Helpful Tips To Buying A New Computer

Feb 28
2014

So, we’ve all been in this situation. You’re at your preferred store for electronics or maybe you’re just browsing the ads looking into buying a new computer. All the different numbers and “GB’s” and “RAM’s”. What does that even mean, right? Let’s run through those basic acronyms first:

GB = Gigabyte. This refers to the amount of storage space on your computer. The higher the number in front of the “GB” means the more storage space you have.
RAM = Random Access Memory. This is needed in order to even boot up your computer. The more RAM you have, the faster your computer will run.

Now that we have that cleared up, how do you choose what’s right for you in those respects? Well, simply put, if you’re going to be saving a lot of documents, storing iTunes files or basically anything more than general browsing the internet, you’re going to want a higher GB. With the dropping prices for computers with high storage space these days, you aren’t breaking the bank to go a little higher. You will be surprised at how much space get’s chewed up in a hurry. Conversely, if you are a simple user, i.e. browsing the internet, playing solitaire, checking your email, etc.. you can probably skimp on the storage space and be OK. As far as RAM goes, if you’re into gaming, using the computer for work (several programs running at once) or you don’t subscribe to the “patience is a virtue” value, then you’re going to want a higher amount of RAM.

OK, let’s take a deep breath. Final decision. Desktop, Laptop or Netbook? Netbooks are compact notebooks with small screens and components that care more about saving battery than being powerful. Meaning, it will be slower, won’t have much storage space and no CD/DVD drive. However, this is all you need for basic things like web browsing and emailing. Laptops are larger than netbooks but have more storage, are faster and most these days all come with a CD/DVD drive. Still portable so if you’re on the move a lot for work, this is a good option. Desktops are great if you don’t need to be mobile. These are larger (towers) but give you more power for the money. Typically, they are also easier to upgrade i.e. installing more memory, better graphics card, etc..

These tips should clear up some of the standard “initial roadblock” questions a lot of people have. Good luck!

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Technology Helps With Special Needs Students

Jan 31
2014

Opening Up the Classroom

This mainstreaming of assistive technologies is having a significant impact on students — and not just on those who have traditionally required accommodations, says Karen Heilbronner, director of secondary special ­education for SRVUSD. Among those who benefit most are children with learning disabilities.

“We’re no longer limited to helping one particular student with a single specialized technology,” Heilbronner says, noting that newer assistive technologies are facilitated by the district’s recent investments in upgraded wired and wireless networks and a one-to-one tablet initiative. “These tools are easily extended to any student who needs them.”

Those with communication, cognitive, reading, short-term memory or developmental issues are now using tools such as Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which reads text back to them; Livescribe Smartpens, which capture everything spoken in class and written by the student; and web-based tools that help students organize their thoughts and assignments.

“We can now give students who have trouble reading every word on a page an e-book reader and text-to-speech capability, and they can sit in class with headphones on, listen to the words as they’re read to them and then weigh in on core literature discussions,” Burkhardt explains. “In the past, these would have been the students in the back who wouldn’t participate, who would have been considered either the shy introvert or the behavioral problem because they weren’t able to effectively engage. These tools are really making a difference.”

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What’s Happening in 2014?

Jan 02
2014

While there were a ton of new technology developments in 2013, 2014 may set the “coolness” bar higher than before. Here’s a few things from our friends at CBS to watch for:

1. Space tourism

Virgin Galactic is scheduled to become the first private commercial “spaceliner” to blast tourists into space, with an inaugural trip in 2014 carrying its founder, Sir Richard Branson. Branson and his children, Holly and Sam, will lift off on SpaceShipTwo from the Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Beyond 2014, a handful of private companies are also racing to bring tourists to space, including the ambitious Mars One colony trip to the red planet and Space Adventures’ trip to the moon.

2. Wearable tech

Ok, Glass. Show us the future. Google is expected to ship its groundbreaking augmented-reality glasses to the public in 2014, expanding the wearable tech market.

Smartwatches like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear watch and the Pebble Smartwatch will continue to be more useful as developers create more apps for the devices. Health-tracking devices like the Nike Fuel Band, Jawbone Up and Fitbit Force will continue to drive the health technology marketplace into the mainstream.

3. Internet of things

At the 2013 IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, technology company Philips demonstrated a concept called the HomeCooker Next that could time cooking, change temperature and stir food — using a smartphone. The Nest thermostat not only can control your home’s temperature remotely, it also learns your behavior and makes adjustments accordingly. 

The networking of our physical world will continue to boom in 2014. Connected devices are no longer just limited to smartphones and computers. Everything from door locks and home appliances to bikes and watches can now be networked.

4. Robots on the rise

Will the machines become self-aware in 2014? We certainly hope not, but advancing technology in robotics and artificial intelligence are definitely on the rise. 

Google acquired a portfolio of incredible robots with its purchase of Boston Dynamics in 2013, including the Cheetah, Petman and Atlas, making spectators wonder what the tech giant has planned for the machines.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is challenging robot-makers to address the need for rescue workers in dangerous emergency response situations. The DARPA robotics challenge is underway and will have finals happening at the end of 2014. Winners will receive a $2 million prize.

5. Machines in the sky

Keep an eye on the sky in 2014 because unmanned aerial vehicles – or drones – are about to become a big part of the airspace.

Amazon made a big splash when CEO Jeff Bezos on “60 Minutes”  revealed plans for a drone that would deliver packages in 30 minutes. But a handful of other drones garnered attention in 2013, including drones that could deliver beerl and pizza to a home in the United Kingdom.

In 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its first annual roadmap to address concerns that are arising with the increased use of drones in American airspace, paving the way for clear regulations of the flying devices. The FAA recently announced the location of six drone test sites in the United States, setting the stage for what could be the next booming industry.

6. Bigger, smarter TVs

Just watching movies and shows on TV won’t cut the mustard in 2014. A growing market of smart TVs will continue to expand, with more households having the option to browse the Internet, launch apps and have social interactions through their TV sets.

LG is planning to release a feature that lets users communicate with smart home appliances, using a mobile messaging app called Line, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. Samsung’s smart TVs will soon let users use voice command and gestures to change the channel, control the volume and stop videos. The two companies are also planning to show 105 inch curved  4KTV’s at CES.  Samsung has already begun selling a 110-inch TV in South Korea for a whopping $150,000.

7. 3D printed everything 

Need a new iPhone case? There’s a printer for that. The future of 3D printing  is bright and may hit the mainstream soon. According to growth projections by IDC, 3D printers units will have a compound growth rate of 59 percent and revenue growing by 29 percent from 2012 to 2017.

Hobbyists aren’t the only ones that have use for 3D printers – the medical, aerospace and automotive industries are also using 3D printers.

8. Multi-screen world

Spoiler alert: Live-tweeting TV shows is now a thing. As more mobile devices hit the market in 2014, so will more opportunities for a second-screen experience.

More TV programming will include hashtags to continue the conversation online, during breaks or after shows air. Apps like Zeebox notify users when a program is about to air, shows trending conversations online and highlights related content.

9. The fight for privacy

Privacy became a buzzword in summer of 2013, with the details of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program coming to light through leaked documents by former contractor Edward Snowden. 

According to a July 2013 Pew Research survey, 86 percent of Internet users have taken steps to protect their digital footprint by using methods like encrypting their email or clearing cookies.

Privacy advocates may want to keep their eyes on several cases filed against the U.S. government in 2013 that are still pending. NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander will retire in 2014, which could spark a new round of conversations about privacy.

10. Smartphone market continues to grow

Not everyone has a smartphone, but that will eventually change. One prediction by Credit Suisse says that over 1 billion smarthphones will sell worldwide in 2014, getting a boost from demand in China. According to IDC, smartphone shipments in China’s growing market are estimated to hit 450 million in 2014 – compared to an estimated 360 million in 2013.

Contact Access US For More Information:

Please call us today with questions, or to get Access US working for you.
Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM CST | 314.655.7700 | Toll Free: 800.638.6373 Or email us at info@accessus.net | Online Contact Form

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Trouble Adjusting to Windows 8?

Nov 27
2013

If you’re having trouble adjusting to the new windows OS, you’re not alone. People seem to be struggling with the new app based functionality. Don’t get frustrated, take your time and once you get to know it you’ll find that it’s very easy to use.  With Microsoft releasing an update, version 8.1, they have made the transition easier to handle. Here are a few ways to help you along the way.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

When you first boot up Windows 8.1, you won’t notice a huge difference between the latest update and Windows 8. You still get the tile-based Start screen, but it’s a lot more customization based than the previous version.

RETURN OF THE START BUTTON

One of the more welcome features is the return of the Start button.

When you switch to desktop mode, you’ll find it in the bottom-left-hand corner, but it doesn’t function in exactly the same way as before. Tapping or clicking will simply return you to the modern tile-based Start screen, rather than launching the traditional Start menu.

CHANGING DEFAULT APPS

Naturally, Microsoft would love for you to use its native apps (Internet Explorer, Xbox Music, and so forth) for all your tasks, but if you have a preference for a certain Web browser, email client or mapping app, Windows 8.1 will allow you to set them as your default.

Contact Access US For More Information:

Please call us today with questions, or to get Access US working for you.
Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM CST | 314.655.7700 | Toll Free: 800.638.6373 Or email us at info@accessus.net | Online Contact Form

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Is Your Computer Properly Protected?

Oct 31
2013

On average, about a handful out of the customers that call into our tech support hotline during the week, have a computer virus. Proper virus, malware and spyware protection is vital to insure the safety and health of your computer. If you’re not protected you are putting your personal information such as online banking information, passwords, emails, photographs and any other document stored, at risk of being hacked. Most of us have some form of virus protection software  installed on our computers, however, not everyone does. Furthermore, not everyone utilizes the software properly, either. 

In order for your software to be effective, it has to be up to date. Most programs offer automatic updating but in most cases it’s an option and you have to set it up to pull updates on it’s own. No worries, this is not hard by any stretch of the imagination and most likely will be presented in the initial setup but always make sure you check auto updates. Also, proper use is important to think about. Regularly scanning your computer can greatly increase the effectiveness of the software  as well as the overall performance of your computer. Most programs allow you to schedule auto scans but, again, you have to set that up on your own. Once a week is usually sufficient and you can schedule it, in most cases, at a specific time of your choosing. 

What kind should you use? Well, in the end, that call is up to you. There are some pretty pricey options and there are some not so expensive options. Anti-Virus software is one of those things in which the most expensive doesn’t necessarily mean the best protection. There are many cheaper, more affordable versions that offer basically the same protection but may not have all the extra features such as smartphone protection. From my personal experience, Webroot has a good basic product for less than $50 which I’ve used in the past. Also, for good protection at no cost, AVG provides a free version of their anti-virus software that covers you in every category you’d need to be covered. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you to be vigilant in protecting yourself from online threats. Going without any virus protection should not be an option. With the growing number of hackers and groups that are around for the sole purpose of making others miserable online, it’s just not responsible to ignore online safety. If you ever have any questions regarding your virus protection software or are looking for a little guidance, feel free to gives us a shout.

Contact Access US For More Information:

Please call us today with questions, or to get Access US working for you.
Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM CST | 314.655.7700 | Toll Free: 800.638.6373 Or email us at info@accessus.net | Online Contact Form

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