Ask Mr. Modem: Get to know your Chrome Task Manager

Posted Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Mr. Modem’s sites of the week

Bathroom Diaries

This site rates more than 12,000 public restrooms in more than 120 countries, providing a wealth of information for both travelers and urban dwellers. Though it may sound silly initially, its ratings include special amenities (like changing tables and wheelchair access), as well as comments about security and cleanliness. Currently, the World’s Best Bathroom (recipient of the coveted Golden Plunger award) is located in Bali, Indonesia. (Just my luck.)

Deep Sea Images

Scuba divers and seafood enthusiasts will appreciate this site, which is an online photo library filled with marine life images, including sea creatures, shipwrecks, coral reefs, Lloyd Bridges and other phenomena that lurk below the surface. Scrolling through the extensive gallery of photographs is like being underwater — well, minus the dampness and immobilizing fear.

Einstein’s Big Idea

Filled with fascinating facts about the legendary E=MC2 genius and his life’s work, you also will find interesting articles about Einstein’s personal life, as well as some interactive features that make the science behind the famous equation more comprehensible to my fellow knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing brethren and sistren.

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

I’ve heard that the Chrome browser has its own Task Manager. If so, what is it used for and how can I access it?

Chrome’s little-known Task Manager is similar to the Windows Task Manager in that memory, CPU usage and other activities are monitored. Another useful similarity is that it can be used to end a process.

To launch Chrome’s Task Manager, I go to Tools > Task Manager. (You will find Tools by clicking the little three-line icon to the right of the Address field. Once in the Task Manager, right-click any item in the list to display additional information. If you want to force a Web page or application to close, click the End Process button.

While this isn’t something you are likely to use on any regular basis, if your Chrome browser freezes on a page, you may find it comforting to know that you can go to its Task Manager and thaw it out from there.

This might be a bit of a geeky question, but what determines the maximum screen resolution a computer can display?

The single, most-important factor is the resolution of the screen or monitor itself. When you purchase a new monitor, its screen resolution (which is the number of dots or pixels across and down the screen) will be included within the product’s documentation or shipping container (back in the old days we called it a box), and sometimes on the monitor itself.

Another factor is your system’s video card. If you are displaying high-definition (HD) video or playing visually complex games in which you attempt to rescue Princess Kumquat from the dark and foreboding Planet Quoxqf, you will want a fairly powerful video card, perhaps one that has its own on-board RAM (memory) and its own cooling fan.

If you don’t have a video card with on-board RAM, the amount of RAM in your computer itself becomes an important factor. The more RAM, the more goodies (components, programs) you can have open and running at any given time. So, if all of your memory is being gobbled up by system processes, you will have little left to display graphics.

I’m confused about all the different types of computers available. I know what a laptop is, but what the heck is an ultrabook?

Laptops, notebooks, Netbooks, tablets and now ultrabooks. It’s enough to make one’s head explode. So what is an ultrabook? It’s really just a high-tech-sounding marketing name for a super-thin Windows-based laptop computer that resembles the popular MacBook Air. Ultrabooks have an instant-on feature that allows you to snap the laptop open and use it immediately. Most also have faster, solid-state (SS) hard drives.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit

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