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All posts tagged "computers"

Monday, March 5, 2012

I am a Cat; Destroyer of Tech!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

Understanding cats' crazy minds as best we can—especially that they don't like sudden, loud noises and sticky stuff on their paws—can help develop a plan of action. Of the several suggested approaches, including setting up motion-detection alarms and setting traps that startle cats when they get near your gear (like the DIY blender defender or simpler tin cans with coins), the two-sided tape strategy method looks easiest

Tech is vulnerable to all manner of things. Water, power surges, gravity and blunt force trauma can all have an adverse affect on your precious toys. Cats, too, can prove to be a deadly force of nature, from chewing cables to furring up your fans to sitting on your keyboard and looking at you with eyes that tell you that the cat is NOT to be disturbed. Fortunately, not all is lost, as there are ways of making sure that your cats do not end up spend more time with your tech than you do.

Tags: hardware, , computers, cats

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Do Not Lose Those Old Memories

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"The films contained clips of my family in the late 1950s and early 1960s, not long before my mother became gravely ill. Over the intervening decades, I hadn’t had the heart to look at them. But, this time, I packed the films into a shoebox and took them to someone who specializes in converting old films into digital form. Within a week, I had all the clips on a DVD and was showing them to my wife and two young children."

The problem with technology is infrastructure. Most technology needs an infrastructure of one fashion or another, and without that infrastructure, the data we store using that technology can be lost. We have seen turnover in technology several times over the past few decades. From vinyls to cassette tapes to CDs to mp3s and beyond, music and audio recordings have changed several times. Videos have gone through similar transitions as have pictures and documents; everything we use to capture the precious thoughts and memories of our lives. There is nothing wrong with using technology to store these keepsakes, but time and effort must be spent to maintain your treasures, and I think that it is worth it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Build Your Own Cloud Service

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 10:30 AM

"I don't know about you guys, but I'm sick and tired of hearing about the Cloud. When people talk about it they use future tense as if it isn't already here. The Cloud is going to be this big, giant wonderful thing that is going to change humanity forever. They make it sound like we are talking about something that will end starvation and human suffering. Well, I have news for you, The Cloud isn't really all that new and you don't have to wait for tomorrow to use it."

TweakTown takes a look at QNAP's MyCloudNAS service, which comes with some of their NAS boxes. This sounds like an awesome feature, but with ISPs starting to come down on heavy data users, not to mention most services having fairly poor upload speeds, the advantages may not be that great. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maximum PC Builds a Gaming HTPC

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 09:26 AM

"I don't want to watch cable TV. I don't want to use a controller. I just want to watch 3D Blu-rays and frag people with a mouse and keyboard, all on a box that fits on my entertainment center. Is that too much to ask?"

With that goal in mind, Maximum PC built a HTPC that can game as well as play Blu-Ray discs, and comes up with quite a nice rig. While I love the Silverstone case, I would have used a cheaper motherboard and RAM to drive down the cost some more. I have to ask though, how does one frag using a mouse and keyboard while on the living room couch?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hardwarecanucks Examines Intel's Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3960X CPU

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:39 AM

"The flagship Core i7-3690X Extreme Edition is a 32nm six-core/twelve-thread processor with a 3.3Ghz default clock, but which never ever dips below 3.6GHz and tops out at 3.9GHz in single and dual-threaded workloads. Accompanying these six cores is 15MB of L3 cache, the most of any desktop processor, and a new beefed up memory controller that features a quad-channel DDR3-1600 interface which is theoretically capable of 51.2GB/s of bandwidth."

A Sandy Bridge 6 core CPU starting at 3.3 Ghz sounds impressively fast, but I am not sure many are willing to shell out the $990 list for it. I suppose it is only for the most hardcore users (or those whose work heavily depends on fast encoding of videos); for the rest of us, a nicely overclocked i5-2500K will do quite well for many things.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Storing All Your Stuff At Home

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 05:00 AM

"The Epias are noted for their low power consumption and ability to be passively cooled; consequently they make great silent PCs. I had used the Epia M10000 for a while in a previous project, but it was now idle and ripe for re-use. I’d been meaning to put together a low-power network file server, and this seemed like a good time to finally make that happen."

We are living in a digital age and with that comes a considerable amount of data. Pictures, videos, documents, movies and music are all part of the standard clutter we keep. While we are able to put a lot of this in the cloud, it is not always practical, sensible or cost effective. The solution, of course is a NAS. While you could go out and buy one, some money can be saved if you decide on building one yourself.

I personally would shy away from a solution like GeekDad suggests, but only because I like having lots of storage. I was once a physical object pack rat, and I am now a digital pack rat so I like having multiple versions of files I work on so I can undo everything back to the beginning of time. The solution presented is limited in terms of storage, but then again, there are 3 TB hard drives out there, which would probably suffice for a lot of people. And it is a good start. If it comes to a point where you have over a dozen drives in your NAS though, it might be time for TLC to introduce the digital version of Hoarders.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Windows 8: Right or Wrong?

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Software" @ 10:30 AM

"Summary: Ed Bott and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols debate whether Microsoft's next operating system is headed in the right direction."

Phew, that's quite a long list of arguments for and against Windows 8. Me? I'm not sure. I still am a bit ambivalent about the whole thing. Metro looks awesome, but the whole point of Windows is to run all those programs we are used to running. In a way I see this as a compromise solution for the tablet problem, by not breaking away from the legacy Windows base totally. Sure you can run all those programs, but most likely you will want a program with the Metro UI, coded with the latest framework/APIs.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Maximum PC's Guide to a $700 Gaming Rig

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 07:00 AM

"Our budget gaming rig is all about instant gratification: a way for you to fill your gaming hunger with a state of the art, speedy machine, capable of playing today’s games at 1080p resolutions, for less than $700. With our instructions, you will see how you can build it yourself in less than hour. On top of that, we’ll tell you how you can easily supersize your budget box with future upgrades."

I have been assembling my own PCs for a very long time, and I generally think that assembling them is not the hardest thing; it is deciding what components to purchase that makes many give up. In particular, video cards with their extremely fine segregation do not help (nVidia's pulled a trick from the past recently: the GTX 560 and GTX 560 Ti are different cards, but who is going to tell without knowing the GPU market well?). Maximum PC offers a good starting point, but depending on where you live, the "best" part for a budget gaming rig might be different. What are your own suggestions for a cheap gaming rig?

Monday, May 9, 2011

The LapDawg X4: A New Breed You Can Cuddle With

Posted by Eric Juillerat in "Laptop Thoughts Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

When life's circumstances breed new technology, great things happen. The LapDawg X4 is a good example. If you use your laptop to get your email in bed, browse the Internet from the chaise longe, or work in non-office environments, the LapDawg X4 is for you! Or, if you are just looking for the ultimate in ergonomic adaptability, you need to read on. Read more...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Build My Own Computers at Home!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

"In recent years, building your own computer has become more of a niche technophile activity than it was in the earlier part of the decade. Few people see the benefits of expending the effort to figure out how all the different components of a PC fit, screw, and plug together when you can just as easily fill out a customization form at any number of online retailers and have your own custom build arrive in just a matter of weeks."

For those of you who are looking to get your Geek on, putting together your own computer can be a worthwhile activity. Laptops, while technically can be Do-it-Yourself, is much more difficult as your options and suppliers are limited. However, the good ole desktop is an easy project and you can have your own computer put together in minutes, though more likely, hours. It is still leagues easier to put one together these days than in those of the past, but a lot of attention to detail has to be taken care of to make sure you get compatible parts. Ars' guide is a good primer, and you can spend hours or days pouring over the specifications of the CPU, motherboard, memory and every other part to your heart's delight to come up with the perfect computer. When it is all said and done though, there is a great sense of accomplishment in knowing that your baby was put together by you alone!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Viovio Photo Books Reviewed: Free Your Photos!

Posted by Eric Juillerat in "Digital Home Printing" @ 08:00 AM

Product Category: Photo Books and Printing
Manufacturer: VIOVIO
Where to Buy: VIOVIO
Price: $5.99 USD and up (varies)
System Requirements: Internet Browser, Laptop or Desktop computer
Specifications: N/A


  • Massive library of templates;
  • Excellent customer support;
  • Impressive printing and pricing options.
  • Internet based application can be slow;
  • May not be compatible with some browser plugins;
  • Finished project may not have the printing option you want.

Summary: Am I the only one who has gigabytes of photographs gathering digital dust on my hard drive? I'm not, right? And why? Because ink and photo paper is expensive, and it would take me forever to print them out! And then what? Invite the family over for a sit-down where you pass one photo hand-over-hand to the person on your right, over and over? No, no, this can't go on, and that's exactly what went through the brilliant minds over at Viovio. What if you could pick up a book, and inside have your photos displayed on high quality photo paper? And what if it had interesting notes and text, amid a visual playground that didn't just display your photos, but presented them? Viovio turns Family-Vacation-Photo-Night into an upper scale gala, thick with praise and hyperbole, but more importantly with love. And speaking of love, hidden in this review is a 20% off coupon for you to use! Read more...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seniors Can Compute Too!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 04:00 PM

"The Gadgeteer has discussed technology for senior citizens in the past, even posing the question “What’s the perfect computer for Grandma?” Kiwi PC may have the answer. This computer is a standard computer with a few tweaks to make it easier to use. The Kiwi PC for Seniors is running a customized Linux Ubuntu 10.10 OS with a “Me Menu” system that simplifies the choices."

The Kiwi PC looks like a good idea, and helping seniors access computers and the Internet is an admirable task, but I wonder about the utility of this. I imagine the computer uses a standard keyboard and mouse interface which I think is probably not the best interface. With the introduction of good touch interfaces, a touch panel like an iPad, or a 10' Android tablet would seem a better fit. The interface is more intuitive and itneracting with a tablet is leagues easier than trying to control a mouse. Does anyone think there is a place for these kinds of computers anymore or have they been surpassed by newer technology?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Toss That Mouse Pad: The Logitech Performance Mouse MX Reviewed

Posted by Frank Cox in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM

Product Category: Wireless/USB Mouse
Manufacturer: Logitech®
Where to Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
Price: $74.93 USD
System Requirements: Windows® XP and Later, Mac OS® X 10.4 and later, with USB port.
Specifications: 110 V AC and USB charging system

  • Plugging in the charging cable is a little tricky;
  • Pressing forward and back buttons;
  • Side to side movement of scroll wheel.

Summary: The Logitech Performance MX has a nice, comfortable feel. It is very responsive and the battery lasts all day for me, which is roughly 12 hours of continuous use - I plug it in to charge every night. For me it has worked on wood, glass, fabric, and laminated desktops. The Logitech® Unifying receiver was plugged in and the mouse connected right away with no problems using Windows 7. Read more...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Are You Willing to Pay for a Lean, Mean, Brand New Machine?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"We're talking about bloatware, and it's an issue that we simply cannot remain silent on any longer. It's a very, very real problem, and it has been for years. But we always assumed that things would improve as the "fad" faded. Sadly, we assumed wrong. The fad hasn't faded, and dare we say, things have become even less bearable over time."

Being the "Go-to" guy for many friends and family when it comes to computers, I see this situation often. Someone gets a brand new computer and when they first start up, their computer already has a wild range of programs already installed. It usually takes quite a while and several reboots to pare the thing down to just the essentials. It has become such a regular task for many techies that it has given birth to programs like the PC DeCrapifier.

Unfortunately, as much as it might annoy, it does serve a real purpose, and that is subsidizing that shiny new toy you just bought. Many software companies will often pay a fee to get the trial version of their software on a new computer in hopes that you, or someone down the road, will change that trial into a happy full version of the program. That fee lowers the cost of that laptop you just bought for the same price as a Happy Meal.

In all honesty, I think the sheer computing power of most new notebooks and desktops these days can usually chew through many of the bloatware programs that manufacturers impose on us. And you always have the option of removing them fairly easily. If it makes computers more accessible to people, through lower prices, I am for it. Besides, give your typical person 6 months and they will have installed far more bloatware than any manufacturer could conceive!

Are you the clean-up guy? What tools do you have in your kit to remove computers of these power sucking programs?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Peaking Behind the Curtain on Windows 8

Posted by Todd Klein in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 PM

"At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will support system-on-a-chip architectures using ARM processors. Unlike the x86 architecture that today's Windows laptops and desktops work with, ARM-based chips tend to run such low-power devices as tablets and smartphones. In his CES keynote speech, Microsoft CEO Steve Ball­mer said, "This announcement is really all about enabling a new class of hardware, and new silicon partners for Windows, to bring the widest possible range of form factors to the market." In other words, Windows won't be just for laptops and desktops anymore."

The next Windows operating system is due out in 2012 and rumors that it's going to be a game changer have accelerated since CES. Code named "I Hope it's Not Too Buggy," the new system is meant to address an entirely new set of devices, including TVs, smart phones, notebooks, and tablets. The themes are clear and important for Microsoft to get right: virtualization for ease of use, quick starts and portability, and a focus on untethering devices and storing settings, apps and data in the Cloud. There's talk that Microsoft will launch a new developer framework and support it's own app store to push the system even further.

I'm sure whenever Microsoft launches a new OS, the folks at TWBA Worldwide start to lick their chops. They're the smartypants who created Apple's "Get a Mac" ad campaign which successfully ran from 2006 to 2010 and sarcastically tweaked Microsoft's prowess in building elegant operating systems. So, will Windows 8 be Microsoft's clever retort? Will Windows 8 join Android and Apple O/S and a viable third choice for developers? Ultimately, will this put Microsoft back on top with consumers?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Boxee Boss Says Bye to Boxes for Games

Posted by Todd Klein in "Digital Home News" @ 12:00 PM

“Games have been crucial for the adoption of almost every new platform…and I definitely think that games are gonna go to the cloud. So probably this generation of game consuls or the next generation of game consuls is going to be the last one. That’s much is pretty clear. So really the fight is going to be for who owns the CPU at the home. Is it the game consul, or the TV maker, or the Blue Ray maker, or maybe it’s the cable company that puts the home game player in the home. But probably you’ll have one very strong CPU and then you’ll use different screens connecting to that one CPU and the gaming is going to be part of that CPO. So I assume there’s going to be this huge shift in the gaming business towards the cloud.”

Boxee CEO Avner Ronen says that all games in the future will be played in the cloud. In an interview with Jason Calacanis for This Week in Startups, the head of the NYC-based maker of technology that turns your TV screen into an Internet web video system asserted that today’s game platforms will soon be a thing of the past (link here, comment appears around the 20 minute mark). No more wires connecting multiple boxes to your TV, just controllers and what might be called G.O.D.-Games on Demand controlled by one box and a big (Boxee) interface in the cloud.

While I would love to surf for games the way I surf for shows, I think Ronen may have jumped the gun a bit and is talking his own book (what entrepreneur doesn’t?). We have several more revolutions before all of the pieces are ready for a cloud-based gaming platform that integrates broadcast video, DVR, HD game graphics, sound effects, and multiple players on a fully hosted basis. What do you think, are Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo about to lose their gateway into the home at the expense of Comcast? Or should Comcast be looking to acquire a hardware company once it swallows NBC?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Everki Track Laptop Messenger Bag

Posted by Chris Baxter in "Laptop Thoughts Accessories" @ 09:00 AM

Product Category: Laptop Bag
Manufacturer: Everki
Where to Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
Price: $59.99
Specifications: Length: 16.54 in., Width: 7.09 in., Height: 12.99 in., Weight 1.98 lbs.


  • Handy compartment designed for Apple iPad or any other similar sized tablet computer;
  • Lots of additional compartments to store other electronics, including power cords;
  • Small enough in size to take anywhere, yet can hold a lot more equipment than you would think.
  • Clasps on front flap are difficult to manage while on the move;
  • The bag only accommodates up to a 15.6" laptop.

Summary: The Everki Track Laptop Messenger Bag, is a bag with a twist. It comes with a compartment especially designed to carry an Apple iPad. Given the wildly popular reception the iPad has received since its debut, there have been a lot of products designed to carry and protect it, but this is the first time I have seen a solution designed into a laptop bag, and that makes it rather unique. While some people might argue that the whole reason they bought an iPad was to ditch their laptop, for other people, myself included, that just isn't realistic. As handy as my iPad is, there are just some things that are done more efficiently with a laptop. So how do I easily carry both? Everki attempts to answer that question with their Track Laptop Bag. Just how successful are they? Let's see!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Speeding Up Your Old Faithful

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:30 PM

"Every so often, I’ll hear from a friend or a reader who wants me to point them toward a great deal on a new computer. “My old computer is so slow!” is a frequent refrain from them, and if that’s what I hear, I usually suggest something besides replacing their hardware."

Image Courtesy of Cornellanense.

We have all had the temptation. You have had your computer for a few days and it is acting a bit sluggish. You find out that your friend just got a brand new computer. You see a sale on laptops. Replacing your aging computer may be an easy solution to your speed problems, but not always. Some programs and a little bit of work and your computer can often run almost as quickly as the day you got it. The Simple Dollar offers some suggestions on how to do some spring cleaning which is good but there are lots of other things you can do.

In addition to uninstalling programs, also see if other things that you might not consider "programs" are lurking around. Things like old printer drivers, system tray helpers or toolbars for your web browser all add to the jumble that makes your computer seem like its slower than getting a tax return. If your computer is truly ancient, a minimal upgrade (usually RAM in my opinion) can go leagues to making things faster. If you have had your computer for a while, or tend to use up a lot of space on the hard drive, a defrag may also be in order unless it is an SSD!

What are your usual tricks for keeping your computer perky and quick?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

VIA's Attempt at Dethroning the Atom

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"Compared to Atom, Nano is a bit of a beast. Both Atom and AMD’s Bobat core can fetch and issue up to two instructions. Nano can do three. Like AMD’s Bobcat, Nano has a full out of order execution engine. Atom, for the time being, is in-order. The execution engine is well matched to the front end. Nano features seven dispatch ports and can retire up to three instructions per clock. In this sense, Nano is more like AMD’s Bobcat than Intel’s Atom."

When you find yourself shopping for a computer, you will usually only see one of two names that make up the brains of your new toy; Intel or AMD. While Intel dominates the market and AMD holds on to its own sizable share of the industry, VIA still manages to hang around with its own line of x86 based CPUs. Their latest attempt with a dual-core Nano seems to be a reasonable competitor to both the mighty Atom and AMD's latest offerings with its Bobat based CPUs. VIA has had a long history with making low-power CPUs and I find it interesting that none of the major manufacturers have really embraced the Nano or its previous generations. Do they know something we do not? Or is it just a matter of brand recognition. How much does the average consumer really care of it is an Intel, AMD or VIA cpu in their computer?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How Does Your Country Rate In The Race For Speed

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"This list of countries ranges from China at number 1 with 420 million Internet users, and Denmark at number 50 with 4.75 million Internet users. We’ve included this ranking within parenthesis next to each country in the charts below for those who want to know."

There are so many ways you can interpret the data provided by Akamai. One thing that does surprise me is that every so often, you hear about how certain places like Japan or South Korea have access to extremely high speeds like 100Mbit/s or faster yet the country averages are far below those speeds. Even in my home country of Canada, where we are seeing ISPs offer well over 10Mbit/s, the average is well below at 4.73Mbit/s. The report does not say what the average contracted speed is compared to what was actually delivered, only speeds achieved, and you will note that some countries do have people using speeds under 256Kbit/s, probably something along the lines of dial-up connections! It can sometimes be easy to forget where we have been; I only vaguely remember the waits I had to endure with ISDN, let alone dial-up speeds. Fortunately, I seem to be sitting at about the average speed for my country, with my actual coming very close to my contracted speed. What about you? Do you subscribe to anything faster? Is it worth it? Do you find you often get the speeds you have paid for?

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