Blog

1990’s PC Practices That You Need to Stop!

I’ve run across several people now who are still treating their PC or laptop as if it were 1995. They shut it down every time they are finished with it. Don’t do it! There are several reasons not to do this.

  1. It’s more harmful to your electronics, than just letting it run, or sleep, or hibernate. I’ll explain these later.
  2. Your PC often installs upgrades and updates in the background. Shutting the PC down in the midst of this process wreaks havoc on your operating system, trying to figure out where it was last time it was running. If you shut it down again while it’s trying to get its bearings, things can get worse.
  3. It takes longer to shut down, and to boot up afterwards…even if it wasn’t in the middle of an update or upgrade.

Let me explain the sleep and hibernate states – I assume that running is obvious! The sleep and hibernate states make some sense compared to your non-computer concept of the two.

  • Sleep is a state where your computer isn’t running, but it is ready to wake up and resume in just a few seconds (usually 2 or 3 at most). The processor is at a low-power state, with RAM memory fully loaded, which is why it can resume very quickly.
  • Hibernate is a state where it is assumed that the computer will not be running for a longer period of time. The contents of RAM is written to the HDD so that it can be quickly reloaded when the computer resumes. This will take longer: it depends on how much RAM needs to be reloaded, but this typically shouldn’t be more than 8 or 10 seconds.

You can see how this relates to the non-computer definitions: sleep is something I wake up from pretty quickly, but if you’ve ever seen a bear, or a tortoise, or something else come out of hibernation, it’s obvious that it takes a bit to shake it off! However, if the computer is turned off, then it is essentially a newborn babe – the entire booting process is run from a “cold start”: loading BIOS, and then the operating system, which then figures out in what order to start up all of the myriad of programs, essentially from scratch. You can see why this takes much longer. If the computer was in the middle of an update and was “rudely” shut down, this will take even longer while the operating system tries to figure out where it left off, and where it can resume…or worse, start the entire process from the beginning.

A computer that is plugged in all the time, desktop or laptop, can be configured to sleep or hibernate under the “Power” options. A laptop with a battery should be configured to sleep: this uses a tiny trickle of battery, but it will switch to hibernate if the battery gets low enough. And a desktop can quickly wake up with a shake of the mouse or a tap on the keyboard.

Bottom line, there’s rarely ever a need to shut a computer completely down – this is probably why most people complain that it takes so long to boot…they are waiting on a complete cold start every time.

There you go…happy sleeping!

 

Meltdown and Spectre!

There’s quite a bit of internet hysteria on these two recently discovered flaws in computer chip design. I wanted to pass on a little “common sense” information and advice, since these are pretty complicated.

First of all, most potential computer security weaknesses (referred to as “exploits”) are revealed after computers are hacked – i.e., someone exploits these flaws and causes some damage, and then software or hardware makers scramble to fix them after the damage has been done.

Spectre and Meltdown are not like that. Noone has yet exploited these flaws (that we know of). For this reason I call them “theoretical” exploits. Not that there isn’t a threat — but it is very difficult to exploit either of these, and they were discovered by people looking closely (um, maybe more closely) at computer CPU core design.

Essentially, every modern CPU has these flaws, but everyone is working on a fix for them. In fact, your computer may already be fixed. Just make sure you are current with your updates and OS versions – which is always good advice.

Business Updates for 2018

Welcome to the new year! I’ve made some changes as we head into my second year of business, and I wanted to make sure everyone is up to speed with what’s different.

  • Branding Changes: Teague Technology Consulting is now teaguetech.com. This is simpler, shorter, and better matches my email and website domain. You’ll see this reflected on my business cards, signature, and on my top-level logo here on the website.
  • Kirkland Chamber of Commerce: I joined earlier this year, and this is also reflected here, on my business cards, and email signature.
  • Change in Repeat Customer Discount: If you are a repeat customer, then I waive the “House Call Surcharge” so that your first hour is the same price as subsequent hours. This is in lieu of the former policy of a 10% discount, which was more complicated for my accounting, but unless you go beyond 3 hours, the new policy results in more savings for you.
  • Now Accepting Credit and Debit Cards: I recently acquired a Square, and as such can accept credit or debit card payments, which are sometimes more convenient.

That’s it for now – I hope you have a great 2018!

 

Want to save $10 every month?

Odds are, if you live in a single-family home, that you have a WiFi router/modem combo from either Comcast/Xfinity or Frontier, that they provide “free”. Well, check the fine print of your bill — it isn’t free. You’re paying, on average, about $10 per month, or $120 per year for this equipment. Worse, it’s not very good equipment — your cable provider buys them by the thousands because…well, they’re cheap. And to be fair, because every customer now has something they know works with their service.

But you can use your own equipment, and I can replace the cable company’s router with something better that will cost between $70 and $80 (equipment cost), so you’ve paid for it in way less than a year. I’ve done this multiple times, and it’s very easy.

NOTE: Whether I do this, or someone else does it, keep in mind two things:

  1. You will need to call your cable provider to make sure they stop billing you monthly for their equipment — it doesn’t happen automatically.
  2. Very important…either keep the cable company’s equipment, or return it to them and get a receipt! If you move, or otherwise cancel your service, they will charge you for their equipment they assume you still have. So, either show them the receipt, or hand them over their equipment.

That’s it for now…

 

How (and where) do I get rid of old equipment?

For my first blog, I thought it would be useful to write about something that anyone can do – responsibly dispose of old equipment. First, don’t just throw it in the trash!

I charge a small fee to do this for you, but anyone who can find their way to PC Recycle can do the same thing for the price of the gas to drive there and back.

PC Recycle (I go to the one in Bellevue most often) will take old PCs, laptops, keyboards, etc. for free, as long as you’re not a business dropping hundreds of them off at the same time. Make sure you erase, or remove, the hard drive first.

They are at 13107 NE 20th Street, and you can call them at 425.881.4444.