Tech Terms Decoded – CPU

Decoding Tech Terms

Are you as confused as I sometimes am about common Tech Terms?  When Chris talks about RAM and Memory and CPU and gigs of storage, I’m not sure what he is saying. I’ve done some digging to see if I can help explain CPU in non-Tech terms.

Computer Processing Unit or CPU

The CPU is a component in your computer where the actual calculations are carried out.  Here’s a good explanation from TechTerms:

“The CPU is the primary component of a computer that processes instructions. It runs the operating system and applications, constantly receiving input from the user or active software programs. It processes the data and produces output, which may stored by an application or displayed on the screen.

The CPU contains at least one processor, which is the actual chip inside the CPU that performs calculations. For many years, most CPUs only had one processor, but now it is common for a single CPU to have at least two processors or “processing cores.” A CPU with two processing cores is called a dual-core CPU and models with four cores are called quad-core CPUs. High-end CPUs may have six (hexa-core) or even eight (octo-core) processors. A computer may also have more than one CPU, which each have multiple cores. For example, a server with two hexa-core CPUs has a total of 12 processors.”

Which Processor do you have?

For a Mac, click on the Apple in the top left corner, then select “About this Mac”.  Finally, click on “Overview” to see your Processor.

Mac Processor

For a Windows machine, click on the Start menu, then click on Control Panel, and finally select System.

Tech Terms - RAM

 

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 fifteen 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 as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Tech Terms Decoded – Computer Memory

Decoding Tech Terms

Are you as confused as I sometimes am about common Tech Terms?  When Chris talks about RAM and Memory and gigs of storage, I’m not sure what he is saying. I’ve done some digging to see if I can help explain Computer Memory in non-Tech terms.

Computer Memory Storage

Computer Memory is defined by the techies in two ways.  First of all there is Primary memory or RAM which is highlighted in a previous blog.  Next is Secondary Memory.  And now we all know why we get confused talking about Memory.  The Geeks think Primary storage or RAM.  Normal folk think about where you put your files, which is referred to as “secondary”.

Computer Memory or Secondary Memory: The amount of storage you have in your Hard Drive or Solid Sate drive (or even your SmartPhone)  is what we’ll talk about here. (Read this blog for the difference between a Solid State Drive and a Hard Disk Drive.)  Computer Memory is where you store your files, your photos, and your music.  The more storage you have, the more music you can play!

And, yes, computer memory makes a difference on your SmartPhone too.  One year when I was on vacation, I had to bring my computer to the beach to take the sunrise photos.  My phone had so little storage, that I had to download them to my computer if I took more than 15 pictures!  Needless to say, I could not take videos with that phone.

How Much Storage do I Have?

To find out how much storage your Windows machine has, first click on the Start Menu.  Next click on “Computer”.  Here it will show how much storage you have, and how much is free or available.

Computer Memory - Windows

Computer Memory – Windows

If you want to find out how much storage you have on your Mac, first click on the Apple in the top left corner.  Next select “About This Mac”.  Then click on Storage. You should see something like this with a breakdown on where you are using your computer memory:

Computer Memory - Mac

Computer Memory – Mac

How Much Memory Should I Have?

If you’re constantly having to delete photos or files, you need more!  In general, if you’re buying a new machine, you should have double the amount that you are currently using.  If you need help ordering and installing more computer memory, then click here.

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 fifteen 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 as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Summer Fun with Raspberry Pi!

Raspberry Pi

Are you looking for a fun summer project?  How about seeing what you can do with a Raspberry Pi? The Raspberry Pi has been around for a few years and, for the technologically inclined, it provides computing on the cheap.

In case you haven’t heard about it yet, TechRepublic provides this Executive Summary about the Raspberry Pi:  http://www.techrepublic.com/article/raspberry-pi-the-smart-persons-guide/

  • What it is: A credit card-sized computer that costs as little as $5 that spawned a community of millions of home makers and programmers.
  • What it does: A lot. Despite its low-cost, the Pi can be run as no frills PC, a pocketable coding computer, a hub for homemade hardware and more.
  • Why it matters: The Pi is a great machine for stoking interest in programming among schoolchildren worldwide and helping create the next generation of developers.
  • Who it affects: Anyone with the inclination to pick up a Pi and start tinkering.
  • When is this happening: Right now. More than eight million Pi boards have sold since the machine’s launch in 2012 and demand was reinvigorated by the recent release of the Raspberry Pi 3.
  • Where is this happening: All over the world, with the Pi’s official forums supporting a community of more than 150,000 active users.
  • Who is making it happen: A not for profit charity on a mission to get the world interested in how computers work.

More info and resources are available on the Raspberry Pi website. https://www.raspberrypi.org/

Technical Specs from Element 14

Technical Specs from Element 14

Reviews:

Most of the reviews like the older Pi’s better than the new Pi 3, but do like the built in WiFi.

  • IT-Pro: Older Pis are still better for embedded systems and others projects where the lowest possible power consumption is paramount, but for other uses, especially as a Windows desktop PC replacement, the Pi 3 is a cracking upgrade.  http://www.itpro.co.uk/desktop-pcs/26315/raspberry-pi-3-model-b-review-1
  • Top New Review: The new Raspberry Pi is faster than the previous model, but it’s not the same step up as the transition from the Pi 1 to the Pi 2, when we saw a six-fold increase in performance. The 30-40% speedup over an overclocked Pi 2 is noticeable, but it’s not enough to really change the usage of the device.  For us, the onboard Wi-Fi is the biggest feature of the new device. Unless you’re specifically having performance problems, the Pi 3 doesn’t offer enough new features to recommend abandoning a Pi 2 for it. However, if you’re in the market fora new single-board computer, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B should be the first device you consider.  http://topnewreview.com/raspberry-pi-3-review/
  • Stuff: The Raspberry Pi 3 B is an almost perfect update to the Pi 2 B. We get loads more power, integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. And, the best bit, no price increase. It has all the bits we wanted, none of the elements we don’t care about. A winner.  http://www.stuff.tv/in/raspberry/pi-3/review

If you’re looking for some projects to do, there are a plethora available!  A quick search came up with a whole bunch of projects:

You can find a complete kit on Amazon for under $75:   CanaKit Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit – 32 GB Edition

Check out my previous blog about free productivity software to load onto your Pi.  http://geekforhireinc.com/free-substitutes/

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.

If you’re looking for a geeky recommendation for Father’s Day, Chris loves DeWalt tools!  Shop Amazon – $20 off $100 DEWALT orders

 

The Cloud and Backing Up Your Data

It’s almost summer-time and that means it’s time again for my reminder about backing up your data!  For many people, summer is the time to travel and your laptop could get banged up at the airport or in the camper.  For others, summer is the season for extreme weather.  It could be fires or floods or tornadoes or hurricanes, but there is always the chance that your home could be damaged, and your computer as well.

That’s why it is so important to make sure your data back up is current.  The most convenient way to keep your data backed up is to use one of the Cloud backup services.  I’ve had many people ask what “the Cloud” is and how it might affect them.  The Cloud is a term used to describe using another company’s servers to store your data or to provide off-site computing.

Here’s a better definition from wiki:

Cloud computing, also known as on-the-line computing, is a kind of Internet-based computing that provides shared processing resources and data to computers and other devices on demand. It is a model for enabling ubiquitous, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services), which can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort. Cloud computing and storage solutions provide users and enterprises with various capabilities to store and process their data in third-party data centers.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

There are a many companies that provide cloud storage.  I’ve been using Dropbox for a number of years and like the simplicity of it.  (Disclaimer: if you use that link to sign up, you’ll get 500 mb for free, and I’ll receive 1g as a thank you from Dropbox.)   https://db.tt/0ZRkMXZ

Dropbox

I like Dropbox for a number of reasons:

  • It will automatically upload a file to the cloud every time I make a change to it.
  • I’ve set it up so that it uploads photos I take on my phone to my account.
  • I can open files on my iPhone and iPad when I’m away from my computer.
  • Dropbox stores data for several weeks.  If I get a bad virus, I can ask them to restore my data to a particular date.

All of this enthusiasm about cloud storage for backups aside, it’s also important to keep a physical copy of your data.  About once a month, I backup my data to an external hard drive.  Chris has set me up with the Seagate Backup 2TB Portable External Hard Drive which is convenient and easy to use.

If you need help setting up a backup system, let us know!

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.

Join Amazon Prime – Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime – Start Free Trial Now

 

 

Custom Computers

Gaming Computers

One of the services we provide is to build custom computers from scratch.   Chris is building one now for a long-time customer. In fact, this is the second machine we’ve built for this particular customer!

Here’s the process. Chris talks with the customer about what their goals are:

  • What do they hope to use this computer for?
  • How much storage should it have?
  • What software is required?
  • Should this be a portable computer or one that stays in the office?
  • What is the budget?

Once Chris has a good understanding of what the requirements are, he does some research to determine exactly which parts need to be ordered. Often times there is a choice to be made between two or more options. He’ll have a conversation with the customer to decide which will best meet their needs. Once all the parts have been decided, he’ll send the list (with all the order links) to the customer for ordering.

When the parts arrive, it looks a little chaotic for a while, but then it all comes together!

You can hear the excitement in Chris’ words:

“One of my special joys is to design and build full custom computers, and this one is for a customer who is still using last full custom computer I made for them about 5 years or so ago.

There are several special features in the design, but one of the special results is absolutely Smokin-Hot processor performance: using a modern 4 core processor and water cooling, the stock speed is 4Ghz on each of the 4 cores.

To make sure things are thermally stable, I’ve been running a CPU heating utility, which launches 8 CPU intensive processes all running in parallel, and after about 1H the cooler is only warm to the touch with a slight increase in overall fan sound. Nice!

Note: this picture was taken after the computer was on for about 10 minutes, but /before/ the burn-in process was started.”

 

This computer is almost ready to be delivered to the customer!

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 (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area.

Windows 10 Update

Upgrading to Windows 10?

We continue to see machines that have upgraded to Windows 10 with serious problems.  And, I continue to get asked if machines should be upgraded.

Here’s the scoop:

  • If you have a Windows 7 machine, don’t upgrade unless you have a serious business need.
  • If you have a Windows 8 machine, you should be okay to upgrade, although you may still experience some issues
  • If you have a Windows XP or earlier machine, don’t (DO NOT!) upgrade.  Consider purchasing a new machine with Windows 8 or 10 already installed.

If you’re planning to upgrade do this first:

  • Back up your data.  Use an external Hard Drive if you have one, or upload to the Cloud
  • Make sure you have a list of all the programs and applications that you use.
  • Make sure you know what all of your passwords are, especially if you have asked your computer to remember them for you.
  • Make sure you know what your WiFi Router password is.

Tired of the Win10 “Nag” message?

I asked Chris how to get rid of the message that pops up frequently reminding you to UPGRADE NOW! WHILE IT’S STILL FREE!.  Here’s what he said:

  • “The only reliable method I’ve found so far to prevent a machine from presenting the “Get Windows 10 Upgrade” (GWX) nag message is to rename the GWX folder which contains the upgrade program.
    • See a small window icon in the tray, to the left of the clock in the task bar.
    • Go to the folder: “C:\Windows\System32” /and/ the “C:\Windows\SysWOW64”
    • Rename the “GWX” folder to something else – such as: “_GWX”, if it exists in either folder.  Note that you will see a popup titled “Folder Access Denied” and the message “You’ll need to provide administrator permission to rename this folder”.  Click on the “Continue” button to proceed with renaming the GWX folder.
    • Reboot your machine.
    • See that the small window icon is not present, and note that it does /not/ reappear”

If you have any questions about upgrading, 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 at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area.
Shop Amazon – Contract Cell Phones & Service Plans

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.