Tag Archives: Hardware

What Happens When Your Laptop’s Motherboard Goes Bad?


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There is this thing sitting inside your computer that is the one thing every other thing is connected to! It’s called a motherboard. I have no idea why there’s no fatherboard… but yeah. The motherboard is crucial. If it’s not working – good luck using your computer at all. Ian from the PCPitStop community is sad because his Sony Vaio died. His motherboard is now dead, and wonders where he can find an affordable replacement.

Virut won’t corrupt your motherboard – but it will usually lead to having to reformat your system. With that said, if your motherboard is hosed for any reason, you might want to run a few diagnostics if you can. It’s possible it could be a bad power supply, you know? Check everything you possibly can, to determine for sure that it’s a motherboard.

I feel your pain. I’ve heard some not-so-happy things about Sony support in the past. Unfortunately, if it is a motherboard problem – it’s going to cost you. My recommendation is to find a local Geek. Pay them in pizza and cola. They’ll take a look at the computer to assess the problem. Sometimes it’s something small that trips us up, and I certainly hope that’s what is going on with you!

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Samsung’s SSD Hardware is Stupid Fast


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I recently purchased a Samsung SSD drive and put it in my Mac. I decided to try opening a bunch of intensive programs all at once to see how fast they would open. It is STUPID FAST!! All of them opened before I could even count to two!

So what IS a solid state drive? An SSD is a data storage device that uses solid-state memory to store data. An SSD emulates a hard disk drive interface, thus replacing it in most situations. They’re light, and they’re fast. This makes them ideal for laptops!

These drives have been around for some time, but it is only recently that they have started to become available through normal channels and even available to the average consumers; despite that fact they are still far from affordable.

Not only are they stupid fast, they’re completely silent. You’d expect to hear your hard drive “working” when you’re doing something, right? Not with one of these babies. They’re just totally and completely quiet. What a change that is!

If you’re in the market for something like this, I’d definitely recommend the Samsung. It works very well, and I’m absolutely happy with it.

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Where Do You Find Manuals?


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You’ve probably hit the frustration when needing to find information about hardware or software. You reach for the manual, only to not be able to find what you need. You just can’t find things easily. They lead to nothing but frustration many times.

Take, in comparison, a PDF. You can do a quick search and find what you’re looking for. Electronic manuals are the way to go. You can read them on your phone, or on your desktop. Online help isn’t intuitative, no. You have to know what you’re looking for in order to find it.

So where can you find these electronic manuals? OwnerIQ helps you locate user manuals, how-to guides, installation instructions, and tutorials from thousands of manufacturers and hundreds of thousands of products.

Registration is completely free. Once you sign up, create an inventory of your manuals, based on products you own. You’ll have detailed information about your possessions stored for you on the site. If and when there are updates, recalls, or other information released about your products, you will receive an email to alert you.

OwnerIQ also has a community within their site. You and other owners can learn from each other by discussing problems, giving each other tips, and exchanging documentation. Exchange of information can help all of us to get the most out of the products we own.

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Would You Like a Computer Contest has Ended

Hey everyone! Our HP Magic contest is officially over! We will be going through all of the posts and comments tonight, and will announce our winner tomorrow. Please keep in mind that any comments made from here on out will not count towards helping someone to win.

Thank you all for participating… and good luck! We were completely overwhelmed with the amount of submissions we received (and underestimated the time it would take to edit / prepare those that were 99% perfect to begin with).

This is Kat, posting an update for Chris. He’s been sick with food poisoning since early last night. Ponzi reports that he’s completely knocked out, but I wanted to express my thanks to those of you who played by the rules and remained patient with us. I also wanted to thank both Ryan Courtade and Jamie Inscore, who helped us get things done – and kept things running smoothly for the duration).

We’re finding it difficult to discover the winner, as we’re starting to peel back layers of duplicate IP addresses, use of proxies to comment, as well as checking for comment validity (remember, insipid comments would be rejected or would NOT count towards the total number). Thanks again for your patience.

Do You Put Stickers and Skins on Your Hardware?

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Yes, this is me you’re watching in this video. But that’s also me in the sticker on the back of my notebook. How awesome looking is that sticker? Customizing your notebook or hardware with skins or stickers not only makes them more fun – it also allows you to help identify them as yours. The sticker on the back of my Macbook came with a full skin. I uploaded a square image, instead of a circular one. So, it didn’t look right. I simply cut it out and made it look much better. Skinit allows you to customize your own skin.

Set yourself apart from the crowd with a Skinit Skin that reflects your tastes and passions. Choose from thousands of designs for thousands of devices, including professional sports leagues, entertainment, colleges, fashion, exclusive art and more.

Skinit is the leader in on demand personalization manufacturing, powering programs for computer manufacturers, wireless carriers, retailers, OEMs and other companies. Your skin will perfectly fit over 1,500 different wireless handsets, PDAs, iPods, notebook computers, gaming consoles and other devices.

Skinit offers the highest quality and most durable product in the market place. The Scotchprint Graphics 3M logo assures photo quality imaging, residue free removal and air bubble free application. The Skinit R and D team is dedicated to developing the best products possible with feedback from our customers, manufacturers, OEMs and service providers.

Even if you don’t need to deck out your hardware, maybe you’re buying something for a holiday gift. Why not personalize it to make it that much more special.

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What are You Looking for in Webcam Hardware?

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A few weeks ago we gave away ten Webcams on Geeks, courtesy of Microsoft. I wanted to show you a bit about this particular webcam, and what makes it compelling. It’s an excellent piece of hardware. The Microsoft LifeCam VX 5500 allows you to share your world anywhere, anytime.

Send a video message to your contacts anywhere, anytime – even if they are not online. Send and receive video messages directly from your desktop using the exclusive LifeCam Video Message gadget. Webcam folds flat to go with you whenever, and wherever, you want to use it. Fits on all monitors, including flat screens and notebooks, or sits directly on your desk.

Share and swap photos in real time with your friends and family using Windows Live Messenger—right in the video call window! It’s simple to start video calls. One touch of the Windows Live Call Button lets you see who’s online, and you’re on your way to making a video call.

I’ve been a fan of Microsoft hardware for years. I’ve regularly used their keyboards and mice, and their webcams. What makes this particular webcam interesting is the faceplate. You can easily change the faceplate to other colors, based on what your office looks like. You may want everything to match – or have a fun color to your cam just to mix things up a bit!

There’s a built-in microphone, it will allow you to do video and even take pictures. More interesting to me is the compact nature to this particular model. You can twist it around, and even push it down on itself. The profile, when collapsed, is very skinny. It makes it suitable for traveling or moving around if that’s something that you do.

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What Should You Look for When Buying a New PC?

The other night, I posted a blog post from Dan, with his tips on how to find information. He sent me a second list, and it is definitely something you all should read through. Here are Dan’s tips for how to make sense of Windows computer specs when buying a new computer.

  • SIZE Decide what general dimensions you want and what personal preferences you have. Examples are: laptop or desktop?, screen size?, keyboard size?, physically large or small? It is important to have SOME idea of what you want because a store employee is going to try to sell you the most expensive computer they can.
  • RAM The more stuff your computer does at one time (internet+music+documents+email) the more RAM you’re going to need. Vista (which ships with all Windows PCs now) needs significantly more RAM than XP does, but most of the major manufacturers have added RAM to compensate. If you plan on pushing your multi-tasking ability to the limit (or if you’re going to game) you’re going to need 3 to 4 gigabytes. For a normal user- 2 gigabytes should meet your needs just fine.
  • HARD DRIVE The more pictures, video, and music you want on your computer, the more hard drive space you’ll need. The hard drives are getting really large to compensate for the increase in personal digital media creation. Keep in mind that it’s probably better to keep your valuable data in an external place anyway, so don’t get carried away. (100-200GB is a smaller size, 300-500+ is really large.)
  • PROCESSOR The processor controls almost all operations of your computer, so again, if you’re going to be pushing your computer a lot, get a faster one (2-3GHz). Vista needs 1GHz to run comfortably, but even most laptops have a faster one out of box.
  • Shop Around! There are a lot of brands of computers, at a lot of different prices, found in a bunch of different places. I’d recommend sniffing around a couple of big-box stores, then seeing if there’s anything in online stores that may match you better. A computer is a significant investment that should last you for a long time, so do your homework!
  • Video Cards If you plan of doing any gaming, make SURE you get a dedicated video card (usually ATI or Nvidia). If it doesn’t have a sticker for one of those on the case, then it’s an integrated graphics chipset. In most cases, it’s going to be significantly less powerful.
  • Getting Ripped Off If you go to a large store like Best Buy or Circuit City, be wary of all the ‘But there’s more!’ packages they try to throw at you. Be wary of the protection plans, but get it if you need it. DO NOT buy the security suite they try to shove down your throat, there are much better free alternatives for Windows security out there.

Have you Ever Owned any Apple Products?

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Do you have any kind of history of all the PCs you’ve ever owned? Is there a spreadsheet somewhere that outlines every machine you’ve had, and what the specs were? I’m guessing the answer is no. There’s a program for Apple fanatics that will keep track of what’s inside every piece of Apple hardware.

Mactracker is available for both Windows and OS X. Inside this program is a database that has information about literally every single product that Apple has ever released. It can also keep track of the Apple products you own. I’m guessing you have an iPod, or maybe an iPhone. Most people tend to want /something/ from Apple these days.

This program even has the startup sound from every single Mac operating system ever made. Did you know that they even used to have a “death chime”? I’d like to convert that to an iPhone ring tone. It gives you information such as processor speed, memory, optical drives, and even graphic cards. In addition to just providing the information, Mactracker also will give you the original price, along with benchmarking information. How much better can you get… especially since it’s free.

Increasingly, we’re finding ourselves faced with statistics that show that Apple is getting a lot more desktop space than it used to. College students going back to school will be able to get a free iPod Touch with purchase of a Mac. It has been shown that Apple commands a lion’s share of the “pc market” that sell for over $1000.00. Apple’s going to be around for a long time. PC manufacturers are going to have to get more creative and better at putting their machines together, pulling in the software, and putting it on the market.

What computer manufacturer do you choose to support, and why? What model is your favorite of all time? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts.

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How to Make Your PC into a Firewall

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Last week, we shared tips with you on things you can do with your old computers. One of those things was to turn it into a firewall. Of course, in order to do this you’ll also need software.

So what is a firewall? It’s a service that acts as a bodyguard of sorts, keeping bad traffic out and allowing good traffic in. Firewalls can be tricky to deal with. There are software firewalls, or hardware firewalls. There is open source software you can use, called IPCop. IPCop Linux is a complete Linux Distribution whose sole purpose is to protect the networks it is installed on. By implementing existing technology, outstanding new technology and secure programming practices IPCop is the Linux Distribution for those wanting to keep their computers/networks safe.

IPCop has many features, probably way more than you’ll take advantage of. It’s also very powerful. I highly recommend this if you have an old computer that you’d like to throw this onto, or just want to get yourself an excellent firewall.

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