Strategies For A Well Working Computer

cleanupcomputerIf you’re using your personal computer to code, then you definitely know that you want it to be running fast and furious.  There are a number of different things that can case a computer to slow down, crash, and act weird.  Even if you’re very computer savvy bad things can still happen to good people.

The best strategies to keep your computer running smoothly are to prevent the “bad” things from happening – namely by backing up your data often, not downloading a lot of junk files and installing weird software, and also installing protective antivirus and anti-malware software.

I personally use Norton 360 on my computers.  I have been with them for a while and I like the way that Norton 360 is basically unobtrusive.  I haven’t had too many problems with it and it usually stops the bad stuff from getting on my computer.  There is a free trial if you want to take it for a test drive.

Another software program I use that’s very good is Spyhunter 4, which enabled me to get rid of a very annoying malware/adware program from my computer called “Conduit” which took over my browser.  I probably could have removed it by hand, but I honestly did not have time to do so and I needed this thing gone for security reasons.  Spyhunter is easy to use and very effective at what it does.  You can check out an article about it here.

In order to adequately ensure the safety of your computer files you must set up a good backup procedure.  I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened to me where I lose files due to a hardware failure or some other problem.  However I’ve started to use online backups to ensure that there’s always a backup somewhere even if I forget to make a local backup onto a hard drive.  This happened recently where I had been lazy and hadn’t backed everything up to a hard drive in a while and my hard drive broke!  I was in the middle of a video editing project for a client and boy did I have a panic attack.  But thankfully I had always been running Backblaze in the background and all my files were backed up to their servers (thankfully!).

Of course as seasoned computer professionals you don’t need me to tell you that you should try not to install software unless you absolutely need it.  So don’t go downloading any “freebies” from those download sites, no matter how tempted you become.  Also, try to stick to safe internet neighborhoods and don’t browse adult or hacking sites.

If you find that you computer is slow because it’s bogged down by a lot of extra files then a quick run of CCleaner or PC Health Advisor is a great idea.  You should also think about uninstalling any unnecessary software programs that might be loading during startup.  You can prevent these programs from starting when you boot your machine, or you can uninstall them completely if you don’t need them.



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Amazon Echo: Your New Best Friend?

amazonechoAt first you may think it’s a tall thermos or a regular Bluetooth speaker— but this sleek black cylinder is so much more. Amazon Echo is a home automation controller, a cloud-connected smart device, and an electronic companion that you’ll enjoy using.

The Look

It’s about 9.25 inches high and 3.27 in circumference. You can stick it almost anywhere— on a shelf, beside the TV, on the coffee table. Near the top of the unit is the volume control, but with the included remote and voice controls for volume, you may never have to touch it. On the top side are the microphone and action buttons.

The Lights

Want to know if Echo is active or not? Check the ring around the top. If it’s glowing, you are currently in control of Echo. If it’s unlit, Echo is currently dormant. In most settings, Echo responds to the direction of your voice by lighting up more intensely in that spot.

The App

To set up the Echo, just download the app. It walks you through the easy steps. After you link Echo to your Wi-Fi, you don’t even need your phone, your tablet, or the remote in order to use it.

The Voice

Now for the fun part. You get to talk to Alexa, the operating system voice of Echo. According to users and reviewers, Alexa’s smooth tones sound more human and natural than Siri’s. Generally, owners find that Alexa understands them very well and that errors are few and far between. No need to say “Alexa,” and then wait for the device to wake up; you can pose your question immediately after saying her name. “Alexa, what’s the weather?” “Alexa, how is traffic?” And she can hear you from all the way across the room.

The Drawbacks

Alexa isn’t Google or Siri, however. You can’t say “Alexa, what is a metronome?” You need to be more specific, as in “Alexa, Wikipedia metronome.” Also, Alexa can’t pull up your messages or emails, although she does have access to your Google calendar. You cannot add appointments, but you can make notes or lists using Echo’s list feature and then access that information through your Echo app.

The Potential

Alexa sets alarms, pulls up audiobooks instantly, offers news, weather, traffic updates, and sports scores. She accesses your own music as well as Amazon Music, Prime Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, TuneIn, and similar stations. The music quality is excellent, with Echo projecting sound throughout the whole room.

Interested in controlling your home’s switches and lights? If you have those connected devices, Echo works with systems like Wink, Belkin WeMo, and Philips hue to give you voice control. Imagine saying, “Alexa, turn off the kitchen light,” and watching it happen from your comfy seat on the couch.

The Future

Amazon plans to expand Echo’s features and abilities in the future. With such a strong start, it’s easy to see how Echo and similar devices could become common, much-loved staples of the modern American homes.

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