TECH ADVICE: Easy PC offers free advice that is easy peasy to grasp

I’VE started writing a weekly tech advice column called Easy PC for a local newspaper supplement. It’s directed at the technophobic and aims to encourage reader feedback and questions. Topics are related to home PC use & computing and the content is really as basic as it gets. Here's the brief and first installment.

The home PC has evolved into what is now considered a modern-day home entertainment system. Capable of behaving like a television, home cinema, game station, work station, music player and much more, the home PC is far more capable than it has ever been before. But with all these capabilities come complexities, and there are several things to consider when investing in any form of home entertainment. This is what Easy PC plans to simplify.

BUYING A NEW PC

THERE are two options when buying a new desktop PC – having one built from scratch by purchasing all the components you want, or buying a fully built and full functioning PC from a computer store. The latter option is generally cheaper and far easier, but be careful with regards to what bulk packages are on offer – it is also an easy way for PC shops to get rid of old stock.

The biggest bonus of buying a complete PC is that it should come with the latest operating system (a saving of about R1700). Windows 7 is the latest operating system available and is by far the most user-friendly. Ask the salesman if this comes with the PC that you are interested in.

The second thing to consider is storage space. You may think that a terabyte (1000 gigs) is more than what you’ll ever need, but this size hard-drive is now considered as standard. This is where you will store all your data. Also bear in mind that newer software gets larger over time and requires more storage space.

As far as the other components are concerned, simply ensure that they are upgradable. Powerful graphics cards and RAM (memory) are mostly for gaming and advanced video and picture editing. However, having the option to upgrade will allow you to do so if you feel something is lacking.

That’s all for this week! Until next time.

Easy PCKind regards,
That Tech Guy

More Easy PC Tech Advice:

  1. Virus Scans
  2. Wires and Dust
  3. Good old Google
  4. Setting up Skype
  5. Legal Downloads
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REVIEW: A quick look at the all new Windows 7 operating system

Windows 7IF there is to be any war that is sustained longer than the Iraqi war, it will be the war on Microsoft.

There is a growing group of Windows users who would eagerly take up any opportunity to assassinate Bill Gates for all the pain and frustration that his Microsoft operating systems have caused. The numerous versions of Windows that currently exist attest to the fact that the operating system has never quite been perfected.

Windows Vista is one such version. What was expected to be the crème de la crème of all Windows operating systems — the one version to rule them all — it was met with countless bugs, system crashes, and several instances of users’ pulling out their own hair.

Vista is going down in Windows history as a failed project and we are entering into a new operating system era with the instalment of Windows 7. But we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer.

Windows 7 RC
Microsoft has launched the release candidate (RC) version of its forthcoming Windows 7 operating system. The RC version, which will be available as a free download until July, is the “next-to-final” release of the operating system that will likely replace Windows Vista on most desktops in the coming years.

According to mybroadband.co.za, there is much to like about Windows 7, just as there was much to dislike about Vista when it was first released. The initial impression offered by Windows 7 RC is that of a “lighter” operating system.

Among the complaints about Vista is that it does not work with some software designed for the previous operating system, Windows XP, and that it is it too much for netbooks or older computers to handle.

Gone are the heavy-handed and memory-demanding approaches of Vista in favour of a desktop that is clean and attractive without feeling bloated. In its place is a desktop that feels pared down with just the necessary controls in sight.

Cool Windows 7 concept art

Windows 7 nature wallpaper

Performance
A central impression that Windows 7 offers is one of speed – lite-speed in comparison to Vista. Starting with the install, which needs just a handful of clicks and enough time for a cup of coffee, right through to a running desktop, Microsoft has succeeded in getting Windows 7 to feel really nimble.

Running on a desktop PC with 2GB of memory and a dual-core Intel processor running at 2,53GHz, Windows 7 is quick in responding to commands and loading applications.

One of the major drives behind Windows 7 has been to ensure that the operating system boots up and shuts down as fast as possible — something Microsoft has managed to get right. With the growing market for netbooks (ultra-portable laptops), modern operating systems are being designed to take advantage of new processors like Intel’s Atom and startup and shutdown within seconds. Windows 7 RC already boots a lot faster than Windows Vista and, depending on hardware, starts up in similar times as Windows XP.

Desktop appeal
The desktop is not noticeably different to the beta release version of Windows 7 and is still appealing to the eye. It borders on the “minimalist”, but still manages to add to the overall sharp impression.

The most obvious benefit of Windows 7 is the significant reduction in what could be called “interference”. Microsoft has been working on reducing the levels of interference for users by limiting the number of pop-ups and warning notices — a common occurrence in Vista.

This is all to do with the changes to “user account control”, which, instead of constantly popping up warnings of impending doom and danger, are slightly muted and less obtrusive. They’re still there, but definitely not with the same vigour as before.

Windows 7 is currently being tested on netbooks, which are increasingly popular, low-cost mobile computers designed essentially for accessing the Internet and running a few simple programs.

The taskbar in Windows 7 is a great deal better than the taskbar offered by Windows Vista or XP. However, it has a tendency to undermine itself with its own cleverness, something you’ll either love or hate.

For the uninitiated, the taskbar operates as a series of “flyouts”, which are smaller representations of open Windows. They’re pretty and functional, but could be just as effective without the flashy popup windows.

One complaint about the taskbar is that by default the open windows are all crammed together on the taskbar, which can make it messy if you have too many windows open. Fortunately the default settings can be tweaked to “group-open” windows — based on applications when a threshold number has been reached.

The president of Microsoft has made just as many promises as any other. Let’s hope this one sticks to his and that the war on Windows can finally end.

— Original article at: www.mybroadband.co.za

  • THE Windows 7 release candidate (7 RC)version can be downloaded for free until July this year and is available as both a 32-bit and a 64-bit version. The 32-bit version comes in at a little under 2,5GB, while the 64-bit version is a lot bigger at 3,2GB.
  • Interestingly, Microsoft has said that users who download Windows 7 RC will be able to run the software for free until June 2010 before being required to purchase a copy, which is a very long trial period given that Windows 7 Final is expected to be released later this year.
  • Windows 7 RC can be downloaded here

Related article: Windows 7 beefs up multimedia

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DIGITALLIFE: What to expect...

The DigitalLife Expo – one of South Africa’s largest digital technology expositions, takes place from 27 to 29 March 2009 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Here a few highlights that you can expect this year.

The Digital Home
Take a walk through the Digital Home, which includes a teenage pad, children’s room, study/home office, home theatre room and entertainment room, and find out how you can integrate these new technologies into your lifestyle.

Each room is packed full of the latest in digital and broadband technology. The idea is to give visitors a sense of the digital home of today and what it might be like living in one. If you do not have the abilities of King Midas you can at least get a feel of what it might be like living the most contemporary digital lifestyle.

Superheroes and cyber-pets
You can meet Vernon Koekemoer in person at the DigitalLife Expo, along with Wowee the Roboquad - a four-legged spider-like robot thingy that has an almost eerie sense of awareness and mobility.

Wowee the RoboquadLiterally created and launched in cyberspace, Vernon is himself a strapping example of technology in action. He's the apparent product of a viral campaign called “Let’s make Vernon famous”, and people everywhere have taken to “the Koek” like a toothpick to biltong.

Free workshops
If you’ve got the latest digital gear, but do you know your way around it, take advantage of free workshops and become a pro. Step into the future of mapping technology, learn more about digital photography, digital content, home entertainment, smartphone tools and broadband connectivity.

Six workshops will be held daily that will not only teach enthusiasts how to use new digital technologies, but also offer tips and tricks on how to integrate existing ones into their lifestyles. DigitalLife is offering free entrance to the expo to anyone who pre-registers online for any of the workshops.

Win big!
Visitors to the DigitalLife Expo stand the chance of winning digital products and technologies on display in the DigitalLife Expo’s walk-through Digital Home to the value of R250 000 including security systems, a media centre, a home theatre system, digital camera, mobile phones and more.

Top brands on display
Explore the cream of the digital crop. Get to grips with the latest technology from mobile phones to notebooks, multimedia players and home entertainment systems, home-automation and digital security systems - all under one roof.

Click here for a full list of exhibitors that you can expect to see this year.

Exclusive Windows 7 promotion
See it, experience it and stand a chance to win it. The first 250 people to visit the expo each day will receive a pre-release version of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system (believed to be the bee's knees).

New product launches
Loads of hot-off-the-press digital technology products will be launched at the DigitalLife Expo, including iriver digital media players, the new T3 SecurityKey, Asus PCs and netbooks, Iomega network storage drives and Tesla’s latest home automation imports.

DionWired
DionWired, the consumer electronics and appliances concept store, is the expo’s official Digital Retail Store sponsor. The store will showcase its complete range of digital products and consumer-oriented services.

DionWired has also developed a long list of fantastic packages and special offers available exclusively to DigitalLife Expo visitors, so be sure to visit their stand.

Win shopping vouchers
Shopping vouchers are up for grabs every day at the DigitalLife Expo. To kick-start your digital shopping experience, ‘do Broadband’, powered by Telkom, will be giving away R5 000 shopping vouchers to visitors every day at the expo.

To enter, complete the entry form to be found at the entrance to the expo and drop it off at the ‘do Broadband’ stand.

DigitalLife ticket prices

  • Adults R20,00
  • Student Ages (13-18) and college students R8,00
  • Pensioner Ages (60+) R8,00

You can buy your DigitalLife tickets online here.

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