Monthly Archives: September 2013

Are laptops really more expensive than desktops?

Are laptops really more expensive than desktops? Of course they are, you say. But the answer depends entirely on how you use your PC. If you are like many who leave their PCs on all day in order to run file sharing programs and distributed computing applications, the answer may be a resounding “no.” Why? Because you have to factor in how much electricity you pay for to keep your machine whirring along. Though they have improved over the years, desktop PC producers have to shave as many pennies off the price of their product to stay competitive, and they have to use leading edge performance parts which simply are not engineered for low power use.

Laptop producers have quite the opposite approach, because one of the main things a laptop buyer looks at is battery life. Let’s say we matched two modern systems from the same vendor. A Dell Inspiron E1505 runs about $700, while a more or less equivalent desktop, the B110 comes in at just under $300. That’s a $400 dollar price difference. Let’s suppose you ran that system for 3 years, or 26,280 hours. Every watt of extra average power that the system draws would cost you, over that time period, about $3 to $6. So what’s the difference in wattage? Well, even at full power, the Dell laptop will not consume more than 65 watts of power. The desktop, on the other hand, will easily use 150 watts on average. Again, this is for people who run things like SETI or otherwise keep their boxes busy day-round, but even in cases where machines are allowed to idle, the power management on laptops is usually much more thorough than in a cheap desktop. So in the end, the price difference really isn’t that extreme, and certain users may actually save money in the long run by getting a laptop — you’re just paying up front for electricity savings.

MediaPortal Review

Opensource PVR/Media Center MediaPortal is a great piece of opensource (yes, free) software that allows you to almost completely run your entire home entertainment system from that old computer collecting dust in your closet. You can record and pause live TV, schedule future recordings (it actually provides you with a great number of options to record once, record weekly, etc), and organize all of your media.

You can easily go from watching live TV to listening to your favorite MP3s with one remote. The flexibility and price of this software do, however, seem to come with a price. After installing, we found it entirely too difficult to get a working program guide for the software to use. Luckily, the development community surrounding this software seems to have a built up a decent wiki with a number guides to help new users get started. The real question that remains in my mind, though: is it worth it? The upcoming release of the new Tivo comes with a price tag of nearly $400! If you don’t want top of the line, though, you can pick up a current model for around $100 bucks – definitely reasonable for what is quickly becoming an entertainment room necessity. MediaPortal

Desktop Calendar

I have been using Desktop Calendar by Tinnes Software to schedule tasks and reminders at work for more than six months now. I’ve found the free version has everything I need. This product is clean and uncomplicated, with no bells and whistles to get in the way. It can bet set it to sit wherever the user likes on the desktop, then simply one clicks on a date to enter data.

The data is visible on the calendar, and pops up in a window when the computer starts up on the date in question. The calendar has few special tricks besides setting repeating events “birthdays, anniversaries, etc), but the learning curve is next to non-existent, and it gets the job done. Desktop Calendar is the software equivalent of scribbling notes onto a wall calendar. It’s simple, easy to use, and visible at a glance. Desktop Calendar

WebRoot Windows Washer

WebRoot Windows Washer – This nifty little software program can save you a huge amount of time in cleaning out your computer of temp files. It literally can remove all temp files from all directories on your computer, and this will save you a world of disk space and also improve the performance of your computer. Once downloaded, there are many options within this program to choose from. Simply select the options you want and click “Wash Now.”

This program also has a “bleach” option, so once those files are deleted, they can never be recovered. There is a charge for this program, but, in the long run, it will save you a lot of time, and you can be certain all files will be cleaned out for good. No longer will you have to clean our your computer of temp files manually. Just one click, and it’s done. Check it out at the WebRoot website. You won’t regret it.

PrinterAnywhere Review – Long Distance Printing

PrinterAnywhere is a new solution to long distance printing. PrinterAnywhere is a wonderful little tool for printing to remote computers, or for hosting a globally-shared printer. Using this freeware software package is easy: you just sign up for a PrinterAnywhere account during the installation process, and then select which printers you’d like to share to ANYONE. Printing to another printer is easy, as well. Because PrinterAnywhere installs itself as a printer, you can select it from the Print dialog of any application. Once you click “OK,” you’re prompted to find a shared printer.

Using this application allows you to print directly to friends’ or coworkers’ printers, without the hassle of fax or file-transfers, and makes it easy to send documents over long distances, instantly. Security: There are limited security features, but hopefully future changes allow users to specify a “whitelist” of allowed users. Currently, you can only allow automatic printing of incoming documents from anyone, or from no one. The only option available to filter incoming print requests is to physically confirm each job (through a confirmation box). Despite these security setbacks, PrinterAnywhere is a promising and fascinating application. PrinterAnywhere

Joomla CMS

Joomla! is a free CMS (content management system.) I have begun using it in enterprise level situations. I am currently designing a system that will keep track of billing, schedules, and resumes for an office of 200. It is an open source project the forked from the Mambo project. It is written in PHP and uses open source databases to store data. It is quick and easy to set up. A novice web master would be able to set it up in under an hour. I am very impressed and its base functionality has saved me a lot of time. Joomla