On Saturday, November 26, I received a new-to-me Ultrabook. I subscribe to e-mails from Discount Electronics and they were offering this ~ $900 PC for $144 plus S/H. Since it was an “Ultrabook” I jumped on it. I already own an HP’s 3105mHP 3105m Netbook. This new machine is lighter and faster.
But there is one catch. It is shipping with Windows 8.1. Most of you who have suffered through the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 8 to 8.1 to Windows 10, remember the “Metro” interface and how the “workflow” so to speak of Windows 8.1 was significantly different from Windows 7. Ouch.
I gritted my teeth and found a Youtube tutorial video on how to get around in Windows 8.1. I wasn’t impressed. So I googled (everyone’s friend 🙂 something like “how to make windows 8.1 look like windows 7.” Ask and you shall receive. I found this page and downloaded the classic shell. After installing it and clicking on a couple of choices about how I wanted my Ultrabook to look like as a Windows 7 machine I had it back. The workflow, the menus, (I kept the new file manager though) and every other thing I was used to.
So I am happy as a clam (gorilla? chimpanzee?) Whatever. 🙂
I am going to talk about “general things you should do” to keep your computer healthy.
1) Always have a “firewall” running on the computer even when your inside a “firewalled” network. The only exception to this rule is when network-based applications are failing for un-known reasons. Then after consulting with your Techy you might try turning the workstation/server firewall off will keeping the Internet interface firewall turned on.
2) Always have an Anti-Virus program installed and up to date. There are a lot of very good free Anti-Virus programs out there including one from Microsoft. Use something!
3) Always have a program like the free version “Search and Destroy – Spybot” installed and available to run. Browsers keep getting infested with assorted items that steal information and report on your internet activity. S & D – Spybot will not only clean out those problems but for Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox it also offers “immunization” that protects the browser from many common exploits. Another commonly used one is the free version of “Adware”.
As time goes on the commercial and free Anti-virus programs are providing more protection to browsers. But as of this writing they still don’t replace S & D Spybot and/or Adware.
4) Don’t download and install software that you didn’t specifically go looking for on the Internet. A lot of “Ads” that offer downloadable software over the Internet turn out to be variations on Spyware and also produce un-wanted “popups”. You need to either only install reputable software you are familiar with or to find reviews of software someone is offering you to see if that are any “gotchas”.
I have relative who regularly downloads programs off the internet that “looked” interesting. He keeps getting un-wanted popups and allegedly free programs that cost to actually be useful. About every quarter I have to go over and clean off their PC.
5) Un-install any program you have on your PC that you are not using regularly. This will help delay the time where your PC starts slowing down. A large number of programs will startup “helpers” when you turn on your PC. This ties up resources and (eventually) will slow your PC down.
6) Operating System Updates – For windows you should always have these turned on to run automagically and in the background. I suspect the Mac/Android OS’s are updated less frequently but if an automated way to keep them updated is available it should probably be implemented. Deciding when to update Linux is more complicated because depending on exactly which “brand” of it you are running you want to keep it completely current (maybe even beta-release) or you want to wait for the “long release”.
I am assuming that you are already “computer literate” on your choosen platform (eg.Windows, Mac, Linux, Android etc). If you are still un-comfortable with your PC, Tablet, Cellphone the first thing you will need to do is search for “how to” articles for your hardware/operating system to get yourself up to speed. If your trouble is being caused by “operator error” then you need to fix that first.
Trouble comes (in theory) from malfunctioning hardware and malfunctioning software (eg. Viruses, badly written computer programs, etc). The catch is there is also the interface between computer hardware and software. These are called “drivers” and if they are malfunctioning it can be hard to track it down.
Trouble on a computer is generally related to either “running to slow” or “crashing”. Crashing refers to an un-planned computer stoppage where it either stops working but still seems to be running or a spontaneous re-boot where you suddenly discover your computer is starting up again. Running to slow is an “objective/subjective” issue. It might be that the computer is not running fast enough to suit you or it might be the computer is running slower than it used to.
Both problems start their troubleshooting with “What was the last program you installed” and/or “What is the last file you downloaded/installed from the Internet?” Modern computers (less than 3 years old) don’t usually have hardware issues unless you plug something new in. But new software can commonly cause a problem. So if you installed a new program or updated a program in the last couple of weeks that is the first place to look.
How do you “look”? Go to the Frequently Asked Questions page for the last program you installed and/or updated. Does it mention “known” problems? Do you have any programs that are listed as “not playing together”? Etc. If there is no ideas there you could try un-installing the program and seeing if the problem goes away. If it does, then most likely that last installed program was causing the problem.
A related question is “What were you doing” when you started having trouble. 1) What programs 2) How many are open 3) What files did you have open? If you only have that one application open/running does the problem go away? Or is it always “that program” that gives you trouble.
(To be continued)