Computers

Buying a New Windows 7 PC

Buying a New Windows 7 PC

Nobody I’ve met likes Windows 8 or 8.1. One of my most frequently requested services at the Headquarters branch is to make customers’ Windows 8 laptops act like Windows 7. Are you in the market for a new PC but want to avoid Windows 8? It’s all but impossible to find Windows 7 PCs in stores these days, but you’ve got lots of choices if you shop online.

First let’s start with buying directly from the PC manufacturers. The best three I could find that still sell Windows 7 machines from their own sites are Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Why might you wish to buy directly from the manufacturer?

The World of Windows 8

Windows 8 graphic

2012 saw the debut of the latest version of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8.  Windows 8 debuted in an unusually tense atmosphere for a Windows device, as “Wintel” (Windows PCs powered by Intel processors) faced unprecedented threats from tablets and smartphones in the marketplace.  Windows 8 PCs faced sales declines over the 2012 holiday period, and the changes in the interface of Windows 8 from Windows 7 have been a major cause of concern for many consumers. Questions such as, “How can I find my old files if I upgrade to Windows 8?” and “Will Steam run in Windows 8?” are extremely common. Another common topic for questions is the difference between Windows 8—the operating system for conventional Windows desktop and laptop PCs, and Windows RT—the operating system for Windows tablets.  In this article, let’s take a look at how compatibility in Windows 8 works and what the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT mean.

Avoiding Sneakware

I see it all the time: PCs choking on gobs of uninvited software to the point where they barely function.  They may be Web browser toolbars or antivirus utilities or programs that promise to speed up your computer, when in fact they do exactly the opposite.  It enrages me to see programs like these on my customers’ computers because I know that they did not knowingly install these programs--these programs waltzed in with another that the customer did want.  This sort of software is referred to as “sneakware.” It’s kind of like the plus-four your buddy brings to your small gathering that was really only supposed to be a plus-one at most. It’s rude, annoying, and most people don’t know how to properly say “no.”  I can’t help you with your social skills, but I can tell you how to say no to sneakware.

Rescuing Your Documents with Linux

Ubuntu logo

Sometimes catastrophe rains down on our PCs.  We turn them on and . . . nothing happens.  Could be any number of factors: virus; aging hardware; broken software update.  And, of course, sometimes things just go bad.  Sad thing is, we're never ready for these events when they happen.  Our files aren't backed up to any external media, and, with our PCs not running properly, we don’t have any easy way of retrieving them.  Sure, you could take the computer to a repair shop or run the factory recovery discs that may have come with the machine, but you run a very real chance either way, especially the latter way, of losing your files.  So, I'm going to tell you how you how you might be able to salvage your files, if not your computer, for free using Linux.

DRM and You

DRM and You

I've bemoaned the existence and use of digital rights management, or DRM as it's more commonly known, in previous Librarypoint articles, but I'm not certain that I've gone point-by-point over what it means for you, the library user, and us, the consumers.  DRM is a means by which music, videos, eBooks, documents, software, and just about anything else digital are restricted from being copied, transferred, or used on unapproved hardware.  The American Library Association's Digital Content Working Group has recently put out a wonderful tip sheet regarding DRM that I can’t recommend more enthusiastically.   It goes over what DRM is, some of its consequences and legal ramifications, and what you can do to help work against it.  Reading through it is one of the best ways to arm yourself as a digital consumer against some of the more consumer-unfriendly tactics of today’s content providers. 

Cultivating Computer Community

Cultivating Computer Community

In the spirit of our Cultivating Community effort for this year, I thought I would share with you some of the computing resources that the library and the community both have to offer.  There’s more help available to you than you think!

First off let me start by telling you about the Fredericksburg PC Users Group.  Their website is http://fpcug.org/.  They can also be found on Facebook and Meetup.com.  The FPCUG provides a variety of meetings and speakers for beginners and veterans alike.  If you want to learn more about your new PC or are having difficulties with it, there’s a good chance somebody at the FPCUG can help!

Feed

By M.T. Anderson

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"We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." So says Titus, a teenager whose ability to read, write, and even think for himself has been almost completely obliterated by his "feed," a transmitter implanted directly into his brain. Feeds are a crucial part of life for Titus and his friends. After all, how else would they know where to party on the moon, how to get bargains at Weatherbee #38; Crotch, or how to accessorize the mysterious lesions everyone's been getting? But then Titus meets Violet, a girl who cares about what's happening to the world and challenges everything Titus and his friends hold dear. A girl who decides to fight the feed. The audiobook version of this book is highly recommended for an eerie narration including commercial jingles and the "feed" experience.
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Ditch Your Cable

TV Is Dead. Long Live TV

In these lean times, we’re all looking for ways to cut household costs. You may be pondering whether you should ditch the cable TV or the broadband Internet to free up $50 a month. Take my advice and lose the cable. Heck, even if you aren’t in a financial pickle, go ahead and dump it. Your life will be better for it. Here’s why.

Increasing Your Internet Privacy

Maintaining your privacy online is a tricky matter, as I’m sure you know. And though you’re using a firewall as well as anti-spyware software, and you’ve password-protected your computer, that does almost nothing to keep your information secure online. Here are some ideas to help keep you to yourself when surfing the Web. I’ve divided the information into basic and advanced sections for your convenience.

Netbooks for Newbies

It has been fascinating to observe the rising adoption rates of netbooks. Think of netbooks as filling the technological niche between smartphones (such as the Blackberry and the iPhone) and full-sized laptops: they are compact, light-weight, and inexpensive computers for the price-conscious mobile user. Netbooks generally feature a diagonal screen size of 7–10 inches, wi-fi, a slower processor which consumes less power (resulting in often considerably longer battery life), a smallish hard drive, and no built-in optical drive (CD/DVD).