Category Archives: Computer

Tips for travelling and getting Wi-Fi

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I have to travel for my company a lot and I love it, as long as I can get a WiFi connection wherever I am going.

You wonder why I say that well, let me show you.

Once I find out, I am going abroad I bone up on the city and country. Take Guangzhou for example. (Yep my company is one of those multinationals).
I get my cell phone changed over to work in the country. Luckily, China is running 3G networks which means it’s easy for me to take my cell phone and get a new SIM card for a local network. Next, I make sure my computer’s WiFi is playing nicely. I plug in to my network at home for faster speeds, so a quick trip to my local McDonald’s is a great place to test it a few weeks out from the trip.

I test it again the airport when I arrive for my flight, and to get a bit more work done while I wait to board. Most airports have a number of areas with power to charge your laptops and cells and they also have WiFi throughout the Airport. I contact my hosts in my destination via the Internet, to remind them that I am on my way. I don’t use my cell until I hit China and that is for local calls. Roaming Charges will kill you.

I have installed QQ International. It is one of the largest person-to-person communication software packages on the planet. I also have WeChat and Line – two new apps that are rapidly taking over from all other forms of personal communication. Even Facebook is in danger of being superseded. I also have Facebook loaded on my Laptop. Like I said before my cell is only for local use once I get there.

Another couple of things I have on my laptop are a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Because many countries now limit access to the Internet. China is one of them, the same holds true for many countries in The Middle-East too. I hear even Australia is looking to put up a countrywide firewall similar to China’s Great Firewall. I am also carrying a token fob from my bank, which lets me do online banking safely. I also have a Paypal account set up to transfer money, as it is universal all over the world.

When I arrive in Guangzhou I retrieve my luggage and change some my currency over to RMB. (Hint only change a little at the airport, the exchange rates are much higher). I could do it at LAX, but last time I did they gave me counterfeit RMB notes which left me out of pocket. In China everywhere are currency scanners so you can check your cash and see if it is legit. I next fire up my laptop, and hunt for the WIFI in the Airport. It too is free. But, in China you have to have a cell phone number. I switch my cell over to my second SIM chip. Either which I have bought in Chinatown in the states or I buy at the Airport. I use its number to get me into the WIFI network.

I can connect to my Facebook and bank via VPN. I let my boss Know I have arrived and my hosts that I am there as well. Their cell phones have QQ installed though now most are switching to WeChat and Line. I am now just waiting to get picked up. So I wander over to the McDonald’s and have breakfast. The world is so small now!

Posted in Computer.

Choosing a computer

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A friend asked me to go to the computer store and help him pick out a new computer. I said why go to the store when you can do it online.
Yep you can get some pretty good deals these days if you shop around online, even if you’re not someone who is confident enough to buy components and assemble it themselves. I built my last computer from the recommended list of components at Lifehacker at the time, and it was a very decent computer and at a low price compared to buying prebuilt – but that’s because I’m comfortable with building my own computer. For most people, I would recommend buying a prebuilt system from a big brand to make any warranty issues a lot easier – no need to diagnose every single hardware fault, just call up support and take it back to the store you bought it from.
But the very first and main question you have to ask yourself is… What are you going to do with the computer you are going to buy?

  • Games
  • Online/Web Surfing
  • Downloading
  • Education
  • Business
  • Hobby
  • Writing
  • Computer graphics

This is the first step. Let’s look at some of the consideration you need for each.

1. Games –

Tower( ie… a regular PC)
You will need a fast CPU – The faster the better.
A large amount of RAM (Random Access Memory)
1 Gig or better Disk Drive
A high speed graphics card
Graphics Accelerator chip or card
A large Graphics Memory as well.
Internet Connection.
DVD/CD ROM drive.
Multiple (4) USB ports
Quality stereo speakers
Comfortable headset with microphone
USB Game Controller
External Flat Screen Monitor

2. Online/ Web surfing –

Laptop
Moderately fast CPU
4 Gig Ram
½ gig Hard Drive
Internet Connection

3. Downloading –

Laptop/ Tower
Moderately fast CPU
4 Gig Ram.
1 Gig internal Hard Drive
USB 3 Port.
External USB hard drive 1 Terabyte or bigger.
DVD/CD Rom RW drive

4. Education –
If you are a college student, Mac Powerbook or iPad is the standard.

5. Business –

Laptop
Docking station
Fast CPU
Large Memory
1 gig internal hard drive
High resolution Graphics Chip Optional
Internet connection
Multiple (4) USB ports.
Wireless Keyboard
Wireless mouse
Headset w Microphone
Flat Screen Monitor

6. Hobby –

Tower
Fast CPU
Large Memory
1 gig hard drive
Multiple USB ports
DVD/CD ROM Drive
Internet Connection

7. Writing –

Laptop
Fast CPU
Large Memory
½ – 1 gig hard drive
DVD/CD Rom drive
Multiple (4) USB ports
Wireless Keyboard
Wireless Mouse
High quality USB headset w microphone
Internet Connection
20 inch Flat screen Monitor

8. Computer Graphics –

Laptop/Tower
Multicore High speed CPU
Graphics chip
Large memory for graphics
Large RAM The Biggest you can get 4 gig and up
1 Gig Hard Drive
DVD/CD Rom Drive
Internet Connection
Large Flat Screen Monitor

I am assuming you will use the latest versions of everything, which is Windows 8.1. The Macs of course will run Mavericks, the current version of OS X. In a future post we will go into the details of the whys for each of my choices. These configurations have worked well for my customers over the last couple of years and should for you too.

Posted in Computer.

Determining what is running on your computer

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Ever notice after you buy your computer it runs so fast but in a few months it take forever to do anything?

You are a victim of Creep Crud, or CC for short. You computer has so much stuff loaded that it bogs down the performance.

If you go on the Internet websites add all kind of stuff to you machine to. Even without you noticing it.

There is a couple of ways you see what’s Happening and get you computer back to its former speed.

Open up Task Manager. Right Click on the bar at the lower part of your screen and fire it up.

You should see a screen that list Applications and other tabs that give you other information.
Click on the Tab marked processes. Check the little box that says, “show all processes.”

Now you get a bewildering number of often-cryptic programs running. I select one of the other tabs like memory to reorganize the mess to see who is hogging memory.

If your read E-Books you will probably see ACRORd32.exe which is your Adobe reader.
Next you might see something like “chrome.exe”, or “firefox.exe” or “iexplore.exe”. These are your web browsers.

Now it starts getting weird, many of the processes will list your login name as owner. You need to really lo look at these ones. Read the descriptions at the right to decode what the things are doing.
If you don’t recognize the package loaded write down its name to look up later on the Internet.
If it doesn’t have any description Flag it as well. Don’t end any of the processes.

If you do you can make bad juju for yourself and your computer will crash if you end the wrong one.

Best if you’re are not sure what’s What drop me a line and I will let you know what it does and is used for or Google it.

You can also spend some bucks and buy a Tune-up kit.

AVG has a nice one called oddly enough PC TuneUp but you can choose what you like. AVG combines this with their already famous Virus protection package and you can run both at the same time which will eliminate viruses before they eliminate you. I believe in using these kinds of packages as I have seen and demonstrated to clients what happens without them.

So far after 15 years no one has disagreed yet. after seeing what a virus can do to unprotected machines. AVG lets you use their Virus product for 30 days and their PC “TuneUp” for free for 15 days. You can learn a lot about you computers habits by running it before you decide to buy.

After you install it and Fire it up you give you a screen with 4 selection panes. Maintenance, PC Performance, PC Health and Rescue Center. Run Maintenance FIRST. You may be surprised at what you see.

You will probably see your Registry has problems. You will see lots of wasted disk space. Your web browser Temp folder probably hasn’t be cleaned since you got the machine. Your disk is probably Fragmented too.

Don’t panic!

What all means is that Windows doesn’t cleanup after itself too well. Let Maintenance do its thing. This alone will almost always make your PC run like it’s almost brand new.

In one of my next posts I will go into how to get your PC to purr like a kitten and run like a race car.

Posted in Computer.