Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Taking Care of Your Computer For Free -- How to Work on Your Own PC -- Talk at the Kinnelon Library Thur 7 PM Apr 24 2012

Yes! But is it Pretty on the Inside, too???
It is a PC -- we can only imagine ...
I will be giving a talk at the Kinnelon Public Library, Thursday, May 24 at 7 PM, which is the 5th of 6 such talks a month apart, on the subject of taking care of your Windows PC, new or old, with special attention in Part 5 to:

How to Work on Your Own PC -- Desktop or Laptop, including:

1) Buying and Replacing Hardware -- Adding Memory to your Desktop or Laptop, Replacing a Power Supply, a CD/DVD/BluRay Drive, a Video Card and so on … 

2) Opening and Closing Your Computer -- Accessing the innards safely, power and data cabling, and what the parts are inside a computers, user removable or otherwise

3) Where to buy the Computer Hardware and What to Buy -- The right stores online and bricks-and-mortar stores

4) If You want Someone Else to Fix Your Computer, who to get, where to get them, what to pay.

5) Plus How to Clean Your PC – It does get Dirty, You Know, and That Can Kill Your Computer

Don't go into a computer upgrade or repair ignorant of what needs to be done or what it should cost -- come and find out!

And, As Always we will have our Open Mike period at the end of the talk and demo, so you can find out why your computer isn't doing what you want:

Ask Your Questions about Your Computer and Computer Related Problems, such as:

1) Is my machine too old? When do I need a new machine?

2) How can I "pin" that program to my Taskbar, and what is a "Gadget?"

3) Why does my computer ... ?

4) If you have a laptop with a problem, bring it along and we'll take a quick look.

5) Questions and on-the-spot diagnosis will be limited by the time available!!!

All of you Kinnelon and North Jersey people, and everybody else, are welcome to come.

Call the Kinnelon Library at 973 838 1321 and reserve a spot.

See you there!


PS: This talk pertains to PCs running Windows 7, Vista and XP

PPS: Note this is a change of date from May 17 to May 24

Photo Credits:,hardwired-pcs-reaper-junior-is-a-well-made-system.aspx

Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Buy a Laptop -- The New Reality of 2012

Never Has to be Upgraded! Easy to Use! Comfortable! 

I recently came a across an interesting article on just this subject on a site called "lifehacker", entitled "How to Buy the Perfect Laptop." Check it out -- it's a good read and will clue you in to a lot of the features in new computers that may be of interest to you. It's a good article, especially in addressing the many considerations as to size, batteries, portability, technical considerations, and so on, but it leaves out what I consider to be the 2 most important factors in choosing ANY PC these days, laptop or desktop.

And they are:

1) How Long Will It Last? Not As Long As You Think! Power = Longevity.

2) Do You Need the Extended Factory Warranty? You May! Can You Do Without Your Computer for More than a Couple of Days?

What do I mean by Power = Longevity? Well, chances are you've had an older computer and noticed that over time it had increasing difficulty in keeping up -- surfing the web, doing day-to-day tasks, multi-tasking, that sort of thing. If it had been more powerful, it would have been useful to you longer and lasted longer. There is a big difference in power and performance between CPUs like the latest Intel Core i7s, and their lesser siblings the Core i3s, as well as AMD CPUs which are less powerful. You cannot choose a new machine for its ability to run in today's environment; you have to think about the years ahead, too. Also the pace of change has ramped up -- that single core Pentium 4 running XP may have lasted you for 7 years. I guarantee you that no current Ultrabook with its mid-range processor will do the same. Buy the most powerful machine you can afford -- you won't regret it.

All arguments about whether paying for factory warranties are "Good Value" or not aside, the real question is -- Can You Do Without Your Computer for a Long Time While it is Being Fixed? If the answer is YES, then, no, you do not need the extended warranty. If the answer is NO, well then, you DO NEED the Extended Warranty. From the Factory. If you depend on your machine for daily use and you cannot just switch to an alternate computer, the first-tier manufacturer (Dell, HP, Lenovo, Toshiba) warranty and service with in-home and on-site repair will get you back up and running within a couple of days. Non factory warranties usually won't. Do not buy that 3rd party warranty! Even if you buy a major brand laptop from Best Buy or some other retailer, you can still buy an extended warranty from the maker. Just call up HP or Dell and give them you invoice info, model and serial number, and the will be happy to sell you one.

Various statistics gathering organizations report something around 1/3 of new computers, be they laptop or desktop, need some kind of repair in the 1st 3 years of their existence. Even if it's less than that, it's enough that you HAVE to Consider the Potential Problem of Being Without your Computer.

Another important thing, and this is touched on in the LIFEHACKER article, if you can, choose a laptop with a user removable hard drive*, and back it up, preferably to a 2-1/2" laptop compatible mirror with disk cloning software.  That way, if your disk goes permanently South, you have an instantly bootable SYA** solution.

Also, about the Apple vs PC thing -- and religious arguments aside -- Apple makes great computers. But! Apple makes EXPENSIVE computers, and they are as much as double or more the cost of PCs (laptops and desktops) of equivalent power. If you like your Macbook Pro or Air, fine, but don't kid yourself about what you are paying for it, just go in peace and worship at the altar of your choice ...

Also Number 2: Remember your computer is not an iPhone or like one, although someday it may be!, and you aren't going to be changing it every year for the new model or whenever your contract is up with Verizon.  You might want something that will last a while. You are going to keep it for the long haul, right?

You aren't? OK. Never mind ...


* Go the the manufacturer's website and download the PDF of the manual -- it'll be there and it will say!
**SYA, it's like CYA, only it's saved, not just covered.

Pillow Credit: gizmodo --

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