Saturday, February 20, 2010

Does You Laptop Battery Die Too Soon?

As I have been around visiting my customers, I am noticing one thing that almost all of them are doing; and that is running a Laptop with the battery in it full time on power from the wall.

This will shorten the life of the battery. If the Laptop will be run full time on power, then I would recommend that the battery be removed. Now if you do this you will lose the UPS function, where the battery will immediately take over if the power goes out or blinks, but this can be fixed with a $49.00 UPS device to plug the Laptop in to.

The battery should be fully discharged every once in a while, maybe every month. If it will be stored for a long period of time without being used, it should be stored almost drained of power.

So give your battery a break! If you will not let him do his job, then take him out of the game.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Internet Security for Children

Cyber crimes and cyber stalking have been on an increase ever since the public first started getting on the Internet in a big way back in 1995. This was of course the year that the first graphical web browsers came out, namely MCSA Mosaic and later Netscape Navigator.

I am concerned about what I am seeing as I work on different folks computers, and that is no controls or protections setup at all, even on computers that have software already installed that could do the job . . . it is just not been configured.

If you are running Vista or Windows 7, the operating system comes with some built in parental controls that can watch several things. Time limits, game ratings allowed, programs allowed, websites allowed and similar things can be configured from these controls, but I see a lot of folks who are not doing it.

Then there is the other really big risk factor, and that is when children are allowed to use Internet connected computers in private bedrooms. AKA Laptop computers with wireless connections. If that computer setup also includes a webcam, then you might as well paint a big target on their backs. Note that many new laptops come with the webcam built in.

There is one common factor in almost every cyber stalking case when the details finally come to light. That comman factor is one or both of the child's parents saying that they had no idea that any of this was going on. Feeling that their kid was a really good kid, they just did not believe that something like this could happen. And yet it keeps happening, almost every time to a kid that the parents describe as a "good kid".

Setting up the parental controls does take some work, and a new computer account needs to be created for the kids to use (if there is not a separate account already), and the entire setup needs to be monitored and evaluated from time to time. Additionally the parent accout(s) need to be password protected with a password that the kids do not know.

The potential cost of inaction is just too high on this one. If setting up parental controls is too hard to figure out, then ask a buddy who is good at computers to help. Aa part of the setup, I recommend that you take a good look at a service called openDNS which is at They have a free plan for home users that goes a long way towards stopping unwanted material from the Internet reaching your kids.

And I would take a hard look at allowing any child or teenager to have access to an Internet connected computer behind a closed door. The results of this can be truly destructive.


Joseph Wood is the founder of Awesome Computer Help, and he does computer service for residents and small businesses in the Northwest Houston/Cypress Texas Areas.