Tag Archives: pc

PC Vs. Mac – The Truth

“Better” is a relative term. So is “best.”

It’s rare that I jump into the middle of a PC vs. Mac debate (hasn’t it been settled already?). However, this morning I watched a tweet from @Windows float by. On the other end of that link sits Microsoft’s own “PC vs. Mac” page, and it’s so full of mistruths, I (honestly) thought I was reading a piece from The Onion.

Now, I’m an odd duck – I live in both worlds. I’m a Mac AND a PC – it’s fully possible. Hell, when you buy a Mac, you become a de-facto PC (given that it can run Windows natively just like every Windows PC in the marketplace). I’m also a Microsoft MVP for Windows. I was also banned from promoting Apple products by way of their affiliate program. Just had to get all of that out of the way first.

I’m going to take the time to address each and every point that Microsoft is conveying, if only to deliver the truth to people who are really trying to figure out which is better for them. You’re free to draw your own conclusions, but (IMHO) Microsoft really did their userbase a disfavor by publishing this without first running it through the BS wringer. Well, that’s what the I’m here for, right? It’s fully possible to encourage people to buy into your platform without lying about the “competition.”

Again, a Mac can be a full-standing Windows PC. I’ve written an entire eBook on helping people switch between Windows and Mac OS X, too.

I loved Windows XP. I love Windows 7. Don’t get me started on Windows Me or Windows Vista, pl0x. Not looking for trolls or fanbois (though I’m sure they’ll come pouring in from both sides). I’ve done my best to clear the air for confused consumers, not incite religious wars.

PCs are ready for fun.

Oh, god. No. You didn’t. Really? Wow. Okay. That clears it up. Thanks.

PCs are hard workers but they’re also fun to play with. You can watch, pause, rewind, and record TV like a DVR and you’ll find that many of the world’s most popular games are available only on a PC.

You can use your Mac like a TV / DVR. I do it all the time. And it’s true that “many” of the world’s most popular games are available only on a PC – but a Mac can be a PC, and the Steam library grows by the year. What exactly are they trying to prove, here?

When you buy a PC running Windows 7, you can get a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or 3G wireless built in. You can’t get a Mac that ships with these items.

Valid point.

Most of the world’s most popular games are available only on a PC. And Macs can’t connect to an Xbox 360. PCs are ready to play.

Someone apparently needs to hire me to teach these people that there’s a big difference between a Mac (hardware) and Mac OS X (the operating system). Their imprecision aside, there is software available to enable Mac OS X to connect to an Xbox 360. Maybe this is the part where I should tell you that I have four Xbox 360s in my home?

Many PCs running Windows 7 are designed to connect directly to TVs, so you can watch movies and see photos on the big screen. Most Macs can’t hook up to your TV unless you buy an adapter.

Huh? This doesn’t even make sense. I can share photos, videos, etc. to my smart TVs just by sharing the folder and making it discoverable on the network. As pointed out by @BWOps, DLNA compatibility makes things easier – and is readily available for free on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux vis-a-vis TVMOBiLi.

With PCs running Windows 7, you can play the video and music stored on your home PC while you’re on the go, for free. Apple charges $99/year for its online service.

It’s true that Apple makes it insanely easier to do with their MobileMe service (and this price is subject to change), but it’s completely possible – without any additional service required – to access your files remotely. If anything, I’d argue that Windows makes it more difficult for the average user to do – but that’s a subjective assertion, not a blatant mistruth.

Oh, and some MobileMe services work on Windows, too.

The computer that’s easiest to use is typically the one you already know how to use. While some may say Macs are easy, the reality is that they can come with a learning curve. PCs running Windows 7 look and work more like the computers you’re familiar with, so you can get up and running quickly.

By that logic, no Mac OS X user would ever want to switch to Windows because it’s too unfamiliar. Allow me to quote something that @Shally tweeted the other day: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write – but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” [A. Toffler] I couldn’t have said it better myself. You’re cutting off your nose to spite your face to believe that today’s solution is going to be the answer for all of tomorrow’s problems.

When you use a PC, everyday things like your mouse and keyboard shortcuts work the way you expect.

Hang on. I’m laughing so hard right now, I’m crying.

Windows 7 was designed to make everyday tasks simpler with features that the Mac doesn’t have. For example, the new Snap feature makes it drag-and-drop easy to view two documents side by side.

Aero snap is nice, indeed. But I could have easily have written: “Mac OS X was designed to make everyday tasks simpler with features that Windows doesn’t have. For example, Exposé will show you all your open windows at a glance.” This is just tit for tat. You can cut, copy, and paste on either OS.

Sometimes the most natural way to use your computer screen is to touch it. And sometimes a real keyboard and mouse are hard to beat. If you get a PC, you don’t have to choose. PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can effortlessly move between typing and touching to create documents, browse the web, read papers, and shuffle through files and folders. (Of course, you can still use a mouse, too.) Speaking of fingers, PCs with a fingerprint reader even let you log in with just a swipe of your finger.

Have you ever tried to use a Windows PC with a resistive touch screen? Let me just say this: it ain’t no iPad.

PCs are ready for work and school

Yes, because Macs aren’t? I’d argue that school IT administrators aren’t willing to switch, but… where there’s a will, there’s a way.

If you use Apple’s productivity suite, sharing files with PC users can be tricky. Your documents might not look right and your spreadsheets might not calculate correctly. Sharing goes beyond working together on a document. With Windows Live Mesh, you can access your home PC while you’re on the go, so your most important documents are always up to date and at your fingertips. Apple charges $99/year for its online service.

Google charges free, and is both Mac OS X and Windows compatible. Booyah. Maybe if Microsoft Office for Mac wasn’t so nasty, I’d give ’em some leeway. Actually, why didn’t they take this opportunity to promote their own product? It’s like they’re telling the entire PC and Mac world that their own Microsoft Office for Mac isn’t worth the price of admission?! But “your spreadsheets might not calculate correctly.” Wow. I guess Macs suck at addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as much as I do.

You’ll have to buy a separate hardware adapter to plug your Mac into a standard VGA projector. Most PCs with Windows 7 hook up easily.

And by “easily,” they mean “after futzing with the settings on the projector for five minutes, if you’re lucky.” Microsoft is essentially forcing you into the past. VGA? Okay. You’ll have a top of the line notebook PC and be crippled by an ancient port? Really? Okay. Apparently, Windows PCs never need adapters in Utopia.

On a Mac, out of the box, you can only encrypt your home folder. With Windows 7 Ultimate, you can encrypt your entire hard drive and even USB drives. So your files can be safer wherever you go. And, with 25 gigabytes (GB) of free online storage, you can save your stuff in your personal cloud and use it from virtually anywhere you are.

Since they’re doing the comparison, how much does Mac OS X cost versus Windows 7 Ultimate? Don’t try to give me the BS that “Windows users don’t have to pay for Service Packs.” What do you think Windows 7 was to Windows Vista, folks? Oh, and in case nobody told marketing: Windows Live Mesh is available for Mac OS X.

It’s easy to share with a PC

Empirically, it’s easier to share with a Mac.

When you’re connected to the Internet you can actually use the programs and files on another PC as if you were sitting right in front of it.

Oh, because VNC (baked into OS X) doesn’t work?

With HomeGroup, you don’t have to manually set up movie and music sharing, file sharing, and printer sharing. Instead, it’s easy to automatically and securely network with all the computers in your house when they’re running Windows 7. And, when you’re away from home, you can automatically connect to the right printer on each network you use.

Microsoft DID make data easier to share data with other Windows 7 PCs that are running HomeGroup. FWIW, Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) will be using SMBX instead of Samba to better network with Windows PCs.

Sharing high-resolution photos used to mean sending huge email attachments. With a PC and Windows Live Mail, instead of clogging your friend’s inbox, you can send one small email with up to 200 photos attached. Your friend gets a preview album of the photos, can watch a slide show online, and then download high-resolution versions of the exact ones they want.

Dude. If you ever send me 200 photos in a single email, I will drive over to your house and slap you. Seriously. I’m not joking. They’re actually encouraging this behavior? Okay, well… if it makes you feel any better? You can send a massive amount file attachments from Mac OS X, too. How about just sending a link to your Facebook page, your Flickr stream, or wherever else you want to share your photos online? Don’t gag my inbox, either way.

On a Mac, iPhoto puts all your pictures in an iPhoto-protected library. If you want to organize, edit, or share your pictures, you have to use the iPhoto software. With a PC running Windows, you can work with your photos any way you like.

Thank you for explaining why I don’t use iPhoto on the Mac. They don’t force you to do anything. Picasa is perfectly cross-platform. You don’t HAVE to use iPhoto just like you don’t HAVE to use all that crapware that comes preinstalled on “many” PCs.

Plain and simple, if you’re a PC user, you have a world of compatible software and hardware to choose from. With PCs outselling Macs 10 to 1, most computer software is developed to run on PCs.

Has anybody bothered to talk about the quality of this “world of compatible software and hardware?” I’ve been more than happy with the selection available to me as a Mac OS X user. By the nature of Microsoft’s licensing approach to the marketplace, they will absolutely outsell Macs 10-to-1 – but what about overall user satisfaction? What about service and support? What about TCO? “Most computer software is developed to run on PCs.” This is an unfounded statement.

Most iOS software is developed to run on iPhones. #rhetorical

Apple’s productivity suite file formats won’t open in Microsoft Office on PCs. This can be a real hassle for Mac users sharing work documents with PC users.

Ah, but Apple’s productivity suite will import Microsoft Office formats. At least they’re trying, Microsoft. Moreover, if you’re still sending document attachments, KNOCK IT OFF. *points to Google Docs again* *points to Microsoft Office Live*

If there’s a Mac version of a program you need, you’ll have to buy it again and re-learn how to use it on a Mac.

Hahahahahaha! *catches breath* Hahahahahaha!

You can get the PC you want, in the size and color you want, with the features you want—all for the right price. With the best selection and price, PCs win hands down.

Yes, you can get what the market gives you – but that’s not “any size and color you want.” PC doesn’t win hands down. Sorry. It doesn’t. TCO isn’t factored into this ploy. There is absolutely a wider selection of Windows products available – yes. This doesn’t take into account build quality or service, but… you can find more PC options out there, certainly. If that’s what you want (an arbitrary value versus a good consumer electronics device), the choice for you is clear.

PCs running Windows 7 often come with features that either aren’t available or don’t come preinstalled on even the highest-end Macs, including Blu-ray, eSATA, multi-format card readers, touch screens, and mobile broadband support.

The Xbox 360 doesn’t work with Blu-ray, either – does that mean it’s worthless? Do you know how many Blu-ray discs I own? Seriously. I’m asking you because I have no idea. Everything I consume these days is fully digital. Moreover, my mobile broadband support comes by way of my mobile device – and every single Windows touch screen PC I’ve tried has fallen laughably short. I’ll give ’em eSATA, sure – but what about Thunderbolt (a far more ubiquitous IO port)?

Then again, if you want to watch Blu-ray movies on your computer (since OS X can read, write, etc. Blu-ray data)… Microsoft is correct, and Windows is a better option. Doesn’t mean that a PC is a better option, though – even though this entire debate is centered on PC vs. Mac – not Windows vs. OS X.

A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC. A Mac can be a Windows PC.

PCs are available in a full spectrum of colors across a wide range of price points. Macs are only available in white or silver.

I kinda like that. Plus, I tend to skin my notebook computers, anyway. This value is relative – largely irrelevant to them trying to prove that PCs are superior to Macs.

The selection of software for Macs is smaller than the selection for PCs. So if there’s a program you use on a PC, you’ll need to make sure it’s available for the Mac. And, if it is, you’ll need to learn how to use it on a Mac.

I don’t even want to qualify this argument with a response. In all the years I’ve used both Windows and Mac OS X, I’ve collected far more apps for Mac OS X – and they’re designed better, too. So many apps have similar interfaces – so once you stop treating Mac OS X like it was Windows, and Windows like it was Mac OS X… you’ll be more than happy with either one.

Did you hear that? It’s possible to be MORE THAN HAPPY WITH EITHER ONE. Or BOTH, for that matter. That’s the truth.

Is Your Computer Part of a Botnet in the US?

During the first half of 2010, more than two million computers in the United States alone were found to be part of a botnet. Microsoft performed the research, which showed that Brazil had the second highest level of infections at 550,000. The country hit hardest is South Korea, where 14.6 out of every 1000 machines were found to be enrolled in botnets.

Cliff Evans is the head of security and identity in the UK. “Most people have this idea of a virus and how it used to announce itself,” he said. “Few people know about botnets.” Botnets start when a virus infects a computer, either through spam or an infected web page. The virus puts the Windows machine under the control of a botnet herder. “Once they have control of the machine they have the potential to put any kind of malicious code on there,” said Mr Evans. “It becomes a distributed computing resource they then sell on to others.”

The stats for the report were gathered from more than 600 million machines which are enrolled in Microsoft’s various update services or use its Essentials and Defender security packages. The conclusions of the report show that people need to be much more vigilant. You have to keep yourself well protected against threats of any kind. Even though they’re a pain, you need to apply your Windows updates when they become available, keep programs updated (such as Java) and make sure that you understand security basics.

100 Mac Tips

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If you’re switching from Windows to Mac OS X, I thought I’d help get you started with my top 100 Mac tips. If you’re sticking with Windows, fine – I released the Windows eBook earlier this year (and I hope you scored a copy).

Every day, I get asked questions related to “making the switch.” I just figured this was an easier way to get you the information you needed. The eBook has no DRM attached to it, and sells for only five bucks. I can almost guarantee that you’ll pick up at least one tip that you didn’t already know about.

I live inside of both Windows and Mac OS X. Do you?

If you do get a copy, please post your review as either a comment here or video response – I’d love to hear what you think about its value to you, either as a new Mac user or as someone who communicates with new Mac users on a regular basis.

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Getting a New Mac Mini

Faizal from Malaysia writes:

I’m very excited that Apple has introduced a new Mac Mini which I consider very good in terms of specification and price. So, I decided to buy this new Mac Mini as my first Mac PC. The main reason I like Mac Mini because of its form factor. I’m a Windows PC user and with this new Mac Mini, I hope I can experience myself with Mac computers and Mac OS X.

The only problem I have for now is the monitor. I found that Mac LCD monitors are too expensive if compared to other brands. I can’t afford to buy an Apple LCD monitor since it is out of my budget. So, my questions: (1) Can I use an LCD monitor from another brand, and (2) What are the main advantages to using Apple-brand monitors for Mac systems.

I saw today’s Mac Mini update, too!

Indeed, for the quality hardware combined with a tiny physical footprint, the Mac Mini is a great first Mac for anybody. My only wish is that they’d soon migrate to the iX series of Intel processors (dropping the Core 2 Duos altogether).

If you’re a new Mac user (or someone switching from Windows), I have my 100 Mac Tips eBook available to help give you a leg up on what you’ll soon discover in Mac OS X. I’d suggest it not just because I wrote it, but because I’ve been there myself. I live in between Windows and Mac OS X (and definitely a better geek for that).

Apple has done an absolutely wonderful job at causing people to believe that their products are only compatible with their other products. This, my friend, is NOT the case. You can connect any monitor to the Mac Mini that your little Malaysian heart desires (although, you may need to get an adapter – depending on which ports you’re connecting). That’s good news – reuse what you’ve already got!

Moreover, the only reason you’d want to get an Apple LCD monitor at this point is… if you like looking at the Apple logo. That’s about it.

Current Mac Mini Deals:


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Should I Get a Mac or PC?

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I had to chuckle when this particular caller tried to start the old war… Mac vs PC! *sigh* Do you know how often I hear that? However, this guy was a bit more specific. He’s starting college, and wanted to know whether I felt an HP TouchSmart computer would be better for him, or a MacBook Pro. I hate when someone asks my opinion on what is better for them! I really do!

I cannot begin to tell you what will work best for any of you. That’s something only you can decide, and it depends on any number of factors. How much do you have to spend? What will you need the device for? These are the kinds of things you need to think about. I have no way of knowing what will fit your particular needs. You have to do your homework.

That said, I do happen to have an HP TouchSmart. It’s an excellent machine, to be sure. It’s functional, but it’s not as responsive as the interface on the iPad is, largely due to the type of screen and the technology that was used to build it. Not all touch screens are made the same, just like all cars are not built alike.

I recommend you get what you want. Ultimately, there will be one killer feature for you. If touch is the killer feature, then the obvious choice is the HP. It may boil down to price or support for you, as well. You have to decide what features are important to you, and what will fit your lifestyle the best.

Don’t take my word for it. Choose wisely, young grasshoppers.

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Do You Believe in Aliens?

I spend most of my time attempting to bring friends the latest news, hottest new hardware and software, and the very latest in technology advancements. While it’s true that I post a few humorous things at times, I know that I still need to take time to lighten up. I decided that, tonight, we’d end the week on a slightly more thought-provoking note.

Do you believe in aliens? I’m not talking about illegal immigrants, folks. I’m referring to “intelligent” life on other planets. Extraterrestrials!

How can you say (with certainty) that humans are the only sentient beings in the universe? Isn’t that rather presumptuous?

The question of the day is: do you believe that intelligent life exists in this universe (beyond planet Earth)? Have you ever had a close encounter of the first, second, or third kind? Are you an ET, yourself?

While I’ve never been a witness to any such event, I do believe that “aliens” exist (just as much as I believe that Jesus existed, even though I’ve never met the dude). I also believe we have some intelligent life floating around the Internet:

Is your computer feeling not-so-very-intelligent right now? Smarten ‘er up through the software center before too long.

Asus Eee PC Seashell Netbook

Asus Eee PC Seashell Netbook

  • Genuine Windows® XP Home or GNU Linux
  • 10.1″ LED Backlight WSVGA Screen (1024×600) with Color-Shine (Glare-type)
  • Intel® Atom N280
  • WLAN 802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz
  • Bluetooth2.1 + EDR
  • Hybrid Storage
  • 160GB 2.5″ SATA II 5400RPM HDD
  • 10GB Eee Storage (Eee Storage service is complimentary for the first 18 months)
  • 1.3MP Webcam
  • Hi-Definition Audio CODEC
  • Stereo speaker
  • Digital Array Mic
  • 1 x Mini VGA Connector
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x LAN RJ-45
  • 2 x Audio Jack (Head Phone / Mic-in)
  • Card Reader: MMC/ SD(SDHC)
  • Slimmer, and eco-friendly Li-polymer Battery (~6 hrs)
  • 262mm(W) x 178mm(D) x 18mm~ 25.7mm(H)
  • 1.1Kg (2.42lbs)
  • White, Black, Pink, Blue, Sapphire Blue, Ruby Red

My Personal Personal Computer History

Geek!This is Mike Wilson’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:

1975: First time I see an IBM 129 Keypunch in operation. The geometric, modern design, the small LED readout of the card columns, the automatic dup functions… amazing. The card reader with its high rate of speed. Sleek, modern form of the 370/138, I’ll call it “HAL 9000’s grandpa.” So, I do.

1977: New job, first time I see the console of a IBM 370/168. All badass black, sparse buttonry, just what is needed, a meter to display system utilization, a few tiny lamps. All the magic happens in the attached screen, around 21″, green cursive characters. To type on it is magical, satisfying clicks, an enter button next to the keyboard to slap at the end of your commands. This is real hardware, to grab a hold of and wrestle like some gigantic daemon. Channel and communications boxes sprawl everywhere behind it. Underfloor cables spider to printers, tape drives, disk banks. A high-speed card reader zips through decks fast, card punch goes slower. System internals all based on that venerable (Hollerith) 80-column card image. In the corner, the ka-chunk ka-chunk of the old 557 Interpreter, reading cards and printing a single line atop each card. You can yank open the front and replace a control panel when you need to – but we rarely did, they were all prewired, thank god. Printers and tape drives all had that 1960s modern look, square lit buttons, white rectangular shapes, blue boxes and black boxes around.

Wondrously it had 16 megabytes of main storage, and ample disk (3330 removable and 3350 fixed-head), around a couple of gigabytes worth!

1982: Wow, I can go get my own computer at Radio Shack! It has a tiny memory, and a cassette recorder for storage, but it is all mine! No boss to look over my shoulder, I can “run the console” from the comfort of my own home. An entire system, all mine. Games, word processing, and possibly even remote communications someday. I have to learn BASIC, but what the hell. It’s simple, right? And my model is a color computer, wowser. 16k RAM, upgradeable to 32k with a ROM pack. I am 25 and impressed by it all.

1988: I open up the boxes of my new Laser XT computer I just got at Sears. Two front-loading 5 1/4 inch floppy drives. No hard disk, they are too expensive. But, wow, 512K RAM! An awesome amount, as much as those 360 model 40s at that place where I used to run the check sorter, back in 1976. Awesome again, how the improvements are marching forth through the years. I begin to learn the rudiments of DOS 3.3 , find out that these things still don’t read my mind: I have to tell it everything, and then run it. But a pal lends me MS flight simulator 1.0, and on my color (yes, color) VGA monitor, it looks awesome. We joke about “whatever happened to punchcards.”

1994: This Ambra PC I just got almost makes me wet my pants. 8 Megs RAM, a 14.4 modem, SVGA monitor, and Windows 3.1 this thing is loaded. I refamiliarize myself with basic computing – the early 1990s have not been an easy time economically. Soon, I get onto AOL. Remote computing, talking to thousands of people from all around the country. Amazing. Downloading files, pictures. Have been reading this magazine called Boardwatch, so I am thirsty for online experiences. I get on some BBSes with the help of Procomm Plus. I chat with people in New Jersey and San Francisco. This is so cool, I miss family gatherings and sit in the basement of my rented house, typing away on the Ambra, or on a second, older PC with a 2,400 bps modem. Eventually, I get on INS through an 800 number. And then, it is on to the world of the Internet.

More long nights, learning VMS and UNIX commands, gopher and lynx commands. How to send an email. How to decode an attachment on an email. I am drunk on it. Can attach to universities around the world, walk the globe on a wire. I brag to family about it. They wonder about me. I don’t care, I am intoxicated with it all. Heck, I even read a book on assembly language programming.

1997: The Ambra got sold, have bought and sold a couple since then. A timely inheritance gets spent on a new Apex/ITT system, with a 166 MHz processor (forget the other vitals on it). This baby is really loaded. It can do the Web, Internet. No problem, and comes with Win95 pre-loaded. This is the first system I learn HTML on, learning one or two markup tags a day. Now I control the volume, I control the horizontal and vertical… Oh the feeling of power and control. To control a piece of the Web itself. The hit counter tells the story, even if most of the hits are me, refreshing the page to check my code.

1999: I’ve got three boxes in a spare room in my house, and they are all networked together. One is the Server, the other two are clients. They each have a role to play in my little godlike Network. One is connected to 56K dialup Internet, and a multitude of media files are passed to the other two over UTP Ethernet cables via a small hub. I am feeling powerful and satiated. Punchcards are not even a memory anymore.

2001: Personal bankruptcy. Most of the cause is spending too much money I do not have on computer hardware. I vow to learn from my mistakes, and only have one computer at a time from now on. All my machines get sold, and I am left with a Yahoo email to use at the library, and nothing else. It will be a whole six months before I can get another. Suffering. I learn to write a budget.

2008: I have a supercomputer in my place now. 3 gigahertz processor, 250 gig HDD. More disk storage than was had at those early operator jobs, by far. DSL data communications zaps pictures and videos back and forth. 20-inch flat-panel screen. DVD and CD drives. 7-in-one media reader station. Vast amount of programs satisfies most every computing desire I have. 80-column punchcard? Those are museum pieces. Now I think in megabytes and gigabytes, not in 80-byte unit records. Even filenames need a lot more than 80 bytes these days.

But I just had to get a laptop, for mobile adventures. The Acer Netbook was purchased from Wal-Mart, but it was only 340.oo so that is not bad. I can do wireless internet, and even webcamming with it. It runs Linux, but the GUI works well enough that I don’t need to use the command line – whew. Cool. Problem is, It sits on the desk gathering dust most of the week. I can still only run one computer at a time. That did not stop me from buying a Kingston 16 GB memory stick for it. In 1975 this would have been science fiction, of course. Jeez – I love this hardware – so much, I must be a real GEEK or something.

Hey, there’s Chris Pirillo’s new site. Think I’ll join up. This is me, for real.

Things to Consider When Building Your Own PC

Geek!This is Calvin’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:

These days, more people are building their own computers rather than buying them from a retailer. I built myself a new computer back in August. My experience was mostly flawless, and those minor problems I did have were quickly fixed. Perhaps you’re looking at getting a new computer, and giving thought to building your own? Here are five tips that I believe will help you.

  1. Know what you need. Generally, when you’re building your own computer, you’ll need a motherboard, processor, RAM, video card, optical drive, hard drive, power supply, and a case. You may also need a keyboard, mouse, or monitor, depending on what peripherals you’ve got laying around. There are also extras like TV tuners, media card readers, and dedicated sound cards, which all can improve your PC experience, but you don’t need them – and not buying them can lower your purchase price.
  2. Don’t forget the operating system! While buying components, it’s very easy to forget to pick up an OS. Unless you’re going with Linux, it’s usually easier to buy the OS from the same place you’re getting the parts from, at the same time (so you don’t forget). You’ll probably want a copy of Windows Vista, which is Microsoft’s latest operating system. You can go with 32-bit or 64-bit versions, but unless you’re truly using more than 2GB of RAM, you should go with the 32-bit edition.
  3. Don’t put all of your money into one component. You can easily spend ~$500 on a graphics card. Unless you’re doing extreme gaming, you probably won’t need a top-of-the-line graphics card. The same goes for processors — even though the price-per-gigahertz is getting lower by the day, you still probably don’t need the high-end model. Remember: you don’t HAVE to buy the best out there to have a great computer.
  4. Don’t spend more than $100 on a motherboard. Unless you’re going to overclock (which you probably aren’t), you don’t really need all the special features that the more expensive boards sport. In many cases, the cheaper ones will perform just as good as their pricier counterparts – and they should give you all the options you might need. When buying a motherboard, make sure that the socket is the same as your processor, the RAM speed is compatible, it has at least two SATA ports (for the hard disk and optical drive), and that it has at least one PCI-Express x16 slot (the long one) for your graphics card.
  5. Shop around. If you stay patient and persistent, you can find some pretty great deals on the hardware you’re buying. Online retailers through TagJag.com provide regular discounts on their products, and coupons.lockergnome.com offers coupon codes to lower the price even more. Buying online will generally be cheaper than buying in-store, and you usually won’t have to pay taxes on what you buy. Some products also have manufacturer rebates on them, so be sure to print those out and send those in to save even more money!

Hopefully these tips will help you with your new machine. Also remember to have fun. It can be quite an enjoyable experience – to put together your own machine, and then see it run for the first time. If you do experience a problem, there are tons of hardware and PC-building forums out there that would be happy to help you. And of course, if you have any questions, ask! Good luck!

To Be or Not to Be: Politically Correct

This is Peggy Romero ‘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:

I’ve always wanted to write a blog about being Politically Correct. I’m going to give a speech in two weeks about this, so it made me drag out my chair and sit in front of the computer, squeeze something out of me!

Whoever has any opinions about being ‘P.C.’, feel free to have an open discussion. Note that the ‘P.C.’ here is not abbreviated from what is commonly known as ‘Personal Computer’.

Politically Correct is commonly abbreviated to PC. This term generally refers to language, ideas, politics or behaviors used to minimize offense to racial, cultural or other identity groups.
I’ve always believed in being Politically Correct. I believe we should carefully choose our words when we talk about certain issues, like race, religion, political views and gender issues.

I once had a struggle over this belief of mine. A few years ago, I happened to have a conversation with an American friend of mine who is rather intelligent. What he said about ‘politically correct’ affected what I thought ‘politically correct” had always meant to me. We were having this little debate over whether we should call people by color or not. I told him that I used the term ‘Caucasian’ instead of ‘White’ because I don’t want to be called ‘Yellow’. I’m an Asian. Therefore, I try to be more PC and I expect people to do likewise. He didn’t agree with me and here is what he said: “Saying what you mean and what you think is what Freedom of Speech is intended for. We all need to realize this (and none too soon) that first and foremost we are all humans. But since we do have differing appearances, it is easy to say ‘White’ rather than ‘Caucasian’. But what does Caucasian mean? It means white, right? So you’re still calling me white, just using another name for it. For example, poop and shit mean the same thing and refer to the same thing. So, why is shit considered bad but poop is ok? Because we, as humans have made it that way. Calling someone black is only bad if it has bad connotations with it. But in fact, they ARE black.”

As a matter of fact, he made a good point. Has the idea of being Politically Correct gone overboard? Maybe we, as humans, literally have made the words good or bad.

Meanwhile, I tried to ask a couple of people’s opinion about it. Some of them say: “Uhhh, I don’t really care. I’m not gonna get offended anyway. Words are just words. Words won’t hurt me.” Many people say: “I think we should say whatever that is in our mind. People’s feelings are eventually going to get hurt no matter how hard we try to be nice.”

There are reasons why I believe in trying to be Politically Correct: First of all, I do not think ‘Words are just words’. We humans have made definitions of words. Yet, if we should simply say whatever that is in our mind, what comes out of our mouth means what we think. For instance, if I were in a foreign country and someone would call me a ‘Chink’, he or she has the right to say whatever that is in his or her mind. But that word is absolutely going to offend me. As we all know, that is a vulgar word to Asian people. Words are NOT just words. They are a powerful tool. It’s a tool invented by humans to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions. Secondly, I believe in the ‘Freedom of Speech’. I do believe we all have the very right to speak out our own opinions.

Admittedly, people’s feelings are eventually going to get hurt. Not for nothing, there is a difference between being offended by one’s informed opinion… and being offended by ignorance. When describing a person who is lacking of certain physical or mental ability, we may use the word ‘Disabled’ rather than calling him or her ‘Retarded’. Calling someone from Asian countries an ‘Asian’ is somehow more respectful than using the word ‘Chink’.

Lastly, being Politically Correct is not censorship. Only when the term becomes institutionalized, it turns out to be a sign of censorship afoot. Being Politically Correct is a choice. It’s simply a choice of selecting a better word in our vocabulary.