Dealing with DLLs

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. Many laptops advertise the Intel Centrino wireless chip, but some computers don’t have that. Do I need it if I want to use wireless?

A. The Centrino “chip” isn’t a chip or microprocessor at all. It’s a clever (and very successful) marketing strategy created by Intel for laptop computers that combine the company’s Pentium M (for “Mobile”) processor, its supporting technology, and Intel’s brand of wireless networking circuitry.

The truth is, Intel’s brand of wireless networking, though excellent, is really no different than anybody else’s. Through creative marketing, Intel has managed to convince many potential purchasers that its brand of wireless networking is something extry special.

Virtually all wireless networking equipment today is built around a set of industry standards known as 802.11x (the “x” is replaced by a letter), collectively referred to as WiFi, which is short for Wireless Fidelity , in case anybody asks. (Hint: Nobody will.)

If a computer has Intel’s Centrino technology, that’s great; but it’s not the end of the wireless world if it doesn’t.

Q. Every now and then I get an error message that tells me that a certain DLL file cannot be found. What the heck is a DLL file and what am I supposed to do if one wanders off?

A. DLL files are an essential part of any Windows system. According to Microsoft, “A Dynamic Link Library (DLL) is a file of code containing functions that can be called from other executable code.” Memo to Microsoft: How about trying it in English next time?

The original concept behind DLL files was to simplify things, once it was recognized that there were many functions common to a lot of software. For example, most programs need to create a graphical image that appears on screen, so the idea was to create a central library where all programs could access commonly used functions, as needed. The connections to these commonly used functions reside in their own library and are called dynamic links, hence Dynamic Link Library or DLL.

Because more than one program can use the functions of a particular DLL, they are often referred to as “shared files.” For that reason, it’s generally not a good idea to delete DLL or shared files, if prompted on screen.

Reinstalling the program that contains a missing DLL file will restore its function, or sites such as www.dll-files.com or www.dlldump.com or www.dlldepo.org all have repositories of files from which you can download any AWOL DLL.

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