Christmas Laptops

  
One questions I get asked more then ever during this time of year is what kind of laptop should I buy for my child for Christmas? This would be the same as asking a car dealer what kind of car should I but my child who is graduating from high school. They will tell you to buy the most expensive one you could afford. But I on the other hand will tell you to buy what you think the child we need.

On the other hand. Be careful of all of those so called deals during the Holiday season. The laptops that are coming in under $200.00 are doing so for a reason. They normally have cheap electronic parts and often will not last the user for more then a year. And stay away from spending over a thousand dollars because that is just crazy! Maybe for someone going to college, but never for a school student.

Now let’s talk about the laptop’s operating system. When we buy any cheaper computer it will normally have Windows installed on it. Windows since the early ages when it came out has been more acceptable to viruses and spyware. It is just the nature of the beast. I have a lot of people telling me that they had to get a new computer because theirs is running slow. The truth is the computer with Windows most likely needs to be cleaned. Read my last post for help with cleaning Windows. You should clean the computer at least once every six months or anytime it begins to run slow.

Okay so where does that leave us? Either buy an Apple computer which will cost thousands. Or simply buy your student a Chrome Book or a tablet running Android. These operating systems don’t get spyware or viruses. Why you might ask. It’s simple not many are written to attack them. I also like the idea of the iPad. It is not really a lot of money and when you add a keyboard you have a system that will last for years. We have iPads in our fleet of computers that are the first ever made and they are still running today.

I am writing this for you and myself. My daughter who is in college wants a laptop this year for Christmas. And with limited funds I am just like you looking for the best deal out there. Really for some reason there are not many. And she does not want a tablet. So I am leaning towards getting her a gift card for Star Bucks! Just kidding I am left still looking for the deal of a lifetime. We have three weeks before the big day and I am sure there will be deals coming. 

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Clean Your Computer So It Runs Faster

CClenaerMalwarebytes

Your computer needs to be treated just as you treat your car. You need to preform regular maintenance on your computer. I heard that there was a tool that has been being sold for about $20.00. You don’t need to buy anything. There are so many FREE tools on the Internet that will clean your computer and get raid of all the junk from your machine.

I am asked over and over by everyone. “How does this stuff get onto my computer?” Remember these words of wisdom. When you or your kids play these so called FREE games on the Internet these web sites put stuff onto your computer. These small programs are known as ADWARE. We often hear and see computers with pop ups all over the screen selling you this or that. Also when you visit shopping sites they put what is known as SPYWARE. These little programs watch what you buy and will start popping up ads or at the very least when you return to these sites they will push whatever items you bought in the past. So even people I meet who say they never go to questionable web sites can still get junk on their computers.

The FREE tools that I show at the top of this post will keep your computer running fast and smooth. Use the links here to make sure you get the correct ones. There are knock off sites out there trying to sell you these FREE programs.

CCLEANER: Install this cleaner and run it at least once every three months. Or anytime you think your computers is running slow. It finds and removes all types of adware and spyware. If you want continued cleaning you can buy the paid version but in all my years of using it I have never used anything more then the FREE version.

MALWAREBYTES: I also run this FREE tool after running CCleaner. I have found that there might be something that one of the programs don’t catch that the other will. And being they are both FREE why not use them both.

At the end of the day we all want our computers to run as they did when we first brought them home. And don’t ever think that you have to many pictures, or to many programs. Those things do not slow down the computer. It is all of the junk we run into on the Internet super highway.

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Chrome Box

Chrome Box

This little guy will do so much for you and do it fast! The ASUS Chromebox $159.00 is a powerful little desktop computer. I have been running one of these and doing all of my computing with it. Why is it so different? It does not run Windows or OSX. It runs only the Chrome Operating System. And it is only getting better and more powerful. There are now stand alone application. I have found FREE photo editors, remote desktop programs, money programs. And yes you have all of the powerful Office application, Docs, Spread Sheets and Presentation software. You also get FREE 100 GIG of storage of Google Drive. This means all of you files are stored online on Google servers.

I have been putting this little box through the paces. I now have two monitors connected to the box so that I can do twice the work. I have plugged USB microphones into the box to record audio for podcasts. I have also found a FREE screen casting program to allow me to do a lesson about the Chrome desktop. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=147DqJm8MaY&list=UUVu39bEcGeY0F7k24IA5zxw.

If you would like to buy one use this link and pick up yours today.

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Flash Photography

Yongnuo Flash

I seem to get a lot of emails each week asking me about flash photography. Some of the questions concern what types of flash to buy? What kind of triggers should I get? Are all flashes created equal?

Let me first start by telling you that not all flashes are created equal. Some are brighter, some are hotter, some use batteries faster then others. But at the end of the day they all do one thing pretty well, they put light onto the subject that you are shooting.

Sometime ago I bought a Nikon flash for about $200.00. I knew I wanted a really good dependable flash for my wedding business. When I started taking senior pictures I knew I needed another flash. I didn’t have another $200.00 so I started looking for a flash that would be dependable. I turned to Yongnuo and picked up a YN560-II. This little guy cost me about $65.00 and is very dependable. I can use it as a slave from my Nikon flash or as a stand alone unit on a stand.

I also picked up a second light stand from E-Bay for about $20.00 and now have a great portable lighting kit. My kit now contains (1 Nikon SB600, 1 Yongnuo YN560-II, 2 Light Weight light stands with brackets and two large white umbrellas). I carry this kit to all of my photo shoots.

One last thing I would tell you to look at when buying any type of flash. Look into flash triggers. I picked up a set of Yongnuo YN-622N. These little guys will do TTL and manual triggering. Also very low cost.

One thing I can say about any lighting. Buy something. I think a photographer without some kind of lighting is like a painter without any brushes.

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Online Office Applications

365 and Google Apps

If there is one thing that I have found out over my years of computers is that the file you want never seems to be reachable. While that is all changing with the help of a little catch phase “The Cloud”.

Many schools are turning to either Google Apps or Office 365. These online services allow you to work on documents, spreadsheets and presentations where ever and from what ever computer or device you might be working on.

Look back to not that long ago we all carried flash drive or thumb drives. Did you ever get the sick feeling when you are suppose to present and your trusty flash drive is laying at home on your end table? Well no more. Now that we can log onto a site and have access to our working documents from where ever you have an Internet connection. Life just got a little easier and have 24/7 access to your work.

Deciding which one to use is really a personal choice. If you have been using Microsoft Office for years you might want to choose Office 365. If you are someone like me that can adapt and learn new things then choose Google Apps. Or some people might choose to use both.

And remember both of these work on IOS and Android devices. This means when you are in a taxi or on a bus you can make those last minute touches on your work before getting to work.

The bottom line is for you to cut your ties with your computer and move over to the world of “THE CLOUD!”

 

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Larger Phones Less Tablets?

Large Phones

I have the opportunity to get a shinny new iPhone 6 under the Verizon Edge plan. My first thought is that I know I want to get the 64 Gig. I have a 5C now with 16 Gig and it always seems full. As I have been looking at others who have the new iPhone I have been asking if I should get the Plus 5.5″?

The first person I talked to told me “YES!” She says that she never uses her iPad any longer. She tells me she can watch movies on it and read books. The next person I talked to said, “NO!” He said that he can’t use one hand to text while driving. Okay well not an issue. I don’t text when I drive and if I have to respond I use Siri. My daughter got a larger LG phone and she loves it.

My over all thoughts is that these larger phones and replacing the tablets. Normally if I take a class or sit in a meeting I bring my phone in my pocket and I bring either my iPad or Windows 8 tablet or laptop. It might be nice to just have my phone. I have started looking for some kind of keyboard for the iPhone 6 but then it would be just another item to carry. We will get more into touch typing another time.

So what do you think? Do you have one of these larger phones? If so maybe you can comment and give the readers your thoughts. And I do get one of these little monsters I will do a blog post using it. Then we can maybe find out if it will be my tablet replacement?

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Syncing Folders and Files Across Clouds

Automator

 

I was thinking this morning, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to sync or upload your files or folders to the cloud without having to go into each service or folder to do so? Let’s face it. If you are like me you might have more then one cloud based storage service. Google Drive, Drop Box, iCloud or OneDrive, you might even have some that I don’t. But if you have any of these what do you use them for? The second part of my issue is that I have files and folders all over the place. My thought this morning was this. How could I save all of these folders and files to all of the cloud services at one time? I found a quick and simple answer in using Automator. Now I know you might be asking what is this Automator? It is a Mac program that allows you to automate curtain tasks. Playing with it for a few minutes I was able to write a work flow that allows me to drop a file or folder onto the small Automator app I built and my files or folders send directly to Drop Box, Google Drive and One Drive. What will be my next step?

I want to work on a Windows application that will do the same thing as this little Automator workflow. But let’s face it. With all of the FREE cloud storages in the world why would you not have your files and folders backing up somewhere? I will keep everyone up to date and let you know what I can come up with.

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New 10.1″ Next Book

NextBook

I was searching some black Friday deals the other day and I came across this little charmer. Meet the 10.1″ Next Book. I picked this up from Wal-Mart. I know I always say you should not buy your computer gear from the same place as your toilet paper or your car oil. But then I  saw the price and thought why not. This little tablet runs a full version of Windows 8.1 Pro. It also comes with Office 13 and Office 365 for one year!. I am still getting use to the keyboard but I don’t think it will take to long.

I will be putting this tablet and keyboard through the paces and see what shakes loose. I will attempt to use it as my daily working unit and see what happens.

I will give you more about the unit and my reviews as I play with it more and more. Time to load up some software.

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Uses For A 7″ Tablet

Tablet

One great use for my new 7″ Toshiba Encore Tablet is to use it as a media watching device while you are working out. I found the TWIT.TV app for Windows 8.1 and it works well. One question on this app is, why do they charge $1.49 for the Windows app but the IOS app I think is FREE?

I am still waiting for the keyboard and case I ordered for this tablet. I am also hoping that the new 10.1″ tablet I ordered will be in soon. But for now if you have a 7″ tablet there is a lot you can do with them. Just keep using them and don’t lay them down and forget them.

 

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IPad Posting

I am sending this from a normal size IPad. I am again using a blue tooth keyboard. I know one thing for sure it is easy to read the screen with the larger screen.

I just ordered a 10.1″ NextBook. It almost looks like a Surface. It has a full version of Windows 10.1 Pro and comes with a FREE 1 year subscription of Office 2013. I will be posting from it this week I hope. I will also be adding some pictures that everyone has been asking for.

I you have any questions please drop me a comment and I will respond here.

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