Thursday, December 19, 2013

Web Browser Comparison

Today, there are a variety of ways for us to surf the web on both personal computers and mobile devices. A browser is the software that allows us to view web pages (when coupled with an internet connection). The major browsers today are generally (with some exceptions) cross-platform programs that will run on most operating systems, and can perform a variety of tasks from displaying diverse content types to debugging web pages. Becoming familiar with your browser is important for a safe and efficient web experience.

Organizing Whitmail with Filters

Filters are powerful tools to keep e-mail accounts tidy and organized. The purpose of filters is to allow users to manage incoming messages by automatically labelling, archiving, deleting, starring, or forwarding them using rules that they create. Whitmail utilizes Google’s e-mail service, which has a variety of simple yet impressive options for filters.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dual Booting: Use Boot Camp to Run Windows on Your Mac

Dual Booting: Use Boot Camp to Run Windows on Your Mac

This is for all you Mac-owners out there: do you ever wish you could use Windows on your computer, without giving up Mac OS X? If you've ever wanted to have both operating systems on one computer, there is a solution for you: dual booting. Boot Camp, which comes on Macs running OS 10.5 (Leopard), allows you to utilize dual booting to run either Windows or OS X on your computer. Switching back and forth is easy--just choose which operating system you want with a simple restart.

You don't have to be a computer whiz to use Boot Camp--as long as you have some basic knowledge and free time, it's simple to set up dual booting on your Mac. All it takes is a Mac with OS 10.5 or newer, a working printer, at least 10 GB of free space on your hard drive, and a copy of Windows. After clearing some space on your hard drive, the next step is to open Boot Camp, which will prompt you to print the handy user guide. Boot Camp will then help you partition your hard drive into separate Mac and Windows portions, depending on how much space you want for each operating system. Once you've made a decision, it's time to insert your Windows disk and start the installation. When it's finished and you're booted into Windows, the last step is to eject the disk, insert your Mac OS 10.5 installation disk, and follow the instructions. This will install the drivers for your Mac devices so that Windows will recognize them. When you're done, you will be able to select which operating system you want--Mac or Windows--each time you restart your computer! For more detailed step-by-step instructions on using Boot Camp, check out this LifeHacker post

So, are there any downsides to dual booting? Possibly, depending on what your particular needs are. With dual booting, you can only use one operating system at a time, and if you want to switch, you have to restart your computer. However, dual booting is excellent if you will be spending long stints in one operating system--maybe playing games, using a particular software for school, or editing video. Because you're only running one operating system at a time, your computer won't be slowed down in any way, which is important for games and software that use more power. 

If you've always wanted the benefits of Windows on your Mac, be sure to give dual booting a try!

Report those Phishing Emails!


Ever get sick of getting sketchy emails? *Note: we will NEVER ask you to change your password via email* Help us stop them in the future!

Click on the email and then on the triangle pointing downwards to the right of the date received. Click “Show Original”

A new tab will open up with information of the path the email took to get from the sender to you. Copy that (+A and +C on Macs or Ctrl A + Ctrl C on PCs to select all and copy)


Go back to the message, paste the information at the top (+V on Macs or Ctrl+V) and forward it to

Why can’t we just forward the email on?

If the Phishy folks clicked the email forwarded on and got the original information, it would only have the information of how the email you forwarded on got to phishy and not how you got it in the first place. They need the original information of how you got the email to block spam in the future.

For information on how to identify phishing emails:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

HDD vs. SDD: Which do I pick?

HDD vs. SSD: Which do I pick?

Data storage technology is a rapidly diversifying and expanding field, and there are very few better examples of this than the development of personal computers. With the onset of tablets and tablet PCs, producers have had to come up with new and innovative features to draw customer attention. A new piece of hardware that’s begun to crop up on the PC market is SSD hard drives.
            The phrase ‘SSD hard drive’ itself is a little bit of an oxymoron, as SSD stands for ‘solid state drive’, whereas a hard drive is another type of hardware entirely. Both, however, accomplish approximately the same purpose: storage and processing of data in computers. The aim of this article is to elucidate some of the differences between the two and whether or not it is worth it to make the upgrade to an SSD.
            The main difference between an HDD and an SSD is the price, and this is most likely what draws people away from SSDs and towards HDDs. SSDs can cost around $1 per GB, whereas HDDs cost just a few cents per GB. This means that for the price of an average sized SSD, around 250GB, you could get an HDD with over 1TB worth of storage. (Some have pointed out that the average computer user wouldn’t even come close to filling up 1TB worth of storage, which makes it worth it to purchase an SSD just for the performance upgrade). There are also hybrid drives, which combine aspects of the two, and are also much cheaper than SSDs, around fourteen cents per GB.
            Beyond price, then, what is the difference between the two? As this video shows, the performance of an SSD is vastly superior to an HDD, as indicated by bootup and application startup times. This is due to the fact that the data storage mechanism is digital, like a USB drive, rather than mechanical. This also lends another interesting advantage: hard drives contain a platter that holds the data, which must spin at very high speeds to be read. In contrast, there are no moving parts in an SSD, which means that it cannot be damaged as readily. HDDs can fail completely if bumped or jarred extensively, whereas SSDs are a lot more hardy and can withstand more bumps and bruises due to their lack of mechanics (think about what punishment your USB thumb drive probably goes through, and still works fine!)
            In addition, SSDs draw much less power, average between 2-3 watts, while HDDs draw between 6-7 watts. This means that with the exact same computer, using an SSD will extend your battery life by about 30 minutes, and produce less heat in the process.
            It seems like SSDs are superior from most angles, but they are also lacking in some areas. Due to their relatively recent appearance on the market, there aren’t many options available for those who do want to upgrade. The most popular SSDs have capacities of about 120GB to 256GB, whereas HDDs nowadays can go up to 1TB and beyond. If you wanted an SSD with that kind of capacity, you would have shell out quite a lot more money. SSDs also suffer from the same issues of longevity that HDDs suffer from – slowing down as their memory fills up and as they get older. They also have the added disadvantage of very little to no warning signs before shutting down completely, whereas hard drives tend to have a few failsafes and warning signals built in, to allow you to transfer your data before it’s too late.
            There are a few myths about SSDs, including the claim that SSDs wear out much more quickly than HDDs. This might have been true fifteen or twenty years ago, but nowadays, thanks to TRIM technology build into SSDs that optimize read/write cycles, you’re probably more likely to purchase a new computer or hard drive as an upgrade before you start running into errors and crashes.
            So what’s the general consensus? It seems that overall, SSDs are definitely making their mark on the PC market in a significant way. Although I personally do not own an SSD computer myself, I would highly consider purchasing one when I feel I need an upgrade, as the performance and physical superiorities far outweigh the disadvantages of using an SSD over an HDD. I, as an average computer user, do not use that much memory, and I value performance over most other features, and the SSD certainly delivers that.