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  • Tech insights from relocating home and office

    Posted on July 5th, 2020 at 02:45 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
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    LANGALIST — SPECIAL EDITION

    Tech insights from relocating home and office

    Fred Langa

    By Fred Langa

    We Langas are midway through a major relocation. Here are a few things I’ve learned from tearing down, moving, and rebuilding my office and home computer setups.

    Among them: another reason to love solid-state drives, and 5G is for real.

    Moving home and office is never fun …

    … but it can let you see some things in a new light.

    We just relocated home and office 48 hours ago and are still awash in boxes. I’m sitting here in a straight-backed dining-room chair, waiting for the Verizon tech to arrive to get us back online with a dedicated private connection, and typing this column in Gmail on my underpowered, emergency-use-only Chromebook because I haven’t yet found the box my Win10/Office laptop is in, and my standing desk and office chair are buried in unpacked stuff. Yikes!

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.26.0 (2020-07-06).

  • Buying a refurbished computer can save you money

    Posted on July 5th, 2020 at 02:00 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    HARDWARE

    What to look for in a new-but-old computer

    You have to look closely at the offerings, and they aren’t ideal for every use case, but refurbished machines can be the way to go.

    Susan BradleyBy Susan Bradley

    Unless we have a specific need for an overpowered gaming computer, most of us can get along just fine with a machine that is a few years old. But one thing we should always look for is ample hard-drive space.

    A recent article from Ars Technica showcases what I’ve said for years: never purchase a laptop that has a super-small hard drive; you will immediately and forever regret the decision and fight with that small hard drive for the rest of the time you have it. For example, when I want to upgrade my 32GB ASUS laptop, I have to attach an external USB hard drive. It will still not do a proper feature-release install without it.

    But you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a decent computer. Machines that the vendors call “refurbished” can be perfectly fine for what you and I do on a regular basis. Furthermore, if you don’t mind a bulky machine, you can get what I consider to be a bargain with an old-fashioned desktop computer.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.26.0 (2020-07-06).

  • Helpful items for working during the pandemic

    Posted on June 8th, 2020 at 01:00 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    BEST HARDWARE

    By Michael Lasky

    In one way or another, we’ve all been touched by the COVID-19 event. This crisis has truly transformed how we work, play, travel, and shop.

    All things considered, it’s not surprising that hardware and software vendors see the pandemic as a huge opportunity for selling us work-at-home merchandise that will purportedly enhance our safety and productivity. Some of those items are actually useful!

    Here are three such products that I put to the test. Not only did they accomplish their professed raison d’être, each will remain part of my post-COVID-19 life.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.22.0 (2020-06-08).

  • Terabyte update: The hard-drive price advantage

    Posted on June 1st, 2020 at 01:15 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge
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    HARDWARE

    By Will Fastie

    Solid-state drives (SSDs) have rapidly become the drive of choice for all types of devices, with smartphones and tablets leading the way.

    Today’s laptops commonly include an SSD, and an increasing number of desktop PCs are configured with a smallish boot SSD and a larger spinning-platter, hard-disk drive (HDD) for long-term data storage. Given the ongoing changes in storage technology and cost, there’s little doubt that solid-state memory will someday replace mechanical rotating disks. The only question is when?

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.21.0 (2020-06-01).

  • LangaList: “What will happen if I don’t replace immediately a swollen lithium ion battery?”

    Posted on May 21st, 2020 at 07:40 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Fred has a video to show you what’s at stake.

    New on Langa.com.

  • The new Surfaces arrive

    Posted on May 6th, 2020 at 15:36 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Would you buy a used operating system from this man?

    Have to admit that his daughter’s “impromptu” appearance was well orchestrated.

    Seriously, Panay is a remarkable salesman and gifted presenter. He’s also in charge of Windows. And he’s peddling some really cheap hardware:

    Surface Go 2 starting at $399 (Pentium 4425Y, 4 GB RAM – see Patch Lady’s admonishment below – 64 GB, just barely run Windows 10 Home in S Mode, doesn’t include a keyboard)

    Surface Book 3 starting at $1599 (13.5-inch, Core i5, 8 GB, 256 GB, Win10 Home)

    Surface Headphones 2 $249

    Surface Earbuds $199

    Surface Dock 2 costs $140 less than the Go 2. For a dock.

    Of course, I wouldn’t buy a Surface product if MS paid me, but that’s just because I’ve seen the way they treat customers. Your results certainly will vary.

    We’ll have more on the products he’s pushing as the reviews come in.

  • Fresh reports of HP PC shortages

    Posted on March 9th, 2020 at 15:28 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Just got a message from a reader:

    I wanted to report to you something that may pique your interest. I was tasked with ordering computers (HP) and I am finding out due to the Coronavirus coupled with Intel chip shortages that [it’s difficult to find HP] computers… to replace old Windows 7/Vista, yes Vista, machines.

    I did a search on many sites and stock is low and even Amazon and Google are struggling to find pcs that would fit the needs (I’m aiming at 16gb of ram, I5 processors at minimum).

    Are you encountering any problems getting new computers? There have been reports and rumors of chip shortages cascading into PC shortages, but I haven’t seen anything specifically about i5-level processors with 16 GB of RAM.

  • How to manage your router – Part II

    Posted on January 13th, 2020 at 01:15 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    NETWORKING

    By Lance Whitney

    Your router holds the keys to your local network. Here’s how to use some of its advanced settings.

    In Part I of this two-part series, I covered the basics of router management: changing router and Wi-Fi credentials, guest networks, parental controls, and blocking devices. If you missed it, head over to the 2020-01-06 AskWoody Plus issue.

    The basic settings add some security and protection, but if you want to kick that up to a higher gear, you’ll need to dive into the more advanced options. In Part II, we’ll cover topics such as changing DNS servers, running a speed test, blocking specific sites, setting up MAC-address control, viewing logs, and updating your firmware.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.2.0 (2020-01-13).

  • How to manage your router – Part I

    Posted on January 6th, 2020 at 01:15 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    NETWORKING

    By Lance Whitney

    Your router holds the keys to your local network. Here’s how to interpret and configure its various settings.

    Router management has always been a somewhat challenging task, especially if you venture beyond the basic settings. Over the years, router manufacturers have tried to make the initial configuration process simpler through one-touch buttons and easy-setup wizards.

    But making sure your Wi-Fi network is configured securely and properly means delving into the local router’s firmware, checking and tweaking various options.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.1.0 (2020-01-06).

  • Versatile gadget gifts for stuffing stockings large and small

    Posted on December 9th, 2019 at 01:00 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    GADGETS

    By Michael Lasky

    Christmas stocking stuffers are usually thought of as small, whimsical, and not always practical gifts. They’re fun little extras.

    But throughout the year, I bookmarked a host of high- and low-tech products that are actually useful for digital denizens. You know: gadgets that will appeal to your favorite techie — or that you secretly covet for yourself.

    If your holiday shopping list is still incomplete, here are four items for your consideration.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 16.45.0 (2019-12-09).

  • Google shutting down Cloud Print late next year

    Posted on November 22nd, 2019 at 06:05 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Don’t know about you, but I use Google Cloud Print every day. In fact it’s the only way I print these days. Google’s killing it at the end of next year.

    Here’s what Google says:

    Beginning January 1, 2021, devices across all operating systems will no longer be able to print using Google Cloud Print. We recommend that over the next year, you identify an alternative solution and execute a migration strategy.

    I’ll probably change to Epson’s cloud-based printing service, but what a pain!

    (Technical note: I have an Epson ET-4750 which connects to my office WiFi system. Works great. I could print directly from every other device on my WiFi network, but it’s a bear setting up direct printing from my LAN-attached main computer, unless I go through the cloud.)

    Martin Brinkmann has more details on Ghacks.net.

  • Patch Lady – for small businesses remember your firewall is a computer too

    Posted on November 19th, 2019 at 15:35 Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    If you are like many small businesses, in addition to the router provided by your Internet provider, you also may have a hardware firewall that goes between you and the outside world.  It provides additional filtering and protection.  In this era of cloud computing it may be getting less important, but I still like to have a bit of web filtering between me and the bad guys that come through browsing in a firm setting.

    Last night at 5:05ish p.m. our Sophos firewall hardware completely died.  Good news is that is covered under warranty they are shipping out a unit overnight.

    The good news is that I quickly downloaded a ISO of a trial of Sophos firewall software, stuck it in hyperV, installed it and after a few missteps in setting up firewall rules, got the server/network back online.  It pays to have a server with spare networking ports that you aren’t using that you can set up a virtual appliance firewall.  I’m using a 30 days trial version to tide me over.  I’m thinking about sticking the home license in there and keeping it on the server as a just in case of emergency.  You don’t realize how dependent you are on the firewall until it goes boom. And then you realize your ENTIRE network goes through a SINGLE box.

    For those of you that are small business consultants, you may want to see if your firewall vendor has similar software appliance downloads to work as a temp firewall as long as you have two nics free.  Once you get it up it looks just like your real firewall.

    Here’s the bad news:  So in googling around last night, I realized that I have a rev 1 SG125 and guess what….. there’s a known issue in these suckers

    And it’s been known for at least two years.  So you may want to google on the firewall vendor forums every now and then to determine if other devices are like this unit:

    “Please do not go screaming at Sophos as this one is NOT THEIR FAULT.  Intel is hampering things trying to contain the damage by not allowing the vendors to say exactly which chips are hit..but a little self-research makes it very easy to figure out whoe SOC is screwed up and which devices are a time bomb.”

    Apparently I’m lucky that it hasn’t occurred before this.

    More on this issue:  https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/06/cisco_intel_decline_to_link_product_warning_to_faulty_chip/

    And it impacts Cisco too:  https://www.reddit.com/r/networking/comments/5sbh7u/cisco_clock_issues_caused_by_faulty_intel_atom/