Sunday, January 25, 2009

cool your laptoop

For those of you who keep your laptop on all the time, it's important to keep it cool. Unlike Desktops, Laptops have all of the components squeezed into a very tight space and it get very very hot. If you're laptop overheats, you may find your laptop shutting down on you, causing you to lose all of your unsaved data. This is not good, especially if your boss is expecting your work in the morning and you are now hours behind.

The first rule of thumb in keeping your laptop cool is to keep it off a blank or any other material that stores heat or that can block the vents. I can't stress enough at how important a simple thing like this can be. Your Laptop hardware will not work correctly after a certain temperature and your computer's cpu needs to run under a certain temperature to avoid data errors and computer failures.

The best option, for those of you who really need to work on your beds, is to purchase a laptop cooler. A laptop cooler is, in essence, a laptop stand with fans that will help cool the laptop. They are very inexpensive, I've seen them as low as $20.00 but they will help preserve the life-span of your laptop and more importantly, help prevent hardware failures and unexpected freeze ups and shut-downs.

The choice is yours, I mean, if your data means nothing to you then keep doing what you're doing, otherwise, get a laptop cooler and safe yourself the added stress when your boss gives you a one way ticket out the back door.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hard Drive Crash Repair

If you are like most people, you've probably got most of your personal data stored in your PC. But what do you do if your Hard Drive Crashes? Can the data be recovered?

Before we talk about data recovery, let's talk about data backup first, it's a great tool in data loss prevention. I know what you're thinking, 'how boring, I don't want to talk about my crashed hard drive, and I don't care about prevention because I'm a careless and lazy person'. I hear ya, and the fraternity of careless and lazy people is alive and well, I can assure you. But seriously, If your data is precious to you, you need to back it up. The best way is by copying the data onto DVDs, and storing your data in a safe place, preferably a fireproof safe. If all this sounds like a lot of work, then the question you need to ask yourself is 'Is the data that I lost, the family photos and all my work important to me?' If you answer yes, then you know what you've got to do.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about recovery of your data after your hard drive crash. Data recovery can be a very simple matter, or very complicated, and it all depends on what has gone wrong. If you're simply fixing a Windows Melt-Down where your OS doesn't boot any more, then a great piece of free software that works well in data recovery called File Recovery by PC Inspector will save you a lot of grief. This nifty piece of software recovery will recover files and partitions for you, it's free and it does a very good job and getting your precious files back.

If on the other hand, your hard drive crash is a direct consequence of your hard drive itself being pooched, and a physical problem is responsible for loss of your data, then you need to stop and take that hard-drive to a data recovery lab immediately. But data recovery services labs aren't cheap and you can expect to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Let's face it, a family photo album with all your precious history is worth the money and you'll probably end up paying for the data recovery.

This leads us back to my first point. If you had backed up your data to begin with, you wouldn't be paying forking out all your hard earned money to recover your Crashed Hard Drive.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Careful With Firefox Extensions

I'm a big fan of Firefox Extensions because they make browsing the Internet so much easier. Having the option to make one's Internet Browser your own is what Firefox Extensions are all about. It's really all about making your Internet Session as smooth and pleasant as possible, and having top firefox extensions makes all the difference in the world. That said, you need to take care that you don't go crazy on installing too many extensions. The reason is that Firefox can start doing bad things, like crashing, and Firefox Extensions are often the culprit. Unless you want you Internet Browser to crash on you all the time, don't install too many Firefox Extensions.

The rule of the thumb for me is to install an extension and work with it over a period of a couple of days to a week, in this way, I can monitor Firefox behavior. If I notice anything unusual with my Browsing Sessions, I will then uninstall the extension and see if that fixes the problem. If there is no problem after installing a Firefox Extension, and Firefox seems to be running smoothly, then I'll go ahead and install the next extension. To me this is the best way to keep your browser healthy, but don't take my word for it, go nuts if that is what does it for you.

In the end, it really is a personal choice, and for those of you who love your Firefox Extensions, well who am I to stand in your way of instant gratification.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Future Of Learning & Technology

Where did most of you learn how to use a computer? Did you take a night-course, or was it part of your daily curriculum at school? Or if you are like a lot of people out there, you just purchased a computer and figured it out as you went?

Learning about computers isn't as straight-forward as it once was. Technology is always changing and the knowledge that you had 5 years ago is most likely obsolete by today's standards. So it stands to reason that you can't keep going back to school, constantly, that would make no sense. Furthermore, the real world changes faster than schools can keep pace with, so if you did go back to school to learn new things, chances are you are learning things that are completely obsolete.

That leaves only one other option in keeping yourself up-to-date on the latest technology. I'm talking about Tech Articles. When I say Tech Articles, I'm referring to information that is posted by like-minded individuals on their websites, forums or other places where information can be exchanged, usually for free. This is important, because it means that technology has now transcended into the realm of information exchange between individuals and not the trickle-down effect of information as it applies to learning institutions. This is important because we as a society are now headed into a new age where information is always within our grasp, and this in turn creates new ideas and concepts that push the envelope forward, challenging the methods of traditional learning institutions.

Does that mean that I find no value in traditional learning methods, like Colleges and Universities? Of course not! There is a place for learning institutions that are still vital to our learning process. But my view is that these learning institutions are only necessary in a preparatory form as opposed to it serving as a full education. This is important because it means that we as a people, globally, are now the true custodians of information, effectively superseding the roles of learning institutions. This wasn't so 10 or 20 years ago. And anyone who desires to learn, can do so without the restrictions of time or space.

This means that information is now formless, it can no longer be contained within a pre-digested format as dictated by those who call themselves are intellectual superiors. Professors are no longer the containers of information, but to a large extent, seekers of information themselves and often students of the students they profess to instruct. This is a real paradigm shift that promises to catapult technology forward, and as it gains momentum it will radically change our ideas of how education should be applied and will result in new technologies faster than we ever expected.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Is IT Training Worth IT Anymore?

I was looking through the job search sites the other day and realized that I need to get back to school. It appears that everything that I studied 10 years ago is basically out-of-date and useless. I'm not surprised, the computer industry has always been a dynamic one, changing and morphing with every new hardware and software update, this is what makes it exciting and frustrating. Gone are the days of automatic employment. Regardless of how smart you think you are, there is always someone smarter, applying for the same jobs as you. If this sounds scary, then I've done my job, you should be afraid and use fear leverage in seeking out a career. Remember, it's best to get informed now rather than later. There are many college graduates heading straight into unemployment and their parents basement so choosing a career wisely is half the battle of education, regardless of what your out-of-touch guidance or career councilor may tell you.

That said, I asked myself whether it's even worth training for a career in this industry anymore. It seems that by the time you graduate, what you've learned is obsolete, and now you are faced with a never ending continuous education. This isn't like learning a trade or some other basic business course where things are relatively unchanged, the IT industry is a continuously changing, and you need to know if it's worth getting IT Training. If you've got your heart set in IT, then you need to ask yourself some serious questions.

The key to getting into the IT industry is get in with what's in demand today and tomorrow. You need to adapt to what the industry is demanding, and not expect the industry to adapt to you. So before you put your hard earned money into someone elses hands I suggest doing a thorough search through job search websites to get an idea on what hiring company's are looking for. Once you've got a clear understanding on what is in demand, go out and learn a little about those in demand skills. Figure out what other prerequisite skills are needed in order to learn this new skill, find out what the history and future of this new skill is. Learn who the competitors are. Find out which skills people are talking about. Which company's are hiring and what the pay-bracket is. You need to fully research everything there is to know about your chosen career, everything.

If this seems like a lot of work, then ask yourself what the consequences are of not getting all the specifics on your chosen field and finding yourself in the unemployment queue. The choice is clear, so make an educated decision on your IT Training, otherwise you may find yourself frustrated and unemployed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Do I Need GPS?

Yesterday, as I was grazing with the rest of the sheep, looking for so-called tech bargains at the local mark-up tech shop, my attention closed in on a nifty little Magellan GPS. I felt the immediate, lower gut feeling that I needed this. I was blinded by the dazzling light that seemed to emanate from the enticing packaging, I needed it and didn't understand why.

Was it because I often got lost while driving and found myself in strange places that I did not want to be in? The answer is NO, I never get lost because I don't often drive very far, excluding the occasional trip somewhere south, and I usually over-plan for those trips anyway. So what was it about this electronic GPS Navigation System device that had me mesmerized, as if I was under its spell? I didn't know, and so I did what I always do when I don't quite understand a need for something. I put the box down and headed to another isle, hoping to forget all about it.

This small example makes the big difference because I've been fooled in the past into buying things I did not need. I'm sure most of you have been fooled too. That's not to say that I feel that a GPS isn't valuable or needed, but only that it is offering something that most of us can do without. And let's face it, a road map is often much more useful than a GPS. So let's take a fresh look at the most hated things about marketing. The fact that most of us end up owning useless stuff that just piles up on our shelves is an indication that marketing companies are earning their pay. If you've ever purchased something only to bring it home and not open it for a day or more, then you'll know what I'm talking about, you've just blown your hard earned cash on an item you probably don't need. It is this very mindset that has led me to take a similar with GPS and that is why I decided to forgo the purchase of the Magellan GPS.

So the next time you find yourself staring at something, internally debating on its practicality and usefulness in your life, do what I did. Put it back on the shelf and move on.