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Posts Tagged ‘computer’

  1. How to buy a laptop computer

    June 24, 2013 by Karl

    Laptop Picture berry berry berry berry berry

    Wondering which computer is the best deal?  This article will give you some tips and tricks in knowing which computer will give you the most bang for the buck. This advice is true whether you are buying a desktop computer or a laptop computer, though generally laptop computers are not going to last as long as a desktop, and will be more costly to repair.

    Generally speaking. most laptops have the same basic features.  They all have keyboards, touch pads, microphones, cameras, DVD drives, USB ports, and LCD monitors.  So why the big difference in price?  What exactly are you paying for?  It all boils down to 4 basic things:  the type of processor, the amount of memory, size of the monitor, and the size of the hard drive.  These 4 things are what you need to consider when making a purchase.  The most important of these 4 in making a decision  is the processor.  The hard drive and memory can be upgraded or swapped out easily.

    The brand name no longer means a whole lot.  Historically, there have been good Dell laptops, and bad Dell laptops.  There have been good HP laptops and bad HP laptops.  What you are buying with the name is really the ability for the computer to be serviced during the warranty period, or down the road if it breaks after a few years.  Almost all computers come with a limited 1 year warranty, and generally most of the big name manufacturers offer the same level of support.

    The laptop monitors are all pretty basic.  They have an LCD display with a backlight behind it that allows you to see the display.  There are no magic secrets to deciding which display is best.  Go with the biggest you can find for the money you are shelling out.  A 15.6 inch display has become pretty standard over the years.

    In today’s world, any computer should have at least 4 GB of memory with a 300-500 Gigabyte  hard drive.  Again, look for the biggest you can get for the money you are spending.

    So, how do you distinguish between processors?  20 years ago Intel was the only name on the market, so you had a choice between their older 386 processor and their newer 486.  There was no confusion about which was better.  Now there are many manufacturers out there with hundreds of processors on the market, and distinguishing between them is a guessing game to the uninformed.  Unfortunately, some manufacturers take advantage of this and sell low-end processors in their high-priced computers.  The uninformed public often doesn’t know any better.  However, there is a better way!!!

    Geeks love to get together and compare toys.  Benchmark testing is what the geeks use to figure out which processor is better than another.  Lucky for us, these geeks also like to share their results!!  Here is a site where you can compare microprocessors to see which is faster than another.  Without this basic tool, there would be almost no way to keep track.  This page shows almost all the laptop processors out there, along with their benchmark score.  The higher the score, the better the processor.  Often you will find two laptops around the same price, and one will have a benchmark of less than half the other.  It’s kind of sad how the manufacturers play to our lack of knowledge.  Please note that the prices listed on the benchmark page are for the processors only and should NOT be used as a gauge for the price of a laptop.

    I have a list of recommended laptops in the Frugalberry Store, which I will try to keep up to date.  Please post a comment if I fall behind and it needs to be updated.

    Benchmark Tool Link:

    Processor Image


  2. Free Intercom for Home or Office

    December 18, 2012 by Karl

    intercom berry berry berry berry


    This post will show you how to use the computers in your home or office as a free intercom system!

    After recently moving my office from the main floor down to a newly finished room in the basement, we ran into a bit of a problem.  Now anyone who wanted to talk to the other had to walk from one end of the house to the other, go up or down the steps, and then walk all the way to the other end of the house again to talk.  We have two phone lines in the house, so in theory we could call the other, but this just wasn’t working for us.  What we needed was an intercom.

    I wasn’t looking for anything fancy. I just wanted something to go from basement to first floor, wired or wireless, didn’t make any difference to me. I could run either. The cheapest ones I found online were over $50, and they had terrible ratings. The better ones were over $100. This just wasn’t going to fit in the budget. I could make my own, but the cost of the parts would have been about the same, and I would have had lots of labor involved.

    Discouraged, I started making plans to use some two-way radios that we had been given. They would need to be on all the time, so batteries would be used up quickly if I didn’t wire them directly into the wall. I weeded through my pile of wall warts (the heavy things that you plug into the wall to power electronics) and found two of the proper voltage rating. I made some modifications to the two radios to allow the wall warts to power them instead of batteries, and plugged them in. The result was two radios that worked, but there was so much noise from the unfiltered power source that it made them unusable.  Back to the drawing board.

    I started thinking about all the technology that we had in this house. We have wireless phones, but they are incompatible for an intercom system. Suddenly it hit me….. why not try something over the existing local area network we have set up in the house? We have computers in all the rooms where we would want to communicate. There MUST be something out there!

    Sure enough, a few keystrokes later, and I found my solution. It’s called (surprisingly enough) Intercom, and it is completely FREE! (this fits me perfectly)

    I downloaded the software from the link above, and within a few minutes had our intercom system working. Just a note, you do need to have Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 installed on your computer, and your computer will need to have speakers and a microphone in order for it to work. In my case we only have one microphone, but I improvised and plugged a set of headphones into the microphone jack and used them as a microphone until I bought one. I was planning to buy one anyway, so that just increased the need a little. Most laptops have microphones built into them now, so if you have a laptop you are probably set.

    I’m always a little leery of downloading freeware from the internet, but there are a few online freeware warehouses that I have some level of trust for. Softpedia is one of them. Just to be certain, I ran several virus scans on my computer after downloading it and they all came up clean. It never hurts to run a scan to double-check.

    Once downloaded, the application does not have a self install option.  It downloads as a zipped folder, so you need to unzip it. If your computer does not have a zip tool, you can download and install peazip for free.

    Next you will need to find a convenient place to put this folder.  I put it directly in the root of the C drive.

    The folder contains a PDF file which explains the whole process very nicely.  Please open that PDF file and read about how to use the application.

    If you have any trouble using this application, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I will help out if I can.

    Also, don’t forget to check out my other posts!

    Free intercom for PC to PC conversations on LAN. from on Vimeo.