems unlikely, but I have seen devices that only
worked well with software that was included in the purchase.
The weakest link - Every time you add a
device to a computer, you should make sure you are using it as
it is supposed to be used. Plugging a device designed for USB 2
into a USB 3 port will not necessarily make it run faster.
Plugging a device designed for USB 3 into a USB 2 slot will
probably make it run more slowly than intended.
In Windows, sign in or run with an admin account
- Administrator accounts have privileges to write files to
places normal use accounts cannot. This is often necessary when
Update drivers for quick fixes - Sometimes.
an operating system or application update will require an
updated driver to work. The system won't run properly until you
update the right software.
Make one change at a time - If you install
seven new devices with five drivers and only test when you think
you are done, you won't be able to say which step went wrong
when the computer won't even boot. Change one thing at a time,
then test to see if it works.
The text suggests that you learn to use Device
Manager to detect problems with devices. It is not a
very robust program, but it is a standard component of Windows, so
it is always available. In the image on the right, I have just
used mine to update the firmware for my computer.
A quick way to access Device Manager is to press Window-X, then
select Device Manager. It beats drilling down through the Start
Page 267 offers a table of connection methods
and the optimal bandwidths through those methods. Note that the
methods listed in the table include wired and wireless
connections. Some devices offer both kinds of connectivity, such
as routers that are also wireless access points.
In the table (Table 6-1) the sort order appears to be on the
second column, maximum data transmission speed. The last row tells
us that Near Field Communication (NFC)
runs at a radio frequency of 13.56 MHz, but it only transmits data
across 4 centimeters, and at the rate of 424 kbps,
or less. This is why no one uses it for much. The top row in the
table tells us that Thunderbolt
3, a wired method, can reach up to 40
Gbps across copper cables that can be up to 2 meters
long, and it requires the cable to connect to USB-C ports. That's
much more impressive. Thunderbolt 4 was finalized as a
standard in July of 2020. It offers the same data rate but has a
You should look over this table, especially when doing related
assignments this week. The A+ test will require you to know some
things from it to choose good answers to story problems.
The text continues with a discussion of ports on computers.
The discussion begins with USB. We are shown
a series of logos for various generations of USB at the top of
page 268. Oddly, the chart is presented in reverse chronological
order from left to right.
USB allows daisy chaining up to 127
devices, but this is typically not done.
USB uses serial transmission of data
USB devices are typically hot-swappable,
meaning they can be connected or disconnected while a computer
is running, but I have seen exceptions to this concept
Dr. Andrews states that USB cables have four wires,
two for data and two for power. This is no longer true with
the advent of USB C connections. The
link provided here goes to a Wikipedia page that begins by
telling us that a tiny USB C connector has 24 pins in it. Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas
any more. With regard to USB A and B, male and female,
standard and micro, several illustrations in the text show us
the basic shapes of the connectors. They are not very clear.
Take a look at this
article on the subject, which makes the shape
of the connectors more understandable. The article also
discusses more pins being used in newer versions of USB A and
Video connectors have changed frequently
over only a few decades. The port you use to connect a monitor
to a computer may be on a motherboard (there is usually
something to use) or it may be that you are connecting to one or
more ports on a video card. Dr. Andrews mentions that a video
card will probably connect to a PCIe slot on the motherboard,
but this may change again, as it did with the appearance and
disappearance of AGP slots.
The illustration on page 269 shows a video card with three kinds
of ports. Page 270 discusses several more. It will be helpful to
browse this online
article about connectors and methods:
VGA - an analog standard that uses a blue
15 pin connector; the computer has to convert its native
digital signal to analog, then send it to a monitor; the image
below is a VGA output port
DVI - several variants exist; the article
at the link above explains that DVI-A is analog, DVI-D is
digital, and DVI-I is both. DVI-D and DVI-I are available in
single or dual link (twice the data capacity); it can be a
challenge to get the right cable for the right video card
DisplayPort and HDMI - A lot of
people confuse regular DisplayPort sockets with regular HDMI
sockets. Look at the image shown below. The HDMI plug is on
the left, the DisplayPort plug is on the right. If you are
plugging one of these cable ends into a port, and you can only
see one corner of the port (computers are often in a bad
position to see ports), the mistake is understandable.
We can describe the DisplayPort plug (on the right) as a
rectangle with one corner missing. Its
The HDMI plug looks like a rectangle with two corners
missing. The shape is actually more complicated, but some
people never see that the shortened corners of the HDMI plug
are not straight lines. Don't break the
computer trying to push one of these plugs into the wrong kind
Regarding features, both kinds of connections can pass audio
and video signals. Both kinds of
connectors have a mini version, typically used with
The text discusses a few other connector types that are not as
prevalent as these. Let's hit the next subject.
You probably need a video here, so let's spend five minutes with
Linus to hear his thoughts.
Page 274 offers a long but not exhaustive list of devices that
can be classed as peripherals, devices that are installed
outside the system unit case. Many, such as keyboards and mice,
will usually work without loading drivers. This is because the
computer's operating system already contains generic drivers for
common devices. Some devices, however, require specific drivers to
fulfill special functions, such as a mouse with extra
buttons. The next page offers a five step process to use when you
are not sure about drivers.
Read the directions. They are usually right,
even when they are translated from one language to another,
unless you bought the peripheral for a dollar at a flea market.
Then, wing it.
Download drivers that match your OS. Not
just Windows, Linux, or macOS: are you running a 32 bit or 64
bit version of the OS?
Is the port you mean to use turned on/enabled?
If the port seems dead, make sure the BIOS/UEFI knows about the
port and allows it to be used. Did you remember to update
drivers and firmware for the motherboard? Is there power for the
device? Is there a higher order life form you can consult?
RTFM: are you supposed to plug it in, turn it
on, then install drivers, or install the drivers first?
Sometimes installing drivers happens after
the device is connected to the computer. The
installation program may need to see the hardware in place to
configure settings for the driver.
Install necessary applications to use the
device. Scanners, for example, are not much good without
software to scan images. If your new device needs an application
that is not yet installed, this step is a good time to do that.
The chapter continues with a section about various peripherals
used for common purposes. Browse through those pages, reading more
carefully about any devices you have not seen or used yourself.
Page 283 discusses adapter/expansion cards. The
author begins with some familiar advice:
Get a card that matches a slot you can
actually use. It will do you no good to buy a card that requires
a PCIe x 16 slot if you don't have one open.
Get the right drivers for your OS.
Back up important data before you open the
case. (The case is also called a system unit.)
Verify that the computer works before you
The author continues with advice written for any kind of card,
but with suggestions that won't always apply. The author uses a
video card installation as her example:
Read and follow the instructions. Sure,
you've done it before, but this time might be different.
If you are installing a card whose port will replace
a port on the motherboard (as video cards often do),
disable the motherboard port in BIOS/UEFI before installing the
Be careful not to damage the components with ESD.
If your new card replaces an existing card,
remove it carefully. You may need it later. If not, remove the
face plate associated with the slot you are going to use. (The
face place is the removable plate where the card's ports will
extend outside the case. If you have to remove a screw to do
either of these things, don't lose the screw.
Try to push the card straight down into the
slot. Rocking is bad, pulling it out and pushing it in again is
bad, pushing gently until you feel it hit the
bottom of the slot is good. So is pushing it in until the retainer
on a PCIe x 16 slot clicks into place.
If you took out a screw in step 4, put it back in. Not all
cases require screws. If yours does, put it back where it goes,
which will ground the card to the case.
If the card needs a power or data connection,
make the necessary connections.
Check everything you have connected, then close
the case. (The author advises that testing with the
case open can be OK, but it is more dangerous.)
Plug in the power cord, and start
the computer. Depending on the situation, your computer
may install drivers at this point. You may accept the default
settings, or choose settings you want to use.
If you have an install disk/disc, you should
insert it and run the install/setup program. If you need drivers
from that disk/disc, install them.
You will often be instructed to restart the
computer when you change, patch, or update its hardware or
software. Try it out, and check functionality.
The text continues with a section on replacing cards in a laptop.
This will vary greatly, depending on the make and
model of the laptop. Always refer to the service
manual for the appropriate type of laptop, desktop,
tablet, or other computing device you are working on. The text
discusses replacing Mini PCI Express cards,
which may possible in a laptop you will work on. Note that the
illustration on page 288 shows the Mini PCI Express card being
held in with one screw. This is like the screw discussed in the
general installation procedure above. If you take it out, put it
Page 290 gives us some information about three kinds of monitors.
LCD - liquid crystal displays have multiple
layer construction; they may be back-lit, which makes them more
useful in brighter rooms/areas; they use more power but have
OLED - organic light-emitting diode monitors
are better for dark rooms; they use an LED layer between two
electron grids that control the pixels; they are not back-lit,
they use less power than LCDs, and frequently have better blacks
and contrast ratios
Projectors - these come in several
technologies, may have image problems in bright rooms, may be
designed for short throw (for projecting onto a nearby wall) or
long throw (for projecting across a room), the farther the
device has to project, the more power it will need to do so
It is worth taking a look at a video that talks about OLED vs.
QLED. It explains some of the material above. (No, we are not
trying to sell you anything.)
Note the list of monitor features in the table on page 292.
screen size - diagonal measure of the screen, may include
unviewable area behind a bezel
pixel pitch - distance from one picture element (pixel) to the
next one; smaller pitch means denser pixels and better pictures
resolution - the width and height of a screen in pixels
contrast ratio - the definition in the text is not clear;
let's listen to our friend Linus Sebastian
viewing angle - most screens look best when you are directly
in front of them, when a line from you to the screen is
perpendicular to the screen; viewing angle measures the number
of degrees (in both directions) away from perpendicular at which
the screen still looks decent; the video about QLED demonstrates
some of this
A section on troubleshooting starts on page 296. The author
offers some advice that is often helpful. Your mileage may vary.
Check the NumLock and CapLock states
when entering a password or Hello code. The user may not be
entering the characters they mean to enter.
Check the status of devices in Device
Manager. There may be yellow triangles by
devices that are reporting trouble. Try using Device Manager to
Try adding an external device to replace
the function of a failed device. If this works, you may
have a hardware failure in the original device.
Is there a whining sound when the computer
starts? Maybe a device is not connected to power, or your power
supply is not producing enough watts.
Is your screen black, even though the
monitor has power? Have you connected the monitor to the video
card, and not disabled the video port on the
motherboard? Test by connecting to the motherboard port. Then
disable the port, which will kill the signal, so you will switch
the cable connection to the video card again.
Disclaimer: this procedure is not always
needed. It is often possible to leave the motherboard port live.
The BIOS may simply detect that you have a video card and manage
the motherboard port for you. This procedure is more useful when
the BIOS does not self correct.
Do you hear a series of beeps when the computer starts? That's
a beep code, which is the BIOS's way of sending you a message
about a problem. Use another computer to look up the code once
you open the case and figure out which kind of BIOS chip you
have. Here are three articles about beep codes for three
This video will tell you about some Dell specific
beep codes. It is also useful for the presenter's demonstration of
removing a RAM module. (Note: you should not remove the
motherboard for this operation.)
The video below is about troubleshooting errors
that often occur when building a PC, but it applies to errors from
this chapter as well. Watch the presenter's techniques when
correcting the problems he discusses.
The remainder of the chapter is mostly about troubleshooting
problems. You should read though it section by section,
not all at once. If this material is new to you, it will be easier
to grasp if you do not overload your brain doing it.
Read the chapter, and the next one for next week.
Complete the assignments and class discussion made in
this module, which are due by 6pm next week.