Hardware

Depending upon whom you listen to, a full one-third – and then some – of PC users are moving their computing activities away from PC’s and towards what are termed “Post-PC Devices”. For ordinary folks, that’s the term for things like tablets and smartphones. People are shifting their web browsing and Facebook activities away from desktops and PCs and are now starting to rely on Smart Phones and Tablets for these two all-important tasks. {{1}}

A good bit  – indeed, probably most – of this is, no doubt, due to the fact that a third of PC users probably only ever used their lap/desk-tops for these activities. Toss in games, music and the occasional term paper and you will probably account for the vast majority of their need for a traditional PC. In previous posts, I’ve argued that we will see more a diversification of platforms and less a death knell for the PC so I’m not going to belabour that point here. Instead, I’m presenting a short digest of reviews dealing with Microsoft’s Surface Pro – a somewhat pricey hybrid of tablet and PC. I mention the pricey-ness because if Microsoft’s entry in the mobile computing area is ever going to gain ground and acceptance, the price IS going to have to drop considerably.

If you’re considering – today or at some point in the future – moving to a tablet, here are some things to consider:

ZDNet’s Steve Ranger offers an in-depth comparison between the Surface RT and the iPad for use in a work environment. In case you haven’t been paying attention, there is a significant difference between Microsoft’s Surface Pro and the Surface RT. The former can run many of the applications designed for the standard Windows desk/lap-top while the RT cannot. In many respects, the Surface RT is more a consumer device like the iPad. Yes, the iPad has been employed in business applications and no doubt the RT will too . . . if it survives.

In a second article, Steve Ranger puts things in perspective with an article entitled Surface Pro, Windows 8 and the Rebirth of Microsoft.

Meanwhile, in the Republic of Tech, Jason Hiner delivers a preview of the Surface Pro and argues that its Triple-Play User Interface is the device’s greatest innovation.

PC Magazine’s Joel Santo Domingo argues that the Surface Pro is  “. . . the Windows 8 slate tablet to beat when you need the performance and convenience of a PC in a compact tablet form factor.” This article is definitely worth a read. By the way, can anyone remember when PC Magazine was at least 3/4 of an inch thick and when rolled up, became an instrument of deadly force?

Joel also has a second article that covers both the Surface Pro and the Surface RT; Microsoft Surface Pro vs. Surface RT: Which One Should You Buy?

Back over on ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley provides answers to why Microsoft chose to deliver the Surface RT before the Surface Pro as well as a few other questions.

Not to be outdone, PC World’s Jon Phillips argues that the Surface Pro is the best Windows tablet in the world but, nonetheless, is still a bit lacking.

Finally, Robin Harris, writing for ZDNet, claims that Microsoft goofed on the Pro’s available storage.

There you have it; eight articles that provide food for thought about the Surface Pro by Microsoft. If you’re interested in buying the Surface Pro, these articles will provide good research material. If not, they’re still good to have up on your browser at work so your boss will think that you’re ahead of the curve . . . for once.

[[1]] One-third of PC users shifting activities to post-PC devices: Report – Adrian Kingsley Hughes, ZDNet.[[1]]

You may or may not know it but your PC is a dust magnet. Desktop machines have it worse but laptops are far from immune to this problem. Consider that your PC naturally creates an electric field. You have cooling fans for the power supply, CPU and the video card (if applicable) which serve to push out hot air and bring in cooler air from outside the machine. Finally, your desktop is usually a tower or mini-tower which is quite often on the floor beside or under your desk. No matter how well you keep your house clean, there’s still going to be dust down there; fodder for a hot and hungry PC.

Laptops are not nearly as bad since they usually sit on top of your desk rather than the floor but the same principle applies. Unless you live in a totally clean house, there’s going to be dust in the air.

Tech Republic has a slide show illustrating what can happen when a PC is left uncleaned. So, what do you do about it?

  1. Call a PC professional like Dr. Data and let him – or her – sort this out for you.
  2. Take care of the problem yourself.

If your choice is # 2, the first thing you’ll need to do is to pop in to an electronics store or a hardware store like Lowes and pick up one or two units of canned air. (If your machine is anything like those in the slide-show, you  might want to consider picking up a case!). Next, take your machine outside or into the garage and remove the cover/side panel. If you’re using the garage and your machine is as dusty as the ones in the slide show, you might want to consider cracking the garage door and using a box fan to pull the dust away from you and the PC.

Once you’re all set, take your canned air and blow the dust out of the machine and away from you. Use a liberal amount of air to clean the PC as a couple of cans cost much less than a new power supply. Depending on how many expansion cards you have, you may want to remove them and blow the dust off separately.  Here’s a tip: Be sure to use a glove  on the hand you’re using to blow the dust out as that can is going to get awfully cold awfully fast. Once you’re sure that you’ve reached every possible nook & cranny with the canned air, re-seat the expansion cards – if any – and replace the cover/side panel.

Because of the way they’re build and where they are used, laptops usually don’t have problems as extreme as the towers in the slide show. Nonetheless, dust can still accumulate around the cooling fan and vents. Take the canned air and lightly blow around the fan & vents to remove the dust. Extreme cases may require removing the cover to your laptop. Only do this if you absolutely know what you’re doing. Otherwise, call Dr. Data or somebody like him.

One final tip: Use the canned air to remove cookie crumbs and other gunk from your keyboard.

 

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