Buying A Laptop

 

Laptops

Buying a laptop these days is a scary adventure. I think one of the reasons for this is that there are so many on the market. And with each laptop brand, there are so many prices. There are also so many sizes and weights to think about. I wanted to point out a few key points that you need to consider when buying a laptop.

First, let’s talk about pricing. Many times I see a person going out to buy a laptop based only on price. If you do this you will be very disappointed. Did you ever hear you get what you pay for? Well, cheap is cheap. That’s not to say you may not find a deal but make sure it is a deal on the laptop for want for the following reasons.

Second, is that screen. This is what you will be looking at for hours at a time. You need to find a screen that is easy on the eyes and has good depth and colors. You also have to make sure the screen is a comfortable size to view all day. I normally shop for the 13″ size screen. I find the 11″ too small and the 15″ too big and bulky to carry around.

Third, is the keyboard. You are going to be spending a lot of your time typing on the keyboard. You have to make sure keys don’t stick and have the right amount of travel. You will better understand travel when you test out the laptop at the store. Also, make sure the keyboards keys fit your fingers. If you have a larger hand you don’t want a keyboard with cramped keys.

Forth, battery life. We all hate when we are using a laptop and you are in the middle of a great creation or some work project and the battery dies. A good rule of thought for me is that the battery should get me through the normal 8 hour work day.

Fifth is the amount of RAM and hard drive space and today it should be a solid state drive or SSD. These drives are super fast and will make your laptop startup faster and the programs load quicker. Ram should be at least 8 GIG. Windows 10 likes to have room to breath and using only 4 GIG you will find times that the laptop seems to just sit there when you want it to be doing work.

Sixth and final thought. The weight of the laptop. You don’t want to break your shoulder every time you toss your bag over it. I have also seen many people choose not to take their laptop off their desk because it is too heavy to carry to a meeting. I normally work all day and everywhere on my laptops so it has to be light and portable.

At the end of the day buy a laptop that fits the way you work. Don’t buy a laptop to be part of some in a crowd. And don’t be afraid to spend a little more money to get a laptop that will last you for 3-5 years. And never skimp on the warranty you want to protect your investment.

 

Does Operating Systems Matter

Operating Systems

I have been working with computers since the early day’s of DOS, yes we didn’t even have a graphical user interface. When you wanted the computer to do something most of the time you would have to be able to write a program and then do the project.

Then came Apple and Windows with their pretty point and click graphical user interface. You wanted to open an application you simply double clicked on it and it opened. What was even more impressive was the fact that you could have multiple applications opened at the same time. Which I believe was the beginning of giving all of us a little OCD. This is because we could be working on one project and quickly switch to another application and look at the news. You may do this today? You are working on a large project and you open another tab and check your email or facebook?

At one time the operating system meant that you choose it because of the application you are used to using. Such as running Microsoft Windows because you are a Microsoft Office user. Or using a Mac because you enjoy using Final Cut Pro. Or you might have been a FREE type of person and you went with Linux?

In today’s modern computer world the operating system is really the less important thing on the computer. Why is this? Easy most software vendors have found that programming for the web is the best choice for their applications. I am working on a large database program now and after careful consideration, I decided to write it for any web browser. Why would I choose to do this? I am like the big guys. I want my application to work on any operating system as well as any device that may could be invented for years to come. As long as there is a way to view the Internet I can adjust my program to run on that device.

We see in schools today most of the daily work is done inside of the browser. We have Google Suite and Office 365. Kids take their tests using a web browser. Teachers are teaching from the web browser. So you can see that the operating system basically boils down to what you want to look at all day.

One last thought of today’s post. This is why when Google released the Chromebook it is such a great hit. Because people who use a computer know that the only place they will be spending their day is inside of a web browser and most people choose to use Google Chrome so why not buy a full function laptop for a few hundred dollars and put the saving into some other form of technology.

Apple Watch Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor

This is my first crack at using the Activity Monitor while doing a workout. After walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes for a total of one mile. If you look at the green line it is supposed to move as you workout. As you can clearly see from the green bar it didn’t move at all?

What I do like about the Activity Monitor is that if you work at a desk job like I do it is nice that it tells me to stand every now and then. It also tracks when I walk around the campus which is a good thing. But the workout part bothered me so I had to learn how to use the watch to track my walking on the treadmill.

Workout App

Step over to the Workout App. The idea here is that you open the Workout App and select what kind of workout you are doing. As you can see I choose the Indoor Walk. Once you get on the treadmill you simply hit the green GO button and it begins to track your walk. I have to say it is pretty good a tracking what I did as you can see. When you are done with your exercise you simply hit the DONE button and it will record your workout.

Green Up

Now you can see that the Activity Monitor worked as it is supposed to. The Apple Watch so far is proven to be one of those gadgets that will help you get off the couch and move your body. I also have some other great apps that will help you lose weight and get your body moving.

Just Got A Apple Watch

Apple Watch

My wife just bought me an Apple Watch for my birthday. This is something I have been looking at ever since they were released. The only reason I never bought one is that I didn’t know how it would fit into my daily lifestyle?

My main issue with not getting an Apple Watch long before now was it is a device that attaches to my phone. Why would I want this when I already have an iPhone? I can pull out my phone and check my email, help tickets, messages and yes even the time. So why would I need a watch that just extends these features?

Well, step over to the Apple Watch. With the Apple Watch on I don’t have to dig into my pocket just to check my latest emails, they are now pushed right to my phone. When I get a text message I’m not digging in my pocket either I just look down at my watch and there is the message, I hit reply and speak into the watch and hit send to drop a quick message back. I often use my phone to check the weather or outside temp, now I just look down at my watch and it shows me the temp all day without having to open an app. When my phone rings it now vibrates my watch and I can answer the call from my arm again without having to take the phone out of my pocket.

So is the Apple Watch a killer gadget? NO! Can you run your day form your Smart Phone? YES! But overall does the Apple Watch make you more productive in and out of the work environment? YES! And I don’t worry about dropping my phone everytime I need to text or answer a call, I can do all of this from the device strapped to my wrist. Is the Apple Watch for everyone, it could be but not really.

Then you might be asking yourself why am I so impressed with the Apple Watch? Well for the reasons above and remember I am a gadget kind of guy. I just really wish there one day will be a KILLER APP for the Apple Watch that works better on the watch than the iPhone. But for now, there is not a KILLER APP. I will keep you informed if I find one sometime.

Please let me know if you have an Apple Watch and let me know what you think of using it and maybe if and how it changed your life?

Importance of a VPN

VPN

First let’s start by answering the question, what is a VPN? A VPN is known as a Virtual Private Network. A VPN allows us to connect to our work and have a secure tunnel connection to the office. It can also provide us with a secure way to pass traffic from our smartphone or computer while we are using public WIFI.

Why are either one of these important to us? When you are sitting at home and you are working on your office computer and you use a VPN your computer will act just as it does when you are sitting at your desk. This happens because when you connect the VPN you are basically running a network cable from your office network back to your home. But with the power of the Internet and a VPN connection we don’t need the wire, hence the Virtual Private Network. Once you connect to your office all of your traffic is going through a secure tunnel. This will keep hackers from intercepting your traffic and using it against you or your company. But even more so it allows you if you are a technology person to work on your network and bring up servers just as you would sitting at your desk.

So what can a VPN offer if you are just on your smartphone in a coffee shop? Again the VPN will provide your traffic to be secured from anyone in the coffee shop who might be scanning for Internet traffic. All of you traffic will be going out of your office or home Internet connection. Remember it will act just as if you are sitting at your desk.

Wonder if you don’t have a VPN at home to connect to? Can you still use a VPN and be safer when you are accessing your banking from a public Internet connection? There are many FREE VPN services on the Internet that you can set up an account on and connect to them for that same piece of mind. I found this site for you that has a listing of FREE VPN sites you can use. FREE VPN SITES.

Think of it this way. It will take you one extra step before you access any secure sites on the Internet such as your banking site. You will have to first connect to the VPN then open the sites you want to use. But then again wouldn’t it be easier to just open your car door and run to the mall? None of us would do this, we would first turn off the car and lock the doors. Think of the VPN and locking the door on your Internet traffic.

Cloud Storage

Cloud Storage

When it comes to cloud storage I often ask myself which one is the best for your day to day working environment? The truth is they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

As many of you know I work in a public school setting and we are always looking for ways to better serve the students and staff while still maintaining a balance of reliable technology for everyone.

I look at my own cloud storage and find that I am using four main ones. Google Drive for all my school-based work, Onedrive for all of my company work, iCloud for most of my personal work and then DropBox just because I have had it the longest and I still have a lot of my work on their servers. So how do you pick just one?

I have been struggling with this for some time and I think I have found the true direction to guide people in. Use whatever ego system you are working with the most. If you are a 100% Microsoft shop and work in the Office products all of the time then you would use Onedrive. This will allow you to work on files on your computer and then on the road jump into Office 365 and pick up where you left off. If you use Google Apps all the time then use Google Drive. If you are using a Mac most of the time I would suggest iCloud and also suggest buying more storage from Apple. If you use many different apps and don’t relay of web-based apps then I would suggest DropBox or Box. The real trick is to work within the ego system you choose.

At the end of the day, all of the companies out there providing cloud-based storage are very good at what they do. Your work will be safe and sound no matter where you keep it. I would however always suggest using some form of backup. I dump my files onto an external drive for safe keeping. In today’s world, nothing is beyond hacking.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Drop me a comment and let me know what if any cloud-based storage you may be using?

Mac’s In Business

Mac Computers

When I first started my career in the computer field it was all about the PC and the Windows operating system. We would go into a business and set up a Windows Server and Windows Workstations and install Microsoft Office. Mostly everyone in the office was familiar with Windows because that is what they had at home.

Today’s business world is changing. If you are in the IT field now you may walk into an office thinking you will be troubleshooting a PC issue and find an entire office full of Mac’s?  Will you be ready to take on the challenge or will you be running for the door?

I relate this back to our children going to school. I have found more and more school districts using Mac’s in their classroom rooms for one purpose or another. I also see more young people going to college and taking a Mac Book with them. They might also be carrying an iPad and an iPhone. Students become comfortable with using the Apple products and when they leave school they want to stick with the platform.

If you are reading this and you are a technical person I would suggest to start learning the Apple ecosystem.  If you really want to support the Apple clients pick up a Mac Book or to start maybe a second hand newer Mac Mini and begin to learn what makes an Apple computer tick. Chances are you have an iPhone in your pocket right now and maybe even an iPad?

So you may be asking am I a Mac guy? Well, I use Mac’s at home as well as work. But I also use a lot more Windows machines at work then there are Mac’s. But I enjoy both for different reasons. I would like to hear your take on this subject.

 

Samsung Note 7

Nice Note 7

I for one like many of you out there really always liked the Samsung Note phones. I have never owned one but that is because my wife and I are in the Apple ecosystem and have been for years. I did try my hand at a Windows phone once but that only lasted about a week before I returned it and got a new iPhone. But the Samsung Note line has been great and I know a lot of people who still use them everyday. But now the company is in trouble. I really don’t think this is any wrong doing by Samsung. Let’s face it they don’t want all of this bad press. What everyone should be asking is where was this phone made? We all know that these electronic companies are not building these gadgets in the USA in their own factories. This might be traced back to someone in some far off land putting these together with some oil on their fingers? Would I say run out and buy a new Note 7 anyway? NO, but I am saying don’t kill a entire company because of a mishap until we get all the facts. Was this a design flaw? Are they trying to get more power out of the internal battery? Is there something wrong with the charger? I always feel bad for any company that gets hit with one bad product and it starts to make everyone fearful of their products. I hope that Samsung pulls out of this downfall. Remember I said in the beginning of this post that we are iPhone people but I think every company needs computation. Next thing to watch is that law suit because Samsung phones icons look like Apples. This is funny because my car tires looks likes yours and I bet that they came from two different companies?

The iPad Lineup

iPad Lineup

Apple has been working on the iPad since 2009 with the first one being released in 2010. When it was first released I seen this device as many did as being a larger iPhone. But after time and using one for awhile I found that is was much more then that. I now feel that Steve was creating a laptop killer or is this what he was thinking? The truth is many of us will still need a computer of some kind either a desktop or a laptop. I feel this because most of us are use to a full keyboard and internal hard drive and the programs we have grown use to using. But I sat and talked with a teacher yesterday who teaches computer classes. As we were talking she felt that as the younger generation grows up the keyboard is becoming less important to them. We are raising a generation of touch typist. I see the kids today and I know my own kids can type pretty fast with just their thumbs. So will the iPad or tablet computers someday replace laptops or desktops with keyboards? Time will tell the story. But as you see in the picture above we can see that the iPad  first got smaller and now they are getting larger. I think Apple is designing these devices to capture a entire market of users who either want to carry something smaller or something to do your daily work on. For me I really like the device mainly because the battery will last all day. I still like having a keyboard but I grew up with typewriters. Will tablets replace traditional computers? I think time will tell.

IPhone 7

IPhone 7

The Iphone 7 has arrived! Really the way I see it it’s really nothing to get to excited about. Why would I say this when people are flocking to the stores to get their hands on one? It’s easy, innovation is by it’s very term adding something new to the table. When you take a product and remove something it might be a step backwards? Or is it in reality a great marketing tool? So this is what I am thinking. Apple people are sitting around and they are talking about how to make more money with a product that a lot of people already have? Well it’s simple really just remove the head phone jack and then everyone will want to buy their new blue tooth ear buds, right? No wrong, did you ever try to keep the current ear buds in your ears? Mine always fell out but the cord always kept them from getting lost. Now with the new blue tooth ones you will be jogging along and one pops out it is gone for ever. Well back to the Apple store you go to buy a replacement set. My wife was due for a phone upgrade and we thought about switching to the Samsung phone but we had one little issue. All of her music was bought using the ITunes store. I asked around and there was no one that could tell me if we could move her music to the new brand. In the end she got the IPhone 6S. Why didn’t we jump on the band wagon and go for the new 7? Really it came down to cost. We got the 6S for about $15.00 less per month. There was really no reason that I could see to buy the new 7, it really does nothing new and exciting. I am not bashing the new phone really. I just think that Apple needs to change the phone industry once again, they did it years ago and with the smart people they have working at Apple I think they could do it again? The watch is a step in the correct direction, but how can you get the masses to buy something that most people stopped wearing years ago for so much money? Drop the watch to $100.00 and you might see a spike in the Apple stock once again.  Just for the record, I am an Apple fan boy. I have been using Apple products for years.