Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Linux Distribution from New Zealand

With almost every country in the world offering a flavour of Linux, New Zealand is no exception with 'Linux Lite 2.2'. This Operating System is based on 'Long term support' Ubuntu with it's own spin of  'XFCE' desktop. Running Ubuntu applications there is no shortage of free programs. The live bootable CD comes with Firefox, Libreoffice and VLC media player preinstalled. As usual with Linux systems Virus checking is not required and System slowdown does not happen.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Windows 10

Windows 10 will be released in mid 2015. There will be no version 9. As the competition for the consumer devices (Phones, Tablets, TV's etc) has been won by Android and Apple, Microsoft is turning to the business sector for future sales. This means the old start menu has to be returned which will require less training. A partial Tile system is still there but the Charm Menu is completely removed. It appears Microsoft is looking to a yearly subscription with incremental updates instead of full upgrades. This could be why it is called Windows 10 (or 1.0) to signify a new way of  operating. Software applications will be bought from the Online Store.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Click on to enlarge
Libreoffice is a full Office suite of applications that is free that caters for all word processing, spreadsheets, drawing, presentation and database requirements. Installation is fully automatic but use the 'STILL' version as this is the stable option. Also install the 'HELP' file. As this is free the need for continual change of format and menu layout is not needed in order to sell the next model, so ease of use is the main advantage to using this application. Compatibility with other office software is now very good. Current stable version is 4.2.6.

Desktop computers

The modern Desktop PC has become small enough to fit in a hand by removing the need for cd drives, fan cooling and using solid state disk drives. The power supply is usually an external unit similar to the Laptop. Normally bought over the Internet the memory and hard drive are purchased as separate units. The operating system of your choice is then added. A full usable system will cost around $500 NZ so they are not cheap but will be reliable as the intended market is for businesses.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Chromebooks coming to retail stores

Chromebooks have never really been sold in the retail shops as Google had no New Zealand support apart from the Education Area. This has just changed and all major retail stores are about to stock them. Chromebooks are manufactured by Samsung, Toshiba, Acer, HP, Lenovo and Dell. These Laptops are designed for the Internet user who wants complete security without using additional protection. Features are being added every six weeks with more emphasis on off-line applications. They are cheap as the Linux Operating system is very efficient by not requiring layers of virus protection. These devices are more like a Tablet with a keyboard than a traditional Laptop. They have been popular in the USA business and education sector taking 40 percent of Commercial Laptop sales last month. A Chromebox is the equivalent Desktop version.

Windows 9

Windows 9 is expected to be released early in 2015. The new Microsoft CEO will make changes to the Windows interface as he voted against the original Windows 8 Tile plan. The new interface is probably going to look similar to the shown photo. There are rumors that more parts of it will be subscription based. Microsoft is going through a new phase of concentrating on mobile devices and streamlining the company. The feature phones made by Nokia Mobile (now Microsoft) will be discontinued removing the need of 12000 workers. Also the popular Nokia Music store will be moved to the XBox Music. This will no doubt cause some customers moving to other Music vendors. Office 365 will be Microsofts main push as it can be used on all Operating Systems that have any type of Internet Browser.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Who and what is Keepod

Keepod is a method of using one old redundant laptop to help many children learn computing skills by having an operating system on a Thumb drive. Each child is given there own Thumb drive complete with an Android operating system which also holds there own required applications. Their settings and files are held "in the cloud". As soon as one child is finished with the computer another child can insert their Thumb drive and Log in which will automatically adjust to their settings and applications. The Computer has had the Hard drive removed so nothing is left on the computer as one child finishes, and another starts. Therefore one old computer has many users with unique applications. There is nothing new in this method but the Media has been running stories on it as Kenya is initiating a large scale push for the idea. Keepod is made by an firm in Israel, and can be purchased for $US 7. This could be a useful idea for Seniornet people that have slow laptops that could be revitalised as a fast modern machine.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Android as a home computer


I have been testing the recently released 'Android for a PC' operating system for the last month. The test machine is a four year old Toshiba 10" Laptop with 1Gb RAM. Installation took aroud five minutes on a 4Gb SD card. Once booted a Google Account needed to be signed in and everything was automatically set up. Using Google Play I put the following extra Apps on: Astro (File Manager), Open Office (Documents and Spreadsheets), Skype (Video calling), iPrint&Scan (Brother wireless multifunction printer and scanner), Adobe reader (PDF's), Overdrive (Library books), Firefox(Internet browsing), E-mail (Pre installed) and Media player (Pre installed for Pictures, Music and Movies). Ethernet and Wireless connections both worked well along with the external mouse. The only disadvantage was that only one application at a time can be displayed on the screen, although some manufacturers can allow a split screen to give two apps side by side. This post was written on this described system. I found this system to be reliable and as fast as a normal PC. Virus checking is not required. USB flashdrives can be used for extra storage.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Asus builds cheap Chromeboxes

Asus are moving back to making Desktop computers again, but with a Chrome operating system. These are designed as a modern system so Legacy Windows programs will have to be run remotely from a another computer via 'Remote desktop software'. Like all Chrome Os systems these are maintenance free. At US $179 this is very cheap and probably aimed more at businesses although would make an excellent home computer if Web browsing and e-mail are the main use. A full off-line media player is standard.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Android available for existing computers

Android 4.4 RC1 is available as a download for installing on a PC. It can be installed on a USB stick or SD card for testing purposes without interfering with the original operating system. Most modern computers before Windows 8 allow booting from USB or CD's. My test machine was a 5 year old entry level laptop with 1Gb RAM. Boot time was around 40 seconds and Shutdown 15 seconds. No virus scanning needed. The wireless printer / scanner worked with the iPrint&Scan App from the Google store correctly. Web and e-mail App's worked perfectly on Ethernet and wireless connections. Skype automatically set itself up with the internal camera and microphone. External drives were usable but the internal hard disk drive could not be seen. Open office 3.6 is available on the Google store but cannot open the writer and spreadsheet together, although Android 4.4 does support two Applications at once. Remote desktop software can be used to run Windows programs from another computer. Operation is very fast with screens that fade in and out giving an appearance similar to a tablet. This software could give a new life to many slow and old computers.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

First Chromebooks, and now Chromeboxes

Chromebooks are now manufactured by most major PC makers except ASUS. As this space is a little overcrowded ASUS are betting on a Desktop system rather than a Laptop. These will be available in March 2014 for US $179 recommended retail price. This is a quiet "Fanless" machine running the new Haswell processor from Intel. Ports include USB 3.0, Ethernet, Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI, Displayport and card reader. The Hard drive is a 16Gb Solid state disk which is ample for the Lightweight Chrome Operating System. Personal files are held in the cloud or External USB drives. Both HP and LG are also promising Chromeboxes in the next couple of months.

Libreoffice 4.2 released

This release is a major release with many speed and function enhancements. Docx file editing has better compatibility with Microsoft office files. Publisher and Visio files can now be used in this edition. Most of the updates are geared towards business usage as many Governments are now requiring open source solutions. This fully featured package is available free for Windows, Mac and linux.

Friday, January 10, 2014

XP last update is in April

For those worried about Microsoft withdrawing XP support in April there are several options.

1) Windows 8.1 RT or Microsoft surface. Cheapest Windows 8 but does not run XP / Win 7 programs.

2) Windows 8.1 or surface Pro. Runs XP / Win 7 programs but may not have drivers for older peripherals. Requires Virus checking and is expensive.

3) Chromebooks. Cheap with limitations. Only real issues for general use are no Skype or iTunes. These are now being manufactured by every major PC company except ASUS. These have been heavily advertised against by Microsoft which means they are worried about their impact. All their adverse reasoning also pertains to Windows 8 RT which is their favoured system.

4) Android Desktops. Several manufacturers are selling their monitors with Android and come complete with keyboard and mouse. Open office is now available for Android.

5) Tablets. The latest tablets do most things a PC does and is particularly useful with a keyboard and mouse attached.

6) Linux Mint 16. User experience is similar to a XP interface. The only general use program that there is no real equivalent is iTunes.  

7) XP. Keep using it and rely on third party Updates.

8) Dual boot XP and Linux. Leave XP on computer to run legacy programs but disconnect from the Internet. Use a Linux variant for Internet applications and other general use programs. Use a third partition for personal files that both operating systems can use. Total time to reboot to other system should be less than one minute.