Laptop Trivia

I’m up next for a new computer at Geek For Hire, so I’ve been thinking about all the computers I’ve had.

I remember carrying my first laptop through the Pittsburgh airport. At the time it was called a “portable computer”, and technically it was, although Chris called it a “luggable”. The computer was made by Hewlett-Packard, had a separate disk drive, a separate printer, and may or may not have had an internal battery. (We can’t remember.) It had a very small (5″?) black & white screen and ran on DOS 2.11. Of course, I needed to bring all of this with me on my business trips. All together they probably weighed 25 or 30 pounds and I would have deep indentations in my shoulders when I arrived at my destination!

The HP 110 used the MS-DOS 2.11 operating system

The HP 110 used the MS-DOS 2.11 operating system

My new laptop will weigh about three pounds and will be a gazillion times faster.

The portable computer was first imagined by Alan Kay of Xerox in 1968. He wrote a paper at that time and called it a “Dynabook”. A commercially available portable computer didn’t appear on the scene until 1975 when IBM released their SCAMP 5100. (For you acronym junkies, that’s Special Computer APL Machine Portable, and it was based on the PALM processor or Put All Logic in Microcode.)

Those first portable computers weighed around 24 pounds, had a 5″ CRT screen and a 5.25″ floppy drive for storing your data. Following Moore’s Law, laptops became faster and lighter relatively quickly.

Moore’s law: the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

Chris’ first portable machine was a Zeos 386, which he got when he was a consultant for Chase. It ran the DOS 5.0 operating system, had a backlit screen, and a battery that lasted for two hours! And, at only 9 pounds, it was light as a feather compared to my HP. Of course we still have it:

Zeos 386 - MS-DOS 5.0 - manufactured in 1990

Zeos 386 – MS-DOS 5.0 – manufactured in 1990

All of the Utilities for the machine were kept on the boot disk:

Zeos Boot Disk

Zeos Boot Disk

When did you get your first laptop or portable computer? Which operating system did it use? Let us know in the comments below!

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 at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area. They can provide remote service throughout North America.

12 Smartphone Apps

There are some great applications out there for your smartphone – and a lot of them are free to download and use.  No matter who your carrier is, or which phone you have, you can find apps that appeal to your interests.  Here are some that I use, or that have been recommended to me.  I’ve also included the links so you can add them to your smartphone!

Any.Do – Organizing your life – Apple/ iTunes   or Android

Cocktail Flow – because not everyone still has a copy of Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide in their liquor cabinet – Apple/ iTunes   or Android

Dropbox – connect all of your devices (laptop, tablet, phone) and access all of your files in one place!  (Did you remember to backup your data today?  Dropbox does it for you.) – Apple/ iTunes   or Android

FxGuru – add special effects to your boring home video – Apple/ iTunes   or Android

Google Translate – This app translates text, symbols, and speech! – Apple/ iTunes   or Android

IMDb – Best place to find out what your favorite actor/director/producer is working on this year – Apple/ iTunes  or  Android

NASA – lots of archives, links, pictures, and video – Apple/ iTunes   or Android

Peppa’s Paintbox – because you’re still a kid at heart – Apple/ iTunes or Android

Shazam – you’re listening to a tune, but can’t remember the title?  Shazam it!  – Apple/ iTunes  or  Android

SwiftKey Keyboard – “super-accurate autocorrect and intelligent next-word prediction”.  I’d like some of that!  – Apple/ iTunes  or  Android

Twickets – lets you buy and sell extra tickets at (or below) face value.  Scalpers go elsewhere! – Apple/ iTunes   or Android

Weather Underground – one of the best weather apps out there – Apple/ iTunes  or  Android

Which apps are your favorites?  Let us know in the comments below!

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 at www.GeekForHireInc.com. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides (Tier 3) onsite service to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Data Transfer vs. Data Recovery

We’ve been doing a lot of Data Recovery lately so I asked Chris to tell us what is involved in Data Recovery and how it is different from Data Transfer.

Although Data Transfer and Data Recovery are similar phrases, they are different in important ways.

Data transfer is the act of copying data directly from one device to another. (For example when you purchase a new Mac and need to transfer your data from your old PC.) Data transfer tends to be much faster than Data Recovery, because it uses the native copy function provided by the Operating System. But, if there are physical problems on the device, or if the filesystem on the device is corrupt, data transfer will not work because it is not tolerant of errors.

Exploding Disk Drive!
Exploding Disk Drive!

Data recovery is performed by specialized software that is tolerant of physical disk errors and errors in the filesystem. It takes much more time to perform Data Recovery because the process has several steps.

Although Data Recovery is much slower to produce a Gigabyte of data, it is tolerant of errors so it is capable of getting to files and putting them back together.

There are five main steps in Data Recovery:

  1. Is the device accessible?
    • if the disk controller is unresponsive, we would need to replace that and retest;
    • if the disk does not physically turn, we will not attempt to fix;
    • if the disk “clicks” when it is turned on, this indicates internal damage within the hard drive which we will not attempt to fix;
    • if the data is overwritten, we will not know this until after the data is recovered and you have inspected your data
  2. Media Analysis (to find where the good data blocks and the bad data blocks are)
  3. File Analysis (to discover what disk blocks comprise which files and folders, and in what order)
  4. Data Selection (to choose which files and folders should be recovered because they are interesting and necessary, and which files and folders should not)
  5. Data Production (the act of creating new files from the recovered data onto an external hard drive).

Our method of recovering data is “Read Only”, meaning that we will not open the hard drive to get to your data; We will connect your hard drive to an adapter, and attempt to access the data through the disk. We will not open your hard drive because we don’t have a “Clean Room”, and we don’t have the spare parts or the specialized equipment necessary to transfer your platters to another drive in a way that would work and not damage your data. If we were to physically open your hard drive, we would introduce significant contamination to your disk, and this would not improve the chances of getting back your data.

If we find that we cannot access your data, we will stop work, because proceeding will not improve the chances of our getting your data.

If we cannot get your data, and you have a business case for getting your data, we recommend that you send your hard drive to one of the major data recovery companies and not to a local company which says they can do it. Because that company will get “one bite of the apple”; they will need to be able to open the disk in a clean room, and have the resources to get your data, because there is a serious risk that your drive will be polluted by their attempt.

There are a handful of Data Recovery companies in the country which specialize in recovering data from physically bad hard drives. They have a clean room, spare parts, and invasive methods of getting your data. They charge a lot more than we do, but we are usually successful, and we can determine in a reasonable amount of time whether Data Recovery is something we are likely to be successful in doing or not.

Our most exciting Data Recovery story happened several years ago.  There was a fire near Gold Hill, Colorado.  Our customer’s home survived the fire, but the next spring, with all the snow melt and spring rains, a mud slide buried their basement.  Their computer was covered in several feet of mud.  Chris carefully cleaned the machine and then started the data recovery process.  Success!

We can recover data from Windows or Mac hard drives.  The device can be formatted using the Windows filesystem or for the Mac filesystem. It doesn’t matter to us if the computer that the device came from is bootable or not, because the device will be removed from the “source” computer and then connected to an adapter, which will allow the data to be accessed directly.

Let us know if you have any questions about this process. Give us a call or send an email.

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.

Internet Searching Tips

Do you ever find yourself frustrated when searching for something on the internet?  You either get too much information, or it’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for.  Here are some tips that I use to streamline my searching:

EXACT MATCH:
When you use quotation marks, you only search for what is inside the quotes.  For example:

Coffeehouses “live music”

will bring up all the coffeehouses that have live music.

EXCLUSION:
When you use the minus sign, you’ll exclude that information from your search.  For example:

“Republican candidates” -“Donald Trump”

will bring up information about all the Republican candidates except Donald Trump.

WILD CARD:
When you use the asterisk with another word or phrase, you’ll get lots of different options. For example:

Hollywood *

will provide results like “Hollywood Bowl”, “Hollywood Blacklist”, and “Hollywood movies”.

SPECIFIC WEB SITE:
Do you want to search within a specific web site?  Use “site:website”. For example:

“Jerry Lewis” site:nyt.com

will bring up articles relating to Jerry Lewis on the New York Times site.

MORE:
Have you used Google’s Search Tabs? Underneath Google’s search bar, there are a number of options:

WEB     NEWS     IMAGES     VIDEOS     BOOKS     MORE     SEARCH TOOLS

NEWS:
If you are looking specifically for a news story that occurred in the last 24 hours,  follow these steps:

  1. Enter your search terms in the search bar.
  2. Click on the News tab.
  3. Click on the Search Tools Tab
  4. Click on “Anytime” and select “24 hours” from the drop down menu

IMAGES:
If you’re looking for an image, enter a description in the search bar and click on the Images Tab.  If you want to fine tune your search, you can add other criteria.  Click on “Search Tools” and select the color, type of image, usage rights, etc.

LOCATION:
If you want to find something in a particular location, click on “Search Tools”, then click on “Location”, then type in where you would like to search.  For example:

“Hot Springs” California

will bring up a list of all the hot springs in California.

Have you used these tips before for searching?  Are there other tips you use?  Please share them in the comments below!

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.

Wi-Fi Anywhere

Did you ever try to connect to WiFi and see a Hotspot choice like “Sam’s phone”? The fictional Sam has set his SmartPhone up to “tether” to the cell system so that his phone can send out a WiFi signal.

What is tethering? MobileBurn explains it this way:

“Tethering is the process of using a cell phone or smartphone as a modem for a personal computer of some sort – typically a laptop computer. The term gets its name from how a phone is attached, or tethered, to the computer via a USB cable, but wireless technologies such as Bluetooth can also be used for tethering. Typically the network carrier and the user’s account (contract) have to support tethering before it can be used. Many networks charge an additional fee for users that wish to connect their phones as tethered modems because it typically uses far more data than using the phone normally would.

There’s more information about tethering on Wikipedia.

Chris’ iPhone recently stopped working and he had to get a new one. (Just don’t ask him when the last time was that he backed up his old iPhone and please, please don’t ask him about all the photos on that phone!) He got a new cell phone with Verizon service. We wanted to know how the coverage differed in the Geek For Hire service area. He also had tethering turned on so that he can use his laptop in an area without WiFi. So far we’re pleased – not only with the WiFi tethering, but also with Verizon’s coverage. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be an extra monthly charge for the service, so long as we don’t use more than the 3gig of data we signed up for.

If you do decide to turn on tethering, remember that it will drain the battery of your SmartPhone much faster than just using that same phone for cell service. Think about getting a battery case. (Mophie and LifeProof are two that come to mind.)

Here are some other articles that describe tethering:

If your current SmartPhone allows tethering, you may have to call your carrier (or bring it in to a store) to get the capability turned on.

Do your use tethering? Are you using an app, or do you have your SmartPhone switched on to allow it? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below!

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.