pcns quicktakes

July 2009: From the Don't Believe Everything you Read Department

This is in response to Dan Briody's article, "Making Those PC's Last". In his article on MSN's Business On Main site here Mr. Briody makes an analogy to his 1994 Honda Accord, and states that we should do the same with our PC's. By keeping it maticulously maintained it will last longer.  I don't disagree with that, after all PCNS makes a living maintaining customer PC's, but there's a time when you have to replace a PC.   Dan says when you pull out your 5 year old laptop, don't think of it as a status symbol, but a tool. I think of it as an antique.

The problem with this theory is most 5 year old laptops can't run software of today.  Take my Dell Latitude C810 laptop, which falls in the 6 year old category.  It holds a maximum of 512 megs ram, woefully insufficient if I wanted to run Adobe CS4.  Virus Scanners every passing month, grow larger every passing year.  I recently installed Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition 10.2 on a Pentium-4 PC with 512 megs ram.  112 megabytes of Ram was dedicated to Norton.  By the time you bring up Windows XP with Service Pack 3 you may be able to run one program, say Internet Explorer 8 (which is a bit of a memory hog) without excessive swap file use.

Gasoline engines for the most part have been engineered as far as the technology goes.  If gas engines advanced as much as computer technology, cars would get 100 miles per gallon, and would cost 30% less.

You could hold to this theory, in a roundabout way; just never connect your PC to the Internet, and never update it or install any updates.

July 2009: Don't try this at Home!

A customer called, with no Internet Connection at home.  It turned out the Linksys WRT54G Router she owned had no lights.  After trying several things, including trying different outlets and moving the router to an A/C outlet which she knew worked, I asked if her husband had a Volt Meter so we could measure the output of the Linksys A/C Adapter to see if 12 volts DC was present at the plug.  Well the customer took it upon herself to test the A/C brick with the Cable Modem, and in the process she smoked the cable modem.  Bad idea, voltages between all those little Transformer bricks are not the same and you can severely damage your equipment by doing this.

July 2009: Turn off the water before leaving for Vacation!

Met a Mom at an extended stay Hotel, to diagnose her desktop PC.  It seems they went off on Vacation and a water supply line burst, resulting in 3 to 4 inches of water in the home.  The PC sat on the carpet - now the wet carpet.  Diagnosis is underway.

June 2009: Many laptops cannot run headless

Had a customer with a Toshiba 17" Laptop, with a failed LCD display.  The customer wanted to know if they could run the laptop headless.  Headless operation is where the LCD display is removed from the laptop and a user connects an external monitor to it, thereby making the laptop a keyboard/ mousepad.  No more portable operation unless you lug a monitor with you.  The bottom line is you cannot run most Laptops headless, because doing so disconnects the Wireless Antenna, which runs up inside the display panel.  The wireless card will have very poor reception and transmission capability, and it will eventually stop working.  Some wireless adapters are easy to get to, by removing a modular cover on the bottom of the laptop.  The wireless card could then be removed.  This is an issue if you use the wireless for your network connection, as this customer did.