Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Get $10 off your next computer service at R And R Services

Dear readers, I would like your feedback.  I have been writing articles about computer related topics for several months and now I would like your suggestions for new topics I can cover that would help you to better understand your computer.  I have some topics ready which I think would help, but I'd also like to write articles about computer topics that you want more information about..  So, here is your chance to guide me!  Reply on the R And R Services Facebook wall, comment below on this blog, or send me an E-mail.  I would love to hear your ideas for topics!  If I choose your idea as the first topic, you will receive a $10 credit toward your next computer service.

Contact Robert by E-mail or by phone 858-449-1749.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Technical Specs for Buying a PC

Would you say that you have been waiting breathlessly for the next post to my blog?  Somehow, I am sure that you were not holding your breath.  Holding your breath does not stop the PC industry from marching forward.  Nothing will.  So the specs that I give you today for buying a new computer may just be different from the specs tomorrow.

The specs below are designed for most people and the "average" use of a computer.  This includes web browsing, E-mail, and maybe some simple games.  The specs are not for someone who needs to edit sound or video, plays elaborate games, or uses CAD.    These specs are for the budget minded person.
Processor - You want a computer with multiple processors.  The terms to look for are Duo Core, Dual Core, Multiprocessor.  There are many forms of this.  A two processor system is sufficient.  More processors are better and will cost you more.  
Memory (RAM) - Purchase a computer with at least 4GB of memory.  More is better, but don't break the bank to get a little more.
Storage (Disk) - Disk storage today is pretty inexpensive.  Any laptop computer you buy should have at least 320GB of disk storage.  Any desktop should have at least 500GB of storage.  Don't buy a computer with less storage.  75% of the computers out there will exceed these specs.  You shouldn’t pay extra for more disk, you probably won't use it.
For those of you who need "more,” contact me for more personal assistance.

Some of you have likely looked at the list above and are still concerned that you will be uncertain when time comes for purchasing the computer.  If this accurately describes you, I have good news, I can go with you to the computer store anywhere in San Diego! 

If you are one of those who feels confident enough to buy on your own, but need some help setting up the new computer or moving data, I can do that too.

Give me a call before you go to the store, it will make your life easier.

Contact Robert by E-mail or by phone 858-449-1749.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Things to Think About When Buying a New PC

In the last post I described to you the different kinds of operating systems for PCs and Macs.  No matter what your choice of operating system, I commend you on getting this far.  In some ways, those of you who have chosen a Mac have it easy, you have more limited models and options to choose from.

For those who have decided on a PC, there are many choices to be made.  But, before you go to the store, there are other things to think about.  Today, I want to teach you about compatibility.  Most of you have heard about Windows 7, the current version of the Windows Operating System.  Windows 7 is comparatively easier than earlier versions of Windows. Thankfully, all new PC computers purchased currently come with Windows 7 pre-installed on the computer.  This makes your life easy.

However, your new computer will not come with all your current computer’s programs. Most of you will want some (or all) of the same programs you had on your old computer.  To do that, you will have to reinstall all your old programs on the new computer.  Doesn't that sound like fun?  It’s not. To add to the fun, some of the programs you have will not run with Windows 7.  You will need to check with the maker of the software to be sure the version you have is compatible with Windows 7.  That can be a lot of work if you have a lot of software installed. 

To make your life a little easier, I can tell you about compatibility issues with some of the free software you might use with Windows 7. There are versions of iTunes, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave, Adobe Flash, and Java available for Windows 7.  If you use Microsoft Outlook Express, it does not work on Windows 7.  There is a new free program available from Microsoft called Windows Live Mail. The program is similar to Microsoft Outlook Express; you will probably find it easy to transition to the new program.

Now for some quick tips about the stuff that isn’t free.  Many of you use Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Power Point) to do your work.  If your version of Microsoft Office is 2003, 2007, or 2010, you are in luck, your version will work on Windows 7.  If you are using an older version of Microsoft Office, you will need to budget for an upgrade because they are not compatible.  The Home and Student version of Office 2010 costs between $100 and $150.  This version can be used on up to 3 computers - if used for non-commercial purposes.  If you require Microsoft Outlook (not Outlook Express), the choices are different and more expensive.

How long have you had your printer?  Regardless, you need to check to see if your printer is compatible as well.  Go the website for the manufacturer and check if your printer’s software is available for Windows 7.  If the software is not available, you will probably need a new printer.

Now for the good news.  If all of this sounds too complex for you, I can help you through the maze of issues.  I can help you select a computer, update the new computer (yes it is out of date when you get it), install your programs, install your printer, and even move your data (pictures, music, movies, etc).

For those of you who are buying a PC, the next blog post will have details about the tech specs I recommend.

Contact Robert by E-mail or by phone 858-449-1749.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What are "Operating Systems?" - In Plain English

 What are ‘Operating Systems?’ - In Plain English

Many of you have asked questions about new computers:
·         What should I look for in a new computer?
·         What computer should I buy?
·         PC or Mac?
·         How much memory should I get?
These are excellent questions.  And I will answer them in the near future.  Okay, you ask, "Why not now?"  To answer these questions I have to set some ground work so we are speaking  the same language.  That way, you won't misunderstand what I am saying.  You know tech guys, we are easily misunderstood.  And often, we just speak in a language that no one else understands.  Words like operating systems, data, programs, RAM, are exciting things for tech guys. However, they make most people cry. 
Today, we are going to take the fear and crying out of some words so that we can answer the real questions you have asked.  And don't worry about remembering what I discuss here.  The blog and my Facebook page will be around for a while.  These posts are here for you to read whenever you want.  And you can call or reply if you have any questions.
Let's talk about ‘operating systems’ first.  “Which operating system is the best?” is one of the most controversial questions in the tech world.  Fist fights and broken relationships are the outcomes of conversations between techies on the subject. 
Most of you have heard of PCs and Macs.  These are computer hardware devices that use a particular operating system to make them run.  You have probably heard of Windows (XP, Vista, 7, to name a few).  Windows is the operating system written by Microsoft for use on PCs. When you are using a PC your operating system is most likely a version of Windows.  Like Windows for PCs, OS X (Jaguar, Tiger, Snow Leopard) is written by Apple to make Mac computers run. These are the two most common operating systems. 
There are other operating systems (LINUX, DOS, OS/2, to name a few of the dozens to a hundreds of others) that make the computer run differently.  Without operating systems, you would not be able to use a computer easily.  In fact, modern operating systems are credited with making the PC and Mac easy enough for everybody to use.  You no longer need to know how to program a computer to use it effectively. An operating system does the work for you.
And some of you may ask about your smart phones.  For now, I am going to skip smart phones and their operating systems (iOS, Blackberry, Android, etc) but I will come back to the subject in a later post.  But, for many of you, a smart phone may be a better answer than a computer.
The controversy that causes fights occurs when we try to decide which computer operating system is "better.”  In reality, only you can answer that question depending on what work you use your computer for.  Most people agree that Macs are overall easier to learn and better for creative type of work.  PCs are usually less expensive up front and better for gaming, general, and business use.  However, each situation is different.  I am going to avoid the controversy and leave you to decide which is best for you.  Before you make your final decision give me a call to make sure any extra questions you have are fully answered.  
The next blog entries will talk about other tech stuff, hopefully in plain English, so that we can answer the questions that we started with above.  Until then, I would love to hear from you!
Contact Robert by E-mail or by phone 858-449-1749.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Should I Turn My Computer Off At Night?

This is a very common question.  The answer to the question depends on why you are asking the question.  Let’s first talk about the reasons to ask the question:
·         Some people ask this question because they are concerned with cost of electricity
·         Some people want to know if the computer will last longer if they use it less
·         Some are worried that the computer is more likely to get a virus or spyware if it is left on

Of course, leaving your computer on all the time uses more electricity than turning it off when you are not using it.  So, for conservation of resources, you should turn off your computer when not in use.  But, as with most decisions, there are two sides to the story.  Turning off the computer when you are done with it inconveniences you; you have to wait for the computer to turn on every time you want to use it.  What does this convenience cost you?  With some research, the expected cost to power a computer, monitor, and printer for a full year is about $200.  If you leave the computer on for only eight hours per day, you could expect to save about $130 per year.  Only you can decide if it is worth it to you to turn it off when you are not using it.

Will your computer last longer if you turn it off?  Most studies conducted concerning the longevity of hardware have been inconclusive.  The number of computers that fail sooner and the number of computers that last longer are about the same if you turn off the computer each night.  Meaning that, in general, turning off your computer is not likely to change how long it lasts.  Of course, your mileage may vary.

Is your computer more likely to get a virus or spyware if you leave it on all the time?  If your computer is properly protected with a firewall or router, length of time left on will not impact the number of spyware or virus' it attracts.

But, before you jump to a decision, there is one more thing to consider.  There are many tasks that computers run each night to maintain the system’s health.  Most Anti-virus and Anti-spyware packages are set up to do a preventative scan each night if the computer is on.  If you are using a Windows PC, it checks for updates to Windows during the night.  So for technical reasons, you should leave your computer on overnight on a regular basis.  I recommend that you leave the computer on overnight once per week (different days each week are okay, it is okay to skip a week or two).  Any more than that is up to you.

Contact Robert by E-mail or call me 858-449-1749.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I cannot connect to the Internet.What can I try?

You would not believe how often I get this question.  If I got had a dollar for every time I heard this one, I would be a millionaire.  Okay, maybe not, but I can give you a simple way to correct most problems in your network. 

Many times, something goes wrong with the router, or the Cable/DSL/U-verse modem.  These issues can cause the computer to not “see” the Internet correctly.  The steps below will help you reset your network so that you have the highest chance of solving the problem.  There are six steps below which need to be done in the correct order:
  1. Properly turn off all the computers on your network.  How you do this depends on the version of Windows your computer is using.  Click here to see a recent blog post on how to properly shutdown your computer.
  2. Remove power from your router.  If you do not have a router, skip this step.  The power cord is usually a round black plug in the back of the router.  Simply pull the power cord out of the router.
  3. Remove power from your cable modem, DSL modem, or U-verse Modem.  The power cord is usually a round black plug in the back of the modem.  Simply slip the power cord out of the modem.  Do not confuse the power cord with the one for the router.  Even if they fit, they are not interchangeable.
  4. Wait 30 seconds.  Insert the power cord for the modem back into the modem.
  5. Wait 30 seconds.  Insert the power cord for the router back into the router.  If you don't have a router, skip this step.
  6. Wait 30 seconds.  Start your computer(s).
Your network should now be functioning correctly and the computers should be online.  Should you still have problems, contact me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

How do I properly shutdown my computer?

In my first post, I explained how restarting your computer will resolve most computer issues you come across.  In this post, I will explain how to properly shutdown your computer.  Many users think it is okay to just unplug the computer from the wall. Others push the power button to turn the computer off. Both of these can damage the configuration, the data, or the hardware of the computer. 

There are many variances to powering down a computer, depending upon your system and settings; should the following instructions not match your computer, please contact me for assistance:

For Windows 7, click on Start, then click Shutdown.  On some Windows 7 computers, you must click Start, then click on the arrow to the right of shutdown, then click Shutdown.

For Windows Vista, click on Start, then click Shutdown.  On some Windows Vista computers, you must click Start, then click on the arrow to the right of lock symbol, then click Shutdown.

For Windows XP, Click on Start, click on Turn Off Computer (or Shut Down), then click Turn Off (or Shutdown) again.

Should you have any questions, contact me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fix 75% of your computer problems at no cost to you

One of my goals in starting R and R Services was to share the knowledge that I had gathered about the use of computers. So, let me share the number one way to fix most PC related problems: Reboot the computer. At least 75% of the problems you experience with your computer will go away when you reboot. The easiest way to reboot the computer differs depending on the version of Windows that is running on the computer:

  • For Windows 7, click on Start, click on the arrow to the right of Shutdown, then click Restart
  • For Windows Vista, click on Start, click on the arrow to the right of lock symbol, then click Restart
  • For Windows XP, Click on Start, click on Turn Off Computer (or Shut Down), then click Restart
After the reboot completes, if the problem still exists, please E-mail me (robert@randrservices.com) for assistance.