What Is a Solid State Drive and Why Do I Need One?

For the past five years or so, whenever Chris had to replace a hard drive in a Mac or PC, or is designing a new computer for a customer, he always recommends that they get a Solid State Drive (SSD), rather than the traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD).   Why?

First of all, here’s a great explanation from PC Magazine of how a HDD saves your data:

“The traditional spinning hard drive (HDD) is the basic nonvolatile storage on a computer. That is, it doesn’t “go away” like the data on the system memory when you turn the system off. Hard drives are essentially metal platters with a magnetic coating. That coating stores your data, whether that data consists of weather reports from the last century, a high-definition copy of the Star Wars trilogy, or your digital music collection. A read/write head on an arm accesses the data while the platters are spinning in a hard drive enclosure.”

And here’s a description from TechTerms on how the Solid State Drive works:

“While SSDs serve the same function as hard drives, their internal components are much different. Unlike hard drives, SSDs do not have any moving parts (which is why they are called solid state drives). Instead of storing data on magnetic platters, SSDs store data using flash memory. Since SSDs have no moving parts, they don’t have to “spin up” while in a sleep state and they don’t need to move a drive head to different parts of the drive to access data. Therefore, SSDs can access data faster than HDDs.”

For a long time, I just didn’t get it. Why is “newer” always “better” for these geeks?! Chris patiently explained to me some of the benefits.

More Robust:
Because a Solid State Drive has no moving parts, there aren’t any parts to break. This makes the SSD perfect for those who don’t count “grace” as one of their better qualities. It’s also a better choice for frequent travelers

Speed:
SSD’s are faster. I’ve read that they are 100 times faster than HDD’s. Machines with an SSD will boot faster, open programs faster, transfer files faster. Games process more quickly too. When seconds count, choose an SSD.

Lighter:
When you’re lugging a laptop through an airport, you want to shed every excess ounce that you can.  SSD’s weigh slightly less than the HDD’s.

Downside:
SSD’s are more expensive to purchase than HDD’s. But, considering that the SSD will last longer, that’s only a short term problem.

Here are some additional articles on why the SSD is a better choice:
PC Magazine / OCZ / ThinLabs

Purchasing Recommendations:
If you are looking into purchasing a new SSD, C|NET has some great recommendations here.

Once you get your new SSD, we can help you install it – just give us a call!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

iPad Games For Your Cat

I’ve been hearing about games you can play with your cat on your iPad.  I decided to try a few and see how Dot (our cat) liked them.    I started with this article on MacLife.com.

I have a silly rule about applications for my phone and iPad.  All apps (except for the ones required for business) must be free!  Most of the free apps I found were published by Purina/Friskies.

If you don’t have a screen protector, I’d recommend getting one before letting your cat play with your iPad!

First we tried Cat Fishing 2.  Dot seemed interested in the fish swimming around the screen and watched them intently.  But she never tried to catch them or attack them in any way.  The game makes two sounds.  Dot didn’t seem to notice the fish bubbles, but when the iPad meowed at her, she jumped about a mile!

Cat Fishing 2
Cat Fishing 2

Next we tried Nifty Cat Games.  It showed a fly buzzing across the screen.  Before Dot could express an interest one way or another – a mere fifteen seconds later – this nifty screen popped up:

Time Out!
Time Out!

Next we tried Game for Cats.  I’m starting to think my cat just is too cool for the iPad.  Here’s a photo of her with the laser tag game:

Yawn....
Yawn….

I think we’ll just stick to the old fashioned cat toys!

Dot vs. Cat Toy
Dot vs. Cat Toy

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

What Do I Do With My MF (Multi-Function) PRINTER?!

No matter where I am, when I mention what I do, the questions start flying. Last Sunday, the conversation centered around printers.

The problem with printers these days is they are designed to be a throw-away appliance. The cheaper ones may last for a year or two, but even the more expensive ones can break down, and then it’s more efficient to just get a new one.

Here are some of the common printer problems:

Paper Jam
If you have a paper jam, the first thing to do is to pull out the paper holder. Sometimes the paper is just stuck coming out of the holder. If that doesn’t work, carefully open up your machine and turn all the knobs and wheels that move the paper forward. If you can see where the paper is stuck, carefully give the paper a little tug to see if you can pull it out. If it feels like it might start to tear, stop pulling. Continue moving the knobs and wheels until the entire piece of paper has been removed. In rare cases, the jam is so severe that the paper cannot be removed.  In equally rare cases, the paper may bend some of the metal bars.   In that case, it’s probably time to look for a new printer.

Driver upgrade
Sometimes, with both Mac and Windows machines, your computer will take an upgrade overnight which then requires a new software printer driver for your printer.   Go to your printer’s website – Hewlett Packard, Dell, Brother, etc. – and download the new software. Once you have downloaded and installed the software, your printer should work again.

Wireless printer won’t connect to the wifi
If your computer suddenly can’t find your wireless printer, somehow the printer lost its connection to the Wi-Fi router.  Input your Wi-Fi code into the printer control panel and you should be good to go.

Printer won’t turn on
Sometimes a printer just won’t turn on. Check all of the connections. Is it plugged into the wall? Is the cord firmly pushed into the back of the printer?  You might need to try a hardware reset of the printer back to its default settings.  If it still won’t turn on, remove the power cord and let it rest for a little while or over night. If it still won’t turn on, it’s time to get a new printer.

New Printer?
What do you look for in a new printer? There are several options, which depend on your preferences and requirements:

  • Ink Jet vs. Laser
  • Black vs. 4-color
  • Printer only vs. Multi-Function (Copy, Print, Scan, Fax)

I really only have strong opinions about the first option. Get a laser printer. Yes, they are a little more expensive to purchase, but they cost less to operate in the long run. In addition, the ink in a laser printer doesn’t dry out. If you only use your printer occasionally, the ink in an ink jet printer will dry out (because it is water-based) and you’ll need to purchase ink much more frequently.

Of course, we can help you with  your printer issues.  Give us a call and give me a run-down of the symptoms.  If it can be fixed in a reasonable amount of time, I’ll let you know.  If not, I’ll let you know that too.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

The Geek That Calls You Back – and Other True Stories

We get calls all the time from people who say “I’ve had this problem for a week, but my regular geek isn’t getting back to me.”  When people say that, it always makes me wonder.  How can you expect your customers to treat you with respect when you have a sub-standard level of professionalism?  We provide a professional service and treat our customers how we want to be treated.

The geek that lets you shoulder surf:  Chris likes for our customers to know more after their service than they did before. Ask questions! Chris will answer them, but more than that…

The geek that treats you like an intelligent human:  We’ve all seen that show where the geek comes to fix your computer and makes fun of you because you don’t know the difference between a RAM and a gig. Chris knows that you’re an intelligent person who has skills in areas other than fixing computers. He treats you with respect and kindness.

The geek that’s not on commission:  When you bring your computer to a “big box store” for repair, everyone you talk to is probably earning a commission. It’s in their best interests to tell you that your computer can’t be repaired, or that you’d be better off with this new computer on the shelf over there.

The geek that comes to your home:  Have you had a problem with your computer and you pack it up and bring it in to the store, but the problem magically disappears? Then comes back when you get it back home? Even laptops, which are supposed to “work everywhere”, will have issues only in one place. When we come to your home, all the problems that were there yesterday, won’t mysteriously disappear just because we walk through the door!

The geek with 30+ years of experience:  Yup, you read that number correctly. It makes me laugh when I see an IT company with two geeks that proclaim “OVER 15 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE!!” (Each geek has worked with computers for 7 or 8 years.)  Chris has been working with computers since high school.  He has kept up-to-date with changes over the years. Today, he’s just as comfortable with a MacPro or a Surface as he is with the old PDP-11.

The geek that’s been around for over 15 years:  We intend to be around for a lot more. That means consistent service for you from someone who knows you and knows how you work. There’s a trust there that’s built over the years.  We watch your kids grow up. There’s an honor about being let into our customer’s lives. We grieve with you when your house gets flooded or is in the middle of a wildfire. We celebrate with you when you get a new puppy, or your kids graduate from high school.

And, we know computers, and we’ll call you back.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.