Technology


I have recently written an article on Getting Rid Of Dust Inside A Computer. To read it click HERE.

Dust can be a killer if left inside your pc, so regular cleaning inside will not only make it run cooler, it will prolong it’s life. It’s also simple to do.

I have recently added an article on another website about Combatting Spam. You can read it HERE.

It gives you ideas, hints and tips on combatting spam and other scams freely sent to our in-boxes daily. If you want to stop these unwanted emails read the article.

Word 2007 icon.

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There is so much software out there today it starts to get confusing when you are searching for the right program. Office programs, computer care and protection, even cloud based programs designed to give you, the user the ability to access your documents no matter where in the world you are. If you are not computer savvy then this can lead to you going out and buying software that the shop assistant pushes your way. With the advent of the internet there came with it a whole new world of software, with much of it free to the customer who cares to download it. And this is the aim of this short article, to give you another option when you need software and in particular Office software. It’s not conclusive but gives one a taster of what’s out there for free.

Office Programs

Ever since Microsoft released their first Operating System, Windows 3 they have had a small and basic word program for you to use. Over the years the program has stood the test of time but been somewhat neglected, until the advent of Windows 7. A new interface and buttons for you to play with, WordPad is an excellent choice if you only write the occasional letter.

OpenOffice is a word program that rivals Microsoft’s own Office suite, only Open Office is free. It has the ability to open almost any document format including Microsoft’s own extensions. Looks similar to Microsoft’s interface and is easy to use. You can download it from the internet which won’t take long then save it to a CD for future use.

Did you know you can download Microsoft’s latest office software FREE? Well you can but only for 60 days. You can download the latest office application and try it free of charge for 60 days, then purchase it if you want to afterwards. It’s fully unlocked for you to try and is a great way in which to get Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and other applications. I will let you into a secret. After the 60 days is up uninstall it, reboot your computer then re-download it using another email address. You now have a fully working office program FREE to use for another 60 days.

There are lots of other Office programs out there online and these are just some of the popular ones. If you are in need of any kind of software, always look for a free program before you go out and buy a more expensive version. Free doesn’t always mean rubbish these days and it could save you a fortune.

If you can think of anymore Office suites that are free, why not let us know?

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The WASD keyboard setup is used widely.

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As more and more of us go online it also seems there are more and more unscrupulous people who are out to get everything they can from you. That includes bank details, your identity and of course your passwords.

It’s a fact of life now when we go onto a website that if we want to participate we have to sign up meaning creating a username and password. This is where we all fall down and leave ourselves open to these people who want our information. What I am talking about is the use of passwords and the fact that most of us use the same one for every website, forum and social networking site we frequent.

So what should we do to make it impossible for anyone to get our details?

It’s quite simple really. NEVER ever use the same password for more than one website. I know many of us go to tens or even hundreds of websites every day and we need to put our details in every time, and to be honest it gets a little monotonous and annoying, but that’s what these scammers and hackers want. You see if you use the same password all the time then anyone who does get hold of your details has an easy time taking over your identity, and that means they can post, purchase and do pretty much what they want as the password is the same.

I know its tedious inputting different passwords every time we want to go to our favourite websites, and another problem is remembering them all too. But it is important to have different ones and there are ways in which you can make your life easier online.

Before we go into storing all those passwords we need to know how and where you can make a password, how to make one up, how many characters it should have and what NOT to use.

Where can you make a Password?

Well if, like me you struggle to think of a password when you are signing up to a website there are a few other things you can use. One is a website which has a small piece of software on it that allows you to create a password. Another step is to download a free copy of a password generator. Look online and you will see that there are pages of online or desktop password generators available so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something.

Making a Password Up

The ideal number of characters in a password is between 12 and 14 characters long. When making a password it’s always advisable to use numbers and letters including UPPER and lower case, special characters’ like slashes and other symbols on the keyboard.

What NOT to Use

It is not advisable to use things like a date of birth, favourite football teams, pet names or any other piece of information easily available to everyone. Social security or National Insurance number? Forget it. All that does is give the hacker even more information as he now has your SSN. The password you generate should also be easy to remember, easier said than done I know when you have one which has so many different characters.

Storing that all Important Data

Once you have different passwords for all those favourite websites, blogs, forums and social networking websites how can you remember them all? Well unless you have a photographic memory that could be a problem but help is at hand.

Look online and do a search for something like “storing different passwords” and you will be immediately shown lots of websites that offer you software which will remember all your passwords inside one program. All you have to do then is remember the master password so you can get to the passwords. Some of these programs are free so it pays to take some time and choose one you feel comfortable with, and read any comments other users have left if there are any.

Using different passwords for all those websites you frequent is a must. Yes it does get annoying having to remember them all then input them into the password box. But in the end it can save you from being taken over from some of these nasty people that only want to take from you what they can. Help is at hand too in order for you to store all the passwords so to be honest there is no excuse is there?

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This was a highlighter and uv light image.

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Sometimes just going to the local store and picking the first computer one sees, hoping it will do all you require it to do won’t suffice, and the chances are you will need to mod or upgrade a computer. Upgrading a computer can involve replacing the standard video card, memory and CPU if they won’t run the latest games or many of the high performance pieces of software available on today’s market. So when you do buy a pc off the shelf upgrading at the same time is a good idea.

 

What if you already have a computer and you want to upgrade that? Well there are options galore from a computer CPU upgrade, memory and graphics card as mentioned above, even a nice new case like those lovely modded cases that glow in the dark can be classed as computer upgrading.

clip_image002Why should you need a pc upgrade? Well when buying a branded computer many manufacturers will make a bulk standard pc which will serve most people’s needs whether it’s for the internet or using programs like office, playing games or movie editing. So if you want something a little more powerful you either go to an independent computer shop and get them to

A hard drve cooler will keep your hard drive cool and prolong it’s life.

build one for you to your specifications, or you purchase the pc off the shelf and upgrades at the same time then do the job yourself. Many major manufacturers now allow you to upgrade the computer so long as you do not damage it, by that I mean damage the motherboard or other parts as you will void any warranty.

If you already have a pc then upgrading will mean it will probably run better and faster, run the latest software products and games and be an all-round more high performance pc compared to the old one you had before, oh and you are being kind on the environment in not throwing away the old computer, rather upgrading it.

clip_image003Have you seen those jazzy cases with lights inside? Those green, red and blue light tubes that light up the inside of the case showing off all the neat cables which have UV ends. When the UV lights are switched on they give the inside of the case a wonderful glow especially in the dark. What about those cables too that light up when a UV light is shone on them? When done proper these cases look magical and you end up spending more time looking inside the case then you do looking at the monitor, well I did anyway when I first modded mine! But they are easy to do. You may have to purchase another case, one with a transparent side panel then transfer everything from the old to the new case. If one is not so sure then the local friendly computer shop will come in handy or maybe a relative who is computer savvy.

But it’s not just under the cover that one can upgrade or accessorize. Things like a better keyboard and mouse can be important in today’s computer age, plus the keyboard and mouse one gets with computers don’t tend to be very good do they? As they do most of the work, having a good quality board and mouse is important. Even speakers are no longer luxuries in today’s computer household. With Social Networking and the chance to stream music and video via the internet into your home, a good quality set of speakers is now a necessity whether a twin set at the side of the monitor or the multimedia speaker systems that allow one to hear even the tiniest of noises all around the house.

Have you thought about a printer? What about an all in one printer? What they will give the user is invaluable especially if one works from home. An all in one printer now gives the user the ability to not only print but copy and scan meaning an end to a scanner and copy machine in the home or office, and they are very cheap to purchase.

As one can see upgrading or modding a computer can be done and in most cases it’s easy to do, you only require minimal expertise at best. Even adding keyboards and mice to a system can make a big difference. They now make life easier as these have become multimedia objects that will do everything from opening a Word doc to playing Spotify and iTunes by pressing 1 button. One word of caution. If you intend to upgrade that new branded PC or any PC you brought from a shop make sure you won’t void the warranty. As mentioned above most will let you upgrade but it’s worth checking first.

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AMD x86-64, Dual Core 64bit microprocessor

Image by photo2010u via Flickr

Buying a computer to some people can seem like a daunting task while to others it’s a piece of cake. Those people seem to know the ins and outs of the computer market, know what to look for in a computer from the CPU, memory and hard drive while you just sit at home and wonder what it all means.

What to look for when buying a computer doesn’t have to be difficult, just follow some simple and basic rules and in no time at all you will be sitting in front of a nice new shiny computer.

1. First you will need to decide what you will be using the computer for. You might want the best and fastest computer available, but do you really need it? Decide on what you are going to use the computer for. Surfing the net, office or spreadsheets are all things that require little processing power so buying the fastest computer out there will not be of any benefit to you. On the other hand if you are going to be playing state of the art games, watch video and TV then you will need one that is more powerful than one for spreadsheets.

2. It will be a good thing for a newbie to computers to buy a complete system. That means buying a computer with a monitor, keyboard and mouse included in the price. That way you won’t have to look at all the different monitors, mice and keyboards that are on the market. Trust me picking those items is a lot worse than choosing a computer!

3. Once you have decided what you will be doing with your new computer decide on how much you can afford to spend and stick to that price range. There are many different computers out there, all with different specifications so having a price range and an idea on what one will be using a computer for will go a long way in deciding what’s best for you.

4. Now you are ready to look around for computers. It pays to check in as many different places as one can which will mean magazines and newspapers, online and of course going to shops and malls looking at the different ones available. This is probably the best option for a novice as one can see the computers on the shelves. Remember, stick to the price range you know you can afford and don’t be afraid when in shops to ask questions, lots of questions. Warranties and service contracts are important too so get the best available. Sometimes it pays to buy a computer with a little more power than you may need. Also hard drive space, graphics and memory may seem like equations to the meaning of life to you at the moment but try to get the best you can afford, that way if in the future you do decide to play games, make movies or music or even build your own games then that extra computing power, graphics and memory will serve you well.

5. One good way of purchasing a computer is to buy a branded computer. Nowadays there is so much choice available to the consumer it can work to your advantage. One company will offer one thing while another will offer a bigger or better item. Plus buying a branded computer can give one the peace of mind that it’s from a reputable computer maker.

6. Do you know someone who is into computers? Well take them along or ask for advice. It seems that every household has at least one person who is into computers and knows all the ins and outs, so asking them will help you enormously.

Now that you know how to buy a computer you can go out there and buy a new computer that you really want, not what someone else wants you to have. Enjoy your new computer and always look at trying new things with it like multimedia, games and the other things one can enjoy with a computer. Buying a computer isn’t hard now is it?

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Tux, as originally drawn by Larry Ewing

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One of the worst things that can happen to you and your computer is your Operating System not booting up when you switch your computer on. Panic ensues as you realise that you have tons of information on the hard drive that you desperately need including all those family pictures. And guess what? You have never backed up in your life.

So what do you do after the panic has subsided and the sadness has taken over? Well there are actually some ways in which you can take all that important information off that hard drive, and if the drive is no longer working then you still might be able to get what you want.

If the computer powers up but it won’t load the operating system and instead you get error messages then this workaround could be your salvation.

Don’t Despair…Yet

One of the ways you can try is by using a copy of a free program like Knoppix. Knoppix is Linux based and doesn’t need to be installed on your computer like Windows does. You can boot Knoppix from a CD or DVD and once you have access to the desktop recover that info onto media like a CD or DVD, USB stick or even another hard drive.

Knoppix, What’s that?

Well Knoppix, as mentioned earlier is Linux based and Open Source which means anyone is free to download and use the software. You can even make changes to the software to make it even better. It runs from either a CD or DVD and comes packed with lots of other Open Source software like Open Office, Mozilla and MySQL being just a few. No matter how experienced you are with computers you can be assured that Knoppix is easy to use and comes with user guides that are simple to understand. There are lots of websites and Wiki’s out there that will also help you should the worst happen and you don’t understand something.

CD or DVD, Which One for You?

That really depends on you the user. You have the choice of downloading both versions on the website. The DVD version comes with more free Open Source products for you to try so if you are a software freak then that choice could be for you. But whichever choice you make both will do the same thing and that is to access the hard drive with all that important information on.

You Have the Disc, Now What?

So you have the disk now what do you do? Well it’s really simple, put the disk into your CD/DVD rom and close the tray. You will want to store the information on something when you get into the hard drive so plug in a USB stick so you can transfer everything over to that. After that switch off the computer then back on again.

Patience is a Virtue

Once the pc is switched back on it will automatically find the CD/DVD and ask you if you want to boot into Linux. Press Enter as asked then sit back and wait.

Patience is a virtue and none more so when booting up from software like Knoppix so be patient as it finds the USB stick then installs the installation files needed to boot up onto a virtual RAM drive.

Once it has booted up into Knoppix you will find your drive on the desktop along with the USB stick. Now you will have to make the USB stick writeable so you can transfer all the files across to it. Right click on the read/write mode and make it writable. Then copy the files you need to the USB stick and when satisfied close the windows down. To log out of Knoppix right click on the desktop and select Log Out and then follow any instructions that come up.

What can go Wrong?

Sometimes the best laid plans won’t always come into effect and something goes wrong like the computer doesn’t read the CD when booting up.

Question. When you boot up your computer it doesn’t read the CD/DVD.

Answer. Well that would be because the computer is booting from the hard drive first when it should be the CD/DVD. You will have to get your hands dirty with this and go into the BIOS (Basic Input/output System.) To do that when the computer starts you will have to usually press the F2 or F10 key, sometimes you will have to press the Del key but computers are all different. If you are unsure look at the screen when it powers up, usually in the left hand corner it will tell you. Once you are inside the BIOS you will have to navigate to the page that allows you to change the order of booting and change the setting from hard drive or HD0 to CD/DVD drive. Once you have changed the order so that the CD/DVD is the first booting device save the settings and reboot.

Please, at this stage do not change any other of the settings in the BIOS otherwise you could end up with your computer either not booting or having problems when it does.

Simple Isn’t It?

So there you have it. A once inaccessible hard drive can be accessed via a piece of software which is Open Source and freely available.

One thing does stick out though in these circumstances and that is backing up. If you were to back up the hard drive on a regular basis then you wouldn’t need to go through this. So before your hard drive says goodnight Vienna why not backup now?

There is other Open Source software you can try including Ubuntu which basically does the same. Even if you don’t have problems software like Linux can be used instead of the usual Windows operating system. Go ahead and play around, you won’t break anything. Honestly!

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