Do I Need a New iPad?

Do I Need a New iPad?Christmas Day was spent with family and friends. One of the presents that drew the attention of some of us geeks was a brand new iPad that was given as a gift from my son-in-law to our daughter. The other highlight of the day was the gift given to our grandson, by his parents, of the new Nintendo Wii U. Another of our friends brought his new Christmas toy, a Samsung tablet powered by Windows 8, as I showed off my new Nexus 4 phone that I received just before the holiday arrived. Oh, there was also a new Samsung LED/LCD HDTV to admire as well, which was recently hung in the game room.

The day was all about technology as we shared and showed off our new devices. But once the accolades ended, there was one thing that we all agreed upon. Next Christmas there would be more devices to place in our Christmas stockings that would be improved, less expensive, and even better than what we were playing with on Christmas Day, 2012.

I had just read a rumor about the possibility of Apple coming out with a new assortment of iPad tablet computers sometime in March of 2013. So as I sat and watched our daughter play with the latest rendition of what Apple was currently offering, my thought turned to this question: Do I need a new iPad? (Actually, our household iPad belongs to my wife. So does she need a new iPad?)

While the daughter was busy preparing our holiday feast, I observed my wife playing with the new iPad. She didn’t say much while doing so, so after we returned home, I asked her a few questions about her experience playing with the latest and greatest product from Apple. Her current iPad is the original model that I had purchased for her refurbished from the Apple Store in March, 2011. I estimated that her iPad was now just about 21 months old and wondered if she needed the newest model.

Once we settled into our easy chairs, with her iPad already in hand and ready to be fired up so she could continue a Kindle book she was reading, I stopped her so I could ask a few questions before she began reading. So I just blurted out the question: “Do you need a new iPad?” She turned to me with a puzzled look on her face and I could see she was processing the question in her mind.

Here is the gist of her reply. Though the Apple iPad was one of the best gifts I had ever bought her (the KitchenAid mixer being her next favorite), her current iPad did everything she needed just fine. Her comment also took into account her experience using the new iPad and bringing up a Kindle book on the daughter’s new system. She basically stated that she didn’t see any difference. My curiosity now piqued, I explained to her that the new iPad came with a Retina display, two cameras, was lighter, and faster. She said she knew all of that, but liked her original just fine and I’d better not spend $500 on a new one since she had been hinting at buying a new washing machine and dryer, which has taken on a new priority in life.

As we settled into a quiet evening, my mind continued to ponder this response from my wife and how she could compare a washing machine and dryer to a new Apple iPad. How exciting could a washing machine and dryer be? I would much rather have a new iPad. Of course I am the resident geek in the family and my wife looks at technology as just another plaything. So now my only question I had to ponder in my mind was what color the new washing machine and dryer were going to be.

So my question to those who chose to read this article is this: Do you need a new iPad? Share your thoughts with us.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Sean MacEntee

Will Windows 8 Really Arrive in 2012? How Many New Features Can We Expect?

This morning I read with interest an article about the next version of Windows in which the writer cited 10 new features. There were just a few problems with the article that reminded of years of experience in beta testing every version of Windows since Windows 95.

Problem #1. What is being cited as Windows 8 is actually a leaked version of a pre-beta version. It is rare that all of the features will make the final release.

Problem #2. The author alleges that the first beta will be released in September of this year. I wish I had the same crystal ball that he is using to predict when a beta will hit the street. Usually there is a invitation beta release followed by a public beta.

Problem #3. Steve” Ballmer was quoted as stating that Windows 8 would be released in 2012. The author assumes that this is carved in stone. Remember Windows Vista? It was going to be released before the Christmas season of 2006, but didn’t have a worldwide release until January 30, 2007.

I am as anxious as anyone to get my pinkies on the next version of Windows. But I am also realistic in my expectations on when the beta will become available. I am sure some of the 10 new features being cited in the article may not actually make the final release. However, I also know that Microsoft is working hard on Windows 8 and will incorporate enough new features to excite the masses.

I also believe Windows 8 will come in two distinct versions. One will be the traditional version for laptops and desktop computers. The second version will be designed for the tablet market and designed to be touch screen enabled.

Comments welcome.

Cited article: IT World Beta

Shopping For A New PC? Consult Windows PC Scout First

Last Wednesday evening we were having dinner with several other couples when one mentioned they were in the market for a new laptop PC. The words were just out of his mouth when the recommendations came pouring out, including from myself.

“You need at least an Intel i5 processor,” said one person. No, get an AMD processor, I said. “4GB of RAM should be enough,” said another. Nope, get 6MB of RAM if you are going to do video editing, I countered. Back and forth went the recommendations for buying a new computer without one of the most important considerations. How much money did this person want to spend on a new computer?

When I was teaching computer science classes for the Community Education Dept., at Columbia College in Sonora, CA., I was asked many times by my students what computer should they buy. I always responded by asking them the question ‘How much money do you want to spend?’ Or I would joke asking them ,’How much money do you have in the bank?’

Microsoft now offers a simpler way to select a laptop or desktop computer, with a website designed to help you make an informed computer shopping decision. The website is called Shop: Windows PC Scout, in which a consumer can make an intelligent choice about which Windows 7 desktop or laptop they should purchase.

The Windows PC Scout website is broken down into 5 computing categories, which include Everyday, Professional, Gaming, Entertainment, and Mobile computers. The Windows PC Scout starts by asking the user some general questions to ascertain how they will be using their new computer.

As the user proceeds through each page, they are asked a series of questions. Towards the end of the process the user is asked the question how much they are willing to spend. When I did a search for a laptop PC with my specifics, I was asked if wanted to spend $800 or less or more than $800. I choose less than $800 and I ended up with a list of 8 different laptops meeting my needs.

The laptop models varied and were from several computer manufacturers, including Lenovo, Toshiba, HP, and Asus. A specification sheet presented all 8 laptop systems and the specifications for each. A list of three sources showed me where I could purchase one of the PCs.

Overall I believe that Microsoft’s Shop: Windows PC Scout is a valuable source in helping to determine which PC computer is right for you and will meet your needs. Before you make a computer purchase, I would also recommend showing the list generated by Windows PC Scout to your family, friends or co-workers and garner their opinions as well. By doing this, I believe you will make the best choice possible for your next PC purchase.

Top 5 Ways to Make an Old PC Feel New

Like anything in the world of technology, PCs age and face obsolescence as faster new systems hit the shelves. For some frugal geeks, making the most of your hardware for the longest period of time is a must. Here are five tips to make your old machine feel like a new machine.

1: Consider Lighter Open Source Alternatives to Your Software
Unless you really need that bulky name-brand software installed to get your work done, you might want to consider switching to an open alternative. For example, Microsoft Office can be a real resource hog, but Open Office is geared to run even on the most underpowered of PCs.

On the OS side of things, Linux distros like Ubuntu and Xubuntu (for even older machines) are a great way to bring new life to an older PC. Windows Vista and 7 are great operating systems, but if you find idling with the latest service packs is eating up most of your resources, Linux may be an option for you.

2: Make Sure All Your Drivers are Up to Date
Sometimes, the culprit slowing your system down can be as simple as an out of date driver. When service packs come out, they can break or bog down an already existing driver. Hardware manufacturers are constantly tweaking their drivers so their devices work the best possible way. This can be as easy as updating the driver using Windows Update or taking a trip to the manufacturer’s website and checking when the latest driver was released.

3: Offload Unnecessary Tasks
Email, old software, quicklaunch programs, and other software may be running in the background, even when you don’t want it to. In most cases, you can turn off these services using the software’s preferences menu. Sometimes, you really don’t need 100 programs running the background to go about your daily life.

4: Update Your Desktop Theme
This may not speed up your system, but an update to your desktop theme can bring new life in how you perceive your computer. New icons, different background, and even something as simple as changing the Aero colors can make a difference in how your system looks.

5: Format and Reinstall
Over time, many computers become bogged down to the point where the options above really don’t make much of a difference. In this case, you may want to consider formatting the drive and reinstalling your system using a restore CD. What this will do, is bring your system back to the state it was when you first received it. The registry, hard drive, and drivers will all go back to the way they were on day one.

Over time, the system’s registry can become large as every program you install puts its credentials on it and some continue adding information over time. Should you uninstall a program, it may be leaving its information on the registry, causing your system to have to look through a larger file as time goes on.

One important thing to remember before doing this is to  back up your data. Be sure to copy any important photos, videos, or documents over to a location that will not be affected by the format. When you do this, you’re essentially deleting everything off your drive and starting over.

Apple Reduces Original iPad Prices by Over $100

While you might be shaking your head at the slightly less impressive second generation iPad, you may want to take a glance at the Apple store online where 16GB Wifi iPads are selling at $350 for refurbished models and $399 for factory fresh. In my experience, refurbished Apple products are just as reliable and shiny as their newer counterparts. Screens are typically replaced, and testing is done to make sure the product works exactly like it should.

Whether you’re looking for something brand new or refurbished, the announcement today didn’t give much reason for an upgrade unless you really want to use the iPad as a camera or make video calls. The faster processor is a plus if you use the iPad for a lot of video editing and/or heavy gaming.

Here are some of the new prices for the original iPad:

  • Wi-Fi Models
    • 16GB – $399
    • 32GB – $499
    • 64GB – $599
  • 3G + Wi-Fi Models
    • 16GB – $529
    • 32GB – $629
    • 64GB – $729

Below are new prices for refurbished original iPads:

  • Wi-Fi Models
    • 16GB – $349
    • 32GB – $429
    • 64GB – $529
  • 3G + Wi-Fi Models
    • 16GB – $479
    • 32GB – $559
    • 64GB – $659

Buying New Or Refurbished Computers – Which Do You Prefer?

This morning I received an email from Circuit City in which they were selling the following laptop computer. It was a Compaq Presario CQ62-219WM Notebook PC – Intel Celeron 900 2.2GHz, 2GB, 250GB HDD, DVDRW, 15.6″ Display, Windows 7 Home Premium and it was priced at $299 after rebates. In addition the sale was for only 72 hours and supplies were limited. But what caught my eye was a check mark and the statement ‘quality refurbished.’

I had to chuckle when I read the words ‘quality refurbished.’ Does this mean that plain old ‘refurbished’ computers were non-quality? I have always wondered, when we go to the grocery store or see a fruit or vegetable stand along the side of the road with a sign that states ‘fresh produce.’ would we think that this is better than rotten produce?

I took a look at the specifications for this ‘quality refurbished’ computer and this is a really lightweight system when it comes to horsepower. In an era when dual-core systems are standard, would one really be willing to buy a single core Celeron at 2.2 GHz?

I went over to Amazon and you can purchase a similar Compaq Presario with a different model # but with the same specifications new for $399. So buying a refurbished unit would save you about $100. That type of savings is in the range of about 25% off of retail for a semi-used product. I know that some people return computers for several reasons. One reason is that they discover the system does not meet their needs, or that they had problems with the system either with the software or hardware or they just didn’t like the computer for a variety of other reasons.

When the systems are returned to the company, they no longer can be sold as new so are re-boxed as refurbished units. The units are sold through companies like Circuit City, CompUSA, TigerDirect [all three of the companies are the same], or through other outlets at a discount. On this particular unit the warranty is for 90 days for parts and labor. Normally these units sold new are covered by a one year parts and labor warranty.

I build my desktop computers, so I never have to deal with any retailer. But when it comes to laptop computers I usually buy new only and have never purchased a refurbished laptop computer system. Since I have no personal experience buying a refurbished laptop computer, I want to ask the readers at Lockergnome some questions.

Do you buy new or refurbished? Why do you buy new or refurbished?

Share your experience with us.

Comments welcome.

Source – Circuit City

Source – Amazon

PS Since I wrote this article I noticed that Amazon has priced the new Compaq laptop at $405.

Windows 7 Upgrade Deals On New PCs Starting April 4th – But There Are Limitations

Over at The Windows Blog web site, there is an article about anytime upgrades, which are going to be offered by some retailers starting next. I am going to present the information as it appears on the Microsoft web site so that you can understand it exactly as it has been posted. Pay particular attention to which products will receive the discount and also when the sale begins and ends.

Many of our retailer partners are taking advantage of Windows Anytime Upgrade with a brand new offer that will start next week. Beginning April 4th at participating retailers, people who buy a new PC will have an opportunity to add Windows Anytime Upgrade to their purchase at a special low price. In the U.S.:

  • Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Premium ERP $49.99 (versus everyday price of $79.99)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional ERP $79.99 (versus everyday price of $89.99)

This offer will be available at participating retailers and for a limited time only, (in the U.S. this offer will end July 3rd). Details vary by retailer and geography – so check with your local retailers to see which PCs they are offering. Participating retailers also choose which Windows Anytime Upgrade path to offer. Some may offer Windows Anytime Upgrade for going from Windows 7 Starter to Windows 7 Home Premium, while others may offer Windows Anytime Upgrade for going from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 7 Professional, or they may offer both.

It also states the following:

When you’re out looking for a PC, be on the lookout for this offer on new PCs to ensure you’re running the right edition of Windows 7 for you!

Hopefully Microsoft will be offering deals for those who have already bought computers that need to be upgraded to a higher version.

Comments welcome.

Microsoft source page is here

Microsoft Plans A Major Overhaul Of Their MSN Site

Microsoft has been planning improvements for their MSN web site which originally was scheduled for release in January. But the company delayed the introduction until the Olympics and Super Bowl, but will now start releasing the updates to the site during the next few weeks. MSN currently has over 100 million users and the changes, which there are about 30, should improve the sites appearance and ease of use.

According to a recent article it also states that:

Headlines on the page will now be customized based on user behavior, so, for instance, people who tend to be more interested in entertainment news will be more likely to see those type of stories. The page’s new local edition—which features local weather, traffic, news stories, and restaurant reviews in one place—will now also include local blog posts and Tweets overlaid on a map. And Microsoft’s Bing search engine is given even more prominence than in the initial plans; the search box at the top of the page includes the words ‘web search’—in bright orange.

So if you are a MSN user get ready for some major changes which will include the following:

Bing, Bing, and more Bing. We’ve seen double-digit increases in Bing search queries coming from the new homepage. People wanted even more Bing, so we:

Increased the prominence of the Bing search box to make it easy for you to search from the MSN homepage.

Added a new TrendWatch feature to highlight the day’s top movers on Twitter.

Increased the prominence of Popular Searches, where our editorial team highlights the most interesting and topical searches of the day.

Increased editorial programming of search-related content, including videos and images.

And there is a lot more featured on the new MSN web site. Take a look here at what the new pages will look like.

Comments welcome.

First look, MSN new web pages

Article source

Burger King Has A New Secret Weapon

Burger King with some 12,000 restaurants around the world, is introducing what they describe is a ‘new secret weapon’. The king of flame has announced that effective immediately all of their restaurants will be using a new flame broiler to enhance the taste of their foods. In addition, Burger King may be adding future changes to their menu to take advantage of the new technology.

In a recent article it states that:

“This new broiler is a game-changing piece of equipment and a significant point of differentiation for us,” said John Schaufelberger, senior vice president, global product marketing and innovation, Burger King Corporation. “Not only is the technology revolutionary to our industry, it is proprietary to the BURGER KING(R) brand. It allows us to up the ante in our product development across the board – from superior quality food and unconventional menu innovations to even more competitive value offerings.”

Burger King Corporation is currently testing a variety of products that can now be made on the new broiler, including fall-off-the-bone BK(R) Fire-Grilled Ribs, stuffed burgers packed with flavor from the inside out, and an array of one-of-a-kind offerings for breakfast, snacks and even flame-kissed desserts.

So what is your favorite fast food burger  joint? I like the whopper at Burger King, the  fries from McDonald and a shake from Braums. LOL

Comments welcome.


Barbie Is Now A Geek Like Us!

There should be an image here!It is now official. Barbie, by popular vote, is going to have a new career. In fact, it will be the 126th career change Barbie has had during the past 50 years or so that she has been around. This time Barbie is going to be a 100% certified geek, complete with laptop computer. Yes, the laptop is in pink. No other color would do when it comes to a Barbie accessory.

Anything that encourages geeky, mathy girls this way has to be a good thing, right? Nora Lin, President, Society of Women Engineers, seems to agree. She’s quoted in the press release: “All the girls who imagine their futures through Barbie will learn that engineers — like girls — are free to explore infinite possibilities, limited only by their imagination.”

Comments welcome.


Samsung Confirms They Will Have A Google OS Netbook

Samsung is confirming that by the end of this year, that they will have a new netbook which will be operated by the Chrome OS. The new netbook will also support 3G Wi-Fi and and have what is being reported as 12 hours of battery life.It is also being confirmed by Samsung that the new netbook will be very similar to their Samsung model N210, have 2 GB of memory, a 64GB SSD and come with a 10.1″ screen. The netbook will also be powered by an Intel Atom processor.

Samsung model #210

But is this really a surprise to any of us? I personally do not believe it is. We are all aware that Google has been working on their own operating system and is going to challenge both Microsoft and Apple for computer market share. We are also all aware that the main purpose of a Google OS is to introduce the masses to cloud computing and other popular Google products.

But will Google be able to pull this off? I believe they will be able grab market share away from the others, but just how much market share, remains to be seen.

What do you think?

Comments as always are welcome.


Apple To Open New Prototype Store – No Matter How You Slice It, Apple Beats Out Oranges!

The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that Apple has plans for a new prototype store to be opened in Palo Alto. The new building will be larger and more accommodating as Apple expands their operation to include space for gatherings of Apple nerds. :-) The article goes on to state that though Apple is being very secretive about their intentions, the building plans have been revealed as part of the City of Palo Alto’s public approval process, since the plans include some demolition work on an existing building.

The Mercury article also states that:

“The proposed store is a new prototype for the applicant,” the developers wrote in a memo to the city. “Fully half the function of the store serves to provide education and service to business as well as customer patrons in addition to product sales. The store is a commons for the applicant’s community to gather.”

The memo adds that the transparent glass front “dissolves the boundary that traditional store facades create. By not breaking the horizontal ground plane of the sidewalk with opaque wall or landscape element, for example, the street is made part of the store’s interior; the pedestrian is in the store before entering it.”

The plans call for moving a bicycle rack, newspaper rack and trash bin front of the building to avoid distracting from the visual effect. With the store positioned directly across from where Florence Street dead-ends into University, people on Florence will be able to see all the way to the back of the store.

“The whole design is inside-outside, with everything completely exposed,” said Lew of the architectural review board. “With the huge skylight, there’s going to be lots of daylight and it will feel more like an atrium inside. … We’re excited about the project.”

This serves as another example of why Apple is heading in the right direction. Even their new store will be light years ahead of the competition and be aesthetically pleasing. The folks at Apple are now going to make their brick and motor stores just as visually attractive as they have made their computer systems.

If I was Microsoft I would be quacking in my boots. If the new Apple Tablet is anything like people are saying it will be, Apple could grab more market share away from the once invincible Redmond software company.

2010 is shaping up as a very interesting year already.

Comments welcome.

Source S.J. Mercury News

Question For You: What Is The Best Tutorial, Manual, Or Book For Windows 7 Users?

I have a friend who sent me an email last night, asking what was a good tutorial, manual or book to get for users of Windows 7? I really didn’t have an answer since I haven’t bought any reference books in a decade for Windows. I did recall that the Simplified series were great for new users of Windows and found one for Windows 7 on Amazon.

This person is one of the new breed of folks who will be making the switch from Windows XP to Windows 7. So I thought I would ask you people what you would recommend?

Let me know please.

Comments as always are welcome.

Windows 7 Simplified at Amazon

Buying A New PC? Make Sure You Run PC Decrapifier – It Is Still Free

As many of you know, I bought my wife a new Toshiba laptop computer last week, that came with Windows 7 Home Premium edition pre-installed. The system also came with a variety of trial ware programs which included, Wild Tanget games, Microsoft Activation Assistant, Microsoft Home and Office, Netzero Installer, Quickbooks Trial, Norton Security, Norton Live Update and some other gunk that needed to be removed.

So I downloaded a copy of PC Decrapifier and ran it on the new system. The program itself is simple to run and easy even for the novice computer user. The author describes his software as:

Running the Program

After you run the EXE you will be guided through the process with a “wizard” style series of questions. You will have the choice to pick and choose what you want to remove. It will not begin removing anything without prompting you first!

This is the beauty of PC Decrapifier. It locates the gunk and you decide what should be removed and what you want to leave installed on the computer. The program is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. The best part is that the software is free for non-commercial use.

Comments welcome.

Source – PC Decrapfier website.

I just read a piece over at Gizmodo that concludes how much crapware slows down new computers:

Bloatware, the crap software that manufacturers pre-install on their computers that include demos, media software and other junk you never use, is infuriating. And seeing the numbers, it’s even more insane that these companies are crippling their own products with this junk. Here’s how the worst offenders break down, compared to clean installs on the same machines:

Acer: 2:01 longer boot time, 952MB larger memory footprint, 2.4GB less HDD space
HP: 1:35 longer boot time, 1.06GB larger memory footprint, 2.18GB less HDD space
Dell: 0:52 longer boot time, 1.18GB larger memory footprint, 3GB less HDD space
Sony: 1:54 longer boot time, 1.11GB larger memory footprint, 1.3GB less HDD space