What Are You On?

intel dongleWhat are you on right now?

Helaine uses a laptop. My dad is 100% tablet. I rotate through devices and touch close to a dozen keyboards or screens through the day.

Nearly everything you know about computing is about to change. The size is shrinking again.

If you have a recent iPhone or one of the high end Android devices, you know the brain in that small device of yours works fine for browsing and video. Why do we need anything with bulk?

We don’t.

There is a new class of dongles entering the market which are full fledged PCs. Plug one into an HDMI port on any TV, pair with wireless keyboard and mouse and it’s a computer that can do nearly anything! Browse the web. Stream HD movies. Skype. Whatever.

These dongles are quad core machines special image processing chips. Very low power, they need no fans. They are light on RAM and disk space, but are optimized for the tasks most people normally perform.

They’re not for making content. They’re for consumption.

At the moment (and we’re very early in this game) the Windows version is $150 and the Android $100. Expect those numbers to fall.

This is crazy. How far we’ve come. We’re not slowing down.

Making An Old Computer New

IMG_20140308_235230-w800-h600If it seems like computers get slower over time, you’re right. It’s not because they’re wearing out. It’s because we’re inadvertently adding little helper programs every time we install something new. These are the programs that check to see if your software needs updating or get large applications started faster.

All of this happens at the expense of your computer’s performance.

No matter how hard I try to avoid these little vampires, they accumulate. After a while, a fast computer becomes a slow computer.

That’s the story with this Windows 7 laptop I’m typing on. Photo editing became a painful experience. Other chores too.

The disk light was constantly flashing, a sign I’d used all 4Gb RAM and was manipulating data on the much slower hard drive.

This afternoon I pulled off the data and moved it to an external drive. Next, three DVDs with the restore software had to be burned. Then, with the first disk in the drive I hit the power button.

This is not for the faint of heart. The laptop is returned to its original factory state. Everything has to be reinstalled. Passwords must be remembered.

It will take most of the week before this machine has everything it needs. I have all the disks. It’s just the time.

Right now I’m downloading 500Mb of Windows 7 updates! The computer seems a lot peppier. It would be nice if my effort made a difference.