Tag Archives: laptop

How do you Keep your Laptop Cool?

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If things look different in this video compared to others I’ve done, it’s because I have a new laptop stand. I’m not sure if I’ll use it as my primary stand, though. They’re usually designed to help make your notebook more ergonomic and comfortable for people, and helps keep it properly cooled. No matter what kind of notebook you have, they tend to overheat without proper airflow. Getting some type of laptop stand is a good thing for this reason. The one I normally use is a Targus. It has a couple of fans, and a couple of USB ports. The Alto from Logitech is the one I want to talk about today. First, let’s look at the features:

  • Notebook display riser: Elevates and extends your notebook’s display for viewing comfort. Relaxes you while making you more productive.
  • Full-sized keyboard: Type faster, with less fatigue. The integrated soft palm rest adds wrist support and keeps your hands away from the hot notebook surface.
  • One-touch hot keys: Get instant access to your digital music with media and volume controls. Additional hot keys instantly take you to your favorite applications, folders, and Web pages.
  • Multipurpose USB hub: Use three high-speed USB 2.0 ports to connect your favorite peripherals, including cordless mice, webcams, printers, and external drives.
  • Works with virtually any notebook: Use it with your current notebook—and your next one.
  • Easy setup and storage: Flip it open for instant use on almost any flat surface; fold it down for easy transport and storage.

I think this is a nice laptop stand, but it is really pricey. It looks good, and is really functional. It will make good office decor, for sure. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll grow to like it more over time. It makes my MacBook sit up entirely too high for my needs.


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What's the Future of Portable Computing?

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I’m quite surprised with the number of reactions we received after the unboxing of the Asus Eee PC. I received an email from Gordon that was thought-provoking, and thought we should discuss what he has to say.

I just watched your ASUS EEE review on CNN. It costs 400$. Have you ever compared it to the iPod touch? You might be wondering how can they possibly be comparable. When in China, I found out an unintentional usage for my iPod Touch: it’s a mini computer. When I got homesick, I’d find a wifi hotspot, and surf the web with my iPod Touch. I’d also write email, and check on my MySpace to say hi to friends. Even at home, when I’m eating chips or drinking beer, I can lean back on my sofa and surf the Web, as opposed to walking to my computer. When I visit my friends’ houses, I don’t have to kick them out of their computer to use the internet. I just pop out my iPod Touch, and surf away without making anything inconvenient for my friends.

Now that I think about it, it’s not comparable to an iTouch… it’s comparable more to an iPhone, due to the hardware capacity. I think the future of portable computing is more geared towards things like the iPhone, more so than a device such as the Eee. For one reason, the iPhone fits in your pocket. The Eee has a full-on keyboard, and can run Windows.

What do you really need from a portable computer? You’ll surf the web, check your email, maybe create or edit some documents. Gosh… why can’t we just use the iPhone? It’s easier and smaller… much better portability.

With great timing, Julian also sent an email to me with his top five reasons for using an Eee PC.

  • Cost For what you get, the Eee is a complete bargain in my view. I have the 701 4G, which came with the Xandros system loaded on it. I have replaced that with XP. However, there is a temptation to add extra memory, and also large SD cards. Once you have spent extra money on those components, you are heading towards the price of a reasonably well-featured, full-size laptop. If you do this, then think carefully about the uses you want to put the Eee to, as the small form factor may not be reason enough compared to a ‘proper’ laptop.
  • What operating system? Linux or XP? Try Xandros first before going to XP. If you are a regular Windows or Mac user, the temptation may be to ignore Linux altogether. Don’t. You will surprised at how functional Xandros is, and find that open-source applications may work fine for your needs. Buying, say, a copy of XP to put onto the Eee also questions the overall cost. For me, the small size and portability is key so these extra costs are acceptable. But this will not be true for all users. There are plenty of resource websites to help you look at alternative operating systems, such as Ubuntu.
  • Why do I want one? Before buying, sit down and write a list of your needs for such a machine. Do you only want it because of the “coolness factor”?Once the novelty has worn off, you may be left with a computer that has no more function than to collect dust. Key motivations may be a first PC for a child, portability whilst on the road, quick email and internet access, or portability around the home. Make sure you are going to have a real use for it.
  • Which versions to get? Buy the 4 gig version. 2 gig is ok if staying with Xandros, but for XP in particular… 4 gig is a must. Newer models are now available with 8 gig, and 9 inch screens. Apart from that, they are the same as older models. There are a couple of really nice utilities available for free. Astray Plus allows higher screen resolution with some loss of quality. Be careful not to overdo it though, as you are effectively forcing the machine to operate in a manner it was not designed for.
  • Battery life The battery life is ok, but I’m a heavy user of Internet and Wifi, which will drain the battery fairly quickly. There are larger capacity batteries available, but be careful what you buy. Some restrict the ability of the lid to open all the way back, and of course adds weight and size to the overall machine. A standard spare battery may be sufficient, but is something else to carry around.


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How Do You Travel with Electronics?

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Jthermane24 from our live chat room writes: “Most of us like to travel. But when travel time comes… so does the electronics packing. I have made a set of top five tips for traveling with electronics.”

  • If you have a laptop, get a good quality laptop case. You need a sturdy one, so you don’t run the risk of the case or strap breaking, causing you to end up with a damaged laptop. When buying your case, why not take your laptop along? That way, you can see how well it fits inside, and how much room is left over for cords and other items.
  • Make sure you pack all the power cords for each device you are bringing. Even if you charged said device fully before leaving… bring the cord anyway. You never know when the device might die on you… just when you need it!
  • If you are traveling with multiple people, buy yourself a backpack to keep all your gadgets in. This way, yours won’t get confused with everyone else’s, and they’ll be easier for you to find when you need them.
  • Label all of your cords. You can use cheap plain white labels from the local WalMart for this, or even masking tape. Write on the labels what the cord goes to, and even where it plugs into if you aren’t sure you’ll remember.
  • Make a written list ahead of time of all the devices you are bringing with you. Check each item off as you pack it… and then refer to it when packing up to return home. You won’t forget a device at home OR in your hotel.


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Unboxing an Asus Eee PC Ultraportable Computer

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The super lightweight solid-state drive Asus Eee PC showed up at my house the other day. It was sent to me courtesy of Asus, specifically thanks to an engineer of theirs who is a regular community member of ours. Without further ado, let’s do the unboxing!

As I open the box… something on the inside was glowing! I pulled out things like a copy of Microsoft Works, a battery notice, and some other papers. But.. that was it. There was nothing else in the box. I guess that makes this a non-event? I’m kidding of course. I already had the Eee PC running before I began recording.

It’s so small and light. It’s just insane. I have never found myself attracted to this size of a laptop. I have always craved power. There are times, however, that you just don’t need that much power. I’ve found that having a laptop near the television is a good thing. I may want to look something up or check my email during commercials, you know. Having a lightweight laptop for that purpose is great. There is a built-in webcam on this system, so I had to try it out! I’ve already uploaded a video to YouTube, called Asus Eee PC 4G Test Recording.

Here are some of the features of the Eee:

  • At 7″ and weighing only 0.92kg, you can take the Eee PC anywhere.
  • Bumps and shocks are no longer issues. With a dependable solid-state disk, you get unparalleled shock-protection and reliability.
  • Power-efficient design provides longer operating time when on the go.
  • With a rapid start-up time, the Eee PC is always ready to get into action.
  • No technical manual required with the specially designed, user-friendly and intuitive graphic interface.
  • You’re always connected with built-in WiFi 802.11 b/g that automatically detects and connects to the Internet at any hotspot.
  • The Eee PC includes the documents and the e-mails software, and a suite of other productivity software to help keep you on track.
  • Upload photos and videos and share them instantly on Flickr or YouTube without waiting till you get home.
  • Enjoy music and videos with extensive support for a wide range of digital multimedia.
  • Log on to Skype or other network, and you can connect with friends anywhere, anytime.
  • Clear up wire clutter with the built-in card reader, speakers, and microphone.

This little machine is an excellent buy, and perfect for anyone who doesn’t need a powerhouse of a laptop.


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How to Build your own Laptop

LaMott is a PC Tech, and wrote in to ask this: “My question is why isn’t there an industry standard of MBD’s & cases that techs can use to build their own laptops? Also, what percent of people in the U.S. would you say build their own PC’s vs. those that buy?”

PC fanatics are up in arms over how Apple doesn’t let you build your own Mac. I hate to say it, but there’s a good reason for it. Some people feel that’s not how things should be. I guess I won’t open that particular can of worms.

By the way, if you are subscribed to my Podcast, you could be eligible to win a computer this Saturday, March 15th! If we reach 20,000 subscribers, I will be giving away the AMD Spider computer system. Ok, so now on to your answer!

I don’t think 12% of the world population build their own computers. I actually think it’s less than 5%. Most people will buy off the shelves. It’s a matter of convenience and being taken care of. People think that they are better off buying from a well-known brand. I seem to recall an old movement surrounding building laptops. There are so many things that go into a laptop. A notebook needs to be designed to move around. Weight is a concern, the lid needs to easily and fully shut, the connections need to be secure. Is it possible? Yes, it is. At the end of the day, I really think it may not be worth it. There’s just too much that goes into it, and it can get to be extremely expensive to get everything just right. CCMike, who is an Op in my Chat room said it best: “Many laptop platforms are much too “style” specific to be able to find parts for”.

For any of you who enjoy building machines, I ask you this: If the parts were all available, would you build a laptop from scratch? I honestly don’t know that I would. There’s just so many complexities that go into building something that’s designed to be mobile. It’s a different level of challenge from building a desktop computer.


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How to Buy a Laptop

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Are you in the market for a new laptop? What should you be looking for and considering? Here are some tips sent in by a community member to help you with your decision.

  • Build Quality. The build quality of the laptop is more important then you might think. Not only are poorly built laptops more likely to break down, but they are more likely to have overheating problems, and therefore run slower. If your laptop is going to be leaving the house several times a week, build quality is more important then it is not going to leave the house Look closely at the laptops in stores and read reviews online.
  • Keyboard. Similar to build quality, look at the quality of the keyboard. This is especially important if you will be doing a lot of typing. A poorly constructed keyboard will become very frustrated to type on.
  • Mobility vs. Screen size. If the laptop is rarely going to leave the house(Ex: when you go on vacation) then you a laptop with a 15-17 inch screen size is probably appropriate. However, if you are going to be taking the laptop to school or a café on a regular basis, you probably want something more mobile, in the 12-14 inch range. Although you should look at the actual weight of the machine, not just the screen size.
  • Specifications. I would recommend everyone stay away from Celeron, Sempron, Core Solo and Turion(single core) processors. You might think you don’t need more than a single core processor if your only doing basic tasks and surfing the web, but you might be surprised how draining seemingly simple tasks can be when you have several opened at the same time. Further, budget dual core laptops are only slightly more expensive then the above mentioned processors. I have read a lot of conflicting information on the hierarchy of processors, so maybe Chris can get into that more then I will hear. I went with a Core 2 duo, because generally people thought they had the best performance, better battery life, and fewest overheating problems. Turion processors are the best of the AMD line. Athlon X2 and Pentium Dual Core are considered budget dual core laptops. Keep in mind though even among the same line of processors(such as Core 2 duo) there can be a substantial difference in performance between the laptops. This is especially true if you are using a Windows Vista machine, which is most of the machines on the market right now. Don’t worry too much about memory, as it can be cheaply upgraded, and is very easy to upgrade. Just make sure the laptop is upgradeable. If you play video games and/or do video/photo editing. I got a laptop with an integrated video card since I don’t do any of those activities. Don’t really know much about video cards, maybe Chris can speak more to that.
  • Features. Does the laptop have a built in memory card reader for your type of digital camera? Does it have a built in web cam? A built in microphone? Aplenty USB Ports? How loud do the speakers get? One of the most important features I was looking for was battery life. Does the computer come with a 4 cell, 6 cell, 9 cell, or 12 cell battery? If it comes with a 4 or 6 cell battery, can you buy a better battery at a reasonable price?
  • Bonus Tip! Look for good deals, the smart shopper can pay hundreds less. Check out sites like tagjag.com for good bargains, but keep in mind that these sites tend to tell you that a laptop price at a certain store is the “best they could find”, but that doesn’t mean that particular laptop is actually a good deal compared to others on the market.


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Notebook Cooler

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Notebooks come with many accessories. Something important that you really need is something to keep it cool. You can find many different options online. Let’s take a look at this Targus Notebook cooler.

The Targus Notebook Cooling Chill Mat really works! My Mac is running about ten degrees cooler on average. It’s definitely cooler to the touch, where it used to run a bit warm. The best thing about it, is the fact that there’s no need for a power cord. It runs off of a mini-USB port, and includes four additional USB ports! I don’t really like the long USB cable that comes with it, but we all know how much I hate ALL cords. I’m going to try and find a retractable cord to use.

Maximize notebook performance by keeping the notebook cool during use. Two fans generate cool air to help prevent the notebook from overheating. The Chill Mat can be used in the office to protect furniture from heat damage, or on the go to protect your lap from notebook heat. Four rubber feet keep your notebook in place on the Chill Mat to avoid slipping and provide a sturdy workspace. The Chill Mat is highly portable for travel and plugs directly into your notebooks’ USB port so no AC adapter is required.

At only about $30.00, this truly is an excellent buy. One tip to keep in mind, is to turn the cooling on prior to booting up the notebook, for maximum cooling performance.

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Quick OLPC Video Review

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Awhile back, I recorded a video about the “One Laptop Per Child” program. I purchased one myself. I did it to help another child, and to have a laptop around my house for when kids come over. When you donate the $400.00, you receive the laptop for yourself, one is sent to a child in an underprivelidge country, and you also get 1 year of T-Mobile HotSpot for free! I received the laptop, so let’s check it out!

On first look, it has a lot of apps a kid would use. There is a chat module, Web browser, an RSS aggregator, calculator, and so much more. It’s slim and lightweight, which is great for a kid. It has USB connections, as well as audio in and out. It’s quite durable, and you can carry the screen around. The quality of the screen is excellent.

However, I don’t really like the user interface. I know my way around a computer, and I actually found it confusing to navigate around this laptop. I also couldn’t connect it to my home network because it’s not supported. But again, for a child doing the things they’d need to do, it works perfectly. The keys are small and designed for a child’s fingers.This laptop was designed for portability and education, not high power and workload.

Ponzi wanted to try it, so I had to hand it over to her. She waited really patiently! She wanted one of the Asus EEE laptops for Christmas, until she found out it comes installed with Linux. However, we have found out recently that Asus is looking into making their laptops come with Windows on them. We’re holding off for now.

If you’ve received one of these laptops and have had a child use them, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please leave me a comment or shoot me an email to [email protected]

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How to Buy a Laptop (Notebook, Portable Computer)

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No matter which name you prefer to call it, let’s look at some ways to help you decide which one is right for you.

  • Get a laptop stand. Having the laptop on an angle and allowing air to move underneath will dramatically reduce the heat your laptop runs at! The stands can be expensive so a large book or piece of wood will do. I have a Targus port extender. It is a wedge shaped hub that has all kinds of connections and goes into my laptop via USB two. Its portable and handy as well as allowing my laptop run cooler by sitting under the back edge and raising the it up. Plus this is a better angle for typing.
  • Go for integration! Built in webcams and card readers are a god send! Chances are you won’t have loads of USB’s so the less external devices the better. This will be better for traveling, battery life and general desk clutter. Built in tv tuners can be great if you end up in a hotel room with decent tv reception. A laptop with bluetooth can be handy for syncing with a phone.
  • Get a good Laptop bag or case. If you have a mobility-based laptop, a good bag is essential. I have seen friends laptops die way before their time because they travel without sufficient protection for them. Often, the free case supplied won’t be up to the job.
  • Insure your laptop! I have nearly dropped mine a million times. They get moved around a lot, and the law of averages says sooner or later it will be dropped. Make it a less expensive mistake by having it covered. Also if you travel with it theft is a real threat!
  • Peripherals complete the package. Get decent headphones and a good mouse. Chances are, no matter how much you’ve spent on your laptop the speakers won’t be much good for watching films or listening to music. So, good quality headphones are a must. As for the mouse, track pads are great for keeping the laptop a “one price device”, but you’re going to want to use a mouse whenever its convenient, so a small travel mouse is a good idea.

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Are Computers for Kids?

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Eric emailed to ask me what age I feel is good for a child to have their first computer, or access to one. He feels that it depends on the child in particular, and their level of responsibility. Personally, I feel there’s much more to it than that.

I personally believe that the younger the better when it comes to exposing kids to computers and technology. If you supervise and guide them, it can be an amazing learning experience, and not just about how to use a computer. Using a computer requires logic, and logic is a skill that the child will carry with them throughout their life. Video games are a great learning tool, and way to pass the time. However, I strongly feel they should be supportive of the child’s computing experience, not the sum total of what they do.

I want to share with you a couple of emails I received after I posted the One Laptop per Child Video.

Hey Chris, I’m Krrose27 on the irc.
I’m 16 and got my first pc at age 5 which was given to me and my sister from our grandparents. For many years I did gaming. I then setup a geocities website and started web design about age 8 or 9. I now have taught myself php/mysql and run a test server out of my room and own two other webservers. I took up Java programming about 2 years ago. I now am taking pc support at my high school which is pretty much kids who work with the schools network specialist and help him with the school computers. I recently built my first pc and love everything.

I got a 2 year old at the house who has received his mother’s old laptop and he has a blasty blast on it. He frequents noggin.com – a website associated with the cable channel noggin. He definitely watches what I do on the computers and attempts to mimic it. He is already learning how to point and click. He is learning…..

I was watching when you recorded the video about children and technology. I being 16, have grown up with technology all around me. My schools have always had computers, and my family got our first computer when Windows 98 came out. All I really did was use the internet, but I was amazed by how information could be sent across the world in seconds. I have explored technology, mostly computers, as best I could. Since my mom is now single, and not very tech savy, I am self taught mostly. Most of what I know is from exploring my family’s old emachine ( As I said, my moms not very tech savy) Anyway, I found an interest in animation and started using Flash. After that, I started exploring website creation and other aspects of computers. Since computers are my future (I plan on being an animator, 3d design or something like that) I spend a decent amount of time on my computer. My mom is single, so we still used our emachine from 2002 ( about 215 mb ram, 20 gb hd) which limited me in what I could do. My mom bought my a used Gateway (which is amazing compared to our old one) laptop, and now I am able to watch your feed! This new laptop has really set me free and is allowing me to get closer to my dream career. I think that a computer for a teen who is interested in technology is an investment in their future. Anyway, I got to go to bed, its getting late.


They are definitely for kids (defined as below the age of 18). I have been a webmaster since I was 15. My website is now ranked 20k on alexa which is pretty good.

Anyway. I have been with computers since I was born. My dad owned this thing called a “spectrum”. Later we got an actual PC running DOS. and later we got some sort of windows. My dad tought me lots of stuff on how to use the computer for various things and I really enjoyed that. I also just sat there looking what he did and learned a lot from that. All in all I think that everybody should be introduced to the computer as soon as they can. Maybe just looking at it at the beginning but later act on their own. I believe everyone is going to use computers in 20 years (when the very old geezers are dead and we rule).


Hello, Chris!

When i was about 3-4 and mom had an old 95 laptop given to her and dad showed me how to use ms-paint, ever sense then i have loved computers i already had a thing for tech but i was hooked (probably the reason i loved tech was mom and dad would get a lot of tech related movies)

then dad was walking into the house with a box, it had a desktop in it! it had windows Me on it, so then we would get on the Internet i would go to places like “nick.com” or ” cartoonnetwork.com” and still i used ms paint,

Then a few years later… we went to a gas station and i saw a older HP tower (it had Win 98 on it) and i asked “what are you going to do with it?” and he said “throw it out, it broken” or something like that, and i got it… dad and i got the keyboard off the Me machine and put than on the 98 (wile mom was not using it) it ran a def rag and then it worked! it did not have Internet though, still good for me so then i played with it finding the windows lay-out and what not so then i got a keyboard and mouse of me own (before i started playing with it)

a few years later I had a guy give me another Win 98 machine it had all the stuff for it then last year a Friend gave me an IBM x20 it was a good little laptop i left it on my bed left for a few hours and came back turned it on and the screen was cracked 🙁 then i still used it until the power pack started to fry (and made a creepy sound) and so i took the screen out and (knowing of the price) i was going to fix it but about “$564” for new stuff seems a little high so… then a few mouths ago i was trying to get the old ones to work… them we got a Friend to take some old computer parts and build me a computer here i am 11 years old with an 600 Mhz i know its not much but is better than nothing so i am very into tech now an when dads computer breaks i am his first resort and i hope to get another laptop soon. (this person might give me another on! (better than the last)) and i can even build a computer i have not build one yet but have completely dissembled it and put it back to gather again and i know HTML pretty good so i want to start making homebrew for the PSP and the start making apps for the computer then when i get experienced enough in programming i will try to make an OS i have good plans for one.


Just wanted to spread my story which was when i was five years old i got a Thinkpad 701C which had 32MB of Ram and Windows 95, it never had a taste of the internet for its entire life but it lasted 7 years due to that fact, i’d say just because i had the experience of that laptop is the reason why i know how to use techonlogy so well because this might sound nerdy but like when some kids were out playing football and stuff i was inside just tinkering. And boy did i get scared when the stupid thinkpad errors in teal come up that just read Error #4324 and it’s just like the battery is low if you find the manual.Later I got. 2000: Think 600 128MB Ram. 2003: Compaq 1800T 320MB Ram. 2007: HP dv6000 2048MB Ram (with idiotic vista taken off but still in virtual machine)


Hey Chris,
I just watched your video on the right age to be brought into computing. I am twelve years old and got my first computer at eleven. Now my Dad has always been an enthusiast like yourself (he is a database designer). I have been using computers since I first started mixing words to create sentences (about three years old). I did not play games heavily, but rather used the computer as a tool, not a life waster. I think computers have benefited my life heavily and using them at a young age (as young as possible) definitely helped me. There are people at my school who are just bad kids, and not being educated well made them be that way. I have always thought education was crucial to the way my life is and computers helped with that. I think you are a genius in asking the community this question and it hit me as you did so. I am one of the more educated kids in my grade (not trying to be conceited) and know computing to a higher level than anyone in my school (including the IT department, I outdo them). Once again, I’m not trying to impress you or anything, but rather tell you how computers can benefit a child’s life and make them more successful. I am a Mac, Windows, and Linux user (primarily Mac and Linux, but I do heavily use Windows for many things). One more thing, I would like to ask you how computers have benefited your life and how you can project those benefits to children.

Thanks in advance,

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