Category Archives: Computer Hardware

Cheap Comcast for the Poor and Veterans

Comcast has cheap internet for people who get government housing or food assistance, and now also offers this for Veterans. For $10/month you get 15Mbps/sec download and 2Mbps/sec upload. This is 10x faster than the old DSL speeds and more than fast enough for streaming HD video. There are no charges for setup or equipment (modem/wifi router). If you qualify, it’s a great deal.

Go to:
https://internetessentials.com

Or call 855-846-8376

To qualify, you can’t have had Internet through Comcast in the last 3 months and you can’t have another Internet service.

I only wish this was promoted more, as there are lots of qualified people who have big $100/month bundle deals because they don’t know other options exist.

Through the Internet Essentials website from Comcast, customers can also order $150 computers. These are slower desktops and laptops (currently with Core 2 Duos and i3 CPUs) but they come with Windows 10, Office, and Norton Antivirus preinstalled. This is also a great deal if you qualify. Each household has up to 2 years to purchase the computers and can purchase up to 3 computers. CDI is the partner that runs the computer sales and they can be reached at 888-234-4272.

When to Upgrade to a New Computer

New iMac

Clients regularly ask me when they should upgrade their computers. Most businesses upgrade desktop computers every 4-6 years and laptops every 2-4 years. But how often should you upgrade? Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Computer Release Cycles. It is typically best to buy a new computer model early after it is released. This can give you the latest technology and a longer product life. If a new model is just around the corner and you aren’t in dire need, consider waiting.
  2. CPUs. The Central Processing Unit is a key component and is usually made by Intel. A new model will often be released to coincide with the latest intel CPUs (and associated motherboard, RAM, etc). Buying the latest CPUs can mean that the computer will typically allow operating system updates for a longer period.
  3. Hard Drive (HD) versus Solid State Drive (SSD). I strongly recommend SSDs over traditional hard drives. SSDs do not have a spinning platter. They’re more energy efficient and super fast. Many people will find this gives the greatest perceptible difference in speed. Most new computers and all new Macs have an option for an SSD or a hybrid option that uses both an SSD and HD for improved performance (Apple refers to this hybrid option as a Fusion drive).
  4. Usage. Heavy computer users such as graphics designers and developers will find it more useful to upgrade quickly than people who mainly edit documents and use a web browser. Consider if the efficiency of your work would improve enough to warrant an upgrade.
  5. Hassle. Upgrading, especially on PCs can be annoying and take a great deal of time to configure the computer as you like. Macs are easier to upgrade, especially if you have an Apple store nearby. They will upgrade you for free and move over all your files.
  6. PC or Mac. A sad situation that I regularly see is a PC user upgrading after their computer has been infected by a virus. This makes some sense. If the computer has been compromised and is already a few years old, it could be considered “totaled” if the money and time spent on wiping the computer and reinstalling the operating system would be better spent on a new machine. Because of this, I often recommend that people consider Apple computers (Macs) if their needs don’t include Windows specific software. Macs in my experience don’t get viruses, don’t need additional antivirus software, and tend to have higher quality parts that last longer than the typical PC. Because of these factors, Macs have a lower total cost of ownership in my experience, despite having a higher initial cost.
  7. Security. If you have a Windows 95/98/XP PC or a Mac that is around 8 years old, you should consider an upgrade for security reasons. If your computer can’t upgrade to the latest operating system or latest web browser, then it won’t have the latest security patches and could be vulnerable to attacks.
  8. Deals. PC deals come and go all the time from Dell and others. Apple has one sale a year on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. Apple does offer Education and Refurbished deals. Some Apple resellers offer minor deals, especially on older products.

After Windows XP

Given that Microsoft is no longer providing security patches to Windows XP, many users have a choice on what to do with these old computers:

1) Upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8. Download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft to see if your computer can run Windows 7. If it does, you can consider this option.

2) Get a new computer. Most companies upgrade computers every 4-5 years. If you’re running Windows XP, your computer is at least this old. Therefore, money spent on upgrading the computer might be better spent on a new computer that will have all new and improved components. Hard drives eventually die so it is possible that there may not be much life left in the computer.

3) Just keep running XP.  While some security analysts are afraid of unknown future attacks that could be coming to XP, other security experts say that this is vastly overblown. The majority of attacks lately have been against applications (Java, Flash, Acrobat) that run on the operating system, not the operating system itself. Take some precautions with this approach. Make sure Windows Firewall is enabled. Run anti-virus software. Because Microsoft isn’t patching Internet Explorer on XP, use a non-IE browser such as Firefox or Chrome. Think about what you use the computer for. If your job depends on the computer, continuing to use XP is more risky than if you are just using it as a kids play computer.

Update to Paperless Office Post for OS X Mavericks

One of our most popular posts is Paperless Office in a Snap explaining how to set up automatic OCR of scanned documents.

With the release of Mac OS X Mavericks, the controls for Accessibility features have changed. Therefore Step 5 in the Paperless Office in a Snap post has changed. Instead of clicking Enable access for assistive devices under System Preferences – Universal Access, you now need to do the following:

Go to System Preferences – Security & Privacy – Privacy – Accessibility.

Click the checkbox to allow Folder Actions Dispatcher to control your computer as shown below.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE: This option might not show up for you until you go through the other steps in the original script and it fails. Then come back here and the checkbox option below should be available.

Security Privacy Accessibility

Upgrading Windows HD

I recently upgraded a client’s computer from an old spinning hard drive to an SSD (solid state drive) to make the machine much faster. A simple disk clone did not work for Windows 7 to make the disk bootable. To make Windows 7 boot properly, the SID (Security Identifier) had to be updated. This is done easily using Paragon Partition Manager by just checking off the option to change the SID after performing the disk copy.