Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
We keep track of laptops that we like for everyday / business use. Some people may like the most powerful laptops -- or more stylish -- but these represent the "sweetspot" in terms of performance, price, and value.
|Dec 09||2.2 Ghz (x2) Win 7||4 GB||300 GB||4 hrs||$550|
|Aug 09||2.1 Ghz (x2) Vista||3 GB||320 GB||3 hrs||$500|
|Dec 08||2.0 Ghz (x2) Vista||3 GB||300 GB||2.5 hrs||$550|
|Aug 08||1.9 Ghz (x2) Vista||3 GB||250 GB||2 hrs||$550|
|Dec 07||1.6 Ghz (x2) Vista||1.5 GB||120 GB||1.5 hrs||$550|
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Windows 7 has launched, with generally good reviews. Happily, Microsoft looks like it finally has a good successor to Windows XP (after the disaster of Vista). Many are touting Windows 7 as the least intrusive MSFT operating system in a long time.
Windows 7 Performance & Features:
- Windows 7 is generally faster than Vista. Some say it seems as fast as XP...
- The one area where Windows 7 seems to underperform Vista is in "Application Launch Times."
- Battery life slightly better than Vista.
- Boot-up and Shut-down times are a wash between Vista and Windows 7.
- Some people will have to get used to the new feel of the "Taskbar." "Quick Launch" has been eliminated but its features show up in the new Task Bar.
- Better control of the "System Tray" so it doesn't get overloaded with applications.
- There's no rush to upgrade. Wait for the "early-adopters" to help Microsoft fix some hiccups and make your upgrade that much smoother.
- If you have an older machine running Windows XP, leave things alone.
- On newer machines running Vista, it's up to you. If you are happy with performance, you can leave things alone -- or you can upgrade to Windows 7 for general system performance improvement.
- For computers running Vista that are slightly underpowered and slow -- you might consider upgrading to Windows 7. Of course, you may want to weigh the cost of the upgrade versus the cost (and when) you may get a new computer.
- Look out of the Windows 7 Family Pack, which can upgrade 3 PCs. We've seen prices in the range of $120-$149 for this upgrade -- good for 3 computers.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The kids are now back to school -- but they were home all summer... AND, who knows what websites they have been playing on. If you haven't done so recently -- it's time to clean your pc.
- We like to run several programs to help clean spyware off of your computer. Different programs find different malware. You can find these programs free at www.download.com . Currently, our favorites include:
- Separately, Spywareblaster is a good program to run in the background to help prevent spyware from entering your pc.
- Cleaning up the registry can help reduce errors and speed up your pc.
- Check out: CCleaner
Defrag Your Hard-Drive
- You should defragment your hard-drive from time to time. You don't want your pc unnecessarily jumping around the hard-drive grabbing data. Remember to run your defrag:
- Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools> Disk Defragmenter
- Also, make sure your anti-virus program is updated. And, run a scan if you don't have it scanning regularly.
- We like AVG Anti-Virus Free.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-128) launched on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 11:59pm after several delays starting Monday of that week. Here's some video from a distance (just light in the sky) -- but still amazing to see and a great memory...
Some Fun Space Shuttle facts:
- On the launchpad, the shuttle is the same height as the Statue of Liberty but weighs 3 times as much (4.5 million pounds).
- The shuttle burns more than 10 tons of fuel per second during takeoff. That's more than 1,000,000 pounds of fuel a minute!
- At liftoff, the temperature inside the shuttle's engines are two-thirds the temperature of the sun's surface (Sun's surface temp is 9800 degrees F; sun's center is much hotter, at 25 million degrees F).
- 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds. Sports cars can match the shuttle, but the shuttle is fighting gravity (UP) and has 4.5 million pounds to move!
- If the space shuttle didn't roll backwards soon after launch, it would lose communications (blocked by fuel tanks), astronauts wouldn't have a clean line of sight if navigations went out, and fuel efficiency wouldn't be as great.
- At 10 seconds (T+10 seconds) - the shuttle is traveling 900 mph. The speed of sound at sea level is 742 mph. At an altitude of 20,000 feet, the speed of sound is 660 mph (Mach 1).
- 30 seconds - 1,200 mph; main throttle is turned down (to get through denser part of atmosphere more smoothly and with less stress on the shuttle).
- 48 seconds - 1,400 mph; main throttle up as shuttle gets to thinner atmosphere. Fighter jets fly at this speed (Mach 2 or faster).
- 1 minute - 2,000 mph
- 2 minutes - 3,600 mph
- It takes the shuttle 2.5 minutes to leave earth's "generally recognized" atmosphere of about 62 miles (100 km). (The atmosphere gradually thins, so there's no hard line that separates the earth from space.)
- 5 minutes - 8,000 mph
- 8 minutes - 17,500 mph, it's orbiting speed. That's 10 times the speed of most fighter jets.
- To put this speed in perspective: a commercial airliner takes 6 hours to fly from NYC to LA. A fighter jet can travel the 2,500 miles in less than 2 hours at top speed. The shuttle would do this in less than ten minutes.
- The shuttle orbits the earth in about 1.5 hours.
- The shuttle must cool down and "rest" for 40 hours before they can open the bay doors and go outside.
If you are lucky enough to be in Central Florida for a rocket or shuttle launch, visit the Kennedy Space Center for an up-close view. You can also get good views from Titusville (Space View Park) or Cocoa Beach. Due to the delays, we just watched from Orlando (40 miles away) instead of Titusville (13 miles away).
Video from Titusville:
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
We recently posted some info about cloud computing and syncing files across computers. Over the past several months, we've had a chance to fiddle around with various products and we have grown to like Syncplicity quite a bit. As with any new technology, there were a few idiosyncrasies that we had to get used to -- but we've now gotten the hang of the product and love having our files synced and backed up. We've now used Syncplicity for more than six months -- so feel free to contact us with any questions.
- Creates an online directory / copy of the files you want.
- Files then get synced to your other PCs.
- Files get synced immediately -- even if Excel/Word is open (as long as the file is saved); no other product did this in our testing...
- Free version allows you to sync 2 PCs and 2GB of space.
- You can share files / directories with others.
- You can get more space by referring friends. (1 GB / friend up to 3GB for a total of 5GB free space).
- $99 per year for 50 GB of space.
Friday, August 7, 2009
It's "back-to-school" time, so we took a look at our "best bang for the buck" laptops in terms of power per dollar. Some people might prefer looks or battery life -- but for the purposes of our list, we track our "sweet-spot" in terms of computing power per price.
Here are the specs for what we think you can currently get (as well as some history so you can track advances in technology, and computer processing value):
Aug 09...... 2.1 GHz(x2)......4 GB...............320 GB...........$500
Aug 08...... 1.9 GHz(x2)......3 GB...............250 GB...........$550
Dec 07........1.6 GHz(x2)......1.5GB.............120 GB...........$550
Various models will have different specs -- but if you shop around, you should be able to get these specs "on average" (and over time, improved specs at better prices!). We usually find the best prices at Best Buy, and sometimes Costco/club stores. Once in a while, Amazon has some good deals.
We prefer the big names such as HP/Compaq, Dell, Toshiba & Gateway. If you like the Sony name, you will pay slightly more. And of course, some people prefer the styling of the Apple Macbooks -- but that's a different category.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Do you use more than one computer -- and then find yourself looking for your most recent work? In the past, we used to email ourselves the most recent versions of spreadsheets or document (so we could work on things at home, for instance)... Today, cloud computing and the ability to sync files is getting hot. Imagine working on a file -- and having the latest version getting synced on all of your computers -- automatically and almost instantly!!
We have been waiting for Google's GDrive -- but it has been slow in coming out. We have high hopes for Google's product based on the performance and features of gmail and google documents. In addition, recent chatter about Google's Chrome browser (syncing bookmarks -- and additional Google document features) -- have us hoping that GDrive is coming out real soon.
In the meantime, if you want to explore other Cloud Computing / file syncing options, here are some of the best out there currently. You can sync a few GBs worth of files with most of these services for free -- and then pay a fee (around $25-$100/year for most) for more storage.
- Syncplicity.com - our favorite; some good features. We'll describe Syncplicity more in another post.
- Live Mesh - mesh.com -- we like that this is backed by Microsoft. You can even use this to easily access your other pcs remotely.
- Dropbox: getdropbox.com
- SugarSync.com - tons of features
- Mozy.com -- a great tool to backup files on the internet automatically.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The past few months (years!) have seen rumors of Google's GDrive coming sometime soon. The past few days have seen more heated chatter about Google's "cloud computing" functionality coming online soon. Indeed, Google documents has some new functionality (just over the past few days) that hints of GDrive: the ability to upload ANY file type. You can even email certain document types and have them posted to your Google document folder.
It will be nice to have expanded online space by a huge company like Google. Some say that Google documents is slowly changing over to Google Drive (GDrive). Hmm...
We'll soon review some of the Cloud computing products out there -- and hope that GDrive is out there by the time we post that info!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Check out our blog with info on:
- Anti-spyware software
- Anti-virus software
- Registry and PC cleanup.
These software packages can help clean up your pc and help speed things up.
In addition, you should run disk deframentation from time to time (perhaps every 6 months or so). In Windows, click on Start in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen:
Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > DISK DEFRAGMENTER
This will organize your hard-drive so it is more efficient.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Sometimes, even when you run anti-virus and anti-spyware programs, your pc can seem sluggish -- or seems to have an increasing number of errors or problems. We've used CCleaner with good results. It will clean your registry as well as clean up temporary and other nonsense files on your pc. Try it out!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Currently, our favorite anti-spyware software packages include:
- Spybot Search & Destroy.
You can download and install these packages from http://www.download.com. Some of these packages find spyware that the others don't -- so we usually recommend using at least 2 or 3 of these programs.
Separately, Spywareblaster is a good software package to run; it helps to make your system more secure.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Sometimes people ask us what we do to back up our files. Many of us copy files to CDs/DVDs or across different PCs. However, it's good to have backups in other locations. We've looked at various backup options -- and like www.mozy.com. It's easy to set-up and use.
You can backup 2GB worth of files for free; or pay a nominal amount and get unlimited storage. Backups can be scheduled to run automatically every 24 hours or so. Very useful.