AVOID COMPUTER REPAIRS WITH A FEW TRICKS

  • Find ways to sort your cables neatly. Use binder clips to run cables over the edge of desks. Use those little tag from sliced bred to label individual cables. Label power cables so the wrong one isn’t pulled out at some point.
  • Find ways to keep the computer cool, especially if you overclock it. Separate the base of the computer from the desk or any other insulating material with an egg container or wire cooking rack. Use a small fan to circulate air. Find what part of the computer seems to get hot and concentrate on cooling that.
  • Cardboards tubes are great for storing cables that are not always used.
  • Find an old stereo system, second hand stores are full of them, and connect it to your computer. DVD and YouTube are suddenly like mini-theatre.
  • Plenty of devices connect to USBs, and while most are just novelties there are a few you will find Useful. You can cool a soft drink or keep coffee hot, power a work light, keep toes or fingers warm with heated gloves and socks.
  • Get a multi USB hub, for all the gadgets that proved useful.
  • If you are worried about things getting stolen, make them look worthless. People steal laptops and camera equipment, but not pool testing kits. Make your parcel look worthless and it is far less likely to be stolen.
  • Some people worry about their webcam spying on them. Cover it with a post-it note. If you worry about a microphone eavesdropping, put a radio next to it.
  • Bu a refurbish computer cheaply and have it there for general use, like family sending emails or general browsing. Save your new computer for yourself. A refurbished computer that ran window 7 can be updated to windows 10 for free, so you can be quite up to date.
  • Clean your keyboard with the sticky part of a post-it note. Or you can by a tiny novelty USB powered vacuum cleaner for about $10.oo
  • The people at the computer shop have heard virtually every anecdote and trick. Ask them and they will enjoy showing off … I mean sharing their knowledge.

Presuming you have some good, solid antivirus protection, you also want to protect your computer in other ways.

IF TRAVELLING

  • Buy a protective bag or case. Buying a new bag can be a little expensive, but this type of thing often turns up in bargain bins or cheaply on eBay. As long as it’s the right size there isn’t too much to go wrong. If it prevents a damaged computer you have got you money’s worth. It travelling overseas find something that is Transport security Administration (TSA) approved.
  • If you can make your computer case not look like a computer case it is less likely to be stolen. Thieves only want it if it is valuable
  • Don’t let it out of sight; don’t let it get beyond arm’s reach. Thieves will not hesitate to grap an opportunity and steal a computer. A cable lock will help; these cost about $A10.oo
  • Get some software that keeps track of your computer. MYLaptopGPS, Find My Mac and Prey are good options; register in advance.
  • Sometimes mild paranoia is justified. Driving instructors tell us to pretend that everybody else on the road is a risk, so we end up driving defensively. Treat social circumstances in the same way. There need by only one thief in the crowd for a theft to occur. The thief isn’t specifically targeting you, but they will steal if they can.
  • Use a ‘Do not disturb’ sign on hotel doors; the less people in the room the better. Keep the computer out of sight.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for public use. If on a business trip ask your company to provide this. Don’t update anything on WiFi or foreign network, these are open to malware spyware and everything else
  • A spare battery can sometime make all the difference.
  • Look at getting insurance. If you don’t have some insurance, maybe you shouldn’t be travelling.
  • Backup everything before you go on a trip. If you need to install updates do so before you leave.
  • Don’t update anything on WiFi or foreign network; these are open to malware spyware and everything else.

Adaptor plugs are an issue overseas; every country has different plugs and different voltage levels. Remember that many adaptor plugs change the pins but not the voltage. It is better to buy power supply locally than complex voltage changers. Most computer shops have no problem with this. Some Hotels can supply appropriate equipment.

PREVENT DATA LOSS

If you save everything to the Cloud you are already preventing most issues. If not, send all your files to yourself as emails. Even if your computer is stolen or damaged the files are on line. If the files are confidential they are only as safe as your email account; you will have to weigh up security issues versus risk of loss.

MAINS POWER

Get a surge protector on the power mains. This isn’t quite the issues as it was in the 1980’s when we had no end of disaster stories about surges causing no end of damage and data loss; back them people had to spent considerable amounts on surge protectors. A power surge is still cause for concern, however. But as the protectors are relatively cheap you have no excuse for skimping on protection.

If there is a thunderstorm you should disconnect everything from the power mains. You can still use a laptop if the battery is charged. With other computers you might do well to buy an Uninterruptible Power supply (UPS), which will protect from power surges and give you at least a few minutes to finish what you are doing before you are forced to power down. You can buy a respectable UPS for about $A200.00, which will probably last longer that than the computer if the power doesn’t go down too often.

For any repairs or queries talk to Elite Computer shop, Homebush.

When we have a decent typing keyboard that we are used to we tend to simply get on with our computer work. Spend some time on a lousy keyboard and you’ll understand why professionals can get fussy about the mechanism. What we are used is part of the equation, but when you are using a keyboard for most of your waking hours it makes sense to invest in something that really works to your advantage.

THE LOUSY OPTIONS

A bad keyboard can be enough to ruin good computer product, or at least be part of the excuse when it fails. Membrane keyboards were the bane of early computers that tried to cut costs. They looked cheap and gave no ‘physical feedback’, no click when the keys were pressed. For some reason people don’t like this when typing, and never really get used to it. The fact that typing speed had to be slowed down to prevent letters from being recorded twice was the last straw for some individuals. The Sinclair ZX80 was criticized for its early membrane keyboard.

A variation on this is the Chiclet keyboard, which adds plastic keys over the membrane system. It is an improvement, but some were better than others. The IBM PCjr is thought to have suffered from using this particular keyboard. After a lot of media promise the keyboard looked and responded poorly on shop display models, so nobody bought the device. Sales improved when IBM replaced the keyboard for free, so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

WHAT LONG TERM USERS PREFER

The physical feedback, the satisfying click seems to be important for typing. This doesn’t seem to be just a hangover from the days of manual typewriters; individuals born long after the golden age of typewriters still prefer keyboards with a solid click. Add to this the fact that clicking keys usually means much longer lasting mechanical keys and you’ll understand that this type of keyboard is preferred whenever possible.

Layout preference with a keyboard is a mixture of taste and ergonomics. If you find you have cramped hands after a days typing it might be because your present keyboard is forcing your hands and arms into unnatural positions. Sometimes this can be solved with raising or lowering the desk of keyboard height; sometime you need an odd looking keyboard to get a good working position for your hands. Unfortunately, this is not something you can discover with short term use; and if you are used to a regular keyboard the ergonomically models actually feel bad at first; people tend to go back to things they are familiar with, even if they don’t really work out for them. In the end you’ll have to read a lot of reviews, and spend some time adapting to a new keyboard layout, but this is preferable to long term damage to your fingers.

OTHER ISSUE TO CONSIDER

  • Backlit keys, when typing in the dark. Experienced typists pride themselves on not having to look at the keys.
  • USB connection to other devices
  • Washability, if you are prone to crumbs or spilling coffee.
  • Number Keypad- some people use these, some do not. A keyboard is much smaller without a keypad.
  • Just looking cool, as it encourages you to work, or at least enjoy is a little more.

CONNECTIVITY

This tends to be a decision up front. Wireless is pretty common these days, though a USB cable is not really much of a hassle if the device isn’t often moved. The only slight disadvantage is some new batteries once or twice a year, which cost little. Occasionally a 2.4 GHz keyboard will interfere with a TV wireless transmitter, but this hardly ever comes up.

Portable devices do make some compromises with their keyboards. It is unwieldy to carry a large keyboard on a pocket sized device, so a projected alternative is used. As these are not usually our main computer, but rather our terminal away from home, they are a short term inconvenience we put up with for the legitimate convenience of having a portable computing device.

Apple and PC keyboards have different layouts. Check this factor before anything else.

It was first unveiled in September last year (2014), but windows 10 didn’t get its official launch till for the consumer till the end of July 2015. This might seem a long wait, especially in the modern computer world, but the good news is that windows 10 is totally free to users of windows 7 or 8. And there doesn’t appear to be a catch here, if your previous copy of windows is legitimate then the update really is free, no hidden costs. A ‘get windows 10’ icon should be appearing in the lower right of your PC taskbar; you don’t need to search the net for this upgrade, the icon lets you register and download when it your turn.

Actually, calling this operating system an upgrade might be misleading. I think the idea, and the reason for the slow rollout, is that the people behind this new system want to be rid of accumulated fragmentation, the product of various systems and updates varying between machines. As such, Windows 10 is the replacement operating system that’s meant to be the foundation behind all your devices, and its meant to stay that way for as long as possible. The same operating system on smartphones, tablets, office computers and laptops should rid us of many incompatibilities.

Another reason for not calling this an upgrade is that it doesn’t just advance on what Windows 8 did. Windows 7 was better received than Windows 8, or a few other systems for that matter, and people lamented some lost features and changes that came with 8. As such Windows 10 returns us to the start-up menu form the earlier systems, the one people preferred, but with a little influence from 8. The pattern continues with the rest of Windows 10; we return to what was popular with windows 7, add a few things that people actually did like with windows 8, and get the whole thing upgraded into a more coherent system. Kind of like the ‘best of’ or ‘directors cut’ version.

On big question is the internet browser. The internet explorer look to be on its way out, replaced with Microsoft edge. This new browser manages to give both a sparse look and many new features; you can view web pages with just the basic content, and save pages from the net with a single button. Most serious web users I know never cared for explorer, even as it has a huge market share, so this could be the replacement they have been waiting for. Else, they might continue with Chrome or Firefox. Either way, internet explorer no longer seems to be the default standard.

Is there a hidden positive as well? As with all updates and replacements you can look forward to seeing previous technology going for a song. New computers will come with windows 10 already installed, but with a little luck you can probably still get a discounted model with windows 8. As the upgrade is free online you can buy a windows 8 model, immediately download windows 10, and have the latest operating system with a discounted computer. Grab the opportunity while you can.

Elite Computers at Strathfield, servicing Concord west, Homebush and North Strathfield, repair and sell refurbished computers. The right refurbish computer can run the new windows 10 system, giving you a bargain way to run the latest technology.

EVERY COMPUTER PROBLEM IS THOUGHT OF AS A VIRUS

Viruses exist and can cause incredible problems. Even if 90% are hoaxes the remaining 10% are legitimate disasters.

Many things can go wrong with your computer and connecting system, and only some of these possibilities are viruses. I’ve had people claim a virus destroyed their internet connection when, in fact, the web browser had just been updated. Their out-of-date computer system couldn’t interface with a recently updated web system, so the connection died. Sometimes it also works the other way around; a computer is updated and no longer runs the free Protools demo, or something else is no longer compatible or recognized. Restoration to the previous working system is one fairly reliable way to regain that lost function, but you might well find that you can’t use some new functions, or web browsing is compromised because a web browser still expects you to be running a current system. Personally I get past this by running an up-to-date computer for the web and using a few older computers for special functions like music editing. The older computers aren’t worth anything so the only cost is in the space they take up. The old computer system is never connected to the net, so any virus risk is minimal.

We are in the habit of constantly updating the software on our computers, but there is a limit. After years of changes, of installing, deleting, upgrading and replacing programmes, you will find that problems creep in. At the very least you will need to reinstall everything you have on their, including the operating system, and the upgrades. This always makes me a little nervous as I feel I will lose something valuable in the process. After a few years it might be better to replace the whole computer, and use the previous model for some other purpose.

SCREEN SAVERS ARE NEEDED TO PREVENT BURNIN

Not so much a myth as an obsolete idea. Decades ago all computer monitors were monochrome, and any text or graphics left displayed long term resulted in a ghostly image burnt onto the monitor display. Our local library had this problem with the default catalogue menu of its computers; there was a menu image even when the power was off! The solution was to have a moving image (the screensaver) that didn’t overexpose some parts of the screen at the expense of others. Modern screens are less prone to these problems, and being colour also helps reduce the issue. At worse the computer systems habit of dimming the display should remove any issues, though I think this was really to save on power consumption.

MAGNETIC FIELDS

Not a myth, but worth commenting on. In the days of magnetic storage magnets in speakers or other devices were notorious for wiping floppy disks. They also cause problems with displays on monitors. To be accurate, it was changing magnetic fields that caused problems with floppy disk, but if you put a VHS tape near a magnet it will ruin the picture. Wave a floppy disk near a magnet and you risk data loss. These days magnets are not an issue if you keep them away from CRT screens. Modern memory isn’t really prone to magnetic problems. Data loss might be caused by many things, including viruses, but magnetic fields are not really a problem at the present time.

MAC COMPUTERS ARE IMMUNE TO VIRUSES

Not a truth, but an exaggeration. There are fewer Mac out there so the viruses don’t target them as much. Yet I have seen macs that suffered viruses, on the odd occasion. I don’t know why virus developers make viruses so I don’t pretend to know why they do occasionally target the macs.

SPYWARE SLOWS YOU PC DOWN

A relation to the virus, Spyware certainly is a huge issue to watch out for. At the same time spyware aims to be nonintrusive. You might well have spyware without knowing it. This is one thing you should check for even if you don’t have symptom.
THE COMPUTER HARDWARE WEARS DOWN OVER TIME, MAKING THINGS SLOW:
Other devices do suffer entropy, the chaotic decay over time, but a computer’s problems are the software. With a computer’s physical components the thing either works or it doesn’t. A fully functional computer with fully functional software will work as well as the day it was first bought, the age won’t make a difference.

We need to be careful in what we claim here. In the 1980’s viruses were considered a myth. A few years later viruses were recognized as real but the thought of sending them by email was laughed at. Of course, the email attachment can’t harm you unless you open it? I can’t even be confident of that anymore. We recently laughed at viruses causing physical damage, but if medical equipment is infected it can affect pacemakers or diabetic medication. Viruses can literally kill an individual, and probably make it look natural in the process.