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Monday, November 28, 2016

Thinking about buying a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are cool, they're light weight...and they're fast....much faster than their Windows counterparts.
Chromebooks boot up in 10 seconds or less. 
This is in comparison of a Windows 10 machine. A clean Windows 10 with minimum startup processes, have an average boot time between 45 seconds to 1:30. Of course this boot time for Windows depends on the type of processor and amount of RAM involved.

You're probably saying "Wow!...a 10 second boot up time! I'm replacing my laptop with a Chromebook!"
WHOAA partner....not so fast. 

The speed of a Chromebook comes with a price....and I'm not talking money (they're actually very inexpensive). Chromebooks are a different breed altogether.

Traditional operating systems like Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX require a large portion of the computers hard drive in order to run. The Chrome OS is built on the Linux kernel*, however everything is done on the Chrome browser. It's a web app driven OS.

Remember when I said Chromebooks are lightweight? Because everything is done online (in the "cloud"), Chromebooks don't have a ton of storage.
Most have 16GB of SSD Hard Drive space with 2-4GB of RAM to play with. That's not much compared to full fledged Windows laptops that usually boast 900GB hard drives and 4-6GB of ram. However storage on a Chromebook can always be expanded when adding an external Hard Drive or USB drive.
Concerning processors most Chromebooks have Celeron chips, which is Intels' budget

Anything you can do online, you can do with a Chromebook.
Checking your bank account....Facebook....Twitter....Youtube.....Yahoo.....checking up on the news or your stock portfolio. Working online and offline with word documents, spreadsheets and presentations are done with Google docs as well.

Chromebooks are optimized for Googles Web Store where there are plenty of browser extensions, web apps, and games.
Web Store for Chrome OS
You'll be able to play classic games like "Cut The Rope" and "Bejeweled", but because of the light graphics processor, you won't be playing any major game hits that are on Window PCs. Google is currently updating the Chrome OS so Android games on the Play Store will be accessible on Chromebooks.

The battery lifetime is where Chromebooks are king. Chromebooks average 10hrs of use on a fully charged system compared to a Windows PC which average 6-7hrs.

So if you're deciding on buying a Chromebook, the big question should be "What will you be using it for". Chromebooks are incredibly affordable and fast, and they come in a variety of sizes and spec, but they are limited in graphics processing power and onboard storage space. If you're looking at a second laptop just to get onlne, and you like Googles services, a Chromebook will work great for you.

*In fact, back in 2009, Canonical, Ubuntus parent company, worked very closly with Google in creating Chrome OS.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Advantages of a SSD over HDD

There are big advantages switching from a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to a SSD or Solid State Drive.

Advantages of SSDs:

Boot up time: A computer which has a HDD (Hard Disk Drives) has to wait for the disks (platters) to spin up to a specific rpm in order to read data.....usually 5400 or 7200 rpms. SSD contain flash (NAND) memory which is almost instantaneous when it comes to reading the operating system.

No Wear & Tear: A HDD contains moving parts.....the spinning disk or 'platter', the read/write armature or arm ...etc. These mechanical parts over time will wear out the more it is used. SSD's are made of flash memory which has no moving parts.

No Noise: Because SSDs contain no moving parts they are virtually silent compared to the noisy HDDs. 

Cooler: Physics tell us that moving parts against each other cause friction....thus making heat. Because of this, HDDs make alot more heat than SSDs. That's why many Chromebooks and netbooks have no fans as they use the cooler SSDs.
No fans mean less power usage....less power means more battery lifetime...see where I'm going with this?

Speed / performance: On a HDD, files get erased and new files are replaced over a period of time. Eventually parts of one single word document are all over the hard drive. The read/write head must search the HDD for the entire file. This is called 'fragmentation'. Reading files across an entire platter or disk takes time. In SSD there is no read/write head so data can be stored anywhere and access is almost instantaneous.

Disadvantages of SSDs:

One of the disadvantages of SSDs is that the price per GB is 15-20 cents more than a HDD.
That means a 1TB SSD costs $200-$230 compared to a HDD of the same size which costs only $40-50.

Memory Wear Out:
One of the hottest discussions in the tech industry concerning SSDs is 'memory wear out'.
Flash memory is measured in write cycles, or program/erase (P/E) cycles. Because of the inherent nature of flash memory, the lifecycle of SSDs are limited in the number of times data is written.

When data is written on a block of memory, the entire block must be erased first. Depending on the type of NAND memory of the SSD, the write cycles may be from 30,000 writes to 100,000 writes.
Don't stress over this too much. A technology called "wear leveling" ensures data is written over a broad spectrum of memory blocks on the SSD so not one single block gets hit. Writing to a single block of flash memory 30,000 times would be the equivalent of you sitting at your laptop and pressing the "Enter" key 1 thousand times a day for an entire month.

The future of storage

Solid State Drive technology is evolving quickly with different types of memory storage. SLC, MLC, TLC are different types of NAND, which is a type of flash memory that retains memory when the power is off.
Samsung and Intel are working on 3D NAND, and Intel may soon boast the worlds largest SSD at 10GB with the new technology.

Hard disk drives are still the king when it comes to size and price, however as SSDs become cheaper, expect more to show up on systems and will soon to overtake HDDs.
It's expected next year that 41% of laptops to arrive with SSDs and are expected to overtake HDDs by 2018.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Windows as a service - what does it mean for you?

It's been a tradition of sorts with Microsoft releasing a new version of Windows every few years and the incremental security updates to that version. Then as a new release of Windows was to occur, updates to the previous version would slowly come to an end. And the support of the previous versions would end along with the *lifecycle.

For more information on Windows Lifecycles check out Microsofts Lifecycle page. You'll find that Windows 10 support and updates are N/A and have no end date.

When Windows 10 was released last summer, it was a pleasant surprise. The return of the Start Menu and Cortana, among other wonderful features. Of all the questions many users had the most popular would be "What will the next version of Windows look like?"

That question will very likely become obsolete (a word I don't like using), as Microsoft Vice President of Windows and Devices Group Terry Meyson explained.

"This is more than a one-time upgrade: once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no cost. With Windows 10, the experience will evolve and get even better over time. We’ll deliver new features when they’re ready, not waiting for the next major release. We think of Windows as a Service – in fact, one could reasonably think of Windows in the next couple of years as one of the largest Internet services on the planet."

What does this mean exactly? It means Microsoft no longer will release new versions of Windows. Instead the consumer will receive constant updates with new or improved features of Windows ....and this is the best no cost! No more XP, Vista or Windows 7....just Windows!

Essentially you'll always be getting access to the latest operating system. The cons? As OEMs such as HP, Dell and Toshiba manufacture their latest PCs with the newest hardware there will likely be driver and compatibility issues until Microsoft catches up with the updates.

So there you have it.....there won't be a Windows 11 or Windows'll always have the latest version of Windows on your ;-)

The official Microsoft technet blog here.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Rooting, Unlocking and Jailbreaking - What's the difference?

Note: This article describes the differences between the three. The steps to Root an Android, or "Jailbreak" an Apple iOS device are very detailed and will be covered another day. There are plenty of How To's on Youtube and other sites as well.

I come across many people who use those terms interchangeably. I head a friend a few months ago say, "I'm going to unlock my iPhone so i can tweak the settings". I looked at him and had to laugh, but cleared things up for him
All three describe different procedures on different cell phones.

All unlocking means is to allow a device which was previously restricted to a specifc carrier can be "unlocked" to be used with another carrier.......Let's say you're not happy with your current carrier and you want to switch to another phone company because they have a better deal. Whoever your current carrier is, call their customer service to have the phone unlocked.

Usually carriers place a few restrictions in order to have a phone unlocked. The phone must not be reported stolen or lost (a clean IMEI). It must be paid for. It can't be on a payment plan or contract.

It's much easier to have a carrier unlock a phone today than it was 5 years ago.  In 2015 a federal bill was passed requiring carriers to unlock consumer phones if they no longer were under the standard two year contract.

Jailbreaking is a term known among iOS consumers. When you "jailbreak" an Apple device, you're bypassing software and security restrictions which Apple has placed on the device. Unfortunately Apple frowns upon "jailbreaking" as well and deems the warranty of your device void if you do, however it is legal to do so in the U.S. In other countries not so.

When you "jailbreak" an iPhone or iOS device and it allows root access to the iOS file system, so applications, extensions, and themes unavailable through the official Apple App Store can be downloaded. Jailbreaking allows you access to apps which Apple doesn't authorize or isn't available at the Apple Store.

The Android operating system already allows you to "sideload" apps. (To install from 3rd party sites other than the Play Store) Android gives you free rein in that territory.
When you "root" an android device you access administrative functions and system files and folders.

You might be saying " what?...what does that do for me?"

When you root an Android device, you open an entire new world of ROM's; third-party systems and not only with the original ROM.
Custom ROMs replace the pre-installed version of Android on devices. Some Roms allow certain performance tweaks such as adjusting processor speed.
Simply Google 'Android Rom's" and you'll see what I mean.

So there you have it.
Jailbreaking is basically bypassing Apples security restrictions on an iOS device (iPhone, iPad...etc) in order to download and install apps which are not listed in the App Store. Rooting gives an Android user administrative access to system files which allow the user to install new Android Rom's (custom versions of Android)

Friday, November 11, 2016

The difference between Sleep & Hibernate on a Windows machine

You're in the midst of typing an email up and it's dinner time. You're not ready to send that email off just yet, and you don't want to shut down the you click the start menu and send in off to Sleep....or should you use Hibernate instead?

What's the difference?

Using Sleep in Windows uses low power. The machine is still on, and any programs that are open will remain open. It's similar to pausing a DVD player. *Turn back on Windows by moving the mouse, tapping a key on the keyboard or opening the lid if it's a laptop. 
 *If it's laptop and the battery is low during Sleep, Windows may shut down to prevent damage to the battery.

The Hibernate option is specifically designed for laptops where battery drain would be a concern. When you place a PC in Hibernation, the current programs and apps stay open, any open documents and files are saved and the computer shuts down. 
When you turn back on your system, you'll start back right where you left off. Unlike Sleep Mode, Windows completely shuts the PC down so it's slightly slower getting back to your PC. 

The Hibernate option in Windows 10 should be available in the Power Menu, but if it isn't it's fairly simple to add it.

Enabling Hibernate option
In the Search bar, type Power Options. A Control Panel named Power Options should be listed. Click that. 

When the Control Panel open click "Choose What The Power Buttons Do"

At the top of the next screen, select and click "Change Settings That Are Currently Unavailable"

Scroll down on the next page and click the box to the left of "Hibernate" and Save Changes. That's all it takes! 
Now when you click the power button at the Start Menu, you'll have the option to use Hibernate

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