Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Is it time to trade in your old computer for a new model?

Is it time to trade in your old computer for a new model? There's often a lot of talk regarding trading in computers whenever a software manufacturer such as Microsoft or Apple decide they're going to put your operating system (e.g. Windows or OS X) out to pasture. The main justification for this is often security (threats from the internet), the second justification is shiny new features that would be difficult or impossible to run on old hardware. Let's not forget if software companies were to stop upgrading their software they would soon be out of business.

This post isn't about the latest versions of OS such as Windows 10 or macOS Sierra, we're showing some love for your vintage OS such as XP or OS X Leopard.



Do I have to trade in? No... It's your choice! Here are some common reasons to trade in with explanations why you may not need to...


  1. My operating system has become "Vintage". Firstly an operating system is declared vintage when the company no longer supports it with updates or patches. Support... this is the main issue... When running a vintage OS you won't be protected from harmful threats from the internet or other software. If you don't connect your computer to the Internet and you only use certain (already installed) software then you can carry on regardless until the day the physical hardware of the PC or Mac fails. Your computer can live out its final days in a software bubble of bliss. :)
  2. I can't run the software I need to run! Ok this is a tough one, in some cases you'll have no option but to trade in especially if the software you need to run is required for your work. In some cases you might find old (vintage) software versions or equivalent on the internet from websites such as http://www.oldversion.com or https://archive.org/details/vintagesoftware but it goes without saying be careful and always scan for viruses or malware!
  3. My computer has become really slow! Sometimes even older computers can be upgraded with more memory or faster hard-drives. You will need to check compatibility with your old motherboard as you can't just throw in loads and RAM and expect it to work!
So as you can see there are options available to trading in and some people would say running a vintage computer can even be fun! 


If you need any further help or advice please call The Computer Wiz on 01553 660941 or email help@cpwiz.co.uk


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Time for a Defrag?

Your computer's running a little slow... You decide to do a defrag because you've heard this may speed up your PC... But... Do you know what a defrag is? If the answer's no then read on...


I like to explain defrag using this simple analogy... Think of Windows as a very untidy store keeper who looks after your files.. A file gets accessed then handed back to the store keeper who instead of packing it away neatly takes your files and just randomly throws it back in to the store anywhere. Now within reason this isn't such a bad thing as your hard drive (the store keeper) is pretty good at accessing files very quickly, but... let's imagine another store keeper takes over for the day and he decides that he will store files that are related to one another closely together making them easier and quicker to find, overall wouldn't this speed up the whole file accessing process? That's what a defrag does (in very simple terms). 





Now for the conventional explanation... In the maintenance of file systemsdefragmentation is a process that reduces the amount of fragmentation. It does this by physically organizing the contents of the mass storage device used to store files into the smallest number of contiguous regions (fragments). It also attempts to create larger regions of free space using compaction to impede the return of fragmentation. Some defragmentation utilities try to keep smaller files within a single directory together, as they are often accessed in sequence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defragmentation



The defragmentation process.


How often should I run a defrag? In most modern versions of Windows defrag runs with other maintenance programs in the background at preset times so you shouldn't really need to run the defragmentation program manually but it wouldn't do any harm.


But my computer's running slowly, shouldn't I run a defrag? In most cases your computer will be running slowly due to some other reason. Today's computers are much faster than the beige boxes of Windows 95 and Windows 98, the problem is much more likely to be caused by bloated software, driver issues or even Malware.

Do I need to defrag my Apple Mac? No Macs use a completely different type of file system called Darwin a distribution of Unix built by Apple to work with OS X and macOS.

Need more friendly help and advice with your computer issues? Call The Computer Wiz on 01553 660941 or email help@cpwiz.co.uk


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Take Charge!

Charging of your devices is something many people overlook until it's too late! Have you noticed your laptop, tablet or phone isn't holding charge for as long as it used to? It's probably because you've neglected to charge the device as per the manufacturers instructions.



Ok... before we start... there are a plethora of differing opinions regarding best practices of charging the batteries in your tech, so before we dive in to my tips let's look at the science bit...

Battery life 

Rechargeable battery life is typically defined as the number of full charge-discharge cycles before significant capacity loss. Inactive storage may also reduce capacity.Manufacturers' information typically specify lifespan in terms of the number of cycles (e.g., capacity dropping linearly to 80% over 500 cycles), with no mention of chronological age. Research rejects this common industry practice. 

On average, lifetimes consist of 1000 cycles, although battery performance is rarely specified for more than 500 cycles. This means that batteries of mobile phones, or other hand-held devices in daily use, are not expected to last longer than three years. Some batteries based on carbon anodes offer more than 10,000 cycles. As a battery discharges, its voltage gradually diminishes. When depleted below the protection circuit's low-voltage threshold (2.4 to 2.9 V/cell, depending on chemistry) the circuit disconnects and stops discharging until recharged. As discharge progresses, metallic cell contents plate onto its internal structure, creating an unwanted discharge path. 

Defining battery life via full discharge cycles, is the industry standard, but may be biased, since full depth of discharge (DoD)/recharge may itself diminish battery life, compared to cumulative Ah partial discharge/charge performance. Projection from the standard to specific use patterns may require additional factors, e.g. DoD, rate of discharge, temperature, etc. Battery life is one of the major focuses of lithium-ion battery research. Variability A 2015 study by Andreas Gutsch of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology found that lithium-ion battery lifespan could vary by a factor of five, with some Li-ion cells losing 30% of their capacity after 1,000 cycles, and others having better capacity after 5,000 cycles. The study also found that safety standards for some batteries were not met. For stationary energy storage it was estimated that batteries with lifespans of at least 3,000 cycles were needed for profitable operation. 

Degradation

Over their lifespan, batteries degrade progressively with reduced capacity, cycle life, and safety due to chemical changes to the electrodes. Capacity loss/fade is expressed as a percentage of initial capacity after a number of cycles (e.g., 30% loss after 1,000 cycles). Fade can be separated into calendar loss and cycling loss. Calendar loss results from the passage of time and is measured from the maximum state of charge. Cycling loss is due to usage and depends on both the maximum state of charge and the depth of discharge.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery



My tips for maintaining a healthy battery life...

  1. Always charge fully to 100% whenever possible. In simple terms this let's the battery know where "Full" is.
  2. Always run your batter near empty before charging.
  3. Never just leave your charger plugged in when not needed, this will massively reduce the overall life of your battery. This is a very common mistake made my laptop owners.
  4. If your device allows carry a fully charged spare battery. This will save you having to partially charge your battery in an emergency. External charger cases are available for most devices without interchangeable batteries.
  5. If not set by default switch on the % indicator so you'll know when you're starting to run low on charge.

If you need help with battery issues call The Computer Wiz on 01553 660941 or email help@cpwiz.co.uk.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

If there is no silicon heaven then where do all the calculators go?



Pssst... Don't tell Kryten but there's no silicon heaven!

When your PC, laptop or Mac comes to the end of its life security (of your data) becomes an important consideration. The problem is Harddrives are deceptively difficult to destroy (the disks (platters) inside that is) if you don't have a car crusher to hand don't worry we've got some more manageable ideas to get your HDD off to silicon heaven.

Options

  1. Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBAN) - https://dban.org - This writes lots of 1's and 0's over the entirety of the HDD rendering anything underneath totally destroyed.
  2. Keep your HDD (say in the loft) - This is great for paranoid types as the drive never has to leave your sight.
When it comes to reselling your computer either step 1, you don't need to replace the HDD. - Just hand over and let the new user install an OS from new. If you're more of a paranoid type then option 2 is for you, sell your computer either with a new HDD or simply without.

If you need help preparing an old computer for resale call The Computer Wiz on 01553 660941 or email help@cpwiz.co.uk.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Happy April Fools Day!

Introducing the CASIO EX-0104MS

April brings the innovative union of CASIO and Microsoft. Introducing the CASIO EX-0104MS Excel Calculator.



Fools would be forgiven for thinking the combination of a pocket calculator and Microsoft's ultra powerful Excel spreadsheets software would be a fruitless exercise.

Day by day new users are experiencing the small form factor and pocket power of the EX-0104MS. For details on where you can get your hands on the EX-0104MS click here.