Tag: computer software

Buying that piece of computer hardware or software? Shop around

Most of us can easily prefer to buy a piece of computer hardware or software but may not be aware of bargains that may be of interest.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro convertible notebook at Rydges Hotel Melbourne

Spend a bit of time researching the equipment or software to obtain the best deal you can

In some cases, you may think that buying online is the only path to a bargain. But the bricks-and-mortar path may yield some possible bargains. For example, a friend told me how they were able to purchase a desktop-security package from an electrical retailer and were able to score a USB hard disk as part of the package. This may be because the “bricks-and-mortar” shops along with the distributors are wanting to keep people interested in purchasing packaged goods rather than a download-only deal for computer software.

Here, you may find that a game may offer multiple extras that may cost more if you buy it and the extras separately. Similarly, a piece of software may be sold as a multiple-user package and these packages may yield better value for money when you end up adding two or more computers in to the equation.

What if it breaks down?

New desktop comptuer at church

Research and bargaining has paid off in obtaining a good deal on this computer

When you are buying computer hardware, consumer electronics or similar goods, you will need to think of what kind of support do you get if the item breaks down. Here, you would need to pay attention to the warranty offered and where you can drop the goods off for repair. A multiple-year warranty is considered essential for most computer goods and consumer electronics. Similarly, you may have to be sure about being able to know where there is a service agent within reasonable transport distance from where you live or whether you can simply drop the system off at the retailer that you bought it from to seek any repairs.

You may have to present competitive offers for equipment or software of the same standard in order to have the retailers respond with better offers. This is a practice that has worked when I helped a church with getting the right deal for a computer. I had determined a minimum standard for a future-proof computer and specified a few different systems matching that standard and two other men shopped around and received better offers for a system of that standard including a system that was specified with a solid-state drive.

Another advantage of buying within your own country is that you are protected by your country’s consumer-protection laws a.k.a. “lemon laws”. Here, you have the weight of these laws behind you if you find that the goods are not up to standard. For example, there were a few times where I had suggested to people who had hard disks, DVD burners and other parts fail in their relatively-new computers to have these parts replaced at no cost to them.

The trick here is to be able to shop around through both the online and “bricks-and-mortar” channels, including independent dealers, so you can track down the best value hardware or software deals.

System recovery images–how about updatimg them

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 2 connected to Wi-Fi hotspot at Bean Counter Cafe

The recovery image on these computers could be part of an update program to simplify refreshing them with the latest version of the operating system if they fail

Increasingly a lot of computer systems, especially laptops and tablets, are making use of so-called “recovery” images. This same practice also applies whenever an organisation is using a disk image with the operating system and applications that are the software component of a standard operating environment.

These are a disk image of all of the operating system and supplied applications that are delivered by the system manufacturer or value-added reseller and installed on the system when it is first set up. The computer makes use of these images if the computer has to be taken to “ground zero” due to a virus or corrupt data or before the user hands the computer to someone else. Newer operating systems use these images as part of a system refresh routine in order to remove corrupt data and bring stability to the computer’s configuration.

But what can happen is that as operating system and application developers keep refining their software, what exists on these system recovery images represents software that is way out of date. This reminds me of a support visit where Microsoft Word was continually crashing on a desktop computer and I had discovered that the computer was running an “out-of-the-box” version of Windows Vista which hadn’t had any service packs installed.

Typically, this will lead to reinstalling any and all patches and updates that were rolled out since the recovery image was created. But how can this be resolved?

One way would be for the manufacturer or value-added reseller to create a “recovery image service pack” and deliver that either as a USB stick or through an authenticated download to the computer users. Then the users install this service pack to replace the original recovery image to have an up-to-date reference image. This cond be created at regular intervals such as every six months.

Another way would be to create a dynamic system image that consists of the latest versions of the operating system and application files. The changed files can be added ot that image as part of installing the latest patches. Similarly, an “image update” app could check for newer hardware drivers for the hardware that is integrated with the computer system itself.

These issues may involve determining how installation and recovery disk images are built wiht a view to focus on the images referring ot major versions and editions of the software concerned along with any peripheral drivers. In the latter case, it may be about obtaining hardware-series-specific drivers rather than drivers that focus on that particular piece of hardware.

As well, with operating systems like Windows and OS X being offered with free major-version updates, the recovery image may also be about installing the latest major version of that operating system’s edition.

MacOS X users can now consolidate multiple cloud-based notes storage services in one app


Notesdeck Consolidates Evernote, Dropbox And iCloud Notes Into One App | Lifehacker Australia

My Comments

Some of us may start using the cloud-driven notes storage services like Evernote or Dropbox. This is due to the ability for us to gain access to the material we create on these services from any regular or mobile computing device.

But we can be encouraged to create accounts with more than one of these services, such as through a service provider having a presence on our new computers; or our colleagues, relatives or friends recommending a particular service to us. In some cases, we may exploit a particular service as a data pool for a particular project.

Subsequently we end up with multiple “front-end” links to different cloud-based storage services on our computers and end up not knowing where a particular piece of data is held – is it on Dropbox, is it on Evernote, is it on iCloud or whatever.

Now someone has written a MacOS X app that provides the same kind of interface and useability to these cloud-based services that an email client provides to most email services. In the Apple Macintosh context, Apple Mail would be able to allow you to set up multiple email accounts such as your SMTP/POP3 mailbox your ISP gave you, your Exchange account that work gave you as well as your GMail account that you set up as a personal account.

At the moment, the software called NotesDeck, sells for $11.49 but according to the review, there needs to be a few improvements. One that was raised was that entries are listed for services that you aren’t set up with. This is compared to the typical email client that doesn’t list service types that you don’t have presence with. It could be rectified properly if the software could use a provisioning user experience similar to the typical email client where you click on “Add Account” to create details about the mailbox you are integrating to your client. 

Of course, I would like to be sure that this program does allow you to transfer notes between accounts and also between local resources such as your word-processing documents. This may be important if you intend to consolidate your cloud-based notes services towards fewer services or copy the notes out to the magnum opus that you are working on.

Similarly, the program could be ported to the Windows platform or to the mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8) so that users who use these platforms can have the ability to work the multiple accounts on their devices using one program.