Tag Archives: laptop

One Laptop Per Child vs Asus Eee Notebook PC

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SWAT sometimes hangs out on Ventrilo with us, and even occasionally streams for me when I’m gone. He was wondering if he should go with the One Laptop Per Child(OLPC) program and help another child as well, or spend the same money and get better components for his daughter by buying the Asus Eeee.

I just spoke with my friend David from EyeJot the other day about this same thing. In the terms of price and what you get, the Asus would be a better deal. But for the same price, you get a tad bit “lesser” laptop for your child… AND get one sent on your behalf to a needy child in a third world country. We talk all the time about how technology changes lives. We talk about the ways computers enhance our daily life, give us opportunities, and broaden our horizons. How could you not want to give those same opportunities to another child… and not have to pay anything extra?

One learning child. One connected child. One laptop at a time.

The mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution.

The laptop through the OLPC program is a solid laptop. It’s good, and will work wonderfully for your child. Many years and an infinite amount of sweat equity went into the creation of the XO laptop. Designed collaboratively by experts from academia and industry, the XO is the product of the very best thinking about technology and learning. It was designed with the real world in mind, considering everything from extreme environmental conditions such as high heat and humidity, to technological issues such as local-language support. As a result, the XO laptop is extremely durable, brilliantly functional, energy-efficient, responsive, and fun.

If you’re planning to buy a laptop for your young child, or any young child… this is the one you should buy. It’s an excellent machine, and you’ll be giving the gift of opening the future to a child who otherwise may not ever have that chance.

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Top Cool Laptop Accessories

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I’ve been multi-tasking today using Ponzi’s MacBook Pro… AND my own, as well. Doing so much on Ponzi’s machine caused it to run really hot, so I needed a good way to cool it. I tried out the Chill Pak I ordered awhile back. Oh and yes… her MacBook Pro has a red Speck case.

On Ponzi’s machine, I’ve been installing Boot Camp, and using VMWare Fusion to access it. Using such system-instensive tasks made the MacBook run really hot. So, I grabbed the Chill Pak. I’m sure you remember when I bought it? It was created by actor Dean Haglund, from the X-Files. You just throw it in the freezer for about an hour, and the gel inside of it freezes. You then place it under the hottest part of the Notebook… staying away from the battery and any vents. Voila! The temperatures will return to normal, and the Notebook will run MUCH better.

I’m also running smcFan Control on my machines. smcFan Control displays temperature and fan speed in the menubar. You can apply different fan-settings with just one click. It also lets you set different minimum speeds for every fan separately… and save them as favorites.

The Speck Case on the outside of Ponzi’s MacBook Pro is not just for looks. It also helps protect the case. It’s removable… just snap it off or on. And well, yeah. It looks cool. I like the color red, don’t get me wrong. But on a Notebook? I’m just not convinced of that.

What I want to know is what accessories do you have (or want) for your Notebook? What can’t you live without? Which ones do you wish you had never bought because they just weren’t worth the money? Leave me a follow up comment to this video, or send me an email to [email protected]

E Ya Later!

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Get Better Vista Performance on a Laptop Computer

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When I posted an email recently from TheDub, I received a lot of negative feedback. My answer remains: if your laptop doesn’t run well after upgrading to Vista, you can always go back to XP. TheDub also sent me a new email, telling me about a free tool to help with Vista performance on laptops.

Vista has been out for about a year now. It’s good for some, ok for others, and not-so-good for still others. I’m disappointed in Vista, but not because of performance issues. For me, it’s more about what Vista should be… but isn’t.

This time around, TheDub said in his email that he found a great free tool that helps his laptop run better while using Vista. VistaBattery causes your laptop to automatically do a couple of different things when the power cord is unplugged from the wall. This tiny program will save up to 70% of your battery by disabling those nice, but greedy Vista features. It will automatically change your power scheme to “power saving” mode, and disables the Vista Sidebar, Aero, and Desktop Search. All of these nifty features can be resource hogs… and that includes your battery.

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Latptop Theft Security Locks


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Aviator1616 wonders if there is a mechanism that will physically lock up a laptop… much like a bike chain would do. The good news is that there are such things, as well as their software theft deterrent counterparts.

Not long ago, I recorded a video about LoJack, which is a theft deterrent plan for laptops. As soon as I uploaded this one, I received emails telling me about similar products, namely Undercover for Macs, and The Laptop Lock (which is FREE) for Windows. Any of these programs provide excellent recovery rates.

For a physical device, sure. Many laptops have a little loop built right onto them where you can affix a lock or chain. If your laptop doesn’t have one of these, you can always purchase a slot adapter kit. Kensington has several different locking options for your laptop… and many other devices you may have. Yes, you’ll have to pay around $40.00 USD, but isn’t that a small price to pay in comparison to a several *thousand* dollar laptop?

Another idea is to simply have a sticker or sign. Use something like “This laptop is protected by LoJack”. Often, this is enough to deter many theives in the first place. They know that the laptop is somehow protected, and they will likely be caught and prosecuted. Therefore, they’ll likely look for another one to try and steal.

What other security devices or programs do you know of or use? I’m always interested in hearing what you have to say! Leave me a comment, or shoot me an email. Until then… E ya later!

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Hamachi for Secure Network Computing


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – In the past, I have never really used VPN. It just seems so complicated and costly. However, using open wireless networks while out and about, I’m definitely concerned about privacy and safety.

My buddy WirelessPacket from our live chat room is on Skype with me tonight. He has convinced me that it’s time to try Hamachi. Hamachi is a free program that allows you to create your own Virtual Private Network, or VPN. He has made an excellent video tutorial demonstrating exactly how to use Hamachi. From his description:

“Hamachi is a simple, secure, and effective alternative to VPN. If you have ever wanted to access your home computer from the office, hotel or internet cafe look no further. With Hamachi there is no need to configure your firewall by opening ports and exposing you computer to nasty threats lurking on the web”

A standard VPN encrypts the traffic you send and receive… email, IM, web browsing, etc. A VPN makes your Internet activity more secure over a wireless network, but it’s also quite costly. Hamachi allows you to create your own VPN basically… for free! You can add other users to it, and share files with them in a secure manner. Some of the features of Hamachi:

  • LAN over the Internet Arrange multiple computers into their own secure network, just as if they were connected by a physical cable.
  • Remote Access Remote control any machine on your network with Remote Desktop.
  • Files and Network Drives Access critical files and network drives.
  • Zero-configuration Works without having to adjust a firewall or router.
  • Security Industry leading encryption and authentication.
  • Cost Effective Basic version is free to use.

Thanks, WirelessPacket, for showing this to me. This is definitely something I’m going to start using, and I hope others will, as well.

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Back to School Laptop


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – A caller wonders whether he should get a Windows-based laptop for school, or a MacBook. He plans to do school work on it of course… but also some gaming.

25% of Microsoft MVPs have said that people should wait to use Vista until SP1 is released sometime early next year. In light of that, and my own opinions on Vista, I recommend one of two things. Either buy a Windows laptop with Vista preinstalled, wipe it, and load XP on it. Or… buy a MacBook. You can use Boot Camp to create a new partition on your Mac and install Windows. Then, you can either dual boot between OS X and Windows… or wipe out OS X altogether and run your MacBook under Windows entirely.

If you’re going to use this laptop as a gaming system, you cannot skimp on hardware. I fully believe that when it comes to hardware, you get what you pay for. I would definitely choose ATI over nVidia for a graphics card if you can. I’ve heard too many people having issues with nVidia drivers in Vista.

When it comes down to it, you need to look at your price range, and your desires. Do your research. But if you want my recommendation… go with the Mac.

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Laptop Power Supply and Surge Protection


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Recently, long time chatter CamBlack came to me for help with his mom’s laptop. I was able to hook them up with HP, who replaced the laptop for her. Now, Cam is wondering about whether or not a laptop needs a surge protector.

The bottom line is YES. If a laptop is plugged into the wall, it needs a surge protector. The power brick in the middle of your cord is not a surge protector, as many people think. That little black box is mainly to keep the laptop from overheating. It filters the electricity that is running through your power cord.

Anything plugged into a wall should have a surge protector… and not just those cheap $1.00 ones, either. The more you pay, the more protection you’ll get. What a surge protector does, basically, is to provide an interruption between the outlet and whatever may be plugged in to the surge protector.

To go one step further, a UPS (or Uninterruptable Power Supply) is an even better idea. This will provide surge protection, and also has a small battery. If the power should unexpectedly go out, the UPS battery will give you time to save your data and program states so you don’t lose any of your work.

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Solid State Hard Drives


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Swat sent me a video email, wondering what exactly a solid state hard drive is… and is it better than a regular hard drive.

A solid state drive is one that has no moving parts. This makes it faster, lighter and thinner. These types of drives are ideal for laptop (portable) use. As of right now, these solid state drives are only available in high end models of laptops. Eventually, I think this will be the standard.

Many people believe that the wave of the future is going to involve having a solid state memory that your Operating System runs from. This will greatly increase the speed of your startup, and probably increase overall performance. I’m tired of waiting! The future of computing is exciting, and I wish it were here now!

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Glossy vs Matte LCD Monitors


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – The decision whether to buy a glossy or matte LCD monitor is subjective. Every person will have their likes and dislikes, and you should buy whatever you are most comfortable with.

There are pros and cons to both a glossy LCD monitor, and a matte one. The cons for each type are not negative enough to sway your decision to one over another.

I prefer a matte screen for one main reason. I detest looking at dirt specs and smudges. I don’t want to have to clean my monitor every day… or several times a day. Glossy screens are bad about that. They show *everything*! However, the colors are more vibrant on a glossy screen, and the blacks are richer. A matte screen is non-reflective, but that can be a pro OR a con. It depends on your preference, again.

Thanks to Ustream, I have the capability to do a live poll via my stream. I asked our viewers and chatters which type of monitor they prefer. 65% chose matte, while only 35% chose glossy.

Thanks for validating my opinion, guys. It’s a matte screen FTW.

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LCD Brightness


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Chris discusses LCD screen brightness, and ways to preserve the life of your screen. Apparently, he’s also had too much Peet’s coffee.

One of our chatters in the live.pirillo.com channel asked about the differences in LCD screen brightness. The question was whether it’s normal for their 15″ screen to be brighter than their friends’ 17″ screen. There really isn’t a concrete answer for this. The brightness level is determined by many factors: age of laptop, lamp used in manufacturing, settings enabled by the user, etc. Even though I can’t manage to spit out what I wanted to say tonight, I think you’ll understand what I MEANT when you watch the video.

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