Category Archives: computers

Can Linux Really Compare to Windows?

Can Linux Really Compare to Windows

When building or buying a computer, one may spend a hundred dollars or more on a Windows OS. But do you really need it? Many users are completely unaware or uncaring of the Linux OS. Linux is a free, open-source OS which powers everything from Android phones to microwaves. Its versatility and zero-dollar price tag money make it a solid competitor to Microsoft Windows. However, Linux is far from perfect, and a user’s needs and interests need to be heavily considered before a decision between the two is made.

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One of the most important differences between Linux and Windows is compatibility. The vast majority of Windows programs do not have a Linux version, so some users may have a hard time adjusting and finding alternatives to their usual regime of programs. However, there certainly are alternatives, and most tasks can be suitably fulfilled in Linux, albeit in a more basic form.

Another factor to consider is how comfortable a user is with computers. Linux is a good deal more advanced than Windows, and even user-friendly versions such asubuntu Ubuntu tend to be less beginner-oriented than Windows. Typically, children and the elderly should not even consider Linux, as they will need the simple, worry-free performance of Windows. However, if a buyer is on a strict budget, these users may want to take the time to learn about Linux, so that they can save their cash without running into too many issues.

You should also consider what you are going to use the computer for. For gaming, a user should definitely stick with Windows. While modern games are increasingly becoming available on Linux, the vast majority remain Windows-only. For business use, again Windows comes out on top, as many important business applications don’t have a Linux version, such as the Microsoft Office products. However, for the average, everyday user who needs a computer for basic tasks such as writing and internet access, Linux is a perfectly serviceable alternative to Windows. Suites such as Kingsoft Office offer basic productivity capabilities, and provided that the user has the tech knowledge to deal with the odd technical or compatibility issue, the Ubuntu UI is far from an unpleasant experience.

For the vast majority of users, Windows will be a more ideal operating system. But, for those who don’t need Windows’ advanced capabilities or are on a budget, Linux can be a fantastic alternative. Linux may not be for everyone, but for some, it may just be the perfect solution.

10 Tips for Traveling with Your Gadgets

Traveling with Your Gadgets Whether you are traveling within your home country or embarking on an international adventure, your smartphone can make your life easier. Modern smartphones are more than communication devices – they are personal assistants, direction providers, local guidebooks and more.

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The following 10 tips will help you get the most out of your smartphone, tablet and other gadgets the next time you travel.


Download a hotspot directory app before you go. Apps like FreespotDirectory (U.S.-based hotspots) and JWire (U.S. and international) let you find Wi-Fi connections wherever you go.


Use an app like Connectify to expand paid Wi-Fi to more devices. Connectify works on Windows 7 and 8 to instantly turn your laptop into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Related:How to Convert Your Android Device Into a Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot


Check with your provider to make sure your phone will work overseas and that your plan will cover the charges. If your current smartphone is incompatible with overseas travel, you can rent an international phone for your trip.


Conserve voice and data minutes by using programs like Skype. You can keep in touch with the folks back home and avoid costly overages.


Leave your smartphone in airplane mode even after you land. Airplane mode reduces battery usage significantly.


Ask your carrier if you need a new charging cord for international travel. Your regular charging cord may not work overseas.


Give your batteries one last charge by plugging in at the airport.


Pack an extra battery or two just to be safe. You do not want to run out of juice just when you need it most.


Get familiar with your favorite mapping program before you leave for your trip. Google Maps and similar programs make getting around easier, but you will need time to learn the features.


Download a translation app if you will be traveling in a foreign country. Apps like WordLens, iTranslateVoice and Jibbigo can translate voice and text into a myriad of different languages. by beconrad

Going From a Desktop to a Chromebook – For Professional Writers

ChromebookWriting a document used to require an offline office suite, often developed in conjunction with the operating system, to handle everything from the initial outline to the final edit. Microsoft Office is famous for including its newest features on Windows first, and iWork (now Apple Productivity Apps) is designed to take advantage of the unique multimedia integration features of OS X.

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With people spending more time online, it is natural that the largest multimedia companies would incorporate office suites into their offerings. The most famous of which are Microsoft’s Office Online, which is tied to a free account, and Google Docs, which is likewise tied to a free Google account.

Both of these office suites feature multimedia integration features and allows the user to export the finished work in a variety of formats and mediums. Porting over existing documents to these two services is as simple as copying the files to the respective cloud storage systems, and either converting or upgrading the files.

This article will discuss the difficulties in moving over to either platform, and how to make both of them work effectively on a Chromebook. Additionally, after making the transition to an online office suite, an introduction to some of the tools available for use on the Chromebook will be offered.
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File Fidelity and Continuous Access

When depending on any tool for work purposes, consistency and ease of access are vital. Microsoft and Google both have distinct ways of handling this challenge. Google builds in offline capabilities in its office suite, allowing basic use regardless of the situation. Microsoft tends to rely on users switching to traditional versions of its operating system, ignoring the online connectivity issues.

Office Online on a Chromebook

Office Online is the web version of the famous Microsoft Office. It strives to incorporate as many features of the desktop version of Office possible while integrating new publishing technologies that ease incorporating text into blogs. Thanks to Microsoft’s efforts, it is possible to collaborate with desktop Office users in near real-time, creating documents that will open with perfect fidelity on any device.

If the writer is using Windows 8.1, then transitioning over to this platform may be seamless, since many people save to their OneDrive accounts automatically. If you are using a Linux distribution, or Mac OS X, then it is a simple matter of uploading the files through either a desktop program or the web interface.

If the writer is using anything other than Office 2013, the files will be upgraded to the newest format. Open source supporters have the option of using the Open Document Format instead. The final result will be a collection of documents that can be shared, presented, and edited from any computer running a modern web browser.

For users wishing to guarantee fidelity of the files, then this online suite is vital. However, there are a few drawbacks to using Microsoft’s offering. Primarily, if the Internet connection drops, access to the document is lost as well.

Additionally, there is a distinct lack of integration between this service and its primary competitor, Google Drive. On the Chromebook, you have to manually sign in to the site to access/upload any new data.

Google Docs on a Chromebook
Google Docs on a Chromebook

Much like Office is developed to shine on Windows, Google Docs and Drive is fully functional on the Google Chrome OS platform. It started with the goal of providing a barebones solution for people that did not need many of the features included with Microsoft Office. Over the last several years, features have been slowly added with an emphasis on improving compatibility with Office and increasing use as customers’ needs changed.

When a writer first logs into a Chromebook, up to five gigabytes of the most recently accessed data on Google Drive is downloaded to the device. This means that as the writer progresses, older materials will be removed and stored solely in the cloud. The user does have the ability to store items locally though the actual Doc files are not transferable.

Additionally, as an acknowledgement that Internet connections are not guaranteed, Google has made basic document creation and editing features available offline.

When uploading a current archive of documents to this service, the end user is given the choice to convert the files or leave them as-is. However, editing these documents will require that they be converted to Google Docs.

Exporting is very easy, with a range of options varying from Microsoft Office to Public Document Format (PDF.) The resultant files are exceptionally easy to use, and are often exceptionally compact, compared with the large file sizes of documents saved with Microsoft Office directly.

There are still some issues with file fidelity, mainly with odd features and graphics. However, that will impact only a very small subset of the writing field.

Feature Sets

The creation of a decent document is the main purpose of any word processor, regardless of the form it takes. Stripping the issue down to its core, it is possible to create anything with a basic text editor and an excellent grasp of the English language.

A word processor is designed to help eliminate issues that come up when handling complex documents, and in sharing the completed texts in a digital form. Both Google Docs and Office Online are capable of doing so admirably. However, there are some minor differences between the two that help differentiate their use cases.

Both suites offer the ability to create direct links to the files, in-document comments, and offers exemplary change-tracking features.

Office Online

The greatest asset this office suite has is the native file format. For people that frequently have to export and email documents, the ability to be guaranteed that the saved document will accurately reflect what is on the screen is a major asset. Beyond that, Skype is integrated into the interface. If your Skype username is tied to your OneDrive account, then you will be able to communicate with collaborators without having to create a thousand comments throughout the document.

The interface is designed to be reminiscent of the newer versions of Microsoft Office, including the infamous Ribbon. It is possible for those who have only had experience with the desktop versions of Microsoft Office (from 2007 on up) to get to work without any issues.

The service also has Bing Images integrated, giving the writer the ability to locate freely usable (through a license option in the appropriate section) images to include in the document.

Google Docs

The greatest asset Google Docs has is the ability to integrate third-party features into the interface. The writer is able to include everything from real-time third-party editing services, to online bibliography managers. Since this is tied to the account, and not the computer, these features are available on any computer the end user logs in from.

The service is integrated with Google Chat/Hangouts, making it easy to communicate with multiple people, regardless if they are working on the document.

The interface uses what can be considered to be a classical look, with traditional menu bars dotting the top. The only changes to this comes in a novel approach to change tracking – on the top right hand corner of the editing window is an option to change how text placed in the document is handled. The default manner acts like any other text editor. The second option, Suggestions, allows you to input text but designated all changes as suggestions that have to be approved by all document participants before it is integrated with the final copy.

The final option is perfect for those who need to pass a laptop around the office, but do not wish for people to make any changes. View mode blocks all changes, giving the end-user the luxury of reading the document without accidentally changing it.

Which One is Better?Which One is Better

Both office suites can be used by a dedicated writer on a Chromebook. If the writer is expecting to be offline for any time, or requires a third party tool, then Google Docs and Drive will be a better option. It is a simple matter to export the final copy, with great assurances that the file will be fully compatible with any other tool available.

Microsoft’s Office Online is better suited for those that are guaranteed to be online, and need to collaborate with those currently using modern versions of Microsoft Office. It does not fully integrate into the Chrome experience and does not currently allow third-party extensions to customize the experience.

Both services offer communication tools that integrate into each companies’ in-house services, and can easily be shared with other people.

The final choice depends on how the document will be handled, and what sort of collaboration is needed. The best advice is to maintain accounts with both services and utilize either one on a case-by-case basis.

Beyond the Word Processor

Chrome OS is designed for those that live online. An astute writer may already have accounts with a dozen web services, ranging from Evernote to Zoho. With many services integrating with Google Drive, it is possible to create something using Chrome on Windows, and then immediately continue the task on the Chromebook.

Many of these services are now offering offline applications that work in Google Chrome. The best way for a writer to determine if he or she is ready for the plunge is to simply turn off the wifi on their regular computer. If their workflow is not negatively impacted, then the web apps in use can be counted on to work perfectly on the Google Chromebook.


A Chromebook offers a relatively cheap option for people looking to be productive on the go. Thanks to the cloud-centric design, it is possible to complete several documents in one sitting and have the laptop destroyed, without having any concern. All the writer will have to do is log on another computer, and pull up the relevant data.

It is imperative that professional writers look for ways to minimize their dependence on any particular device for work. A Chromebook offer a cheap and effective insurance policy against anything that life can throw his or her way. It does not matter what tools are used – the data will always be secured.

Slow Down for Great Photography

Slow Down for Great Photography

You just got home from that dream vacation and copied your photographs from your camera to your computer. In anticipation, you sit down and start scrolling through the shots you thought would be fantastic and are disappointed in the results. Too many are blurry. Some are too light or too dark. A few have distracting elements that you didn’t see when you took them. What happened?

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What happened is you made the same mistake many beginning and even advanced photographers make. You got in a hurry. You saw something and whipped out your camera to nail the shot before you moved on to the next one. The resulting images are unsatisfactory. How do you fix this? If the problem is that you got in too much of a hurry, then the solution is simple; slow down.

You’re on vacation. What’s the rush? Instead of trying to get 1,000 average pictures, try for 100 great ones. When you see that special subject you want to shoot, first, do nothing. Take a deep breath. Look at the subject again. Walk around and look at it from different angles. Look at where the light is coming from. Think about the composition.

After you have done all that, then take out your camera. Find the spot you have chosen to shoot from and look at the subject again through the lens. While looking through the lens, look all around the frame, along the edges and into the corners. What else is going to be in the shot? Does it add to the photograph or distract from it? If it doesn’t add anything, think of ways to get rid of it. Change the angle. Change your viewpoint. Move closer or further away. Get down low or find high ground.

Now you have the shot you want to take in mind and you have chosen where to shoot it from. Look through the lens again. Where is your focal point? What part of the image is most important to be in focus? How much depth of field do you need? Based on these decisions, adjust your aperture and focal point and recompose the image in your viewfinder.

Next,look through the lens one more time. How bright is the brightest part of the image and how dark are the shadows? Can you find a shutter speed that will give you a good exposure across the entire frame? If not, what will you have to sacrifice to get the best light on the main subject? Maybe you’ll need to let some shadows fall to black. Maybe the sky will need to be blown out a bit. Understand what needs to be perfectly exposed and work around that.

Finally, after all those decisions have been made and you have everything set for the image you want to capture, bring the camera up to your eye one last time and look through the viewfinder. Make sure the image is level in the frame. Steady your stance and plant your feet rock solid. Brace your elbows tight in against your body. Hold the camera tight against your face. Take a deep breath, and then slowly rock your finger across the shutter button. Now you have taken the photograph you envisioned when you first came on the scene and captured a keeper.

Take your time. Slow down and nail those perfect holiday images you will be just as proud of after you get back home.

How to Capture the Beauty of Landscapes in Winter

How to Capture Landscapes in Winter

If you are willing to brave the elements, winter is a great time for landscape photography. Snow and ice create a unique atmosphere, and trees and plants look completely different with the arrival of winter. The following tips will guide you to produce stunning winter landscapes.

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1) Dress for the environment.

If you are going out shooting in winter, it’s important to wear appropriate clothing. Wear layers of clothing which will keep you warm and comfortable, and be prepared for rain and snow. There’s nothing worse than finding a beautiful location and having to leave after a short because you are cold and wet. You may need to walk some distance to find the right views, so consider walking boots or other sturdy footwear.

2) Protect your equipment.

Cold temperatures and moisture can cause damage to cameras and other equipment if they aren’t designed for such conditions. Don’t take risks with your camera, and only use it in harsh conditions if you know it’s weatherproof. You should always wipe down and clean equipment after a winter shoot.

3) Think about the time of the day.

Capturing a really stunning winter landscape in a photograph may mean getting up before sunset. The sun remains close to the horizon throughout the day in winter, but the landscape still changes as the hours pass. Long shadows reveal textures and create a unique mood and atmosphere. Sunsets over snow-covered landscapes are another beautiful subject for photographs.

4) Use foreground interest.

Large expanses of snow can lose their impact in photographs, so frame pictures to include foreground interest for a sense of scale. Trees, rocks, frozen pools of water or man-made objects add an important dimension when positioned in the foreground of a landscape photograph.

5) Check exposures.

Large areas of white can fool the metering systems of most cameras, so don’t rely on them to get exposure right when photographing snowy landscapes. Over-expose shots or use manual metering to ensure detail is captured. Shooting in RAW format gives you much greater flexibility in the digital darkroom, and any exposure problems can be corrected. If you are shooting with a digital SLR camera, look at the histograms of shots as you take them to check the exposure range.

6) Don’t forget the details.

Capturing the beauty of winter in a photograph isn’t just about taking shots of snow-covered vistas. Pictures of frozen leaves, berries and other details are great for illustrating the impact of winter on the natural world. If you have a macro lens, look for small details such as icicles to photograph. If possible, try to capture photographs of birds and other wildlife in the winter landscape.

7) Pack some filters.

Photographic filters are great for shooting winter landscapes. Fitting a UV filter to your lens will remove the haze which can spoil a wide-angle landscape shot. A polarizing filter can be used to deepen the color of winter skies, and to remove reflections from frozen water. Neutral density filters can be useful in very bright conditions, and fitting one means you can work with wider apertures.

8) Pack a tripod.

Shooting outdoors in winter often means working in lower light conditions, so pack a tripod to reduce the risk of camera shake. Mounting your camera on a tripod means you can shoot scenes with a wide depth of field. Always clean and dry your tripod after using it outdoors in winter.

Use Custom USB Drives to Promote Your Business and Inform Your Customers

Custom USB Drive

Visit any convention or conference and you’ll find people walking out with bags stuffed full of promotional items, along with stacks of brochures, catalogs and pamphlets filled with information about companies and their products. While these venues offer a great opportunity to get your company’s information into the hands of potential customers, it’s often not the best place win over new customers. Custom USB drives to promote your business or product can help you gain more new customers, even if they don’t immediately commit to buying your company’s products or services.

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USB drives make useful promotional items for customers

Most people can always use an extra USB drive which makes them a good choice for a promotional gift item. It’s easy to convince people to take home an item that might be useful in the future.  Many companies will create a custom USB drive to market your company’s product or service. The logo and contact information for your business can be imprinted on USB drives made from a variety of materials such as plastic, metal, wood or even leather. There are many styles to choose from as well, making it easy to design a drive to help your company stand out. Custom USB drives that pop out of a card-style holder, come attached to a key ring or lanyard or fit inside a pen are just a few of the styles available.

Load promotional materials onto your company’s USB drives

Even potential customers who are genuinely interested in your company or products might find it hard to keep track of paper materials they receive at a trade show. Your company can gain extra marketing value from USB drives you hand out to customers if you also load them with information about your company and products. You might choose to include a company catalog, product brochures and other business information on the flash drive. Many companies who design and make promotional flash drives for businesses can also load information onto those drives, so the drives arrive ready for sales representatives to hand them out to customers. USB drives offer a great way to showcase product demos, company photos and videos. Many potential customers appreciate a simple way to learn about your company, without lugging home piles of brochures from a convention or trade show.

It would be great if your promotional item was something that got used every day, but chances are most customers won’t use a bright purple USB drive wristband all the time. When handing out free USB drives to potential customers consider emphasizing how valuable they can be in case of an emergency. USB drives fail often. They’re small and easy to lose. It seems like people need a flash drive often, but they don’t always have one on hand. If your customers keep your USB drives, they’ll see your company name printed on them. Then not only will they think about making use of the drive, but they’ll also likely be grateful they had one when they needed it. And that could remind them they’ve been meaning to call your company.

It can be challenging to get people to take home promotional items at trade shows and conferences. Customers and potential customers may be more willing to keep promotional items they might use later, such as a USB drive. Your customers and potential customers will probably appreciate having a spare drive on hand.  Think about loading USB drives with promotional information about your products and services to make it easier for customers to learn more. Look into creating a custom USB drive to promote your company or business and provide a useful item that also informs customers about your valuable products and services.

Three Tips on Buying the Perfect Computer Case

One project which consumers are increasingly engaging in is building their own custom computers. There is ample information available to them on what parts to buy and what factors to consider, but there is one part often left without explanation: the case. The computer case is possibly the most important part of the computer, as it is the one part which will be seen every day, and at first glance. Yet, most advice on picking a case simply amounts to, choose the one you like the most! While this is good advice, here are three things to keep in mind as a buyer decides on his or her case.

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First, don’t make it complicated! For a first-time computer builder, a complex and confusing case can be a major setback. First-time builders should look for a case with amenities such as cable management, screwless assembly and disassembly, and pre-installed fans. These features will not only alleviate most problems one may run into, but will save a good deal of time.

Watch the edge! A good indicator of a quality case is whether its edges are sharp or smooth. A good way to check this, if it is not explicitly stated in the product description, is in the reviews. Reviewers will often leave bad marks for a case with sharp edges, and good marks for a case with smooth edges. These sharp edges are also a good indicator of build quality: well-built cases rarely have sharp edges, and poorly-built cases don’t typically have smooth edges.

Additionally, make sure that the case has everything necessary. If a user needs USB 3.0 ports for, say, an external microphone, he or she shouldn’t settle for a case without front USB 3.0 ports. Some cases will be of an excellent build quality and price, only to be lacking in features! A good case should have at least two USB 2.0 ports, an audio jack, and a microphone jack. If a user needs more, then he should look for more.

On top of these reminders, it is important to find a case unique to the buyer. One shouldn’t decide on a case solely based on its specifications: it needs to look good, too! Additionally, atypically, a user may have to consider the size of the case, as some graphics cards will be very large, although this is generally not a concern, as most are less than twelve inches long. Additionally, price consideration is a must, as some cases will have features identical to cases twice their price. The process of buying a computer case is an important one, and the buyer should not take it lightly.

3 Good Reasons Not to Root Your Android Device

Not to Root Your Android Device

Are you thinking of rooting your Android device so you can have a custom ROM (Read Only Memory) or install a phone-to-modem tethering app, a type of third-party digital tool that’s blocked in the Google Play store? These are just two of the wonderful things you can do with your Android device if you attain the administrator status afforded by rooting. There are many downsides to rooting, though. Consider these three reasons for not rooting your Android device.

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If your mobile device is still under warranty, rooting it prevents you from making future claims. Modifications to the device’s hardware and software can void your warranty, and rooting is considered a form of software tampering. Even if you cover your tracks, Android manufacturers have ways of checking if a device has been rooted. This becomes a problem in case you want to make a warranty claim.

User Protection

After rooting your mobile device, you gain access to its operating system’s source code, the lifeblood of your Android device. What if you inadvertently type in a space or delete a character? Unless you are technically proficient and can understand the nitty-gritty of mobile application coding, you might want to hold off on getting super-user access, because you could just as easily crash your smartphone or tablet.

Your default user account protects your device from the intrusion of certain malicious apps. As a regular user, you are restricted to installing apps only on sandboxed areas, which is an effective way of keeping malicious apps at bay. Bypassing this natural safeguard by rooting can expose your device to malware.

System Updates

After rooting your device, you become saddled with the task of maintaining your phone through downloading and installing critical system updates. Note that the older the operating system or software version, the more likely malicious hackers are aware of its inherent security flaws. Thus, it is important that your device is able to receive automatic updates and patches. Downloading and installing system updates regularly will become your responsibility if you opt to root your device.

When it comes to doing system updates on rooted devices, two scenarios are likely to happen. One, the security exploit used for rooting may be patched, which means you are back to square one, where all low-level changes revert to their stock state. Two, system updates may not install properly, which can result in rendering your device and the personal data on it easy prey for attackers.

All in all, know exactly what you’re getting into before rooting your device. This is especially true for novice Android users.