August 31, 2010

Maintaining a Computer during School Year, so both you and PC performs at its best!

A computer is a necessity for every student during the school year. Sure you can use the library computer, but it is not very convenient, or even slower and hard to use compared to your home computer. Plus, it is not always available since someone is using it already.

However, the teacher expects you to hand in a essay for English in a few days. Most teacher don't really care that your computer is slow, or broken. They expect you to hand in your work typed and on time.

Asking the computer teacher, school computer repair staff, and the nerdy computer wiz kid at your school for help can be unreliable since they might not want to help, are too slow to be any good, or they might want a favor back from you. It is best to keep your computer running at its best, so you can avoid asking for help by fixing and maintaining your computer yourself.

I give you some simple tips to maintain your computer during the school year so it runs its best to help you finish your homework faster, so you have more time to socialize with friends, play video games, or to review your work.

Tips for Maintaining your computer

1. Keep Windows updated by making sure Windows Update is updating Windows, or run Windows Update manually.

2. Use an Antivirus and AntiSpyware to protect your computer from the latest viruses and spyware.

AVG antivirus  works pretty well for at protecting my computer from viruses and spyware. Also, don't open weird e-mail attachments which you are not expecting if a friend sends you an e-mail attachment you are not expecting. E-mail them back, and ask if they actually sent you a e-mail attachment. Some E-mail viruses are very smart, and can send everyone's on your friends e-mail address list an e-mail virus, and make it look like your friend sent it. Also, don't download files from un-trusted sources like piracy sites, and weird download sites which seem unsafe.

August 24, 2010

Flash Drives I recommend for carrying around your schoolwork.

If you mainly use your flash drive for carrying around Word documents and power point presentations a 1GB or lower capacity drive should do fine. However, if you are require to make multimedia files like videos, music, and pictures then a 4GB and bigger drive should be fine.

However, for under 20 dollars you can usually get a 8 GB drive flash drive like this 8GB drive made by Kingston.It would be good enough for most of your school work needs. Kingston is a good flash drive company. I used some of their drives and they work great for storing my files.If you don't want to spend more then 10 dollars on a drive a 4GB Kingston flash drive will be good enough for storing some of your songs, videos, and work. SanDisk makes a good flash drive for their 4GB model.

It has a retractable plug, so you do not have to worry about losing flash drives caps. I also recommend backing up your files on your computer drive, or e-mailing files to yourself since flash drives can break, get stolen and lost like all technology.

August 14, 2010

Best tools to use to clean the inside of computer case.

I normally just use a Can of compressed air to clean my computer, but it can get kind of expensive and not very environmentally friendly.They cost around 10 dollars each, but they can last a long time if you do not use them very much like once or twice a year.

They also don't seem very environmentally friendly since you throw out the can once they are empty. Also, the air inside the can smells kind of bad, and can be toxic according to stories which I saw on the news of kids using canned air to "get high on fumes".However, you first need a way to open your case if your computer case does not uses screws with knobs you can turn with your fingers. I recommend getting a computer tool kit to open your PC case since it includes a Phillips head and flat head screw driver which is normally the screw driver type used to open a PC case.I'm thinking about getting an Electric Duster since its more cheaper to own in the long run, and better then buying canned air since they are expensive, and seem kinds of wasteful. Plus, an electric air duster is better then using a vacuum since a vacuum can generate static electricity which can damage your computer parts.But, if you work in a place where there is not always easy access to a power outlet, canned air might be better then a electric air duster.

However, for the price of four cans of air, you can get one electric air duster, and you do not have to worry about smelling the stinky fumes, and how to safely throw out the canned air cans, so they don't harm the environment.

Things to use to backup your files to when your running out of space and money?

Are you running out of space and money, but need storage to backup your important Files for safe keeping. Well, these days there are a lot of unlikely electronics like Digital Cameras, MP3 and Video Players, Digital Camcorders, Old SD cards and digital picture frames you can use to backup your files to.All these products I listed above have built-in flash memory/hard drive or can accept memory cards like SD memory cards or other types of memory for storing videos, songs, and pictures.

However, when you plug them into a Windows Computer. They usually act like regular external hard drives from my experience.

If you have a unused laptop or desktop hard drives, you can also buy an external hard drive enclosure case to put it into and use as an external USB hard drive. They are relatively cheap if you buy them on Amazon, or Ebay. You can also consider using your old or unused computers and laptops to store your files. You can use a specially design USB Cable or set up a small peer to peer network with a router or switch.

A crossover Ethernet cable can also be used, or use an external hard drive to transfer files from one computer to another.I also find using free or paid online backup like Dropbox, My Gmail account, Google Docs, web hosting account, etc good place to backup my files online, so I can access them from any PC with an internet connection!There are also other electronics to store your files. You just have to be creative. But, I think buying an USB external hard drive is a better idea when you have the money to buy one.

August 9, 2010

USB sound card to replace broken Sound card on computer!

USB Sound Cards< are great to own if you suspect your sound card on your computer is broken, and you want to find out if it is a windows sound problem or a sound card hardware problem. USB Sound cards are not very expensive compared to hiring a tech to fixing a sound card.
USB sound cards are very easy to install. All you need to do is plug it in, and install the USB Sound card software to use it, and uninstall/take out, or disable your original sound card on your computer.

Wired or Wireless USB Network Internet Adapter to Quickly Get online again

USB Wired Ethernet Adapters are good for troubleshooting if your network adapter is broken or not. All you have to do is plug in your USB network Ethernet adapter, and see if your computer is connected to the internet when your Ethernet wire is plug into your USB wired network adapter.

August 7, 2010

Using FM Transmitter to play MP3 players or computers music and audio wirelessly

An FM transmitter can use FM radio signals to transmit your music and audio files from your MP3 player, iPod, PC, laptop, or netbook wirelessly by setting a FM transmitter to a specific FM frequency and your FM radio or car stereo with FM to the same Frequency like 88.0 FM. The FM Transmitter will send your music to your FM radio for you to listen to on the radios speakers or head phones. An FM transmitter is like having your own short range FM radio station.

Using an FM radio Transmitter to stream music to a stereo with a FM tuner radio is the cheapest, and easiest way to stream music from one audio device to another compared to wi-fi wireless networking, and Bluetooth wireless speakers.

FM Transmitter works for all audio music players with a 3.5mm headphone/speaker plug like Mp3 players, iPods, computers, laptops, netbooks, personal Radios and CD players.

August 5, 2010

Worth It to replace poorly made ATX computer power supplies for Desktop computers?

Yes, it can be worth it to replace cheap poorly made ATX power supplies for your computer. I replaced two of my cheaper power supplies in my store bought computers with mid-end Power Supplies made by Sparkle and Cooler Master, and my computer have not had any power related failures and have been super reliable. A poorly made power supply can fry other computer parts like motherboard, CPU, memory which are easily damage by power spikes, and surges caused by a power supply. A good ATX power supply only cost 33 dollars and up, or less if you get it on sale. If your PC does not use ATX power supplies then you are pretty much out of luck, and have to keep using your current power supplies until it breaks taking the rest of your computer parts with it or hope it is well-made and can keep running well. A dieing power supply can also cause random freezes, restarts, and crashes.

But, most regular size tower computers use ATX style power supplies since ATX is the most popular form factor for most tower desktop computer. To find out if your computer is using the ATX form factor, you can see if your power supply has the word "ATX" on it or if your case has the word ATX on it. Also, there are two types of ATX power supplies one uses 20 pin plug to plug into the motherboard, and the other uses 20 pin to plug into the motherboard. The 24 pin ATX power supply is mostly used on newer computers with PCI-Express video cards or a motherboard capable of accepting a PCI-Express card.

Replacing a power supply is very simple, there are plenty of computer repair books, videos, and websites which teaches you how to install a power supply on your computer.

You might see the word PSU a lot on the internet and in books. PSU stands for "power supply unit".

For a typical computer user who does not plan on adding a lot of RAM, high-end video card, many hard drives, and not planing to over clock a computer. a 400W-500W power supply should be good enough for most of your power needs and future upgrades like a faster video card.

If your using an older Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon XP computer then a 300W-350W power supply should be enough.

If you are a heavy power user, get the best power supply you can afford since you spent thousands of dollars on your computer, so there is no point in breaking it because you were too cheap to buy a good power supply.

You won't save more on your power bill by buying a lower wattage power supply since power supplies only uses as much power your computer needs to keep it up and running. A 500W 80 % plus efficient power supply uses less electricity then a 300W power supply which is 50% power efficient. 80 Plus power supplies generate less heat, so more electricity can be used to power your PC instead of being wasted as heat.

Reasons why 30+ dollar power supplies are better then most 10 dollar power supplies

Usually better power supplies are also more energy efficient and run cooler, and saving you more money in electricity cost. They also has better cooling so your computer is less likely to overheat.

Better power supplies also have quieter fans or smart fans which only spin faster when it is hot which make your computer less loud and power supply last longer. Yet, they push the same amount of air, or more air then poorly made power supplies.

In many cases, it is essential to upgrade your power supply before you can upgrade to more RAM, CPU, extra hard drive, video card, etc since many power supples which come with store bought computers can't handle the extra electrical draw of mid to high-end video cards made by Nvidia or ATI.

Many better designed power supplies also has protection sensors to protect against Over Power, Over Voltage, Short-Circuit, and Protection Reset which is a good insurance measure to keep your PC running well.

If you want to install a PCI-Express video card, or SATA hard drive without the need to buy 4 pin molex to SATA or PCI-express power adapters , most likely you need to buy a new power supply with SATA power plugs, and 6 pin PCI-Express power plugs built-in to the power supply.

Mid to High-end power supply also has better cable management which improve air flow since there is less clutter in your computer case. I also notice the cables are longer, and are less likely to get tangled, or bundled up into a mess of wires.

Good power supply companies are Thermaltake, Antec, Cooler Master, Sparkle, Fortron, Corsiar, OCZ, Seasonic, Silverstone.

Cables for connecting your computer, Laptop, netbook sound to your stereo or home entertainment sound system speakers

Connecting your computer, laptop, and Netbooks sound to play on your stereo, or home entertainment system speakers is not as hard as it sounds or needs much configuration. All you need is the right audio cable, a stereo or home theater sound system which can playback sound from an external audio player via RCA, S/PDIF, or HDMI.  Connecting your laptop, computer to your stereo, or home theater speakers can improve the sound quality a lot.

The simplest way to connect your sound card on your computer with your home stereo is with a Y-Adapter 3.5mm plug, but you need to make sure your stereo supports RCA audio inputs you can usually know if it does by reading the instruction manual, or you see two ports which are roundish and can fit metal pegs in it.  You plug in the smaller 3.5mm plug into the audio port "usually the green port" on your sound card.  If your stereo supports direct 3.5mm input, you can just get a 3.5 mm audio cable to plug into your stereo. 3.5mm cables also work for connecting your MP3 player, and most portable music players, portable game consoles, video players, and portable DVD players which uses the 3.5mm audio plug standard.

A S/PDIF cable can be used to connect your computer to your home entertainment audio system. There is an optical version S/PDIF and a RCA version of S/PDIF. They both support surround sound, and sound better then 3.5mm output because they send the sound signal digitally to the speakers. But, S/PDIF is only found on newer computers or high end sound cards and it only works on high end entertainment sound systems. Most stereos do not have S/PDIF inputs for outputting sound from a external source like a laptop

There are also sound cards and USB adapters with S/PDIF outputs, so you can output high quality sound to your digital audio receivers.

You can also use an HDMI cable if you have a newer laptop, or desktop with HDMI ports can also carry audio to your TV speakers.

To make your speakers on your stereo, home theater sound system play audio or music from your computer or MP3 player, you usually have to change to external source/AUX mode. Read your  stereo manual for more info on how to play music from an external source.

Best of luck playing audio on your stereo or home theater speakers!

August 4, 2010

Video Cables to connect Laptop or Netbook to an external monitor or TV

In this article, I'll talk about the different video cable types you can use to connect your laptop or netbook to your external monitor or TV like tube tv, or HDTV set.

Connecting your Laptop or Netbook to a LCD or CRT tube monitor

In most cases most modern laptops and netbooks has a VGA port for allowing you to use a VGA cable from your laptop to your external monitor like LCD or CRT tube monitor with a VGA Cable. However, the cable is built-in to the monitor for some monitors I used, so you do not have to buy a separate cable.

August 2, 2010

Basic Guide to record video onto a computer's hard drive

The simplest way to record video onto your computer's hard drive is to use a digital camcorder which uses a hard drive, or SD flash memory since the file is already on the camcorder's drive, so all you have to do is plug in your camcorder to your computer with a USB cable, or take out the SD card to copy the video file on to your computer's hard drive, and the video is ready to be watched on your PC.

Flip HD portable camcorders, or other types of portable camcorders can also record video pretty well for Youtube and online video sites, but they has less features like long-range zoom which the bigger and more expensive camcorders have. However, if you just need a camera for recording short video clips under 120 minutes and of simple things then the Flip camcorders can be good enough for your needs. Some digital cameras also have a video mode. But from my experience with inexpensive digital cameras, the video quality is usually poor because the audio and video are very bad. Plus, the frame rate is not very good, so digital cameras are not very good for sporting events, and recording fast moving video. Digital Cameras are also bulky for the good quality ones, and they are not very comfortable for a long time since they don't have an hand band like real camcorders, or they don't fit your hand very well compared to portable HD camcorders.

August 1, 2010

Basic Mic Tips: Picking a Microphone or headset for recording voice on Computer!

I find using a computer microphone the best way to record your voice or singing onto a computer for music, podcasts, power point, and other applications like using a mic for Dragon Naturally Speaking voice to text converter to convert your voice to text on your PC screen.

From reviews, I read on Amazon, Newegg, and other forums, a USB Microphone is the best type of Mic to pick because they have more features, and better sensitivity.

Plus, they also look cooler then standard 10 dollar mics.Since I'm on a budget, I use a regular 10 dollar mic which you can get at any computer store or get for a dollar at the dollar stores, but the quality is not as good as more expensive mics, but it is good enough for making short voice reminders to yourself, and simple voice narrations for Youtube videos.

Kodak Easyshare M853 8.2MP Digital Camera, 3 X optical zoom review.

I been using the Kodak Easyshare M853 8.2MP Digital Camer with a 3x Optical zoom for two years now. It had been a great inexpensive camera for taking pictures.

I like how easy to use the camera is. All I have to do is "point and shoot" to take a picture. It is also easy to change shooting modes like action, still, macro, and more by turning the dial on the top of the camera. The 8.2 Mega pixels CCD image censor is great for taking good pictures.

It is also very easy to change the resolution of the photo, ISO, and other settings like timer.

The 3X zoom comes in handy for taking photos where the object is farther a way. There is also image stabilization for the camera.

The battery life for the digital camera's batteries last a long time. I can take hundreds of pictures before it needs to be charged, and the batteries hold their charge well, so if I haven't used the camera in months it still have power in the battery to take the occasional photo.

The look of the camera looks nice and sleek and does not look very cheap and plastic like a lot of cameras which cost under 80 US dollars.

This is a great camera for carrying around in your car, suitcase or purse since it is inexpensive and portable, but the quality of the photo and video the camera takes is a lot better then most cell phone cameras.

The Kodak M853 can also be a good starter camera for kids, or people who are new to digital photography, and don't want to spend hundred to thousands of dollars on an expensive complicated SLR digital Camera, lenses, and flashes.