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Plugging in that new printer just got a whole lot easier

Did you ever need to quickly expand your computer's capabilities, only to spend weeks trying to get a new printer or hard-drive to work?

Two new connection standards will help. The Universal Serial Bus (USB) and FireWire - also known as 1307 - configure peripherals automatically. No need to look up settings, set tiny switches, or reboot your computer -just plug in accessories and begin.

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USB and FireWire work similarly. The main difference: FireWire is a lot faster and newer, and so far only about five peripherals on the market - mostly video cameras and editing devices - use the standard.

USB, on the other hand, offers more than 125 devices and has been standard on new Apple computers since the iMac's debut last August.