COMPUTER SHOPPING 2008

[Originally posted November 26, 2007]

Thinking about a new computer – home, home office, small business? Let me give you some generalizations that will help you get started. (As always, gamers will be looking for faster processors and hard drives, more memory, and – particularly important – choosing from an array of high-end video cards. […] continued

Read more

RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR COMPUTERS

[Originally posted October 30, 2007]

I wish we could count on the software and hardware vendors to play fair and treat us well, but it’s not happening. We have to take responsibility for our computers.

When Windows XP and Vista are installed on freshly formatted hard drives, they are secure, rock-solid, and fast. […] continued

Read more

LIFE WITHOUT THE NETWORK

[Originally posted March 13, 2007]

From Max Barry’s marvelous book Company, about corporate life in the weeks after the computer network goes dead:

“Two weeks ago the network went down; soon after Senior Management assured the company it would have the problem fixed within a few days; now everyone is realizing it is never going to happen.

[…] continued Read more

BRUCE LEAVES YOU STRANDED

I’ll be out of the country until July 3.

Oh, stop it! Those of you who reacted with undisguised glee, just cut it out! And I know a couple of you are alarmed and are openly weeping at the thought of what your computers might do to take advantage of this unexpected opening in your defenses. […] continued

Read more

ROUTER PASSWORDS

You probably have a router or firewall device on your network – the little box that your DSL or cable modem plugs into. Make sure you’ve changed the default password on the router!

Virtually every router is designed to display a control panel when you put in its IP address. When you set up the router, it probably asked you to change the default password. […] continued

Read more

PRINTER CONNECTIONS

Let me give you a simplified overview of printer terms, then offer a tip that might save a few seconds someday. (This is basic stuff. If you can tell where I’m leaving things out, then this isn’t for you.)

LOCAL PRINTER 

A local printer is connected to your computer with a USB cable.

[…] continued Read more

QUICK TO ANGER

Quicktime has been an annoying bit of software for ten years now. My experience tonight was the final straw. I’ve spent the better part of an hour cleaning it off my system and I don’t intend to let it back. What is it with Apple? Every time I feel like giving Apple the benefit of the doubt, swayed by all the hype, I have an experience where I’m reminded that Apple writes crappy, invasive software. […] continued

Read more

Vista Feature: Explorer Favorites

When you open a file folder on your computer with Vista – Documents, say, or Computer – the left hand column displays a short list of “Favorite Links.” That Favorites list is easy to overlook but it can be made into your best friend.

When I started using Vista, I immediately discovered the “Folders” arrow at the bottom that restored the familiar tree of drives and folders that I knew from Windows XP. […] continued

Read more

FIREFOX 3

Mozilla released the Firefox 3 Internet browser on Tuesday and is working on setting a Guinness record for the most software downloaded in 24 hours. There are a lot of people who like Firefox a lot.

If you haven’t been following along, Firefox is an Internet browser that can be installed for free on Windows XP and Vista as an alternative to Internet Explorer. […] continued

Read more

SHUTDOWN MYSTERIES

I bet you don’t know how to turn off your computer.

Lots of people ask me why their computer doesn’t turn off when they hit the power button on the front of the case after the system crashes or freezes. Hold the button down for 4-10 seconds. The computer will turn off even if it is otherwise completely unresponsive. […] continued

Read more

NOTEBOOK MARKET

The market for notebook computers is growing fast. Notebooks already outsell desktop computers in the US and will outsell desktops globally by next year, according to the New York Times. Here’s a report released yesterday comparing global notebook shipments in the first quarters of 2007 and 2008, showing HP and Dell with hugely increased sales and more than a third of the market between them. […] continued

Read more

APPLE iPHONE UPGRADE

The upgraded iPhone has a tremendous list of features! I’m looking forward to the integration with Exchange Server, which ought to let my clients with Small Business Server have a live, over-the-air connection to their contacts, calendar, and inbox. I’ll write more about the new iPhone after I have some experience with it. […] continued

Read more

BLACKBERRY MANIA

Blackberry smartphones are mindbogglingly popular. I’m being asked about them more often than iPhones. That shouldn’t be a surprise – almost half the smartphones sold in the first quarter of 2008 were Blackberry devices, a significant increase over the previous quarter, while the market share of iPhones took a nose dive in the same period, according to the Associated Press. […] continued

Read more

RIPPING DVDS

I’ve tried to figure out how video works on computers, really I have. Maybe you’ve tried Vista’s Windows Movie Maker, or burned a DVD with Windows Photo Gallery, or found a way to upload videos to YouTube. Congratulations! Treasure those moments! Because the instant you raise your expectations, you’ll find yourself trapped in a blur of acronyms and techno-whizz-bang stuff that will leave you lying weak and helpless. […] continued

Read more

A TOOL FOR UPGRADE OVERLOAD

I wrote a few months ago about the difficulty of dealing with the endless flood of software updates that is slowly draining our will to live. Microsoft’s system of delivering automatic overnight upgrades once a month is manageable, but the bad guys are now changing their focus to other programs. Important security-related updates appear regularly for Acrobat, Flash, Quicktime, Firefox, Safari, Java, and more. […] continued

Read more