April 2008 Newsletter ...
Some questions and opinions...
It has been a while since I've updated this newsletter. This time it seems like a good idea to simply mention some of the common questions I am asked, and to give everyone things to consider. Also, I am starting a blog of sorts about things I am involved with and observe... most are definitely not IT related Enjoy!
USB, pen drives... these are great tools for transporting data... think of them as extremely large and sturdy floppy disks. there are several things to be aware of:
What if you lose it? You DO have the data backed up somewhere, don't you? And the data on the drive is encrypted, isn't it? Your family pictures may not interest many people, but your Quicken data backup might. I have a Lexar drive that works well, has encryption software included. It even has a place for a keychain... on the removable cap so that you will at least have the cap when the drive is lost. It is a really dumb design. You want the DRIVE to be safe, not the cap. Also, if you have network drives on your computer, sometimes the USB drive will not show. In that case (in Windows XP), Right click on "My Computer", and pick "manage". Select "Disk Management". The drive should show in the right window. Right click on it and this will enable you to change the drive letter to something that is not in use.
1) Keeping your computer clean will prolong it's life. Vacuum the vents, fans etc. If you hear a buzzing noise, like a noisy fan, it's time for some service. Eventually the buzzing will stop. That is a BAD thing. It means the cooling fan for the processor or power supply, or case, has stopped and now the clock to destruction is running very rapidly to zero.
2) Back up your data. Back up you data. Back up your data. Do I say this enough?
3) Use a battery backup- uninterruptible power supply
4) Keep it organized... make sure you have the manuals and disks for ALL software.
If you are buying a new computer for basic home use, Vista is fine. It has MANY security annoyances. Some software and printers will not work well with it, so if you plan to re-use existing hardware or software, be sure to check first. For business use, I still recommend Windows XP Professional. It will be available through Dell until June. The software and hardware compatibility is extremely important for a business use. Many HP printers and plotters do NOT have Vista drivers yet. XP drivers "may" work, but there is no future guarantee. Also, Vista will not open many Windows help files. Here is a link to Microsoft's patch. Help file patch
When my daughter graduated high school, she had a reasonable Windows XP notebook computer. In the age of "coolness" and iPods, she wanted an Apple notebook. Syracuse University supports both, and had student discounts on both Apple and Dell Windows laptops. The Apple was about $200 more than the Dells... and had a few less features. The Dell's strong point was a four year unlimited warranty. If you accidentally dropped it from a dorm window into the street and it was run over by a car, it was covered. Being a practical Dad, I saw no reason for a new notebook, since hers was working fine. I have no problem with Apple computers, as long as you know the software limitations. She put her money where her desire was, took her graduation gift money and some work money and bought an Apple notebook. I installed a copy of "Open Office" and we bought an small HP "All in One" scanner-copier-printer and she was all set. It has been nine months now... and absolutely zero problems. The new Apple can run Windows, either natively or with emulation software. Remember, a Mac running Windows is a Windows machine, not a Mac, and has the same security issues.
And last but not least... one cool idea... the Chumby
That's it for this newsletter...
Until next time... Happy Computing !
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