Archive for Hardware

Word for Chromebook

Need help installing Word on your Chromebook? Call Skylark NetWorks at (516) 308-2759 or read on.

One of the most frequent calls I’ve received lately as a computer repair technician revolves around the new Chromebooks using the ChromeOS Operating System. The typical call sounds like this:

Caller: How do I install Microsoft Word on my Chromebook? I can’t get Word to work on my Chromebook.

Skylark NetWorks: Do you have a Windows or a Mac version of the Microsoft Word software that you are trying to install on your Chromebook?

Caller: Yes! I have the _________ version. (Fill in the blank)

Skylark NetWorks: You can’t install that on your Chromebook because your Chromebook isn’t a Mac or a Windows computer, but —

Caller: So what do I do? I need a word processor, and I prefer to use Word.

Skylark NetWorks: I would recommend you go to the Microsoft Office Apps website at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps. Then you can use and share your Word documents anywhere.

Get Started with Microsoft Office Web Apps

Since Chromebook users cannot install Microsoft Word on Chromebook because Chromebook uses ChromeOS, a Linux-based operating system which doesn’t support Microsoft Windows-based or Mac-based software.

This doesn’t mean that you’re locked out forever from working on Word documents. There are a number of ways Chromebook users work on Word documents, and their Excel and PowerPoint files, too. You already know these are important file types, and having access to them is a must.

Download Microsoft Office Web App

This Chrome app was generated by Microsoft to allow Chromebook users the chance to go online and use Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The web app also gives you access to Microsoft’s Cloud Storage Service called SkyDrive.

Alternate: Google Docs

Have you heard of Google Docs? It’s a free service from Google. Google Docs can open and edit most of the popular file types of Microsoft Office including Microsoft Word and Excel documents. Since your Chromebook was also developed by Google it is the perfect tool for working with Google Docs.

FYI: Anyone Can Use Microsoft Office Web Apps

Microsoft’s Office Web Apps aren’t just for Chromebook users. Your can use it on just about any desktop, laptop, netbook, or tablet computer.

SONY VAIO Dual Core Notebook! Save $100!

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC

The Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC is available for $499! That’s a $100 off its regular price at $600. Use coupon code QBM17377 at checkout to get this offer. Offer ends midnight Jan. 17, 2011.

This Sony VAIO Notebook is a fantastic package! I’m not usually that excited about Sony notebooks, but this is a great price for these features. First, it has a sizeable 15.5” widescreen, PLUS an integrated “full” numeric keypad — which is a rarity on laptops and notebooks, but common to a desktop keyboard. Add to that it’s fast AMD® Athlon™II Dual Core P340 processor (CPU), 3GB (gigabytes) of DDR3 RAM (memory) — more than some desktop computers — and amazing picture quality with ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4250 Graphics — suitable for many high-end games.

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC

Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PCThe Sony VAIO VPCEE31FX/BJ Notebook PC comes pre-installed with:

  • Genuine Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • AMD® Athlon™ II Dual Core P340 processor (2.20GHz)
  • 3GB of pre-installed DDR3 system RAM (memory)
  • A large 320 GB hard drive (storage) for your documents, movies, photos, and music files
  • AMD® Vision ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD4250 graphics card
  • 15.5″ (1366×768) widescreen LED backlit display uses power-efficient LCD technology and delivers dazzling colors and picture clarity
  • Wired and the fastest Wireless-N Internet
  • Dual Layer DVD Burner (DVD RW)
  • Media card reader for your digital cameras and smartphones
  • Built in Sony Motion Eye webcam
  • A trial version of Microsoft Office 2010 is included
  • HDMI connector for attaching to a HD TV

HP Photo Printers for Holiday Gift Giving

Here’s a revised and updated version of my Nov. 18, 2008 post on Hewlett Packard Photo Printers. They make great gifts for the holidays.

Despite the economic downturn the holiday shopping season is approaching, and while some of us are wondering how its going to be this year, many of us acknowledge that we’re still going to need gifts for our families and closest friends. I was able to find them online for about $80 each.

Photosmart A516

Photosmart A516

In 2007, I gave several as gifts to my sister and my parents Hewlett Packard digital photo printers as gifts, specifically the HP Photosmart A516 (at right). The Photosmart printers are very small, compact, and lightweight. It measures roughtly 10 inches wide, 5 inches tall, and less than 6 inches deep. That’s about the size of a small loaf of bread. It weighs less than 6 pounds. (A slightly heavy loaf of bread).

The Photosmart printers print on 4×6 inch and 5×7 inch photo paper, and can hold about 20 sheets at a time. Me, my family and friends agree that the picture and color quality is fantastic. (We still use them nearly 3 years later! So they last! –RFS, 12/2010)

The other great thing about the Photosmart printers is that you don’t have to connect them to a computer to print your photos. They will accept most of the popular media memory cards (Memory Stick, Memory STick Duo, SD, xD, and MMC). Some printer models have an optional Bluetooth adapter so you can print wirelessly from your Bluetooth enabled cellphone. If your camera uses PictBridge technology you can plug your camera directly into the printer via a USB cable. Some models even allow printing from your iPod.

If I were to buy HP Photosmart printers this year, budget-minded as I am, I still give serious consideration to:

icon

HP Photosmart A536

(New, TigerDirect.com, $70)The Photosmart A530 series prints on sheets up to 5×7 inches in size, and accepts MemoryStick, MS Duo, SD, xD, and MMC media cards. So it will work with most Sony and Olympus cameras quite well. It doesn’t accept CompactFlash cards. The unit is light and small enough that you can consider it portable. I often take it with me when I go to parties at the homes of friends and relations. It accepts an HP 110 Tri Color printer cartridge. The print cartirdge sells for about $22. HP also packages the cartridge with 140 sheets of 4×6 paper for $42. Supported operating systems: Windows 2000; Windows XP Home; Windows XP Professional; Windows XP Professional x64; Certified for Windows Vista(TM), Windows 7; Mac OS X v 10.3.9 or higher.

HP Photosmart A616 Photo Printer (Remanufactured)

HP Photosmart A616 Photo Printer
$195 from Buy.com

Buy.com has the A616 selling for $195 with a one year warranty. In prints in as little as 39 seconds, accepts paper up to 5 x 7 inches. For media cards it accepts CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard and xD-Picture Card. It also supports Mini SD with an adapter. It has a 20-sheet input tray and wireless capability with an optional HP bt450 Bluetooth Wireless Printer adapter. Weight: 3.46 lbs. Supported operating systems: Windows 2000; Windows XP Home; Windows XP Professional; Windows XP Professional x64; Certified for Windows Vista(TM), Windows 7; Mac OS X v 10.3.9 or higher. Compatible cartridges: HP 110 Tri-color Ink Cartridge.

Flirting With Disaster

Genesis Repertory Ensemble
Flirting with Disaster


Click this text to play

[amazon asin=B00005NBZD&text=Flirting With Disaster] may have been the title of a great song by Molly Hatchet, and a [amazon asin=B0001XALTQ&text=Ben Stiller movie], but its not something you should do with your computer files.

Yet its exactly what tens of thousands of people do every day by not having a file backup system.

So many people I know answer this by saying, “Well, I don’t have anything really important on my computer anyway.”

“So all those digital photos you’ve been taking on your family trips, vacations, and barbecues aren’t important to you? You won’t miss them if your hard drive crashes and you can never look at pictures of those memories again?”, I counter.

Genesis Repertory Ensemble

Me, top left, in black and gold, with the Genesis Repertory Ensemble

I continue, “I wish I felt that way since that time about 4 years ago when I lost 5 years of digital photos from my stage acting days with the Genesis Repertory Ensemble. I still wish I had backed them up to this day. Then there was that other time my hard drive failed and I “almost” lost about $1,500 in music files from iTunes. Fortunately, I had learned my lesson the first time, so I only lost about $100 worth of songs.”

That’s usually all it takes.

Have you been flirting with disaster? Are you willing to lose all those digital videos and photos you’ve taken? All those songs and movies you’ve downloaded? True, songs and movies can be purchased again, but your kids only graduate high school once, and you might never get to shoot photos on that once-in-a-lifetime vacation again.WD My Passport Elite, 320 GB HD

Western Digital External Hard DriveDodge disaster with a backup drive. Most people can get by with this little silver 320 GB external hard drive from Western Digitalicon which sells for about $70. Or if you want something a little flashier, you can pay an extra $10 more to get one in red, charcoal, or blue. They work with Windows (XP, Vista, or 7) and Macs, too. Just plug one into a USB port on your computer and you’ll be backing up your files in minutes. These 320 GB models are great for backing up laptops, too.

If 320 GB isn’t enough then consider one of these 500 GB external hard drivesicon. They’re available in a range of colors, too.

Need more storage space than that? You monster! How digital are you? Have you scanned every document you have? Well, you’re going to need a 1 TB or 1,000 GB external hard driveicon. Yes, 1 TB (terabyte) is 1,000 GB (gigabytes) or 1,000,000 MB (megabytes). They start around $100.

More?! Then you’ll have to be satisfied with one of these 1.5 and 2 TB external hard drivesicon. You might as well backup all your computers with one of those. Enjoy yourself.

Bonus: Read about my theater days here and here, and see what my friends are up to these days here on Facebook.

Video Chat and Marketing for $50 (Special for Skylarking readers)

Cooler Master HAF 932 Full Tower Case

I am back! Can I get on a roll with my posts again?  Place your bets!

Video Chat and Video Marketing; yours for $50! with the Microsoft Lifecam Cinema 1080i HD webcam and coupon code QFH8905. YouTube, Social Media sites, and Video Chat has finally become a part of our everyday life at home and at work:Microsoft Lifecam

  • Business people and entrepreneurs use video as an online promotional tool to reach their customers on their websites or through YouTube and Facebook. Or as a conferencing tool with their partners and associates.
  • Families and friends, both near and far, use it to keep in touch while away at college, while traveling abroad, or from home to home with Skype and Facebook. (Skype and Facebook have recently teamed up. Read all about it here on Facebook.)

If you’re ready for this exciting communication medium then look no futher than the Microsoft Lifecam Cinema 1080i HD webcam.  Regularly it sells for $80, and TigerDirect sells it for $60, but use coupon code QFH8905 and the links in this article to save an extra $10 at checkout. (Offer expires October 21) Want to know more about why this is camera to get? Here you go:

  • It’s easy to setup. It has only one cable which plugs into any available USB port on your PC, Mac, laptop, or netbook.
  • It’s aluminum body is so light yet durable that you can take it anywhere.
  • Its auto-focus feature keeps you in focus — the camera adjusts to you, not you to it.
  • It’s built-in digital microphone is sensitive and advanced enough to provide crystal clear sound quality while cancelling out any interfering background noises.
  • One touch ease with the Windows Live Call Button gets you online and on your way to making a video call.
  • Bend, fold and shape the flexible base for the best angle on laptop screens, flat panels and traditional monitors.
  • Bonus: High def (HD) capability with 1080i and 720p technology for the sharpest image!
  • Bonus: Easily integrates with Windows Messenger!

Now, remember, you need to use the code QFH8905 and click the links above to get the Microsoft Lifecam for only $50.

Any $1,200 Computer Is A Good Computer

New Mac Prices
New Mac Prices

New Mac Prices (click to enlarge)

Often people say to me, “I think I’m going to get a Mac” because they’ve “had enough of Windows”.

Then I ask them, “How much did you pay for the computer you have?”

90% of the time they say about $600 to 800.

Then I let them know that they’re not likely to find a Mac at that price because the cheapest Mac, apart from the Mini which no Mac owner I know has ever considered, costs at least $1,000. Most Mac owners start with the MacBook Pro which costs anywhere from $1,200 to $2,300 depending upon the features you get.

That’s usually when I say, “Any $1,200 computer is a good computer.”

For more information $1,200 computers, check out this article from PC World: “The Perfect PC: Don’t Buy It, Build It”. They discuss $500 machines briefly, then they elaborate on more expensive machines, even though they are talking about building your own computer.

FYI, I have an iMac and two PCs.

Work 52 percent faster with a 24 inch monitor

I was reading an exclusive survey article “Get the Most Out of Your Home” in the April 2010 issue of Money magazine. When discussing the home office they reported:

Researchers at the University of Utah have found that people using 24-inch computer screens worked 52% faster than those using 18-inchers when doing tasks like editing a document and copying numbers between spreadsheets.

They went on to suggest that you get one for as little as $199, but I’ve found a couple of nice refurbished 23 and 24 inch monitors at TigerDirect for $160 to $170, and a new 23-inch for $190. No extra charge for shipping.

Dell 23 inch Widescreen Full HD LCD Monitor (Refurbished Dell S2309W)

This monitor is not only useful for standard home office work and study, but it is also great for viewing movies and photos, playing games, or even editing video. I checked one out in person and found the images had great lifelike detail and brilliant vivid colors. its typical high contrast ratio of 1000:1 delivers deep blacks and stark whites. It’s DVI-D connector lets you view high-definition multimedia content from Blu-ray Disc drives on desktops and notebooks. It also has a standard VGA connector for use on older computers. Its sleek, glossy bezel (thats the frame around the screen) fits in beautifully in any decor. Plus the tilt-adjustable panel lets you position the display to a comfortable viewing angle. Buy a refurbished Dell S2309W with free shipping for $160 at Tigerdirect.  

Acer 24 inch Widescreen HD LCD Monitor (Refurbished Acer P244WBD)

The Acer P244WBD 24″ Widescreen Monitor compares very well to the Dell model above, and your getting the full 24 inch HD image here. It, too, has a stylish sheer glossy black bezel that’ll look beautiful on your desktop. I felt the blacks were even deeper on this monitor and some scans of some old black and white photos I had look exceptionally good. They didn’t have the blue or greent tint that I often see on other color monitors. Buy a refurbished Acer P244 WBD 24 inch HD LCD monitor at Tigerdirect for only $170.

Viewsonic 23 inch Widescreen LCD HD Monitor (New! Viewsonic VA2323wm)

You can get greater productivity with this 23 inch widescreen LCD HD monitor from Viewsonic. It’s large enough to view two full sized documents, side-by-side onscreen. Or you can have 2 or more programs visible onscreen simultaneously. The VA2323wm is competitively priced, and includes two hidden stereo speakers.

It only costs $190 to get this new Viewsonic 23 inch widescreen HD LCD monitor from TigerDirect.

What’s the right hard drive for my computer?

A reader sends in the following question:

The main hard drive in my desktop computer has failed. I still have the old drive, but I don’t know what a suitable replacement will be. What do I look for?

Generally, any hard drive from a major manufacturer will do.  Any major computer retail store should be able to help you to find a replacement. Make it easy, and take the hard drive with you to the store.

If you want a little more knowledge about hard drive considerations here are some hard drive basics to consider.

  • Data Cable
  • Capacity
IDE Ribbon

IDE Ribbon

Data cable: This refers to the cable used to connect the drive to the motherboard. A typical computer uses either an IDE or SATA connection. (Note: IDE drives are also called PATA drives.)

  • An IDE or PATA drive will have a 2 inch wide connector at either end of its cable. The cable often looks like a two inch flat ribbon.
  • A SATA drive has a small half-inch connector at either end of its similarly thin cable.
SATA connector

SATA connector

So if your old hard drive has a two inch wide connection on it, its an IDE drive, and you will need another IDE drive to replace it. If it has a 1/2 inch connection on it, then you will need a SATA drive.

Capacity: This is how much the drive can hold. Today’s hard drives are measured in gigabytes, abbreviated as GB. Techies often says “gigs” instead of “gigabytes”. Most hard drives have a label on them which will tell you how many gigabytes of data they can hold.

Today 500 GB, and 1,000 GB hard drives are becoming very common and affordable, but an older computer might not be able to “recognize” or use a drive of that size. If you have an older Windows XP computer, you might find it cannot handle a hard drive larger than 137 GB. (If you’re still using Windows XP I say, “Now’s the time to get a new computer, not just a hard drive.”) If your computer was running Windows Vista or Windows 7, then hard drive capacity won’t be a problem.

Coupons to Save on Best Sellers at TigerDirect until March 13

Oh, man, I hate including the number 13 in any of my headlines, but at least that date isn’t a Friday, it’s a Saturday. Small consolation.

Here’s a list of some best selling items I’ve found at Tigerdirect.com. I’m uncluding coupon codes you can use at checkout to save even more on their already low prices. You can check out their special pricing for Skylarking readers here, or read on while I spotlight some of the hot items.

SAVE $10 on an EVGA GeForce 9500 GT Video Card

($59 after using coupon code FEC1228 at checkout.) Do your computer games or video images appear to “stutter” or seem to move in an unusal manner? Then you should consider getting this video card replacement. It uses its own 1 gigabyte of DDR2 RAM (memory) instead of sharing the regular memory used by your computer’s programs. All you need is an available PCIe, or PCI express 2.0, slot on your motherboard. (Contact me or your manufacturer to find out if your computer has such capability.)

If you need real high end video support for 3D gaming, then consider getting two of these cards since they support SLI Dual Link technology. With SLI you can have two video cards linked together for double the video processing power. One card alone provides all the high def power you’ll need for gaming or video playback. Imagine the potential of two cards.

Each card comes with two DVI connectors and adapters for connecting your PC to any monitor or an HDTV. Two connectors allows you to have two monitors connected to your PC, if you need that. For example, I’m using two monitors on my Windows 7 computer, so I can run a different program on each monitor.

Dual Monitor setup on one PC

Right now I have the Tigerdirect site on one screen while I’m writing this post in another screen. Or I could be playing a video on one while working on the other. A client of mine uses two of these video cards for running 4 monitors on his home computer. He’s a day trader, and it allows him to monitor the stock market on multiple web sites while communicating with his colleagues.

Additional specs: Supports Microsoft® DirectX® 10 games, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc® movies with brilliant clarity — as long as you have a HD or Blu-ray capable DVD player in your computer — powered by the PureVideo® HD engine. Include GeForce GPU support for NVIDIA PhysX technology for all you high tech gamers for a more dynamic and realistic experience. Full Vista Aero 3D support.

SAVE $27 on OCZ 4GB PC3-10666 Platinum RAM

(Regularly $106.99, now only $79.99 after $20 mail-in rebate (expires 03/31/10) and $7 instant savings.) Most new PCs today can handle 4 gigabytes of RAM (memory), but when you bought it it probably came with only 2 GB.  Now not just any RAM will do, but I’ve never had a problem yet with memory chips from OCZ. More RAM makes your computer start faster, your programs start and run faster, and your hard drive doesn’t work so hard either. Let your hard drive take it easy with these memory chips. I’d recommend checking with tech supprt at TigerDirect to make sure this memory is appropriate for your PC.

Are you running a 64-bit operating system? Then you might consider getting two pairs since your computer may be able to handle up to 8 gigabytes of RAM. Just go into your Windows Control panel and double click on System to see if you’re running a 64-bit OS. It will be clearly indicated.

Tech specs for those in the know:  This PC3-10666 RAM designed specifically for the upcoming Intel® P55 Chipset and subsequent Intel® Core™ i7, i5, and i3 (Socket 1156) processors. Configured for dual channel mode, these ultra-compatible 4GB kits ensure optimal performance with an ideal combination of low power requirements at 1333MHz.

I’ll talk more about some of the specials I’ve found, but here are a few quickies for now:

SAVE $40 – FREE Shipping – BFG GeForce 9800 GT Video Card. This 1 gigabyte GDDR3 equipped card fits into any PCIe 2.0 slot on your motherboard. Like the card above it supports dual monitors with its two DVI connectors for use on your monitor or HDTV. Regularly $139.99, now only $99.99* after $10 rebate (expires 03/31/10) and $30 instant savings.

SAVE $50 – FREE Shipping – Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300. Get a high speed processor for your demanding programs. This has a 2.50GHz clock speed for a 1333MHz FSB (front system bus). This is a Quad Core processor for “original equipment manufacturers” (OEM). That means it costs a lot less because it doesn’t come in a colorful box like you’d see on the shelf. Uses a Socket 775 connector. $149.99* after $40 MIR, rebate expires 03/15/10.

Yahoo Email and Upgrading from Vista to Windows 7

I read this question online recently:

I am upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7. How do I back up my Yahoo! emails and do I need to do it?

If you have a free Yahoo! email account then there is no need to back up your emails because the emails are stored on Yahoo!’s servers and not your computer.

If you have a paid Yahoo! email account, called Yahoo! Mail Plus, which costs $19.99 per year, then it is possible that you could be downloading email messages to your computer with a program such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Eudora, or some other program or email client.

Generally, when you are upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 there is no need to erase your hard drive. When the hard drive is erased it is usually referred to as a “clean install”. While it’s always good idea to do a backup before an upgrade, it isn’t necessary. When upgrading from XP to Windows 7 the hard drive must be erased, so this is a case where it would be a good idea to have a backup of some sort.

Still, if you want to take the precaution of doing a backup, go to a computer store and get yourself an external USB drive such as a MyPassport from Western Digital and use the Windows Easy Transfer wizard to copy important files to the external drive. For more info on Windows Easy Transfer go here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/features/easy-transfer.aspx

For more info on upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 go here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/help/upgrading-from-windows-vista-to-windows-7