FAQ

Can I Buy Direct

Can I Buy Direct

I don’t sell computer hardware or software, but I can recommend what to buy and can occasionally get special pricing on certain items. However, even in instances where I can get special pricing, I would not sell anything directly. All sales would go through a third party.

Choosing a Computer

Choosing a Computer

People often ask me what type of computer they should get when they’re looking for a new computer. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy answer because everyone has different needs and different skill levels when it comes to computers. That’s not to say that I don’t have some opinions/guidelines for people who are in the market for a new computer.

The first question I usually ask someone seeking advice on a new computer is “what do you want to do with your computer?” For instance, are you using it just to connect to the Internet, download your digital camera photos, and send e-mail or are using it more for working from home and running enterprise applications?

Most people are just looking for a computer that will get them on the Internet securely, let them listen to music, download Digital pictures, and send and receive e-mail. For those people looking for that functionality, I always recommend that they check out what Apple has to offer in their Mac product line. Macs come with an excellent suite of software that is easy enough to use for even the most novice computer users, and powerful enough for the most advanced users. They can read and write all of the same common file formats as Windows computers (including Microsoft Office), yet the Mac operating system is free from Viruses, Spy-ware, and Ad-ware! And for parents, there are built-in parental controls to keep your kids safe on the internet.

Apple sells laptops (MacBooks), which start at $999 and two consumer desktop models (Mac MinisiMacs). Mac Minis start at $699 while iMacs start at $1199. Unlike other PC manufacturers the default configurations have all the bells & whistles and does not require any expensive upgrades. Right out of the box you will have virtually all the software you could ever need! For excellent description of all the software and benefits of using a Mac please read more here: http://www.apple.com/getamac/

What many people do not realize is that Apple has transitioned all its computers to Intel processors, in other words Apple sells the same processors in their computers that you could get in a Dell, HP, or IBM Computer. This actually allows all Apple computers that currently use this new processor to also run Windows in a variety of different ways. One option is to use Bootcamp, a piece of software written by Apple that allows you to install a copy of Windows that you own (must be a full version with service pack 2 or 3) on your Mac. Once installed you can choose which operating system you want to use when you start the computer. This is referred to as a dual boot configuration. You can read more about it by clicking the link above. I have used it myself and I can say that it works extremely well.

If the idea of rebooting your computer every time you want to run one of your Windows programs does not appeal to you, you still have options. There are now two companies providing software to run Windows right on your Mac.  The first (and my favorite) is VMWare Fusion and the other is Parallels Desktop for Mac. The software allows you to install Windows in such way that you can run either Mac OS X or Windows at the same time without restarting your computer. It works extremely well, especially for office applications and web browsing. The only thing it doesn’t do well is play games (yet). You can read more about it on their web site: http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop/

If you’re still not convinced that a Mac is the way to go I’ve included below a list of recommended specifications for a Windows computer.

Recommended System Requirements:

  • Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit if possible)
  • Processor: Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 or Core 2 Duo (Never get a Celeron)
  • Memory/RAM: 1GB Video Card: 128MB or greater
  • Hard drive: 250GB or greater
  • CD-RW/DVD: Combo Drive for burning CDs and playing DVDs
  • Misc: USB 2.0

Optional:

  • CD-RW/DVD+/-RW: for burning DVDs AND CDs
  • Wireless: 802.11n  or at a minimum 802.11g

Accessories:

Any computer that will be connected via a high-speed DSL/Cable connection should also have a router. See my router recommendation page.

 

Choosing Antivirus

Choosing Antivirus Software

If you run a Windows operating system such as Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Vista you should absolutely have an antivirus program installed on your computer, otherwise you are asking for trouble. I typically recommend Norton antivirus since it is the best out there. But there are also several other antivirus programs, which although not as good as Norton are typically much cheaper.

If price is an issue, I have discovered a very good antivirus program that doesn’t cost anything. It is made by a company called Grisoft. If you want some more information about it or like to download it and give it a try here is their web site: http://free.grisoft.com

Additionally, All Windows users should seriously consider purchasing Anti Spyware for their computer. It is still extremely easy for something to sneak on your computer without you knowing and do all sorts of nasty things. Spyware programs are also often very difficult to remove. The best program I have found for keeping your computer free of Spyware is SpySweeper from Webroot

If you run Apple OS 8, 9, or 10.x you really don’t need an antivirus program. There are no known viruses for Apple OS X even though it has been available for over 5 years. However, it is good practice to have an antivirus program anyway so you don’t inadvertently pass along viruses (which don’t affect Apple operating systems) to people who use Windows operating systems. I have found a very good free antivirus program that I use to scan suspicious files and mail messages. It is called ClamX AV and a can be downloaded here by visiting the site.

 

What is a router?

What Is A Router?

There are two types of firewalls: hardware and software. A hardware firewall is an electronic blocking mechanism (separate from your computer) that will not allow unauthorized intruders access to your computer. A software firewall is very similar except that it is installed on top of your operating system and is therefore somewhat less secure than a hardware firewall.

A hardware firewall/router for your broadband connection is an absolute necessity if you want your computer to be secure. These firewalls can either be “wired” or wireless. I would recommend buying Apple Airport Extreme / ExpressNetGear, or LinkSys brand firewalls, but just about any router will work for most users needs. One of my favorites in fact is Belkin. They have a router (F5D7230-4) that is absolutely fantastic, but only costs $39.99.

If you are planning to get a wireless router, make sure that you buy one that supports WPA or WPA2 encryption. It is also sometimes referred to as WiFi Protected Access. Most new routers these days support it, but it is good to make sure nonetheless. Another good recommendation when purchasing a wireless router is to ignore the “speed boost” and “super G” routers. They only give you a speed boost if you purchase a corresponding wireless card.

You could also consider an 802.11n router, but again, that only makes sense if your computer supports it. The range and speed are better, but it is not standard yet and some  wireless cards will not “play nice” with wireless routers from other manufacturers. Since it is most likely that your computer came with wireless built in that does not support either of those standards, you could just end up paying more for technology that you cannot even use.