The Tech Guru Answers your questions
I am happy to say I’ve been sent many great questions by the readers of my first blog post. For those of you who may be new to this area, this is the place for you to get those difficult computer and technology questions answered once and for all. Each week I will post the questions and answers posed by those of you who ask the best ones with the broadest appeal. But don’t worry. Even if I don’t answer you here I promise you will get an answer by email. You can email me your questions today to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question- “What are some things us non techy people can do with Vista? I have an XP Home computer that works fine but I want a little more excitement.” Allison A. Beaverton, OR.
Answer- Excellent question Allison! Now that Vista is past its awkward teenage pimple faced phase, the home version of XP can be retired. I still believe XP is best for businesses because of program compatibility, but Vista has some great stuff for the home user. Here are a few of the cool things you can use even if you’re not a super tech.
a. Scrolling icons- Now you can make the icons on your screen scroll bigger and smaller by holding the ctrl key and using the scroll wheel on your mouse. Great for tired eyes.
b. Speak your commands- Just get a $40 headset microphone and tell Vista what to do. Open a program, type a letter, or even open a website all by speaking into the microphone . You can even have your email read back to you.
c. Use Aero glass- On the higher end versions of Vista you can view your minimized programs and icons as little pictures by passing your mouse cursor over them. If you open a ton of programs at once and forget where that budget spreadsheet was this is a big time saver.
Vista also comes with new games likes 3d chess and Texas Hold’em. I will be speaking about Vista’s many other improvements over XP in the weeks to come.
Question- “I am thinking of getting a phone that I can also browse the web and get email with. Should I get an IPhone or some other brand? I’m also confused by the term “smart phone”. Is that what I’m looking for?” David B. Portland, OR.
Answer- Lets answer these in reverse order. A smart phone is any phone that you can add an internet data plan to. This allows you to browse the web using a mini web browser, although you may need to bring your reading glasses on some of the smaller screens.
The data plans vary in cost but if you get a two year deal, an unlimited plan costs around $45 per month plus the phone charges. This cost will come down as time goes on, no doubt. A Blackberry is a type of smart phone that uses RIM’s service to send and receive email. A Windows Mobile phone is a competing product that uses an Exchange server to do the same. If you’re not a business customer you can still get your regular email (like hotmail, gmail etc.) sent to your smart phone as part of your data plan with any internet capable phone. The business customers have an advantage where they can wirelessly synchronize their calendars and contacts. A home user will have to plug in the cable for those, but the email is wireless.
An IPhone is the same as any other smart phone but it has a radical new type of user interface that is very easy to understand and manipulate without previous technical knowledge. It also has many more applications like games and useful software available to it than any other phone. But like all great ideas, the IPhone is getting copied like crazy by other “wannabes”. Eventually someone else will come up with a better phone and the cycle will start all over again. The IPhone has one big negative and that is it comes with either a defective chip, of bad software that makes the chip run using the ultra fast 3G technology. Apple has come up with a partial fix, but a permanent one is still being developed.
Google is coming up with a new operating system by the end of the year to compete with the ones already mentioned. It’s called “Android” and it promises to be another step towards ease of use, or a step closer to “Skynet” when the machines officially take over (just kidding, maybe).
Whatever brand of smart phone you pick make sure you do some internet research about the model, the phone company you use (yes it makes a difference), and you can always follow the advice of someone who has the phone.
For more great tips check back here each week and listen to me on the All Tech Radio show Sunday mornings at 9 on AM 1360 KUIK, or listen online at http://alltechradio.com.