Monthly Archives: May 2012

Solar Cycle

We’re heading into the next peak in the solar sunspot cycle, which will top out in the spring next year.  Solar flares cause interruptions in radio activity, and can impact internet connections, marginal network boxes like routers and switches, and wireless devices.

In addition to strong radio signals and X-rays, sometimes a solar flare will send a plasma of hydrogen gas into the Earth’s magnetic field, triggering a geomagnetic storm.  Geo storms impact the electrical grid and can cause power cuts and surges.

That’s why I recommend top quality surge protectors.  Tripplite is my favorite brand.  You can get them locally at ERI Electronics on Mottman Rd., or on-line.

Here’s a link for checking solar activity:


Vista Upgrade to Windows 7

    I’ve run across no fewer than three laptops and PCs this week that were upgraded from Vista to Windows 7.  In all three cases, there was something glitchy going on, like missing device drivers, browser problems, and malware that seemed to get in despite the best efforts of anti-virus and other security software usage.

My conclusion is that upgrading from Vista requires a complete format and re-install of Windows.  If you follow just what Microsoft does in the Win 7 upgrade, you’ll probably end up with legacy Vista issues.  Sorry I don’t have better news because Windows 7 is definitely where you want to be, but it will be more work than you’re expecting if you’re starting with Vista.


Upgrade or Buy?

This is the most common question I get.  Customers are almost always disappointed with the answer because they expect computers to last as long as major appliances.  The typical lifespan for a PC is about 5 to 7 years, and laptops are even less, at about 3 to 6 years.  The main driver is software, which continually gets bigger, more complex, and requires faster hardware.  The next factor is hardware, which even for the best brands will start to fail after 7 years.  Most customers are also unaware of the major jump hardware has taken in the past 4 years or so, with multiple processors (2 or 4) becoming the standard nowadays.  Fortunately there are affordable solutions which I detail below.  In general though, a new PC or laptop will cost about $600 to $800, but you should not have to spend more than that.