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Your technology is HOT….

Did you know that your technology is HOT?


No, I am not talking about the cute little colored case you have on your laptop.  I am not talking about color at all.  I am telling you that your computing devices will get hot.

Just the other day someone asked me why their laptop felt so hot.  I just happened to remember that they like to put the laptop on top of a pillow.  The problem is that when you do that, you cover up the ventilation slots on the side that allows the hot air to escape.  The fan inside the laptop actually vents the hot air OUT to keep the CPU and the motherboard as cool as possible.  It is sort of like the radiator on your car. There are air vents in your grill that allows air to below on the radiator, and therefore provide natural cooling for the water that flows through it.

I can’t remember how many times I have gone to a customer’s house or business and had to play “lets find the CPU” game.  The CPU (central processing unit) is the box that has the CPU, motherboard, RAM and other assorted goodies that allows you to interact with what is showing up on your monitor.



Covering your CPU with magazines, trash or other assorted items is not good for it.  Why?  Because your are not allowing it to breath and get proper air flow.  Imagine for a moment, if someone stuffed you into a box that is barely bigger than you are with no air holes, and you had to stay in there for an extended amount of time.  Before you know it, your body would start to overheat and you would start sweating to cool off.

Your CPU does not have sweat glands and therefore does not have that mechanism in which to cool off by.  The CPU will get so hot that the computer will start to hang and not respond to any input.  If the heat remains for long enough it will permanently damage your CPU and all of the electronics within it.  While we are talking about the CPU lets talk about dirt and dust bunnies.  Depending on how clean or dirty the computing environment is, you may want to consider turning off the CPU, unplugging the power cord and opening up the case. Please understand that you can damage the components of your computer if you are not familiar with what you are doing.  Static electricity kills electronic components.  You need to know what you are doing, before you open that case.  If you are uncomfortable doing this, get someone that knows what they are doing to help you with this.

You might be surprised what you find inside.  Insects, mice and other little critters love the warmth that the CPU provides, and they will take up residence in your CPU if you are not careful.  You need to visually inspect inside the CPU on a regular basis, and make sure that you remove anything that is not meant to be there.  Arm yourself with a static free hand vacume or a can of air so you can clean it out.  Whatever you do, do NOT put your CPU in the dish washer.

If your small hairy pets like to camp out on top of your CPU that may be something you need to consider changing.  Computers are magnets for dog and cat hair, dust, dirt and critters.  You should think about discouraging your pets from using your computer or laptop as a butt warmer.  Yes, it makes for adorable pictures for Facebook, but it does not extend the life of your hardware.

Now that we have examined why you want to keep your personal computer (CPU) as cool as possible lets examine why it gets hot to begin with.  The personal computer is nothing but a boat anchor, until you plug it into the wall and apply that wonderful thing called electricity.  Electricity flowing through the CPU helps to cause the personal computer. laptop , tablet to get warm.  The power supply inside the computer case helps to step down or regulate the exact number of WATTS  that your particular computer needs to run.  You should consider placing a GOOD  Uninterruptable Power Supply UPS between your computer and your  utility power source.

Most of us do not think about electricity.  Almost everything we own runs on some sort of electricity.  When we plug appliances and computers into the wall outlets in our home we assume that we are plugging our equipment into a reliable power source.  What is going to surprise you is that you could be placing your equipment at risk by not using a UPS.  Why is this important?  Go out to your sidewalk and look around until you find a large silver or grey power transformer up on a power pole near your house.  What does that do?  It steps down the power coming through the power lines and feeds the right amount of power to your house.  I am not an electrician but I know enough about electricity that the power that comes into your outlets in your home are regulated or stepped down to a safe amount of electricity for your devices.  The reason you need a UPS is because of a thing called Brown Outs and Power surges/voltage spike.

In layman’s terms a “Brown out” is a condition in which the flow of electricity into your home drops below acceptable levels for your equipment to run normally.  Power surges are when the power coming into your home spikes ABOVE acceptable levels.   The UPS will provide several things.  The first thing a good UPS will do is it will monitor how much electricity is coming into the device and will help to keep the electricity levels safe for your equipment. A UPS will protect your equipment from Brown Outs and Power Surges.   Intelligent or SMART  UPS’s will also provide a battery backup, should the utility power were to go completely out.  This will give you time to save the data you are working on and shut down your computer gracefully.

When you decide to shop for a UPS make sure that you pay attention to how many JOULES the UPS is rated for.  The higher the number of Joules the UPS is rated to protect the BETTER the UPS is.  Power bars do not typically protect against power spikes or brown outs.  Some of the Power strips that are on the high end do have a MOV switch  that can provide a very limited amount of protection for a limited amount of time.  After so many power surges , no matter how small, that MOV switch will cease to function and you will have no idea that your equipment is totally unprotected.

In summary, if you have a personal computer, make sure that the CPU Case is sitting in a clean environment with plenty of space around it so it can get plenty of air flow.  Purchase a cooling pad for your laptop to sit on top of it.  If you do not have a UPS for your personal computer then please consider purchasing one.  The life of your computer electronics depends on your having one.


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Keeping up with technology

I have experienced a lot of change in the last 24 years as an I.T. professional.  For the most part, technology refreshes itself every 6 to 12 months.  Everyone is familiar with Apple and how their products are introduced one month and then 6 months later another version of the same product is introduced to the market.  I love Apple products because they just work.  I certainly can’t afford to keep up with all of the new models of this and that in the Apple world.

At work I support workstations running Microsoft products.  We run Windows 7 Enterprise edition x86 (32 bit) operating systems.  Our office productivity suite is Microsoft Office 2010.  Microsoft products have been out there for a long time and I do not see it going away any time soon. Apple OSX , Microsoft Windows , Unix, Linux operating systems are the most popular operating systems on workstations in the corporate world. In the corporate world there are folks like me who are in the background keeping technology humming smoothly so you can do your job.  When something goes wrong I am an e-mail or phone call away.  I am the “I.T. guy” or “I.T. Gal” you depend on when trouble happens with technology.

Who is the “I.T. person” when you run into problems at home?  Personal computing has become more and more a part of our every day lives.  Once upon a time a  personal computer ran upwards of 5K and the software for it was very expensive.  That was back in 1980 when the personal computer became available for individuals at home.  Fast forward to today and you can go to Walmart and buy a laptop for under 400.00 and a personal computer with monitor, keyboard and mouse for less than 500.00 if you want a basic set up.  Software is no where near as expensive as it used to be.

Most computer manufacturers recognize the fact that home computer users do not have an I.T. support staff and that they need to make home computers as self healing as possible.  Microsoft Windows computers/laptops come with the automatic updates set up to do your Microsoft security updates and OS patches for you  while you sleep as long as you leave the computer turned on and connected to the Internet.  Most Antivirus & Spyware software will automatically search for updates and apply them for you without any effort on your part.  The same goes with driver updates and firmware updates as well.  In the system tray you will get notifications from the hardware manufacturer that driver or firmware updates are available.  You will have to pay attention to those and apply them manually.  Those updates typically require a reboot.

Why is all of this important to you?  It is important if you want your personal computing device to run efficiently.  When you get into your car you want to turn the key and you expect the vehicle to start and take you from point A to B without too many issues.  No one likes to get stranded on the side of the road with no gas or a flat tire.  That is why we take care of our vehicles and perform basic maintenance tasks like checking the oil, transmission fluid and air pressure in our tires.  If we do not know how to do those things we learn how or take it to an automotive professional who will do it for us.  The same thing applies to personal technology devices.

No matter how “idiot proof” hardware and software manufacturers make our personal computing environment we still need to have some basic knowledge of how things work and what basic maintenance tasks we should pay attention to and verify they are happening correctly.  In the next couple of articles I will explain some of these maintenance tasks, why they are important and what you need to know for an end user stand point.


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