January 09, 2009

Buying a PC #6 Accessories

With all the cool accessories out there it's hard to know when enough is enough.  Many PC's now days are "bundled" with an assortment of stuff that you may or may not even need.

Most entry level PC's that you buy in a box at your local super store will have a monitor, keyboard, mouse and speakers.  With the reduction in cost of home electronics I've also seen printers, webcams and digital cameras in bundles.

You can get cooler pads, mousepads, blank discs, laptop cases, battery backups...  the list could go on...  for quite a while.

I guess what I'm trying to convey is that you can get a lot of stuff, but do you need a lot of stuff?

Scenario #1
You have a 4 year old computer with a fairly nice keyboard and mouse (that hook up with USB plugs) and a 19 inch flat screen monitor that you really like and a all-in-one printer scanner that is working great.  You want to get a new computer to replace your older computer that you don't want to use anymore.  I would look for just a computer with no bundle because you already have everything else you want.

Scenario #2
You have a 8 year old computer that you've just run the dog out of.  The keys are sticking on your old keyboard and your mouse keeps freezing up on you, you have an old 17 inch CRT monitor (big and heavy) and you have an old printer that only prints in black.  In this case I would look for a bundled package to replaces the computer as well as it's monitor, keyboard, mouse and maybe the printer too.

Scenario #3
You or your child are going back to school and would like to be more mobile and you're thinking about a laptop.  Know that to get a comparable computer as your desktop PC you will be spending more money (but not as much more as in years gone by).  I would look for a  laptop that had a good wireless G or wireless N card for starters.  If you're going to keep it stationary at your dorm or apartment I would opt for a 17 inch screen model, but if you need to tote it around a lot then go for the 15 inch screen models.  Get a carrying case right off the bat.  Not only does this keep your more portable, it is great for protecting your laptop.  Also, look for a wireless mouse for your laptop because you're going to get tired of the little touchpad real soon.  Other than that, only get the accessories that you'll use because the pourpose of a laptop is to stay mobile.
Buying a PC #5 CD / DVD / Writable drives

The CD / DVD drives were once thought of as a luxury item.  Back during the 1980's we scoffed and made fun of our parents 8 track tape players and thought our 4 head cassette tape players were the greatest thing since sliced bread, but along came the CD.  In those days when you talked about CD's you were usually at a bank talking about certificates of deposit, but now days a CD is usually talking about compact discs.  With this new disc you could store quite a bit more than you ever would with a handful of floppy discs.

In the 90's we saw the invent of the CD writable disc and finally the CD re-writable discs.  The same progression for the audio industry came to the video industry as well with the invention of the DVD disc which when applied to data could hold almost 3 times as much as it's CD counterpart.

Now in the early 2000's we are seeing the blueray discs that promis even more storage capacity.

With the choices out there now, I would only say "be wise".  Make sure that whatever you buy that you can read DVD's and CD's.  It will probably be writable and in all likelyhood it will be re-writable.  It may even have a built in label image inscriber.  Options are good, but only you will know what you want to use it for.

January 03, 2009

Co-Operation Through Community

Today I'd like to talk about co-operation through community.

For years I've been telling people that you don't have to be the smartest or most talented computer wiz to accomplish great things because there is always someone out there that is 1. smarter than you are 2. has gone through your problem and solved it already 3. would like to tell the world about how they did it.

This concept is embodied in Linus's Law which is defined as "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow" or in other words, with enough users looking at the same problems a solution will rise to the surface.

The problem lies in a few egotistical dog-in-the-manger types who believe that knowledge should be kept hidden like a secret weapon only to be brought out from it's shroud of mystery for "shock and awe" and quickly hidden away again.

**** NEWS FLASH ****
To those of you that employ this tactic, you are fools. By isolating yourselves from the I.T. / Geek community you aren't preserving your jobs or making a great name for yourself, but quite to the contrary in that you show that you are not team players, can't be trusted and are in general a pain to work with.

Point in case...
At work, super Stevie comes in the other day with a bootable usb drive running a 16 bit MS-DOS shell that can run a few useful diagnostics programs and some other useful tools and has a mini version of windows 98. I show a little interest on how he made it and he becomes tighter than Fort Knox. This is his "secret" and he won't tell anyone about it.

Guess what super Stevie... who cares? You figured it out, and if I need it bad enough I'll figure it out too and then your superdie special secret will be public knowledge to anyone who asks me and then you'll have to find another artificial way of making yourself important.

** One Last Thought **
If the local burger joint has two hamburger flippers and one of them has a plain steel spatula with a black plastic handle and the other gets a gold plated spatula with an ivory handle, aren't they both still hamburger flippers????

Make yourself special for what you have to offer, not for what you refuse to share.

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