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Smart computer use? Maybe, maybe not.

How one person came to buy a PC instead of a Mac

There are tons of PC vs Mac debates out there. Here’s a story about how one person choose a PC over a Mac, and some very detailed criteria and reasoning in why the decision was made.

News Commentary. Microsoft’s “Laptop Hunters” commercials have generated lots of Mac vs. Windows PC debate. Surely there can’t be enough, so I’d like to generate even more. Quite unexpectedly, I’m a PC.

Sounds like a tired arguement that is frequently laced by silly argumentative rivalry, not too different from a classic Ford vs Chevy debate, eh? Well, here’s a little more to help ease your doubts on the seriousness of this person’s arguement.

Before writing one more word, I want to preface about operating systems. I’m not a religious computer user, meaning Mac OS and Windows are just tools to me. I don’t religiously defend either platform. I’m neither Mac fanatic or Windows fanboy. I always use both operating systems, but still must choose one over the other as primary. I’ve flopped between platforms for more than a decade.

Read the rest here.

Me? I’m a PC user, but mainly because I like to tinker with hardware configurations. I’m not a staunch defender of either platform though, so good luck trying to get me all riled up on either side of the subject.


DIY Laptop Platform – Keep Your Laptop Cool

Every laptop computer user has a situation where the laptop is sitting on top of furniture or on your lap, on a soft cloth surface. This can heat up a laptop, to the point of meltdown if you are not careful.

I’ve always been tempted to buy a laptop pad designed for home use, the kind with a wooden platform and a soft pad attached underneath of some sorts. But why? Something like that, from a store, is going to cost $10 – $20.

I don’t really feel like spending that much money on something that fundamentally simple.

Here’s what I do.

I just use a 3 ring binder or a book as a laptop platform.

3-Ring Binder

I would guess that most people have a bookshelf with books and binders of sorts. Just see what you’ve got on your own shelf. Atlas-sized books work good for larger laptops. You’ll keep your laptop computer off of cloth surfaces that promote overheating, and you’l save yourself $20.


5 Laptop Screen Cleaning Tips

Every laptop that is put through good use will need to have it’s screen cleaned frequently. Over time your laptop screen will accumulate dust, fingerprint smudges and grime from many different daily situations. A dirty laptop screen can impede the usability of your laptop and can also just be annoying.

Keeping your laptop screen clean is pretty easy. Here are a few tips to make cleaning the screen an easy task and to keep from damaging the screen on your laptop during the process of cleaning it.

#1 – Use a Cotton Cloth

The type of cloth that you use to clean your laptop screen is very important. It is best to use a cloth that doesn’t contain any filaments that can scratch a laptop screen. 100% cotton is the best choice. An example of a 100% cotton cloth would be a piece of an old t-shirt or a sock.

Do not use any cloth that contains polyester, as the filaments in polyester can scratch a laptop screen. Paper towel and facial tissue are also bad options for a cleaning cloth. They can contain small fibers (or even lotions and other junk) that can either scratch your screen or make cleaning tough.

#2 – Don’t Press Hard

Do not press overly hard on your screen when you are cleaning it with a 100% cotton cloth. Pressing too hard on an LCD screen can promote scratching and other physical damage of the screen.

#3 – Use Safe Cleaning Liquids

The most safe cleaning liquid to use on a laptop screen is isopropyl alcohol which contains 91% pure alcohol, with 9% de-ionized water. Mix one part alcohol and one part distilled water to make a cleaning mixture. This cleaning solution is cheap and will be effective at cleaning smudges and dust. This particular solution is great for any type of electronic device because it will evaporate quickly and will not leave a residue.

Never use cleaning products that contain ammonia on your laptop screen. Ammonia can have negative effects on the surface of your screen. Never use tap water either. Tap water can contain minerals that will have a negative effect on the surface of your laptop screen as well, and can also leave smudges.

#4 – Never Spray Cleaning Solutions on the Screen

Spray the isopropyl alcohol and distilled water solution on a cotton cloth to dampen it, then use the cloth to wipe the screen lightly. Do not spray the solution directly on your screen. You might run the risk of water or moisture working it’s way into other parts of your laptop computer.

#5 – Try to Keep Your Screen Clean

The best cleaning tip for any laptop screen is to care for your laptop in a way that prevents you from needing to clean it often. Try not to use your laptop in an overly dusty or dirty environment. Try not to touch your laptop screen. Turn your head when you sneeze. Don’t eat food excessively near your laptop. If you can keep your screen clean in the first place, you won’t need to involve yourself with the risks of scratching and damaging your laptop screen when trying to clean it.

Keeping my laptop screen clean and free of finger smudges is something that I am pretty picky about. Most of the time I’m cleaning my own laptop screen at the same time it becomes dirty. I’m not sure why I’m so picky about this, just the way I am I guess.

I hope that you all found these tips to be useful. Good luck in keeping your laptop screen cleaned up and smudge free!


Cats and Computers

I have the pleasure of living with 3 cats. Considering that I currently live in a 2 bedroom apartment, it seems a little crowed between me, my girlfriend and the 3 cats. Plus throw in a 75 gallon fish tank and 10 gallon fish tank and that adds up to a lot of living creatures (including humans) in one 2 bedroom apartment.

Dotty sleeping on top of the studio aquarium

I find the cats to be very interesting a lot of times in their interaction with computers.

Fascination with the laptop computer

The youngest one, Dotty, is completely fascinated by the glossy surface covering on my main laptop computer. She likes to either just sit on top of it or paw at the glossy surface material and act amazed. This can get quite comical, I think she can see her reflection in it or something.

Dotty like to sit on laptop computers for some reason

Dotty also had a bad habit for a while of sitting behind my laptop screen and reaching her paws around the side to attack my hands while I would be trying to type. While cute, it was annoying, but it was too entertaining to get me angry. She seems to have dropped that habit lately, though she would only do this if I was laying in bed with the computer on my lap. I haven’t done that for a while and I can only assume that she’d do that again if the situation arose.

Fascination with the iTunes visualizer

Kitty is the second youngest. Yes I actually have a cat named Kitty, she already had that name when we got her and we didn’t change it. She always had a fascination with the speakers that I have set up to the left and right of my main desktop computer monitor. When I’m listening to music like Aphex Twin or Squarepusher that has lots of interesting electronic sounds and left-right panning she likes to sit next to me on the desk and watch back and forth between the speakers, trying to figure out what is going on.

Kitty likes to sit and watch the iTunes visualizer

Then one day after I got into iTunes, I kicked on the visualizer while I was cleaning my 75 gallon aquarium (which is in the office/studio with my computers). Kitty sat and watched the visualizer for about 30 minutes, without taking her eyes off the screen, until I turned it off after done cleaning my aquarium. She is quite patient and that was a pretty funny thing to watch, her being mezmerized by the screen.

Glasses of water

I haven’t mentioned Brick yet, the oldest of the three cats. He doesn’t really do much with the computers and I don’t think he really cares about them.

Brick doesn't really care about computers

But… he has a fascination with glasses of water. All three cats do actually. This isn’t that bad of a thing, and you may be asking yourself… what does this have to do with computers?

Well, cats that are fascinated with glasses of water tend to tip them over every now and then. They’ll either paw at glasses to intentionally try to tip them water, or they will try to stick their heads in the glasses to drink the water. This leads to spilled glasses of water every now and again.

About 2 weeks ago I forgot a large, full glass of water on the computer desk and sure enough, it was tipped over the next morning. I had to dry up water underneath a laptop computer, under the mouse pad, and under the keyboard of my main desktop computer. I couldn’t be mad though… my fault completely for leaving the water there, I know better.

Another potentially bad situation includes the fact that I like to put glasses of water on my night stand. I get thirsty for water a lot and like to keep it nearby. I also like to lean my laptop up against the side of the night stand at times. This is a horrible idea, obviously, but what can I say… I’m a risk taker. I haven’t had water spilled on my laptop computer in a situation like this yet, but I’m sure it will happen some day.

As I am typing this…

Dotty is actually drinking out of my water glass right now.

Dotty likes to dring out of glasses of water

Cripes. These cats are too consistent. Now I need new glass of water and I just got on a roll with typing.


A Near Laptop Horror Story… Regarding Overheating

Each day, at least on the weekdays, I pack up my laptop and put it in my backpack to either take it to or from work. This is a pretty standard procedure and goes well. I’ve never destroyed my laptop in the process of transporation (yet).

This process of transporting my laptop to and from work has led to a near laptop horror story that I almost carried through with. I guess you could call it a laptop close-call.

An overheating laptop is not a good thing

I’ve written in the past about keeping a laptop cool, it’s a subject near to my heart (ha, not that important, but still important to me). This is because I’ve battled with overheating laptops much in the past and present. Not so much in the present since my current laptop computer seems to handle itself quite well and doesn’t overheat, but it’s still a topic on my mind frequently.

There are many things that can cause a laptop to overheat. One of those things is neglect, or not paying attention to your laptop when it’s pleading to be cooled. But that is for another day.

What I did to my laptop to cause near-meltdown

I closed the lid one morning on my laptop, preparing to pack it up and head to work. I unplugged all the cables and then stuffed the laptop computer into my backpack.

I was in a hurry.

I usually look at the led lights on the front of the laptop to make sure that it is actually in hibernation. This day I did not. I just stuffed it into my backpack and took off for work.

At some point later in the morning I needed to gain access to my laptop for something. It was probably to chat with my fellow developers who are not in-office, or something, as I only run my IM application of choice (Trillian) on my laptop since it’s mobile and I always have it with me.

I reached in the backpack to pull out the laptop and the computer was HOT AS HELL (almost literally). I immediately realized that the computer hadn’t actually hibernated and was running at full clip inside of my backpack. It had been in there for a couple hours.

Nuts! (oven-roasted peanuts… mmm)

I immediately opened it up and put it in a location with good air flow, then I shut it down.

This could have easily melted down something in the computer. I would hope that the computer would turn off automatically before something overheated… but to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever felt a laptop that was this hot in any situation. It was like I just pulled it out of the oven!

I lucked out…

Lucky for me, nothing happened. I got to chalk this one up to experience with no repercussions. The laptop has been working fine since then, but I definitely make sure to look at the front of the machine to make sure it’s in hibernation before I put it in my backpack anymore.

Kinda like when you crash a bicycle… how a person is a little more wary of curbs and bumps in the road afterwards.