Cyborgs and Cybernetic Evolution

Cyborgs and Cybernetic Evolution

Before we start I think it is important to state that you are a machine an incredibly advanced machine but a machine none the less. Your brain is an extremely complex and powerful biochemical computer. The only thing that could put you above another incredibly advance machine is a soul. However that is a completely different discussion that this article wont be discussing.

Since the beginning of our existence man has been evolving. At first biologically and then it began evolving culturally. Now we are evolving in a completely different direction technologically. Many scientists and historians believe that the greatest transition from biological evolution to technological evolution was when we invented immunization. Before that around â…” of the population would die from disease in any generation. However with the invention of immunization that changed. Eventually immunization would have happened naturally to any disease that didn’t completely wipe out the human race however with the huge bounds made in medical science this was no longer necessary.

Now many people believe that a we are on the edge of a great new transition like when those bounds in medical science was made. Many people believe that in a century (or far less perhaps in a couple of decades) the vast majority of humanity will have around 1/10 to ½ of their body to be robotic.

I am hesitant to use the word cyborg. For by cyborgs have existed for thousands of years. It all started when we began piercing our bodies. Warriors would pierce their bodies for the practical application of intimidation and it worked! Though in common culture people who have a tattoo on their arm are not considered a cyborg.

Currently there are a few cyborgs in today’s society. However they didn’t get there parts for powers like super strength and X-ray vision currently they get them just to survive. The first mechanical implant into a human being happened in 1968. It was an artificial heart transplant.

So far the greatest progress available to the masses is cybernetics that help the senses. Scientists are working on artificial eyes as well as cameras that could be hooked up into the brain. We have even been able to work with the nervous system where you can feel your synthetic limbs though minimally. Plus we all know about hearing aids though if you use a hearing aid you can really be called a cyborg.

Now that we have talked about basic cyborgs what about optional cyborgs. You know transplanting your left arm for a laser cannon or installing an antenna. Something like you see in a science fiction movie. Well we haven’t really made progress in the examples above (though we are working on ways to connect to the Internet with your mind and installing cellphones in your ears and such). Most of the progress we have made in leisure cybernetics we take for granted. Like getting tattoos or piercings.

Before I leave I want to give you one more thought. Organ transplants. If you get a new liver or a kidney in a way you are a cyborg. For an implant does not need to be made of steel and iron. As I said to begin this article, flesh is merely a different type of machine.

Impact of Technology on Marketing Products

Impact of Technology on Marketing Products

Technology is advancing in a pretty big way. In the last century alone we have experienced technological innovations and inventions that could have only been dreamt about by those of old. What seemed impossible back in the 60s has now become a reality and an integrated part of human life today. Technology isn’t just given to the privileged few, today everyone is now able to use them freely for whatever they see fits their lifestyles and personality.

Here are the key points on how it affects the over all product that you would be marketing:

Product introduction is now made simpler and easier. The internet has affected how products and services are presented to the general public. It is reviewed and developed based on how they want people to perceive the product and how it is to be used. Feedback is immediately given by the users and it is through this that product innovation is created and has caused an environment of continuous evolution. It makes the interaction between end-users and manufacturers more direct and in sync, taking out the middle man in sales more often than not thus affecting more of how the product is going to be priced.

Price, the internet allows information on products to be gathered by clientele/customers so easily. This allows the consumers to make a comparison of products and quickly decide on which they feel would be best worth their time and money. With the growing number of smartphone users being able to check out products as they are on the go makes a good medium for the users to quickly go through the process of choosing what products to buy even before they reach the counter.

Promotion and its varying disciplines such as advertising, direct marketing, public relations are all easily disseminated to the general public via many technological methods and tools such as websites, smartphone applications, email and text messaging. These tools are so versatile that in capable hands, gives the marketing professional to personalize the product in anyway that they see would fit the end-users.

These are just but a few of the things and ways that technology has affected and improved on the marketing strategies of products and services. Regardless of what you are going to sell the present evolution of technology has empowered people to reach out and touch people in ways that people of the past have only dreamt of. Individuals are now more connected in many different ways at so many different levels. It would be foolish for any marketing leader to ignore the cost effective and efficient ways that technology can provide to those that use it to their advantage, cause if they don’t their competition most definitely will.

Ron Jacobsen is an advocate of business and technology and shares his ideas how technology has had impact in marketing products nowadays. Civicom is an international marketing research solutions company that offers mobile qualitative research services for implementing mobile ethnography, shopper insights, and retail analysis.

The Evolution of Technology

The Evolution of Technology – The History of Computers

While computers are now an important part of the lives of human beings, there was a time where computers did not exist. Knowing the history of computers and how much progression has been made can help you understand just how complicated and innovative the creation of computers really is.

Unlike most devices, the computer is one of the few inventions that does not have one specific inventor. Throughout the development of the computer, many people have added their creations to the list required to make a computer work. Some of the inventions have been different types of computers, and some of them were parts required to allow computers to be developed further.

The Beginning

Perhaps the most significant date in the history of computers is the year 1936. It was in this year that the first “computer” was developed. It was created by Konrad Zuse and dubbed the Z1 Computer. This computer stands as the first as it was the first system to be fully programmable. There were devices prior to this, but none had the computing power that sets it apart from other electronics.

It wasn’t until 1942 that any business saw profit and opportunity in computers. This first company was called ABC computers, owned and operated by John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. Two years later, the Harvard Mark I computer was developed, furthering the science of computing.

Over the course of the next few years, inventors all over the world began to search more into the study of computers, and how to improve upon them. Those next ten years say the introduction of the transistor, which would become a vital part of the inner workings of the computer, the ENIAC 1 computer, as well as many other types of systems. The ENIAC 1 is perhaps one of the most interesting, as it required 20,000 vacuum tubes to operate. It was a massive machine, and started the revolution to build smaller and faster computers.

The age of computers was forever altered by the introduction of International Business Machines, or IBM, into the computing industry in 1953. This company, over the course of computer history, has been a major player in the development of new systems and servers for public and private use. This introduction brought about the first real signs of competition within computing history, which helped to spur faster and better development of computers. Their first contribution was the IBM 701 EDPM Computer.

A Programming Language Evolves

A year later, the first successful high level programming language was created. This was a programming language not written in ‘assembly’ or binary, which are considered very low level languages. FORTRAN was written so that more people could begin to program computers easily.

The year 1955, the Bank of America, coupled with Stanford Research Institute and General Electric, saw the creation of the first computers for use in banks. The MICR, or Magnetic Ink Character Recognition, coupled with the actual computer, the ERMA, was a breakthrough for the banking industry. It wasn’t until 1959 that the pair of systems were put into use in actual banks.

During 1958, one of the most important breakthroughs in computer history occurred, the creation of the integrated circuit. This device, also known as the chip, is one of the base requirements for modern computer systems. On every motherboard and card within a computer system, are many chips that contain information on what the boards and cards do. Without these chips, the systems as we know them today cannot function.

Gaming, Mice, & the Internet

For many computer users now, games are a vital part of the computing experience. 1962 saw the creation of the first computer game, which was created by Steve Russel and MIT, which was dubbed Spacewar.

The mouse, one of the most basic components of modern computers, was created in 1964 by Douglass Engelbart. It obtained its name from the “tail” leading out of the device.

One of the most important aspects of computers today was invented in 1969. ARPA net was the original Internet, which provided the foundation for the Internet that we know today. This development would result in the evolution of knowledge and business across the entire planet.

It wasn’t until 1970 that Intel entered the scene with the first dynamic RAM chip, which resulted in an explosion of computer science innovation.

On the heels of the RAM chip was the first microprocessor, which was also designed by Intel. These two components, in addition to the chip developed in 1958, would number among the core components of modern computers.

A year later, the floppy disk was created, gaining its name from the flexibility of the storage unit. This was the first step in allowing most people to transfer bits of data between unconnected computers.

The first networking card was created in 1973, allowing data transfer between connected computers. This is similar to the Internet, but allows for the computers to connect without use of the Internet.

Household PC’s Emerge

The next three years were very important for computers. This is when companies began to develop systems for the average consumer. The Scelbi, Mark-8 Altair, IBM 5100, Apple I and II, TRS-80, and the Commodore Pet computers were the forerunners in this area. While expensive, these machines started the trend for computers within common households.

One of the most major breathroughs in computer software occurred in 1978 with the release of the VisiCalc Spreadsheet program. All development costs were paid for within a two week period of time, which makes this one of the most successful programs in computer history.

1979 was perhaps one of the most important years for the home computer user. This is the year that WordStar, the first word processing program, was released to the public for sale. This drastically altered the usefulness of computers for the everyday user.

The IBM Home computer quickly helped revolutionize the consumer market in 1981, as it was affordable for home owners and standard consumers. 1981 also saw the the mega-giant Microsoft enter the scene with the MS-DOS operating system. This operating system utterly changed computing forever, as it was easy enough for everyone to learn.

The Competition Begins : Apple vs. Microsoft

Computers saw yet another vital change during the year of 1983. The Apple Lisa computer was the first with a graphical user interface, or a GUI. Most modern programs contain a GUI, which allows them to be easy to use and pleasing for the eyes. This marked the beginning of the out dating of most text based only programs.

Beyond this point in computer history, many changes and alterations have occurred, from the Apple-Microsoft wars, to the developing of microcomputers and a variety of computer breakthroughs that have become an accepted part of our daily lives. Without the initial first steps of computer history, none of this would have been possible.

Scope of Online Degrees in Computer Sciences

Scope of Online Degrees in Computer Sciences

Computer Science is very broad field based on the studies of hardware and software design. Computer science covers different areas of designing, installation and maintenance of complex systems. Major subjects of the computer sciences include computer systems, maintenance of communication network and development of core digital technologies. Areas of specialties include artificial intelligence, computer vision and machine behavior. Basic aim of computer science studies is to investigate algorithms and use of computer systems to solve problems of business and government. Computer science professionals create and maintain most effective computer systems with latest technology. Computer science is one of the rapidly growing industries at present. Many universities offer associate, bachelor, masters and doctorate degrees in computer Sciences.

Major Areas of Specialization

In combination to general subjects universities offers specialization in different areas of computer sciences. These areas include software development, language development and modification, system development, algorithms, hardware maintenance, database systems, numerical analysis and information management.

Skills Earned

Online degrees in computer sciences develop number of specific skills in the students. Some important skills include the following:

o You will be able to create and apply new technology.
o Software design and analysis
o Identification of problems and solution
o Complete multitask with in defined time frame
o You will learn to work independently as well as in teams.
o Also learn how to identify errors and rectify these errors
o You will able to select the correct programming language and hardware systems to complete assigned project.
o You will effectively use operating systems, text editors and compilers in documenting of programs.

Online Degrees Available in Computer Sciences

In addition to degrees offered by traditional universities different top accredited online universities and colleges also offer online degrees in computer sciences. These degrees include Online Associate Degree in Computer Science, Online Bachelor Degree in Computer Science, Online Master Degree in Computer Science and Online PhD Degree in Computer Science. Online education has now become a good option for many people who are not able to join traditional institutes due to some personal and financial reasons. Online Education is also beneficial for working professionals who wants to gain progress in their fields and want to upgrade careers with latest knowledge. Online degrees prove more beneficial if you also join any internship program. You can join different careers after earning online degrees in computer sciences. You can join number of different careers in the field of computer science such as software designing, computer and software sales, programming, computer system development, networking manager, computer hardware professional, computer game development, graphics designer and system manager. These are some examples of opportunities available for computer science degree holders.

Career Path for Online Degrees in Computer Sciences

Computer science consists of theoretical programming and advanced computing solutions. Computer scientists can work in three different areas.

o Computer Scientist design and build software
o Also design useful methods to solve computing problems such as storage of data in databases, transmit data over networks and new methodologies to solve security problems.
o Formulation of new and improved approaches to use

Design and Application of Software

Computer science professionals design software for various purposes including web development, interface design, security issues and mobile computing. Majority of computer science graduates join this career path. Bachelors in computer science provides gateway to enter this field of software designing and its application. Graduates can also continue their education and gain masters degree in computer sciences. You can find jobs in large or small software houses, companies providing computer services and every kind of large organization such as industry, government, banking, healthcare etc.

Develop New Ways to Use Computers

Instead of designing software computer professionals also find new ways to modernize the use of computers. This can achieve by making advancement in computer technology. Computer graduates who are involved in advance graduate work in research university, industrial research and laboratory invent new and improved ways to use computers. The basic aim of such innovations is to simplify the use of computers and computer users can enjoy using computers with new and improved devices and methods. These devices include robotics, computer vision and digital forensics. Dot-com language is the example of such progress in computer sciences.

Discover Effective Ways to Solve Computing Problems

Computing problems can be solved by developing and applying computer science theories and algorithms. Computer science professionals make use of these two i.e. theories and algorithms to discover best possible solution of severe computing problem. To join this field as career students are required to have graduate degree to Ph.D. level with current working experience in a research university, industrial research and development laboratory.

The basic aim of computer science is to explore algorithms, design efficiency and application of computer systems to solve the problem of businesses and government organizations. Computer professionals maintain and formulate effective ways with latest technology. Computer science is rapidly growing industry. You will have lot of opportunities to work as computer professional. Number of computer users is increasing day by day and that’s why development and maintenance of computer system has become important issue. More and more trained professionals are required to fulfill the needs of industry.

Breaking the Computer Buying Cycle

Breaking the Computer Buying Cycle

That New Computer Smell

If you are like most people when they go out and buy a new Personal Computer you probably get excited when you take it out of the box, turn it on and marvel at how fast it runs. When a computer is new it always seems to run faster and boot up quicker than your old computer. The applications and games seem to run without any slow down and when you get on the internet the pages load instantly on the screen, and you can quickly surf from one website to another. Overtime though, your computer can slow down and not run as quickly as it did when it was new.

This slow down can occur for a variety of reasons and when it happens it can be frustrating and spoil your computing experience. Often times when this happens it can be corrected by either cleaning up your hard drive, or running some diagnostics. Perhaps the computer has a virus and once you remove the virus, performance can be restored. What do you do though if you have done all those things and your computer is still running slow?

If your computer is running slow even after you have removed any viruses and attempted to improve system performance, it could mean that the demands you are now placing on your computer have exceeded the computer’s capability.

As we use our computers we tend to install new software applications and attempt to run more applications simultaneously. The new software we install can require greater computer resources such as more computer memory and a faster CPU, or central processing unit to run the software applications or games properly.

If you are like me you like to have multiple software applications running or multiple internet browser windows open at the same time and that can utilize greater amounts of computer resources as well. The more resources you use, the slower the computer will run.

This is a constant problem in computing because computer technology doubles roughly every 18 months. In a demand for more feature rich software applications, software developers create more resource consuming software programs. To meet the increased demands of the software, computer manufacturers continue to build faster, more expensive computers. This, in my opinion, is a vicious cycle where in order to maintain a fast and enjoyable computing experience, the computer user is forced to go out and buy a new computer every few years.

Fortunately for me I have never had to worry about that problem. I am a certified computer professional and have been building and repairing computers for over 15 years. When I want a faster computer I do not go out and buy a new expensive computer. I have learned how to break the new computer buying cycle by upgrading my computer. By upgrading my computer rather than buying new, I can simply make myself a faster computer at a fraction of the cost.

You can break the computer buying cycle too and you do not have to be a computer professional like me to do it. You only need to know a few things about computers, be handy with a screw driver and be able to follow a few simple instructions; but before you begin to think about upgrading your computer, it might be important to get a brief overview on how a computer works.

Computer Basics

Computers are made up of a combination of hardware and software working together. When you aren’t familiar with how a computer functions then they can seem very complex. You can reduce that complexity, once you understand how a computer works at a basic level.

At its most basic level a computer receives input and produces output. A computer receives input through input devices such as the keyboard and mouse (hardware). Every time we click the mouse on a link or move the mouse across the screen we are giving the computer input or an instruction to do something.

The computer receives the input as an electronic signal created by the mouse click or keystroke on the keyboard. This signal is transmitted through the computer and is converted into digital data where it can be interpreted as an instruction by the operating system, software application or game.(software)

The computer processes digital instruction data and produces output as either an image or words on the computer screen or perhaps as a printout on a printer.

What makes a computer fast is its ability to receive input, and produce output quickly. There are several components a computer needs in order to function but there are three primary components that directly affect how fast a computer can operate.

The three primary computer components which handle the processing of input and make a computer fast are the:

Motherboard or Main System board
CPU or Central Processing Unit
RAM or Random Access Memory

The Motherboard

Without getting too technical, the Motherboard is the computer component that connects all the hardware together on the computer. You could think of the Motherboard as a data freeway that links together all the components of the computer and allows them to transmit data between each other and and communicate.

Every computer component on the computer connects to the Motherboard either by being connected directly to the Motherboard or connecting via a data cable. The devices or components that connect to the Motherboard are the CPU, RAM Memory, Hard Drive, CD ROM/DVD drive, Video Card, Sound Card, Network Card, Modem, Key Board, Mouse and Monitor.

There are additional peripheral devices which can connect to the Motherboard as well through a variety of data ports which are connected to the Motherboard such as a printer, digital camera, microphone, and even a HDTV. These devices can connect to the Motherboard using one of several ports such as a USB, Parallel, Fire-Wire, SATA (Serial-ATA), or HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) port.

In short the Motherboard provided the data communication infrastructure which allows communication between all the devices. What makes one Motherboard faster than another is the volume of data it can support being transmitted across what is called it’s data BUS and the speed at which it can transmit the data. One way to think of it is in terms of a street. Think of the data bus as a street and the data are like cars driving down the street. Older Motherboards communication was the equivalent of a two way two lane street with a speed limit of 25 MPH. Today the new Motherboards are like 8 lane highways with 200MPH speed limits.

New Motherboards are faster because they can allow more data traffic at higher speeds.

The CPU

The CPU or Processor is the brain of the computer. The CPU carries out all the instructions that you in conjunction with the Operating System, like Windows XP or Windows 7, asks it to do. CPUs can only carry out one instruction at a time but they do it so fast it seems like they are doing multiple tasks at one time or “Multitasking”.

Newer CPUs are faster because their “clock speed” or “clock cycle” is faster. The clock speed is the speed at which a CPU can carry out instructions. You can think of clock speed like the timing of a metronome, the device that helps musicians keep the right musical time. A metronome has a hand on the front of it which swings back and forth at a timing interval you set. As it swings back and forth it ticks like a clock. Like the metronome the CPU also ticks at a set interval but a CPU ticks at an incredibly fast rate which is measured in Mega or Gigahertz. The CPU carries out an instruction on every tick of its clock cycle.

New CPUs can not only carry out instructions at very high clock speeds but they can also be made up of multiple CPU Cores. Each Core can carry out its own instructions. When you have a Dual Core CPU it can carry out two instructions at the same time and a Quad Core CPU can carry out four. There are even six Core CPUs out now and like the newer Motherboards these CPUs also have a larger Data BUS to send and receive data faster through the Motherboard enhancing the computers overall performance.

RAM Memory

RAM or Random Access Memory is what stores all the instructions you have asked the computer to carry out. Every time we interact with our computer we are creating instruction data for the CPU to process and even the simplest interaction, like moving the mouse across the screen, requires many single instructions the CPU must carry out. You can imagine that playing a computer game or running an application like Adobe Photo shop can create a tremendous amount of instructions for the CPU. The CPU is fast and can execute a lot of instructions quickly but it can’t do them all at once which is why we need a place to store the instructions until they can be processed. This is why RAM was created.

RAM is basically the storage place for all the instructions that are waiting to be executed by the CPU. You can sometimes tell when you don’t have enough RAM when you have clicked on the mouse or hit the enter key to initiate a program and the hour glass just sits there spinning on the screen. It can appear that our computer has locked up or froze but what is actually happening is the computer is completing the series of instructions it has been given before it can perform any further instructions. When this happens we usually see it as the computer briefly locking up. It is also very frustrating.

The best way to resolve this problem is by simply adding more RAM to your computer. Adding more RAM is possibly the easiest way to increase the performance of your computer. Increasing the amount of RAM in your computer can help your computer run faster because it allows your computer store more instructions. This lets the computer carry out a lot of instructions while you continue to do your work and it reduces the computer freeze ups.

The speed of the RAM you use can also help the computer. If you use RAM that has a faster Data Bus speed it can send the instructions it is storing to the CPU at a faster rate. The faster the CPU gets the instructions the faster it can carry them out and the faster your computer will run.

The amount and type you can use is dictated by the type of CPU and Motherboard you use. The Bus speed of the CPU and Motherboard as well as the capacity of RAM the Motherboard can recognize will determine what type of RAM and how much you can use.

Some Motherboards will allow you to install as much as 32GBs of RAM and most Motherboards will recognize multiple Bus speeds so you can use several different types of RAM. Generally speaking the faster the BUS speed and the larger storage capacity of the RAM, the faster your computer will perform. The important thing to remember though is that with larger capacity and speed comes higher price.

What’s nice about upgrading RAM is most Motherboards can accommodate several different speeds and capacities of RAM so you can start out with a slower speed and smaller capacity, which will be less expensive reducing your initial upgrade cost and then later down the road you can upgrade your RAM to a larger capacity and high speed.

Replacing the Motherboard, CPU and RAM is actually a lot easier than you may think. The CPU and RAM are directly connected to the motherboard so you can replace all three components at the same time by simply swapping out the motherboard.

To do this you must first determine what kind of form factor of motherboard your current computer supports.

The Motherboard Form Factor

Many computer manufacturers such as HP, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, eMachine, and Acer build their computers based on 4 primary motherboard form factors or design specifications and they are:

ATX = Full Size Motherboard generally found in full size Desktop computers and Towers
Micro-ATX = Mid Size motherboard found in Mid Tower and Smaller Desktops
Mini-ATX = Small Motherboard found in Mid Towers, Smaller Desktops
Mini-ITX = Newest motherboards very small size found in new smaller towers and desktops

These form factors refer to the size of the Motherboard itself. The computer case is designed to accommodate a specific size of Motherboard. Once you have determined which form factor your computer model is, then all you need to do is purchase the correct form factor Motherboard that fits your computer models case.

It would work like this. Let’s say you have an HP Pavilion 750n desktop computer. This is an older computer with a single core processor. Nice computer when it first came out but very slow by today’s standards. You decide that you want to make it faster by upgrading it to a Quad Core CPU but you need to determine if you can upgrade it.

You can determine whether or not you can upgrade that particular computer by going to the HP support website. On the site you would type in your computer model and look at the hardware specifications for that computer. HP will list the form factor information in the specifications guide. Having done this many times, I already know the 750n uses a Micro-ATX form factor.

Each computer manufacturer I named has a support site on their webpage where you can go to determine your models form factor. You can also do a search on Yahoo, Google, or Bing and ask what form factor your computer model is. If that doesn’t work simply email me or leave a comment on this article and I can help you locate it.

Once you know the type of form factor your computer model supports you are now ready to decide what performance level you would like to upgrade your computer to.The performance level of the computer is generally dictated by the CPU it uses. You may recall I indicated the CPU is often referred to as the brain of the computer because it processes all the instructions and it sets the computers overall speed based on it’s clock speed.Since the computers overall speed is set by the CPU, you typically start your upgrade by determining the CPU performance level you want.

How you decide which performance level you would like to upgrade to can be based on how you use your computer and how much you want to spend to upgrade it. Generally speaking if you only use your computer to send and receive email, browse the web, and save and share digital images from a digital camera, then you may only need to upgrade to a Dual Core CPU to significantly improve you computing experience.

If you play lots of games, burns DVDs, edit movies or sound files, and work with high resolution images or graphics, then you may want to select a Quad Core CPU to increase performance and improve your computing experience.

From a cost perspective you can expect to pay more for a faster CPU than you would for a slower CPU and Quad Core CPUs are generally more expensive than Dual Cores. As a rule I believe you should purchase as much as you can for as little as possible that way you get the most for your money and you won’t have to upgrade again for quite a while.

When you are ready to select your CPU you will have choices based on manufacturer and type and there are also some differences between the various types of CPUs from each manufacturer which you should be aware of.

There are three primary CPU manufacturers Intel, AMD and Motorola, but for the purpose of this article we are only going to focus on Intel and AMD. Motorola is primarily responsible for making CPUs for Apple Computers. Apple computers, are a proprietary computer model and it can be more difficult and more costly to upgrade an Apple computer.

This article is focused on helping the budget conscious, who own what is generally referred to as an IBM compatible computer, upgrade their computer easily and inexpensively. IBM compatible computers are identified as those computers which primarily run a Microsoft Windows based operating system such as Windows XP or Windows 7. Intel and AMD manufacture CPUs that support IBM compatible computers so those are the two manufacturers we will focus on.

For the purpose of this article I am not going to go into great detail about the differences between Intel and AMD CPUs. There is already a significant amount of detailed information available on the internet which describes each manufacturers CPU chip architecture, as well as gives side by side comparison.

I would invite you to do a little research on how each manufacturers chips are designed and then review a website that benchmarks each CPUs performance. There are many links on CPU design, comparisons and reveiws on the weband this can help you make your CPU choice.

The prevailing sentiment regarding AMD vs. Intel is that both CPUs, in either Dual or Quad Core configuration, perform similarly with Intel being slightly faster. Intel CPUs have always been associated with executing business applications quickly while AMD CPUs run multimedia applications quickly. As you research their benchmark scores you will see Intel on a graph seems to dramatically out perform AMD but when you look at the duration of time between the two it is minimal.

Where you will see a significant difference between the two manufacturers is in cost. AMD CPUs are almost always less expensive than Intel CPUs. The question I always ask my clients is, “Is a 4 second faster speed difference worth an extra $200 or $300 dollars more by buying an Intel CPU?” To me it is not.

I am looking for an overall performance increase compared to what I am currently using. Once you upgrade your computer you are not going to be comparing it to another computer of equal performance, you will be comparing it to the speed of your last computer. If after your upgrade, you find your computer runs significantly faster than your last computer and it didn’t cost much for you to achieve that performance increase, you will be happy with your upgrade and that is what is important.

CPU Cache

Earlier I indicated that RAM stores all the instruction data being transmitted to the CPU and throughout the computer. The CPU Cache is another form of high speed memory only it is specifically devoted to the CPU. It has been shown that a CPU can process data faster if more of the data it must process can be stored on memory located closer to the CPU itself.

All CPUs come with a cache but some newer CPUs will come with an additional cache that is faster and can hold more data closer to the CPU. Typically CPUs operating at a higher clock speed and having an additional, faster cache will offer higher performance.

A good example of this is the difference between the AMD Athlon and Phenom Series of CPUs. Both the Athlon and Phenom series come in Dual and Quad Core configurations but the Phenoim Series has an additional L3 cache making the CPU faster. It also makes a Phenom series CPU more expensive than the Athlon Series.

Another interesting tidbit is there is now a version II for both the Athlon and Phenom Series. The version II offers a more faster cache hence both CPUs are supposed to be faster than their predecessors however the benchmark numbers show a relatively small increase in performance.

Be sure to do a little research on the differences between the AMD and Intel CPUs and select the one you feel will be appropriate for your computing needs while meeting your budget goals. Once you have chosen the CPU you want you will then be ready to select the Motherboard that supports not only your CPU but your computer form factor as well.

One last thing regarding CPUs are both AMD and Intel have different CPU form factors so when you are selecting a Motherboard for the form factor that meets your computers specifications you also need to select the one that fits your CPU choice. This may seem complicated but it is not that difficult once you start looking at the Motherboard and CPU combinations.

The resellers I have showed you have filtering options on their web pages which allow you to select Motherboards that can support either AMD or Intel. You can also filter by both CPU and computer form factor as well which can help you narrow down your decision making.

Once you have made a decision on the CPU, you want to select the Motherboard that will support the CPU you have chosen. As far as Motherboards go there are several major manufactures of Motherboards and they all produce the 4 main types of Motherboard form factors. The major manufactures are:

ASUS
Biostar
Gigabyte
MSI
Foxconn
ECSJetway
Zotac

This may seem like a lot to choose from but as you begin to filter on the CPU type you can narrow down your focus and make selecting the right Motherboard easier.

Each motherboard will come with common features that are necessary for standard computer operations and some can come with additional features that may or may not be beneficial to you. The primary thing to remember about the Motherboard is that all of the components connect too it and you can choose to customize your computer upgrade as much or as little you want depending on the Motherboard you purchase.

For example, you can purchase a Motherboard which has the video and sound card integrated into the board. This saves you both time and money because it eliminates the need for you to choose a video or sound card, but if you want a specific video or sound card, you can select a Motherboard that does not come with those integrated components and then pick the video and sound card you would like to install as add in cards onto the Motherboard.

Here is a list of common Motherboards features:

Keyboard and Mouse input often referred to as a PS2 connector
USB – Universal Serial Bus ports for connecting computer peripherals such as (Keyboard, Mouse, Printer, Digital Camera, external Hard Drive etc…)
Parallel Printer Port (not as much in newer motherboards as printers use USB)
Local Area Network or LAN connection for a network or internet connection
Dial-up Modem (not as common in newer boards due to high speed internet connections)

Optional Motherboard Features:

1394 or Fire-wire connection (higher speed data connection)
External SATA or Serial-ATA connection (higher speed data connection designed to connect external SATA devices such as a Hard Drive)
HDMI – High-Definition Multimedia Interface to connect an HD Monitor or TV, or to an external High Definition Audio component

We touched on RAM earlier and we know that the RAM you choose must be supported by the CPU and Motherboard you choose. To make it simple it breaks down like this when upgrading. The CPU determines the type of Motherboard you have to choose and your computer model determines the type of Motherboard form factor you select.

The Motherboard will dictate what type of RAM you will be able to use so that will make your selection easier. The only thing you will have to decide when it comes to RAM, is the size of RAM meaning the amount of Gigabytes, Gigs or GBs of RAM you choose and the RAM speed you select.

One other thing you must be aware of is the newer Operating Systems such as Windows Vista and Windows 7 require a minimum of 2GBs of RAM to run properly so you will want to select at least 2GBs of RAM when you upgrade. Knowing this can make your decision regarding the amount of RAM pretty straight forward. As far as the speed of RAM you select that again will depend on the speeds the Motherboard will support, the amount of performance you want and how much you are willing to spend.

As far as determining the speed of RAM your Motherboard will support that is not difficult to determine. As you begin to look at Motherboards you will see they clearly specify the type and speed of RAM they support.

I have covered a lot of information up to this point and I hope you have a better understanding of what is required for you to be able to identify the Motherboard, CPU and RAM components you would need to upgrade your current computer. Buying these components and upgrading them your self is far less expensive then going out and buying a new computer and I am confident with this information as a starting point you too can save money buy upgrading the computer yourself.

There are however, two important additional pieces of information you should know before you attempt to upgrade your computer.

1. Before you upgrade your current computer you should back up all of your important data on to an external storage device such as an external hard drive, USB jump drive or burn it onto a CD or DVD.

The reason this is important is when you upgrade those components you will be forced to reinstall the operating system and that will erase all the current data on your hard drive. In additional if you don’t have an installation disk for your current operating system, you will need to purchase a new copy of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 to install once you have upgraded the components. This may not actually be a major concern for you if you were already considering upgrading to a newer version of Windows. Also I can help you find an inexpensive copy of the Windows operating system if you it.

2. The new components you will install in you current PC will be more advanced from a power consumption standpoint and upgrading them will most likely require you to also upgrade your power supply.

The upgrade is not expensive and is a very easy to accomplish. The type of power supply you will want to select will be roughly 400 watts at least and will need to be a 20×4 pin or 24 pin power supply. This is the type of power supply supported by the newer Motherboards. Again the Motherboard specifications will indicate the power supply requirements.

To make your computer faster all you need to do is upgrade the Motherboard, CPU and RAM. You start by identifying the type of Motherboard form factor your current computer will support, and the performance level you want to upgrade to. Then you buy the CPU that fits your performance needs along with the Motherboard and RAM that fits both your computer model and CPU specifications.

The one thing I didn’t cover is the actual installation of these components once you have purchased them and are ready to install. At a high level the process is nothing more then:

Unplugging the computer and disconnecting all peripheral components such as the keyboard, mouse and monitor from the case
Before you open the computer, discharge yourself electrically or purchase a static strap to ground yourself to the chassis, this will help you avoid static discharge which can fry a computer component.
Removing the side cover off the computer case
Disconnecting all the power cables and Data cables from the old Motherboard
Unscrewing and removing the old Motherboard from the case
Unscrewing and removing the old power supply
Install the new power supply
Install the new Motherboard into the case
Reconnecting all the power and data cables
Powering the computer back up and listening for proper post sound
Now you are ready to install the operating system

I know once you decide to start this process you will have many questions which is why there is one last thing I would recommend you do before you begin to upgrade you computer.

There are many do it yourself computer repair and upgrade manuals available online and they can provide you all the help you need to do your computer upgrade. Many of the books will provide you step by step explanation on how to replace just about every component on your computer and provide you with detailed diagrams so you can see how to actually perform the removal or install. I would suggest you make a small investment and purchase one of these books.

If I could recommend any do it yourself computer manual it would be “Self Computer Repair Unleashed”.This book covers all aspects of computer upgrade and repair in a clear concise format and provides full color diagrams and step by step instructions to help you through any computer upgrade or repair. I can’t recommend this book enough. I have provided a link to this book on the links page of my website below in my signature.

I thank you for reading my article and I hope it has inspired you to go out and tackle what you may have originally thought was an impossible task. You can upgrade your computer yourself and save yourself a lot of money too.

Beginner’s Guide to Computer Forensics

Beginner’s Guide to Computer Forensics

Introduction
Computer forensics is the practice of collecting, analysing and reporting on digital information in a way that is legally admissible. It can be used in the detection and prevention of crime and in any dispute where evidence is stored digitally. Computer forensics has comparable examination stages to other forensic disciplines and faces similar issues.

About this guide
This guide discusses computer forensics from a neutral perspective. It is not linked to particular legislation or intended to promote a particular company or product and is not written in bias of either law enforcement or commercial computer forensics. It is aimed at a non-technical audience and provides a high-level view of computer forensics. This guide uses the term “computer”, but the concepts apply to any device capable of storing digital information. Where methodologies have been mentioned they are provided as examples only and do not constitute recommendations or advice. Copying and publishing the whole or part of this article is licensed solely under the terms of the Creative Commons – Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 license

Uses of computer forensics
There are few areas of crime or dispute where computer forensics cannot be applied. Law enforcement agencies have been among the earliest and heaviest users of computer forensics and consequently have often been at the forefront of developments in the field. Computers may constitute a ‘scene of a crime’, for example with hacking [ 1] or denial of service attacks [2] or they may hold evidence in the form of emails, internet history, documents or other files relevant to crimes such as murder, kidnap, fraud and drug trafficking. It is not just the content of emails, documents and other files which may be of interest to investigators but also the ‘meta-data’ [3] associated with those files. A computer forensic examination may reveal when a document first appeared on a computer, when it was last edited, when it was last saved or printed and which user carried out these actions.

More recently, commercial organisations have used computer forensics to their benefit in a variety of cases such as;

Intellectual Property theft
Industrial espionage
Employment disputes
Fraud investigations
Forgeries
Matrimonial issues
Bankruptcy investigations
Inappropriate email and internet use in the work place
Regulatory compliance

Guidelines
For evidence to be admissible it must be reliable and not prejudicial, meaning that at all stages of this process admissibility should be at the forefront of a computer forensic examiner’s mind. One set of guidelines which has been widely accepted to assist in this is the Association of Chief Police Officers Good Practice Guide for Computer Based Electronic Evidence or ACPO Guide for short. Although the ACPO Guide is aimed at United Kingdom law enforcement its main principles are applicable to all computer forensics in whatever legislature. The four main principles from this guide have been reproduced below (with references to law enforcement removed):

No action should change data held on a computer or storage media which may be subsequently relied upon in court.

In circumstances where a person finds it necessary to access original data held on a computer or storage media, that person must be competent to do so and be able to give evidence explaining the relevance and the implications of their actions.

An audit trail or other record of all processes applied to computer-based electronic evidence should be created and preserved. An independent third-party should be able to examine those processes and achieve the same result.

The person in charge of the investigation has overall responsibility for ensuring that the law and these principles are adhered to.

In summary, no changes should be made to the original, however if access/changes are necessary the examiner must know what they are doing and to record their actions.

Live acquisition
Principle 2 above may raise the question: In what situation would changes to a suspect’s computer by a computer forensic examiner be necessary? Traditionally, the computer forensic examiner would make a copy (or acquire) information from a device which is turned off. A write-blocker[4] would be used to make an exact bit for bit copy [5] of the original storage medium. The examiner would work then from this copy, leaving the original demonstrably unchanged.

However, sometimes it is not possible or desirable to switch a computer off. It may not be possible to switch a computer off if doing so would result in considerable financial or other loss for the owner. It may not be desirable to switch a computer off if doing so would mean that potentially valuable evidence may be lost. In both these circumstances the computer forensic examiner would need to carry out a ‘live acquisition’ which would involve running a small program on the suspect computer in order to copy (or acquire) the data to the examiner’s hard drive.

By running such a program and attaching a destination drive to the suspect computer, the examiner will make changes and/or additions to the state of the computer which were not present before his actions. Such actions would remain admissible as long as the examiner recorded their actions, was aware of their impact and was able to explain their actions.

Stages of an examination
For the purposes of this article the computer forensic examination process has been divided into six stages. Although they are presented in their usual chronological order, it is necessary during an examination to be flexible. For example, during the analysis stage the examiner may find a new lead which would warrant further computers being examined and would mean a return to the evaluation stage.

Readiness
Forensic readiness is an important and occasionally overlooked stage in the examination process. In commercial computer forensics it can include educating clients about system preparedness; for example, forensic examinations will provide stronger evidence if a server or computer’s built-in auditing and logging systems are all switched on. For examiners there are many areas where prior organisation can help, including training, regular testing and verification of software and equipment, familiarity with legislation, dealing with unexpected issues (e.g., what to do if child pornography is present during a commercial job) and ensuring that your on-site acquisition kit is complete and in working order.

Evaluation
The evaluation stage includes the receiving of clear instructions, risk analysis and allocation of roles and resources. Risk analysis for law enforcement may include an assessment on the likelihood of physical threat on entering a suspect’s property and how best to deal with it. Commercial organisations also need to be aware of health and safety issues, while their evaluation would also cover reputational and financial risks on accepting a particular project.

Collection
The main part of the collection stage, acquisition, has been introduced above. If acquisition is to be carried out on-site rather than in a computer forensic laboratory then this stage would include identifying, securing and documenting the scene. Interviews or meetings with personnel who may hold information which could be relevant to the examination (which could include the end users of the computer, and the manager and person responsible for providing computer services) would usually be carried out at this stage. The ‘bagging and tagging’ audit trail would start here by sealing any materials in unique tamper-evident bags. Consideration also needs to be given to securely and safely transporting the material to the examiner’s laboratory.

Analysis
Analysis depends on the specifics of each job. The examiner usually provides feedback to the client during analysis and from this dialogue the analysis may take a different path or be narrowed to specific areas. Analysis must be accurate, thorough, impartial, recorded, repeatable and completed within the time-scales available and resources allocated. There are myriad tools available for computer forensics analysis. It is our opinion that the examiner should use any tool they feel comfortable with as long as they can justify their choice. The main requirements of a computer forensic tool is that it does what it is meant to do and the only way for examiners to be sure of this is for them to regularly test and calibrate the tools they use before analysis takes place. Dual-tool verification can confirm result integrity during analysis (if with tool ‘A’ the examiner finds artefact ‘X’ at location ‘Y’, then tool ‘B’ should replicate these results.)

Presentation
This stage usually involves the examiner producing a structured report on their findings, addressing the points in the initial instructions along with any subsequent instructions. It would also cover any other information which the examiner deems relevant to the investigation. The report must be written with the end reader in mind; in many cases the reader of the report will be non-technical, so the terminology should acknowledge this. The examiner should also be prepared to participate in meetings or telephone conferences to discuss and elaborate on the report.

Review
Along with the readiness stage, the review stage is often overlooked or disregarded. This may be due to the perceived costs of doing work that is not billable, or the need ‘to get on with the next job’. However, a review stage incorporated into each examination can help save money and raise the level of quality by making future examinations more efficient and time effective. A review of an examination can be simple, quick and can begin during any of the above stages. It may include a basic ‘what went wrong and how can this be improved’ and a ‘what went well and how can it be incorporated into future examinations’. Feedback from the instructing party should also be sought. Any lessons learnt from this stage should be applied to the next examination and fed into the readiness stage.

Issues facing computer forensics
The issues facing computer forensics examiners can be broken down into three broad categories: technical, legal and administrative.

Encryption – Encrypted files or hard drives can be impossible for investigators to view without the correct key or password. Examiners should consider that the key or password may be stored elsewhere on the computer or on another computer which the suspect has had access to. It could also reside in the volatile memory of a computer (known as RAM [6] which is usually lost on computer shut-down; another reason to consider using live acquisition techniques as outlined above.

Increasing storage space – Storage media holds ever greater amounts of data which for the examiner means that their analysis computers need to have sufficient processing power and available storage to efficiently deal with searching and analysing enormous amounts of data.

New technologies – Computing is an ever-changing area, with new hardware, software and operating systems being constantly produced. No single computer forensic examiner can be an expert on all areas, though they may frequently be expected to analyse something which they haven’t dealt with before. In order to deal with this situation, the examiner should be prepared and able to test and experiment with the behaviour of new technologies. Networking and sharing knowledge with other computer forensic examiners is also very useful in this respect as it’s likely someone else may have already encountered the same issue.

Anti-forensics – Anti-forensics is the practice of attempting to thwart computer forensic analysis. This may include encryption, the over-writing of data to make it unrecoverable, the modification of files’ meta-data and file obfuscation (disguising files). As with encryption above, the evidence that such methods have been used may be stored elsewhere on the computer or on another computer which the suspect has had access to. In our experience, it is very rare to see anti-forensics tools used correctly and frequently enough to totally obscure either their presence or the presence of the evidence they were used to hide.

Legal issues
Legal arguments may confuse or distract from a computer examiner’s findings. An example here would be the ‘Trojan Defence’. A Trojan is a piece of computer code disguised as something benign but which has a hidden and malicious purpose. Trojans have many uses, and include key-logging [7], uploading and downloading of files and installation of viruses. A lawyer may be able to argue that actions on a computer were not carried out by a user but were automated by a Trojan without the user’s knowledge; such a Trojan Defence has been successfully used even when no trace of a Trojan or other malicious code was found on the suspect’s computer. In such cases, a competent opposing lawyer, supplied with evidence from a competent computer forensic analyst, should be able to dismiss such an argument.

Accepted standards – There are a plethora of standards and guidelines in computer forensics, few of which appear to be universally accepted. This is due to a number of reasons including standard-setting bodies being tied to particular legislations, standards being aimed either at law enforcement or commercial forensics but not at both, the authors of such standards not being accepted by their peers, or high joining fees dissuading practitioners from participating.

Fitness to practice – In many jurisdictions there is no qualifying body to check the competence and integrity of computer forensics professionals. In such cases anyone may present themselves as a computer forensic expert, which may result in computer forensic examinations of questionable quality and a negative view of the profession as a whole.

Resources and further reading
There does not appear to be a great amount of material covering computer forensics which is aimed at a non-technical readership. However the following links at links at the bottom of this page may prove to be of interest prove to be of interest:

Glossary
1. Hacking: modifying a computer in way which was not originally intended in order to benefit the hacker’s goals.
2. Denial of Service attack: an attempt to prevent legitimate users of a computer system from having access to that system’s information or services.
3. Meta-data: at a basic level meta-data is data about data. It can be embedded within files or stored externally in a separate file and may contain information about the file’s author, format, creation date and so on.
4. Write blocker: a hardware device or software application which prevents any data from being modified or added to the storage medium being examined.
5. Bit copy: bit is a contraction of the term ‘binary digit’ and is the fundamental unit of computing. A bit copy refers to a sequential copy of every bit on a storage medium, which includes areas of the medium ‘invisible’ to the user.
6. RAM: Random Access Memory. RAM is a computer’s temporary workspace and is volatile, which means its contents are lost when the computer is powered off.
7. Key-logging: the recording of keyboard input giving the ability to read a user’s typed passwords, emails and other confidential information.

How To Wisely Buy A New Computer

How To Wisely Buy A New Computer

We are now into 2012, and your old computer just quit. Do you fix it or buy a new computer? If the computer is 5 years old or older, then probably buying a new computer is the better strategy. Many computers manufactured 5 to 9 years ago have hardware components that fail mandating replacement of the computer. Please read on to understand how to buy the best computer for your needs.

The first decisions to make in buying a new computer are very basic. By answering these questions you determine your basic purchase strategy:

1. Please ask yourself “How much can I spend?” The computer prices range from $200 to $400, $450 to $800, and $900 and up.

2. Next determine the computer type (or style) that works best for you. The types of computers are desktop, laptop, and tablet. These types of computers differ in their size, portability, and functionality. Desktop computers are the least portable. They are good for using multiple displays and heavy workloads. Laptops vary in size and portability. The big ones have 17-inch display making them luggable for occasional trips. Big laptops have most of the capabilities of a desktop but the computing horsepower is lower than a desktop in order to conserve laptop battery power. Similarly, the display is smaller with lower resolution than displays used with desktop computers. Tablet computers are the most portable. They can do a lot, but with a much smaller display. The tablets are a powerful, portable information tool that is one step above a smartphone.

3. Finally, the timeless question is: Do I buy an Apple or another computer? The other computer main selections are Windows 7 operating system or Android operating system computers. There are also Linux computers. Linux is free General Public License software operating system. Linux computers are equivalent for everyday users to Windows and Apple computers. The single difference between Linux and Windows is that with a Linux computer you only pay for the computer hardware which is a huge savings over Apple and Windows computers.

The market for Apple computers is tightly controlled. This means that Apple computers work very well with few problems. They are seldom attacked by malicious software. Everything an enthusiastic Apple owner says about their Apple is true. They are also beautiful looking computers. The down side is that they are expensive. When an Apple does malfunction, you have a big problem. If the Apple computer is under warranty, then you schedule a visit to the Apple store and wait in line to get it fixed. Also, you pay a lot for the repair.

In contrast Windows 7 computers are like the Wild West. In the Wild West anything can and does happen. There are many competing hardware and software products for Windows 7 computers. Windows 7 computers are the most malware, spyware, and virus attacked computers. Because there are more Windows computers sold than any other computers, Windows computers are the biggest target to attack. Apple computers also get viruses, but much less often than Windows computers. Windows computers can be cheap computers but they are not cheaper than Linux computers.

4. The final question is: What computer manufacturer do you like? Each manufacturer has its approach to selling computers. My preference is manufacturers that do not add fancy frills beyond the basics that come with Windows or the computer operating system. Most of the frills try to sell you something, provide functions that a redundant with the operating system, they occupy screen space getting in the way of what you are doing, and they overload and slow down the computer. For example, HP computers are like Big MACs, they taste great but come with a lot of software fat. Lenovo computers are like a bank vault. They secure your data but are miserable to fix because of the security. It seems that all computers come with an annoying “dock” or application launcher. It takes up a lot of screen space and really adds little beyond what Windows itself provides. It is always cheaper to purchase a package than to build a custom computer. Purchasing custom computer parts is always more expensive than buying a packaged system from a manufacturer because the manufacturers purchase computer components in such high volume.

Once your basic strategy is determined, then it is time to find a computer. The approach here is to use the Internet to perform the initial shopping and then go to the store to make the final decision and purchase. Please go to the web site of a computer retailer near you such as Best Buy or Staples. Search their site based on the type (or style) of computer that works best for you. The site should produce a list of computers from which to choose. Sort them by “Best Selling” and check the “Customer Reviews”. Please determine how the price compares to your budget. Most retail store sites permit comparing the features of three computers side by side. Carefully select three computers for comparison.

This approach was used to compare from one retailer three desktop computers moderately priced. They ranged from $429.99 to $699.99. The $429.99 computer used a 3.3 GHz Intel i3 CPU chip, had 6 GB RAM, and a 1 TB disk drive. The 549.99 computer used an AMD 2.4 GHz CPU chip, had 8 GB RAM, and had a slower 5,400 rpm 1.5 TB drive. The $699.99 computer used an Intel 3.0GHz i5 CPU chip, had 6 GB RAM and a 7,200 rpm 1 TB drive. The differences between these systems are not likely to make the most expensive system perform that noticeably better to a user than the least expensive system. As long as the hardware features are generally in the same range the performance seems to be the same for each computer.

All systems used the latest DDR3 RAM. The computer with 8 GB of RAM may perform better than those computers with 6 GB of RAM. One thing is certain; all these computers would be decidedly faster than a Windows XP system with 2 GB of RAM. While special performance test programs can measure the performance difference between a 2.4 GHz AMD CPU chip computer and a 3.3 GHz Intel i5 CPU chip computer, people barely notice the difference. What people do notice is that AMD chip computers usually are cheaper by $100 or more than Intel CPU chip computers.

The Windows Performance Index is a measure of the combined performance of all the components of a Windows Vista or a Windows 7 computer. The Windows Performance Index is a single number that varies between 1 and 7.9. Low end systems have Windows Performance Index numbers in the 3.4 to 4.5 range. A computer with a 3.4 score perform the same as a computer with a 4.5 score to a human. To see a performance difference the Windows Performance Index would need to go from a 4.5 to a 7.5.

The Windows Performance Index is not mentioned in any advertising to my knowledge. It is found on Windows 7 computers by opening START, clicking the right mouse button on the COMPUTER menu selection and then selecting PROPERTIES from the drop down menu that appears. To see Windows Performance Index you would need to have a store sales person fire up the computer and help you view it.

Apple computers usually have hardware operates at slower speeds and has smaller capacities than Windows computers. The Apple computers perform as well as or better than their Windows competitors because they use a different and tightly controlled operating system. The software interaction with the hardware makes up for the slower Apple hardware.

The final comparison area is in the display. Monitors today use Light Emitting Diode (LED) backlighting. The LEDs use little power and should last seemingly forever. Monitor physical size contributes to visibility. A character on a 14-inch monitor is smaller than the same character on a 24-inch monitor. The bigger monitor images are more easily viewed. Monitors resolution is expressed in horizontal by vertical dots or pixels. Typically they are something like 1600 by 900 dots. Monitors with a larger number of dots of vertical resolution have a better display. Often monitors will be advertised as 1080p. The 1080p resolution is 1080 dots of vertical resolution with each line refreshed on each scan cycle. On a 1600 by 1200 monitor you can see a full 8.5 by 11 inch page when it is viewed at full size or 100% zoom. Monitors with 900 dots vertical resolution often cut off the bottom of the page when it is viewed at full size.

The final bit of wisdom to consider in purchasing a new computer is not to purchase the most expensive computer. Here is why. A client asked me to get him a computer. At the Dell web site I configured a computer with what seemed to be modest features. This computer cost $3,000. At Costco they offered a computer package that had somewhat lower performance features for under $1,000. If the client purchased a new $1,000 computer every year for three years, at the end of three years he would have better computer than if he purchased the $3,000 Dell computer. Only purchase the most expensive computer if you must absolutely have the features and performance it provides. Otherwise stay with more moderately priced computers and purchase them more often. Buying two $400 computers is better than going for a single $800 computer in the long run.

Buying the Perfect Computer

Buying the Perfect Computer – The FIRST Time

So you’ve finally decided it’s time for a change. No matter
what advice you follow that old work horse of a desktop
computer you have has outlived its usefulness with slow
loading applications and a continuous rise in operation
noise.

Searching for that Perfect Computer can be about as much fun
as purchasing a new car and about as frustrating also when
sorting through the various brands while trying to decide
which “bells and whistles” best fit your needs. Besides all
that trying to return something that is so large can be both
inconvenient and very difficult to do. So making the right
decision the FIRST time is the wise path of choice.

For starters you’ll need to decide what you want to do with
your computer. Are you into the video game scene or are you
someone who likes to just surf the internet and occasionally
do some book keeping with simple word processing software?

If you’re into video games you’re going to want a machine
that can handle the high level of graphics and superior
sound quality. On the other hand if you’re not into all
that high adrenalin stuff you can probably get by with a
less expensive system. Although, if you want to stay on the
safe side I would recommend going with something more
“high-end” so you don’t have to spend another large chunk of
change to upgrade the system you just bought.

There are two basic routes you can take when purchasing a
new computer.

1) Purchase a “Brand Name” Computer
2) Purchase a “Clone” Computer

A “BRAND-NAME” computer is one that is manufactured by a
company that is recognizable by name.

Some Advantages/Disadvantages of “Brand-Name” computers
include:

Advantages:

Customer Support- If you are experiencing problems with your
computer you will have the option to contact a
representative of the company that you purchased the PC from
to get help in solving your problem.

Customer support is probably the best reason to buy a
brand-name computer.

Warranty- Having a warranty is always nice since it acts as
a type of security blanket for you.

In case a part on your computer should fail you should be
able to get the item fixed at no charge just as long as the
warranty has not expired.

Read and understand a company’s warranty policy BEFORE you
purchase a computer from them.

This way you’ll have a good understanding of the procedures
to follow in case a problem should arise.

Pre-installed Software- Many companies will include software
packages that are all set up and ready to go for you on your
computer.

Although, a disadvantage of buying a brand-name computer
with software pre-installed is that you usually end up with
more than fits your needs and usually just results with the
wasting of space on your storage device.

Additional Support- Most brand-name computer companies are
also able to provide you with web sites that may provide you
with current software updates, user manuals, or basic
troubleshooting help.

Disadvantages

The use of Proprietary parts- the term Proprietary refers to
products that are unique to an individual company and that
company only.

So if a part was to malfunction on your computer after
warranty and you needed to replace it you could not just go
to your local computer store and purchase any old part even
if it was intended for the same function as the item that
failed.

You would be forced to buy the exact same item that came out
of the computer or else the computer would more than likely
cease to function correctly.

Having to buy proprietary parts usually involves the need to
place an order which means you’ll have to wait for the part
to arrive or you’ll have to send your computer into the
company or an authorized dealer of that company for
repairs.

People with a home based business would probably not be too
happy with that situation at all.

Integrated/On-board parts- In the computer world when you
hear the word integrated or on-board it means that a
particular part such as the modem or sound port where you
plug in your speakers, is built-in or part of the computer
main board (Also known as the Motherboard).

This means that if any of these items should fail, you can’t
just remove them from the computer and replace them with a
new part. They are usually soldered directly to the main
board and are stuck there.

Although, some computers do provide a way to disable a
malfunctioning device which will allow you to install your
own store bought device to take the place of the broken
part.

From a computer technicians point of view this is not always
easy to do.

It just depends on what brand of computer you currently
have. Meaning some are easier to work on than others.

A “CLONE” computer is a clone or a copy of its brand-name
counterpart with the exception that instead of company
specific or proprietary parts, the items used to make a
clone computer are from several different companies instead
of only one.

Let’s say that if you were to go to a local company that
builds “clone” computers, and you tell them what you need,
chances are they don’t use parts that are specific to only
that type of computer like the brand-name computer companies
do.

This is a good thing because it means that they will
probably use components that are interchangeable with many
different brands and are easy to come by if needed.

Some Advantages/Disadvantages of “Clone” computers include:

Advantages:

Cost- compared to brand-name computers the clone will
generally be easier on your pocket book when purchasing one
with similar features as its brand-name counterpart.

This is most likely due to the money that is saved by not
offering the high-end customer service. Although, that may
not be the only reason for the lower prices.

Easily Accessible Replacement Parts- Since the clone
computer was built with parts that are not any one company
specific, you can buy parts for the clone computer that can
be used even if the brand is different from the one that was
in the computer when you originally bought it.

NOTE: Before you buy any parts, it is necessary to make sure
that the replacement parts are compatible with your
particular computers system requirements.

Either consult the manual that should have came with your
computer or get help from a knowledgeable friend or repair
person.

Disadvantages:

Warranties- Unless you purchase a service plan you will
typically not have as an attractive warranty as you would
with a brand-name computer company.

Whatever you do just make sure you understand how long the
warranty is for and as to what kind of repairs the warranty
covers before you make the purchase.

Customer Support- With brand-name computer companies you are
usually provided with a 24-hour toll free number that you
can call if you have questions or concerns with your
computer.

Clone computers are more than likely not going to have a
24-hour help service, but rather you will be forced to only
be able to call during regular business hours.

Also, it is more than likely that there will not be any one
website that you can go to in order to find out information
concerning troubleshooting questions you may have.

For service it may be necessary to take the computer back to
the store that you bought it at or you may have to do some
research on the individual parts that went into the computer
and visit the manufacturer’s website for troubleshooting
tips.

Finally, if all else fails you can certainly take what you
have learned from this article and being that you know what
you need now, but don’t know where to go and get that
“Perfect Computer”, the best resource at your disposal are
the very men and woman that work at your local electronics
shop.

It is their duty to help you get hold of that “Perfect
Computer” that best fits your needs. All you need to do is
tell them what you plan on using that computer for and they
should be more than happy to help you from there.

Web and Computer Security

Web and Computer Security

Well, if that would have been said to me by my father when I was 2 years of age, I would have understood. But when today, my own computer tells me that when I am 34, I wonder why I spent $1500 on my computer hardware and software just to enjoy the (un-realized) benefits of this great and revolutionary information technology?

Today’s cyberspace is hazardous. None of today’s PC users can claim that they never had a computer virus issue or a PC security breach. Now, if you count today’s number of PC users worldwide, they will soon be 1 billion by 2010 according to analysts. When I see all the computer viruses, infections, trojans, and what not around me, and compare it with the 1 billion innocent computer users around the world, I simply feel sorry not only for those billion users but for myself too. But again, as a common user myself, I must admit it was not all doomsday for the whole industry since 1987 when I started to use computers. So, as a responsible member of this great IT revolution, I must share some of the best tips and tricks that I learned to use to make the minimum room for productivity on my computer.

Please note this is a tutorial for someone who has basic know-how of computer usage. For those who are newbies, I would recommend asking a local expert’s help before trying anything out mentioned in this tutorial. In that case, make room for payment from deep pocket. For your own convenience, print this tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

Whenever my computer is infected, I act on any of the following options;

1. FORMAT HARD DISK: I back up all of my data on a CD-Writer if it is still accessible. And then format the whole hard disk drive and re-install each and every application.

2. USE SOFTWARE: I exhaust all anti-virus and other software options. This is usually my first priority as compared to formatting the whole computer hard disk drives.

Now, let me explain both options in detail;

PRE-REQUISITES: Make sure you have a CD-Drive (Writer), empty writable CDs, Windows OS CD (bootable) that contains files such as Format.exe, Scandisk.exe, FDisk.exe, and Attrib.exe files. Microsoft Office CD, Anti-Virus CD, GoldenHawk CD Writing Software in DOS (copy2cd.exe and cdtools.exe), Serial Numbers of your License, Driver CDs of Motherboard, VGA, Network, Sound and Modem devices. Optionally, download (using http://www.download.com or http://www.tucows.com) these software from any Internet Café when your own computer is inaccessible and save it on a CD so that you can use it anytime for security purposes;

Golden Hawk DOS based CD Writing Software

HTech Fireman Windows based CD Writing Software

Driver Genius Pro

Partition Magic

AVG AntiVirus

SpywareBlaster & SpywareGuard

Spybot Search & Destroy

Ad-Aware

IE-SpyAd

ZoneAlarm

HiJackThis & CWShredder

I have intentionally avoided mention of many commercially good and more friendly software’s mention here as I wanted everything to do FREE without any additional costs apart from the usual OS licenses. For your own convenience, you can research Google or Yahoo search engines find further information about such commercial software and their availability / pricing.

1. FORMAT HARD DISK

I know it is painful and surgical type of solution, but sometimes, it is the ONLY solution left after exhausting all of our efforts to revive our computer machine after a virus attack. Follow this procedure;

Booting Up: Try booting your computer normally first and see if you can login easily. If you can’t or your computer hangs up, try holding F8 key when starting Windows and you will get the Safe Mode. Even if you don’t get the Safe Mode, don’t worry.

Power up your computer and press DEL key or F2 key to login your CMOS. In CMOS, go to Boot Preferences and make CD Drive as boot drive as your first boot drive and change the hard disk drive as the second boot drive. If you don’t see your CD Drive in the boot-up options, your CD Drive is not properly installed. Check the connectors or ask your CD Drive provider for instructions to install the CD Drive. Now, when your CD Drive is ready, insert your Windows OS CD in the CD Drive and restart your computer machine. When prompted, select the option “Boot from CD with CD Option”. When you get the prompt, Notice the CD Drive letter that was allocated to your CD Drive when it installed the CD Driver. It is usually D: drive or the last drive letter depending on the number of your partitions. Note it down as it is the actual drive letter where you will have to type a DOS command like d:

You should now be able to run all software utilities such as Format, Scandisk, FDisk or Windows Installation Setup.exe files. Right now, simply make sure they exist by typing a DOS command dir at the CD drive letter. If you don’t find it with this simple directory command, use dir/s filename to search the file. For example, to search fdisk.exe file, type dir/s fdisk.exe.

BACKING UP YOUR DATA: Before formatting your hard disk drive, please make sure you have proper back up of your critical data files such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc files on a CD or any other media for backup that you have access to. In this tutorial, we assume you have a CD-Writer installed for taking backups on Writeable CDs. Their capacity is usually 700MB or less. Here, you should seriously consider using Zipping software like WinZip or WinRAR.

VIA WINDOWS: If you can luckily login to your Windows OS, you should run the CD-Writer software such as HTech Fireman to back up all of your data on an empty CD. If you don’t know how to do it, read their user manual for detailed instruction set. If you can’t access your Windows OS, read on.

VIA DOS: Some of the files that you wish to make back-up, may be hidden. To un-hide them, use attrib *.* +r +s +h.

Now, use the software from Golden Hawk file named as copy2cd.exe to backup your data files or directories on a writeable CD. Before using this command, make sure you are in an appropriate path on the computer such as E:/ where the actual file copy2cd.exe file resides;

Copy2cd c:data*.* f:

Here we assumed that f: is a CD Writer drive. Now, repeat the same for all of your files to back up. When finished, run cdtools.exe command i.e. cdtools f: to finish by selecting option “Disc Finalization”.

If you can’t back up your data using the above-mentioned procedure, either ask an outside expert’s help personally or via internet. If all fails, forget your data forever and carry on installing a new OS as mentioned in this tutorial.

Backing up Your Drivers: An interesting tool to mentioned here is a software that automatically backs up all of your drivers of CD, modem, sound card, vga, usb, printer or just about anything that is currently installed on your system. But this software works only in an operational windows OS, and not in DOS. It is a good and time-saving practice to keep a backup of all of your drivers on a CD by using such a software. Its name is Driver Genius Pro and it is commercial software, not a freeware.

USING FDISK: You may skip this option and go straight to Formatting Hard Disk option, if you wish to use other useful partitions that may contain your data. Before going ahead with this option, Make sure there is no useful data left on your computer to be backed up. This option will delete all of the computer partitions and create new ones.

i) Boot up your computer using Windows OS CD.

ii) Run this command
fdisk

iii) Press option 3 to delete all current partitions.

iv) To create a new partition, select option 1 and select Y to answer the maximum size question by the program.

v) Next, select option 2

vi) Press Esc key to quit and restart your computer to

See the URL [http://www.compguystechweb.com/troubleshooting/fdisk/fdisk_scr.html] for detailed instructions alongwith screenshots. Now, that you have created the primary partition, you can continue to format the newly created partition. There is a very user-friendly but commercial software called Partition Magic by PowerQuest to manage your partitions easily after installation of Windows.

FORMATTING HARD DISK: Now that you have created new partitions, It is time to format them so that you can start installing Windows. This is how you make your C: drive usable by your Windows OS for installation. Boot up your computer with Windows CD and type format c: command at the prompt. When prompted for maximum size, press, YES. After complete processing you will be presented with the successful report about the formatting of the C: drive. Select your new drive name and press ENTER to finish.

INSTALLING WINDOWS: Microsoft has made it very easy for a newbie to install a completely new OS on a newly formatted partition. It is all wizard based and you simply have to click NEXT each time whenever asked a question. Boot up your computer from the Windows CD and select Start with CD Option. When on DOS prompt, change to the CD Drive that it just created which is usually d: if you have only one partition C. Now type command setup.exe to start the windows installation process.

During installation, make sure you properly name your PC as per your preferences and select your regions and Time zone. When finished, the computer will re-boot and during next re-boot it may ask some drivers of your Sound Card, VGA, Network, or other devices attached. Provide the requisite driver CDs and locate the paths of the appropriate drivers. If you are not sure, leave it like that and press NEXT to ignore. When your windows installation is complete, you can install Microsoft Office, setup internet connection and start using it as normally as you would. Please make sure you install all the security software such as anti-virus, anti-spyware, adware, and other software as mentioned in the next section.

2. USE SOFTWARE

Installing Anti-Virus: Download free AVG Antivirus software and install it. Make sure you get its free key from their website by registering. This software is not auto-updated for critical viruses and for an auto-update version, you will have to pay. If you wish to pay, we would recommend world’s most popular brands Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micros instead. No matter what Anti-Virus software you install, make sure you enable its Auto-Protect feature for automatic protection of your computer’s resources and in-coming or out-going emails from any virus attack. Some software even allow you to setup silent detection and destruction without any disturbance to your work. Further, they are auto-updated via internet at the regular interval that you setup. Hence, you can rest assured that whenever a security threat is spread all over the world, your software will automatically download the requisite updated version and install its defense on your computer.

BROWSER SECURITY: To setup your browser (Internet Explorer on Windows) for maximum security against the usual threats, follow this procedure;

i) Start up your browser

ii) Go to IE > Tools > Windows Update > Product Updates, and selected Security Updates to be automatically updated. Microsoft releases patches and security patches from time to time to make sure your system’s security is up-to-date.

iii) Now, go to Internet Options/Security/Internet, press ‘default level’, then OK. Now press “Custom Level.” In the ActiveX section, set the first two options (“Download signed and unsigned ActiveX controls) to ‘prompt’, and ‘Initialize and Script ActiveX controls not marked as safe” to ‘disable’. Now you will be asked whether you want ActiveX objects to be executed and whether you want software to be installed. Sites that you know for sure are above suspicion can be moved to the Trusted Zone in Internet Option/security.

If you use another browser such as Firefox or Netscape, see their documentation on how to securely set it up against any such internet threats.

Installing Anti-Spyware: Spyware, adware, browser hijackers, and dialers are some of the fastest-growing threats on the Internet today. By simply browsing to a web page, your computer may become a victim. You can install SpywareBlaster and SpywareGuard to effectively guard your computer from such internet threats.

It includes Fast Real-Time Scanning engine for known spyware and heuristic/generic detection capabilities to catch new / mutated spyware and Download Protection along with Browser Hijacking Protection in real-time.

Simply download the software (free) from their website and install it on your system. Make sure you download its latest update too or enable its Auto-Update feature to be updated automatically in the background. Now, when you are ready, run the software to check the spyware on your computer. When spyware are found, it reports accordingly. Press “select all”, then press option “kill all checked”. Although it won’t protect you from 100% spyware, But it is a very important extra layer of protection.

Next, install another software that is called Spybot Search & Destroy. It works exactly like SpywareBlaster, but it never hurts to have a double layer of spyware detection alongwith Spybot R&D.

Installing Anti-Adware: Adware is a common term used to describe potentially dangerous websites and scripts that do data-mining, aggressive advertising, Parasites, Scumware, selected traditional Trojans, Dialers, Malware, Browser hijackers, and tracking components. There is a very good software called Ad-Aware available to scan and remove such nuisances from your system.

To start using it, simply visit Lavasoft USA website and download its free non-commercial version of Ad-Aware Personal Edition. Run its setup program and install it. When prompted, ask it to scan your computer. If there are any adware found, it is detected and removed automatically by Ad-Aware. Run this software on a weekly or daily basis, if possible to keep your system clean.

In addition to the Ad-Aware, Internet Explorer comes with a very handy tool that allows you to block specific sites that may carry well-known advertisers, marketers, crapware pushers to the Restricted sites Zone. If you had to input 50000+ of such sites manually yourself, it would takes years. Luckily, there is a software that does it all automatically and it is called IE-SPYAD. Once you merge this list of sites and domains into the Registry, the web sites for these companies will not be able to use cookies, ActiveX controls, Java applets, or scripting to compromise your privacy or your PC while you surf the Net. Nor will they be able to use your browser to push unwanted pop-ups, cookies, or auto-installing programs on your PC. It is not an ad blocker. It will stop top unwanted crapware from being installed behind your back via “drive-by-downloads”; prevent the hijacking of your home page.

This Restricted sites list is based in part on info from: discussions in the SpywareInfo Forums and other forums that specialize in crapware removal major crapware reference sites: doxdesk, cexx.org, Kephyr.com, PestPatrol and SpywareGuide.

To start using it, simply download it from their website and run its install.bat file. Make sure you run its update as well soon after its installation.

INSTALLING FIREWALL: A firewall software acts as a defense shield against hackers, intruders, and blocks access attempts to your computer. ZoneAlarm is a professional firewall software that works in a stealth mode automatically and makes your computer invisible to anyone on the Internet.

Download it from ZoneLabs website and run its setup for installation. I recommend you use its Express Settings which automatically configures your most commonly used software like browser, chat messengers, ftp software to access internet, while blocks every other internet traffic in real-time. If any software or service tries to upload or download any data, it pops up an alert whereby you can allow or disallow such internet traffic.

Computer Slow Down: It is very common to see many complaining about their computer slow-down. The fastest and easiest cure is using Windows’ built-in Defragmenter utitlity that you can find in Startà Programs à Accessories à System Utitlities à Disk Defragmantor and run thorough defragmantation. It will take a while before it ends.

If your system’s performance does not improve after running defragmantation utility, consider scanning your computer via a software utility called HiJackThis which you can download and install on your system. Use this tool carefully as it is intended for advanced users only. HijackThis is a tool, that lists all installed browser add-on, buttons, startup items and allows you to inspect, and optionally remove selected items. The program can create a backup of your original settings and also ignore selected items. Additional features include a simple list of all startup items, default start page, online updates and more.

CWShredder is a utility for removing CoolWebSearch (aka CoolWwwSearch, YouFindAll, White-Pages.ws and a dozen other names). This tool will find and destroy all traces of the CoolWebSearch (CWS) hijacker on your system including redirections, IE slowdowns, start page changes, un-authorized addition of sites in IE Trusted Zone, and blocking access to IE options or setup.

Download CWShredder from their official website only as there is a similar named virus/trojan on the loose at various websites which you may accidentally download and install, hence become more infected than being cured instead. When it is installed successfully, run the software to scan your local machine. Select the fix button & it will get rid of everything related to CoolWebSearch. Close ALL other programs & windows, including IE, before running CWShredder. Reboot after doing this.

I know there is still a lot left, but as I wanted to keep this tutorial as brief as possible, hence I covered only the critical elements here. I am sure you will have fewer breakdowns (if not ZERO0 and more productive hours on your computer. I would recommend you to setup all the software’s auto update and auto-check options to free your time for more productive things than just playing hide and seek with spywares, adwares or viruses. Happy and safe computing!

Classification of Computers

Classification of Computers

Computers are available in different shapes, sizes and weights, due to these different shapes and sizes they perform different sorts of jobs from one another.

They can also be classified in different ways. All the computers are designed by the qualified computer architectures that design these machines as their requirements.

A computer that is used in a home differs in size and shape from the computer being used in a hospital. Computers act as a server in large buildings, while the computer also differs in size and shape performing its job as a weather forecaster.

A student carrying a laptop with him to his college is different in shape and size from all the computers mentioned above.

Here we are going to introduce different classifications of computers one by one. We will discuss what are in classifications and what job they perform.

Super computer

The biggest in size, the most expensive in price than any other is classified and known as super computer. It can process trillions of instructions in seconds. This computer is not used as a PC in a home neither by a student in a college.

Governments specially use this type of computer for their different calculations and heavy jobs. Different industries also use this huge computer for designing their products.

In most of the Hollywood’s movies it is used for animation purposes. This kind of computer is also helpful for forecasting weather reports worldwide.

Mainframes

Another giant in computers after the super computer is Mainframe, which can also process millions of instruction per second and capable of accessing billions of data.

This computer is commonly used in big hospitals, air line reservations companies, and many other huge companies prefer mainframe because of its capability of retrieving data on a huge basis.

This is normally to expensive and out of reach from a salary-based person who wants a computer for his home.

This kind of computer can cost up to thousands of dollars.

Minicomputer

This computer is next in he line but less offers less than mainframe in work and performance. These are the computers, which are mostly preferred by the small type of business personals, colleges, etc.

Personal computers

Almost all the computer users are familiar with the personal computers. They normally know what the personal computer is and what are its functions.

This is the computer mostly preferred by the home users. These computers are lesser in cost than the computers given above and also, small in size; they are also called PCs in short for Personal computers.

This computer is small in size and you can easily arrange it to fit in your single bedroom with its all accommodation. Today this is thought to be the most popular computer in all.

Notebook computers

Having a small size and low weight the notebook is easy to carry to anywhere. A student can take it with him/her to his/her school in his/her bag with his/her book.

This is easy to carry around and preferred by students and business people to meet their assignments and other necessary tasks.

The approach of this computer is also the same as the Personal computer. It can store the same amount of data and having a memory of the same size as that of a personal computer. One can say that it is the replacement of personal desktop computer.

This is one of the unique articles posted weekly on http://www.computer-and-printer-reviews.com.