Tag Archives: laptop

Could all of Life’s Conveniences be Killing Us?

Reading this blog post on Geeks earlier stopped me dead in my tracks. I saw myself in what the author wrote, as I’m sure many of you will. He talks of how we have so many gadgets and gizmos to make our lives easier… and then wonders if it’s in fact making things more difficult:

People around the world are moving so fast, trying to do so much, that humanity as a whole is slowly choking itself with its own progress. We’re trying to cram so much into a day, so much into our minds that we don’t know how to do anything else. What we need to learn how to do, more than anything else, is to slow down. If you’re worried about progress, think about this, the best way to gain a clear perspective is to back away and let everything focus. People are supposed to smell the flowers that they plant. Just take some time to enjoy what mankind has done, rather than waste your time coming up with the next best thing that no one will take the time to enjoy.

All the ‘conveniences’ that we use and abuse only serve to get you to the next minute faster. Every inch of the way is packed with time savers that allow you to use more time savers. Just slow down, take a breath, get to know people, go to new places. Enjoy life before it passes you by, just to get to the next generation.

Wow. I’ve been pondering something very similar to this in my own life lately. That is why you’ve seen me out of the office more – trying to take time to relax and have fun. We tend to get so caught up in the daily grind of life that we often forget to live.

When is the last time you took a day completely “off”? I don’t just mean off of work… I mean OFF. OF. EVERYTHING. When did you put away all of your gadgets, your phone, your laptop and even your iPod and just chilled out? Can you even remember when it was, or what you might have done?

If you can’t bear to part with your computer, maybe you can take time out from working yourself into the ground, and enjoy what others are hard at work doing. They are writing excellent articles, like the one mentioned here, every day. They are sharing their thoughts with the world, and I sincerely hope you will consider doing the same. There’s something to be said for being able to write out what’s in your mind and heart, and it takes a very special type of person to be able to do so. The next time you’re stressing over the little things, and everything yet to do on your list, why not just let it all go and write? We’d love to have you join us on Geeks or Lockergnome.

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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What do You use for a KVM Switch?


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Let’s say that you have a PC, but you don’t have a monitor, keyboard or mouse plugged into it. However, you do have a notebook computer sitting there with Windows on it, as well. You could use that notebook to run the PC with a KVM switch!

Not only are you saving energy by not running another monitor, you’re also saving space by not having another keyboard and mouse. Using a KVM switch is highly recommended for better productivity. You can use one keyboard, one mouse and one monitor for two different machines! I don’t think there’s an easier way to be efficient.

This is ideal for people who own a laptop and an older desktop PC and wish to keep using both for various functions or applications. The KVM features an on-screen toolbar with multiple functions such as file transfer, desktop image scaling and others. The built-in file transfer utility lets the user transfer files, presentations, business information and create backup copies between both computers or from external USB storage devices.

What’s interesting about this particular KVM is that it has an extra USB port built in. That allows you to plug in an external hard drive if you should need to! This is easy to use, and will allow you a ton of new-found freedom when managing your life. Keep and transfer files much faster using the IOGear Laptop KVM. All you need is open USB ports and Windows PCs and you’re ready to roll.

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How to Cool Your Laptop Notebook Computer


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It’s important to keep your notebook computer cool. It adds wear and tear to your machine when it gets too hot. I’ve gone through a few different notebook coolers, and done reviews on each of them. I’m seriously considering a switch to the Laptop Liftsthough!

Laptop Lifts are designed especially for the punishment that mobile laptop computer use can dish out. The unique shape and large size resist side to side force and will not pop off. Use your laptop on the tiniest coffee shop table or airline tray: it will not slip thanks to the large soft rubber feet.

Regular fans can work well, but passive cooling like Laptop Lifts is generally than external fan-based cooling. If you are running a fan from the computer’s USB port, you are using extra power. You will raise the operating temprature of the machine and run down your battery faster.

There are rubber grips that you stick on to the bottom of your notebook. There are a couple of longer pieces, and four shorter ones. You’re elevating the notebook in order to add both extra padding and airflow. If you set it on a desk, you’ll also help prevent scratching and scuffing!

The idea is rock-solid. I’m thinking about adding them to my primary notebook. I could likely still use an external cooler if I need to, but I’m definitely going to try to go without it. That will help clear up the clutter on my desk a bit!

Laptop Lifts are simply a practical and affordable answer to many of the issues that you will face when using a notebook – including keeping it cool!

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HP Mini 1000 Unboxing and Review

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A Netbook is like a subset of a Notebook. They’re ultra-portable, relatively affordable, and they have decent processing power. A Notebook has more than enough power, but do you really need one? The HP Mini 1000 is good for doing word processing and any other tasks you may need to do on the road. It has 1GB DDR2 RAM, a 60GB Hard Drive, and a 3 Cell Lithium battery. It has a webcam and microphone built in, so that you can easily make use of VoIP clients when you need to.

Ponzi has a slightly different HP Mini, designed by the very uber awesome Vivienne Tam. Hers is red, with Peonies all over it. It’s cool looking, I suppose. I just prefer black. Mine has swirls all over the case, but they aren’t like overwhelming. They just add a touch of pizazz to it.

So anyway, back on track! The screen resolution is netbook-sized… 1024×600. The keyboard is great, with regular-sized keys. I’m quite happy with that. The HP Mini certainly does make a viable contender. HP is trying to think more along lifestyle lines when it comes to their hardware designs.

Some of the notes I’ve made just in the few hours I spent with it include that they’ve made a few engineering mistakes. The keys in the lower-left corner of the keyboard are out of order. A lot of desktop keyboards may not have the Function key.. and having it where it is on this machine will cause you to mis-type often. When you move between computers, you want it to be seamless, and the keyboard is a large part of that. We don’t have time to adapt to different keyboards all the time!

Another thing that I picked up on is on the trackpad in the middle – they put the buttons on either side (mouse buttons). It’s a little weird to use it in that way. Who knows… once I get used to it, I may like it. For now though, it is just odd.

Another thing to note… I don’t think HP is being very competitive on price. I bought the MSI Wind, and this one was sent to me as a review unit. The Wind has a few more features, yet the price is lower. Heck, the MSI Wind even has a 6 cell battery, so it lasts much longer than this HP Mini will.

HP is leading the charge when it comes to design. I know Ponzi’s review is likely going to be much different than mine. She’s been complaining for a long time about all computers looking the same. At least now, she doesn’t have that to worry about. Her Mini sure stands out from the crowd.

Email me if you know of another netbook that I should review and compare against both this HP Mini, and the MSI Wind.

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How Not to Reuse a Windows ME Laptop

Geek!This is Christi’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Recently, I found several articles and videos discussing ways to reuse and recycle old laptops. Since I try to be an eco-friendly geek girl, I was certainly inspired with some ideas. There were a many variations on the idea including:

  1. Dismantling and selling the parts
  2. Making a digital picture frame
  3. Using it as a portable DVD player

We happen to have an old Compaq laptop packed away (it’s been taking up space and collecting dust). The operating system is Windows ME, and the hard drive is only 16 GB – so I knew there would not be a rush to get parts for it! But I was interested in turning it into a print server / media drive. The basic reasoning behind my decision was related to space, and laptops generally tend to use less electricity (compared to desktop). Another green advantage.

Yesterday, I took a trip to my favorite local tech store, where I purchased an Ethernet port adapter, a 500 GB hard drive and an enclosure. My plan was simple:

  • Strip the computer of almost everything but the operating system and printer.
  • Install the Ethernet card
  • Connect the External Hard dark
  • Connect the Laptop to the Network
  • Install Antivirus program
  • Set-up a Shared Folder connecting to the External Hard Drive
  • Set-up the Network Sharing

I had discussed the concept at great length with a few of my tech buddies who agreed that (in theory) it’s a wonderful idea. Well, that is if all went as planned! Everything was moving according to schedule until the installation of the antivirus utility, when the laptop went into super slow motion.

I tried several of the free AV suites (that still worked with Windows ME) without success. I even looked for one that I could purchase and install, but there weren’t many that did. The Taurus in me stubbornly insisted on trying to find a way to make the idea work – to no avail. I worked for hours yesterday (and almost all day today) before finally giving in to defeat.

I have not given up my plans to have that wireless print server and networked media drive. I will simply look to purchase a Netgear print server and connect it to my wireless router. For the media drive, someone mentioned using a hard drive to USB / Ethernet NAS Enclosure (which I am looking into this further).

So, from my experience, you now know how NOT to reuse a Windows ME laptop. CNET offers some advice on what to do with your old gadgets, including how to dispose properly of them. More than likely, I will follow one of their suggestions.

I love creativity so please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, or tips!

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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How to Take Care of Your Notebook Computer

Geek!This is Bowler4Ever’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

  1. Never put your notebook on a soft surface, such as your bed, a pile of clothes, or on your legs! A bed can “sink” a little when something like a notebook is on it, restricting air flow from the vent to the outside, which would cause your notebook to overheat and crash, possibly damaging components. Never put a notebook on your legs, either, because, over time, the notebook can get VERY hot and can potentially burn your legs.
  2. Never do a “drop test” to see how durable your notebook is! The company who created your notebook computer has already done this several times, since they know that notebooks already get bounced and banged around enough as-is. Dropping your notebook even from a small height can prove “deadly” to your hard drive, or other parts of your computer, which could render it useless; and the repairs will come out of your own pocket, no matter what kind of warranty you have on it.
  3. Never leave it on continuously for over 2 days straight, even on a powerful notebook. Again, notebooks can get very hot, causing overheating to occur. Not only that, but you are also wasting electricity. What I recommend is getting some sort of timer that automatically puts your machine into a sleep mode, or even shut it down at a certain time. One program I recommend for Windows users is PC Shutdown Pro. Basically, what this program does is you set up a time and day of when you want your computer to shut down, sleep, hibernate, log off, stand by, or lock down. It also gives you the option of cleaning out unnecessary files before the computer boots down, so when you reboot the system, it will boot up quicker, because there’s no junk in the drive. So, you set it and forget it! Then, the next time you go on the computer, just push the power button and you’re ready to go!
  4. If you have this option, get the computer’s innards cleaned out by a professional!!! Countless notebook users attempt to clean out their computer hardware manually (myself included) and all I did was crack the casing and nearly broke some of the parts. If you have a warranty, check out what is included in it, as some manufacturers, such as Apple’s AppleCare Program, have an included cleaning program, as well as a virus check and removal for free! So, talk to your computer manufacturer about your warranties and ask if this is included. It could save you some time, a lot of money, and perhaps even your notebook computer.
  5. Don’t spill your drinks! If you’re at a cafe or at home and you have a drink nearby and your spill it and it lands all over your notebook, power it off immediately! Take the AC adapter out (as well as the battery), get a cloth or paper towels and get as much liquid out as you can. Then, turn the computer over and let the rest of the liquid drip out for about 24 hours. During this process you should call your computer manufacturer and let them know what happened and if there is any way you can salvage it without much damage, such as a fried motherboard or rusted parts. Don’t be surprised if they ask you to send it in so they can look at it and make the necessary repairs.

How Much RAM Does Your Computer Have?

I remember the days of having only 256MB of RAM, do you? Now that I have several GB of RAM, it’s hard to think back and understand how I managed to function in those days. How did I make anything work? How did I get anything accomplished? How much RAM do you have these days?

2Gb on desktop and also on laptop. – Kol Tregaskes

2GB on desktop, 2GB on both laptops, with dedicated memory for the video cards – SoN9ne

2GB on my home PC and my work laptop. – Alex Scoble CISSP

3GB – Chris W

2GB on my laptop, soon to be upgraded to 4. – Stupid Blogger (aka Tina)

Just 1GB at home but 4GB at work! – orionstarr

8GB on desktop. 4GB on laptop. – Jeff Douglass

2GB – Jason Shultz

512MB – directeur

6G on the Mac Pro, 4G on the Dell laptop. – Joey Gibson

Remember the old days when having 500megs was a big deal! – orionstarr

1GB on my laptop, 4GB on my workstation, 2GB on our media center. – Akiva Moskovitz

my laptop has 4GB ram, 320GB HD. My phone has 8GB flash. my first computer had 4MB ram, 35MB HD. – Chris Hollander

ugh as i have groused before my laptop at work has 500 megs of ram and it is almost physically painful – Marco (aureliusmaximus)

10GB in my Mac Pro, 4GB in my MacBook Pro, 2GB in the MacBook Air – Andru Edwards

2Gb in my 4 year old laptop… – Ricardo Vidal

4GB on MBP, 2GB on my work Dell lappy – saeba

1gb desktop – Nick Munson

500megs was a big deal? I am probably from stone age, KB was for that time. I bet someone has used Byte. – Yu-Jie Lin

2GB laptop and 4GB on desktop – Leandro Ardissone

4gb, but vista only reads 3.5 gb – americanm

2 GB on my laptop and 4GB on my workstation – Saad Kamal

2 Gb, running Vista Business Edition – Alexandre Micaelo

4 gb – RAPatton

4gb laptop – Erik S

15 quadrillion hexamegapetabytes. – Tad, Fool

The correct answer is: never enough. – Mack D. Male

4GB – on a 24" Aluminium iMac – robert sørensen

Tad, you are truly hardcore. 😉 – Kol Tregaskes

4GB Mac Pro, 2gb Macbook Pro – Duncan Riley

4GB in the desktop, 2GB in work-issued Dell Latitude D830 – Mike The SysAdmin

Is there even such a thing as “enough” or “too much” when it comes to RAM?

10 Tips to Keep Your Notebook Safe When Traveling

These days, we geeks don’t travel anywhere without our laptops. It’s a given that we need to have them on us! How would we survive?! Thankfully, Seth sent in the following tips to help us keep them safe while we are on the road.

    • Pad The Laptop: Make sure the laptop bag or carrying case you transport your laptop in provides adequate padding. As you move about the airport or shove the laptop under the seat in front of you or into the overhead storage compartment, the laptop can be jarred and jostled quite a bit.
    • Keep It On You: It is not uncommon for someone to set their luggage down while standing in line for a muffin, or to sit down while waiting for a flight. With all luggage, it is important to keep an eye on it and ensure nobody tampers with it or steals it. Because of their size and value though, laptops make prime targets and a thief can snatch the laptop bag and keep walking while you are unaware with your back turned. You should keep the laptop bag on your shoulder or keep it in sight at all times.
    • Back Up Data: Perform a backup of all critical or sensitive data before departing. Just in case your laptop does become damaged or lost, you don’t want to also lose your important files and information. You can buy a new laptop, but it is much harder to replace lost data.
    • Encrypt Your Data: Just in case your laptop should fall into unauthorized hands, you should make sure your hard drive is encrypted. Laptops with Windows Vista Enterprise or Ultimate come equipped with BitLocker drive encryption. If you aren’t using one of these versions of Windows Vista, and your company has not implemented any other sort of enterprise-wide encryption solution, you can use an open source solution such as TrueCrypt to protect your data.
    • Document Identifying Information: In case your laptop does end up lost or stolen, you should be able to provide detailed information about the make, model, serial number and any other identifying information. You may need the information to file a claim with the airline or your insurance company, or to provide law enforcement.

Use Strong Passwords: Follow the advice in Passwords and How to Make Them to make sure that your passwords can not be easily guessed or cracked if your laptop falls into the wrong hands. An excellent program for helping to secure and manage your passwords is Password Vault, which works for both Windows and Mac OS X.

  • Use a BIOS Password: Protecting your laptop with an operating system login and password is a good idea, but there are ways to circumvent that protection and gain access to the data still. For better protection, you should enable password protection at the BIOS level so that the laptop can not even be turned on without the correct password.
  • Implement Remote Data Protection: Another step you can take to make sure your data does not fall into the wrong hands is to look into products that will allow you to remotely destroy or erase the data on your laptop if it is lost or stolen. These products generally require that the unauthorized user connect to the Internet first in order for them to do their work though, so they are not a guarantee.
  • Use Portable Storage: To make sure you have the business critical PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet that you need to show your business partners in order to seal the multi-million dollar deal (or whatever other important files and documents might be on your laptp) you should carry a copy on a USB thumb drive or some other type of portable storage that you can carry separate from the laptop in case it becomes lost or stolen.
  • Just Leave The Laptop At Home: When it comes to all of the hassles and all of the issues that can arise from traveling with your laptop, you should also consider whether you really need to take it. You can carry your data or files on portable storage such as a CD, DVD or USB drive, or you can just email or FTP the data ahead of you. Then, you can borrow a desktop or laptop system once you are safely on the ground and at the office site you are visiting.