Google+ July 2009 ~ High Tech House Calls

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Georgia Sales Tax Holiday

From Thursday, July 30- Sunday, August 2, 2009, Georgians will be able to take advantage of a sales tax holiday. The holiday applies to:
  • Clothing under $100
  • Computers/computer equipment under $1500
  • School supplies under $20
Points to consider:

If you are buying anything online, your purchase probably will be charged Georgia sales tax. If you call and place the order, the sales representative probably will be aware of the holiday and will be able to make the appropriate credit for your sales tax. This has been the case when I have ordered computers from Dell.

Please take advantage of my free configuration advise for computers early in order to take advantage of the sales tax credit. Email me at

Windows 7 - Good Thing or Bad Thing?

The newest operating system developed by Microsoft to run on a WinTel platforms is called "Windows 7". It will be available in mid October 2009. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Click here to visit the "Windows 7" home page to review the features of this new operating system.

  • Remember how bad "Vista" was when it came out? I expect "Windows 7" to have the same rocky start. I do not advise being an early adapter.
  • "Windows 7" cannot be installed as an update to "Win XP". You can buy the less expensive upgrade license, but all user installed options (such as programs) will need to be re-installed.
  • Upgrading from "Win XP" to "Vista" and then to "Windows 7", is an option but a costly option in both time and money. A clean install from scratch installation is better than an upgrade installation.
  • This option addresses only users who need a new computer now. If you buy a new computer running "Vista", many vendors are offering a free "Windows 7" Software Upgrade Installation Kit when it becomes available. This option is appealing in that you have the option of re-installing "Vista" if "Windows 7" turns out not be for you.
With the future of the WinTel platform being one of dread, it is time to consider buying an Apple computer?

Netbooks - Time to Buy?

What is an Netbook? A Netbook is a small laptop computer.
  • Typically, a screen no larger than 10". My current Dell laptop has a 15.4" screen.
  • The keyboard is 80%-92% the standard size.
  • The price point is $200 -$400.
Why consider a Netbook?
  • Easy to transport. Small size and weight.
  • Low on price.
  • You want a basic computer to access the network and not much more.
Downsides to a Netbook?
  • Not enough power to use standard Office applications such as Outlook and Word.
  • Poor experience when surfing web. You are constantly scrolling left and right, up and down to view a web page. Viewing a web page on an iPhone is a much better experience.
  • No optical drive. You cannot load software from a CD, or play music CD's. You will need to buy an external CD drive (approximate cost $100).
  • Hard to upgrade because of small form factor.
  • Buy a named brand such as Dell or HP.
  • More is better. Get the biggest hard drive you can. Get the most amount of memory, the biggest screen and the biggest keyboard.
  • Conventional hard drives such as SCSI. Do not buy a Netbook with a solid state hard drive. Solid state drives are new technology and are still very expensive. In order to meet the small price point for a Netbook, solid state drives are in the 4GB to 16GB range. A SCSI drive will be 40GB-160GB.
  • Do not consider a Netbook with less than 1GB of memory. Less than this will ensure that your Netbook performance is pokey.
  • Anything less than a 10" screen will make surfing the web a painful process.
  • If you can touch type, a keyboard less than 92% of standard will be frustrating to type on.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Computer Running Slow, Part III

You probably understand what a computer virus is.

What is malware or spyware?

In the context of your computer running slow, they can be considered the same. Remember the free ("fill in the blank") that you downloaded? As part of the agreement that you electronically signed, software that tracks what websites you visit was also installed. Besides this data collection being an invasion of privacy, the software is taking resources away from the applications on your computer you want to run. Another performance side effect is that the software can be written badly so that it causes your computer to "freeze" or "crash".

What should you do if you think you have been "infected"?
  • If you are running only the Apple Mac OS, do not bother reading the rest of this article. So far, the Apple platform has not been infected with a major virus. We feel uncomfortable making this recommendation, but you do not need to install an anti virus solution on your computer. The same recommendation stands for a malware/spyware detection and removal tool. Let us all hope these recommendations still hold for the future.
  • No matter what product you use for a Windows platform, the three most important regarding its use are making sure the virus definitions are up to date, the subscription is not expired and the weekly virus scan did occur.
  • Make sure you have installed a "current" anti virus software product and a malware/spyware detection and removal tool. Current means that if the product required a payment from you, that the license has not expired. Expired products usually result in pop up windows informing you to renew your virus definition subscription.
  • Once a week or on a as needed basis, you should be running anti virus scans and a malware/spyware detection scan. Check the log of the product you selected to make sure the scan occurred.
  • Most anti virus software products will remove or "quarantine" viruses that are discovered during a scan. Most malware/spyware detection and removal tools require you to validate the results of the scan before the tool will remove the malware/spyware.
  • Do not install more than one anti virus software product. Each product will see the other product as a virus attack. Your computer will be brought to a standstill.
  • Please refer to the software vendors manual or website for specifics on running their products. If you still have questions, email High Tech House Calls at We would be happy to help explain things.
Recommendations for Anti Virus Software:
  • If you are more comfortable with a purchased solution, we recommend Symantec Norton Anti Virus or Kaspersky Anti Virus. We recommend buying a copy from the store and not from the online site. This ensure that you have a CD that you can use to re-install the software if the need arises.
Recommendations for Malware/Spyware Detection and Removal Tools: