Archive | Computers

What it’s like to play with a Super Computer?

I flew to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee last week to “meet” Jaguar, the world’s third-fastest supercomputer. OK, it wasn’t quite as simple as that. I had to get special government clearance, go through a security checkpoint that was a full five miles away from the supercomputer, and then get briefed on how to behave around Jaguar Look but do not touch! were the simple rules I had to abide by.

Fully briefed and slightly intimidated, I was lead into a room roughly the size of a football field that houses the supercomputer, which itself is the size of a basketball court. For those who don’t follow sports: it’s really big.

It’s also incredibly loud. Like, jet-engine loud. Even with ear-protection, my head was buzzing a little when I left the room.

The noise comes from the cooling fans that are located below the floor and atop the computer, which are required to literally keep the computer from melting. If you’ve ever noticed your laptop getting a little hot when it’s sitting on your lap, multiply that by about 180,000 and you’ll get an idea of why all that cooling is necessary.

The fans blow air up from the ground that has been chilled down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, using 4,800 lbs. of R134 coolant — the same stuff that cools your refrigerator and car air conditioner. When the air comes out the top of Jaguar, it’s 120 degrees.

Also in the room are are Kraken, the 11th fastest supercomputer, and Gaea, the 52nd fastest, according to the biannual Top 500 supercomputer list, which was announced Monday. All three are used by different groups: Jaguar is a Department of Energy supercomputer, Kraken is used by the University of Tennessee, and Gaea is the supercomputer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Their presence add to the room’s noise and also creates a need for more storage space. That’s why half the room is taken up by the 20,000 1-terabyte hard drives that store all the data that the massive computers churn out.

It’s a lot of equipment, and there are the appropriate number of blinking LED lights emanating from all of the various components.

Meanwhile, computer engineers from Cray, the supercomputers’ manufacturer, are running around wearing blue lab coats performing maintenance. Just like on your home PC, stuff is breaking or failing all the time on Jaguar, so on-site engineers are constantly checking up on the eight rows of 284 cabinets that make up the computer.

They’re also working on a giant upgrade. Right now, Jaguar runs at 2 petaflops, which translates to 2 quadrillion (that’s 2 million billion) calculations per second. That’s fast, but the world’s fastest supercomputer blows Jaguar away: Japan’s K Computer runs at more than 10 petaflops.

Clearly, Jaguar is falling behind and needs more oomph. So the DOE decided to replace Jaguar’s processors and turn it into a 20 petaflop machine — twice as fast as K Computer. When the upgrade is finished in late 2012, the supercomputer will be appropriately renamed Titan, as it will likely be the world’s fastest.

I was particularly fascinated by how Jaguar handles input and output. The computer runs a stripped down version of Linux, the open-source operating system that powers most Web servers. Data and commands are entered into computer terminals similar to a PC interface, with keyboards and flat-screen monitors.

Output is where it gets really interesting. After data is spat out into spreadsheets, on-site imaging specialists transform that into stunning high-definition visualizations that can be viewed in a room one flight up from Jaguar. The viewing room has 27 high-definition projectors working in tandem to create wide-screen HD images of whatever the scientists cooked up using the supercomputer.

So messing around with a supercomputer is kind of like playing with your PC, except everything is many orders of magnitude bigger, faster, louder, brighter, and much, much more expensive.

Don’t worry, I didn’t touch anything.

Posted in Computers, supercomputer0 Comments

You need a touchscreen to really use windows 8

Before you run to a computer store in Orlando Florida or anywhere for the matter and buy a Windows 8 laptop or desktop computer you need to read this. Microsoft’s Windows 8 best features are not going to do you one bit of good unless you specifically have a touch screen computer or monitor.

If  you intend to use your mouse and keyboard then its best to stay far away from Windows 8 and use another operating system for your specific needs and wants.

The ability to tap, touch, pinch, and swipe your finger across a touchscreen computer – laptop is where the Windows 8 operating system really comes to life. You can still use Windows 8 without a touch screen monitor however that’s the same principle as tossing your TV remote control aside and physically getting up off your couch every time you want to manually change your TV station.

Remarkably few people are actually opening their purses or wallets to purchase touchscreen computers and or laptops. Just 7% of Microsoft Windows laptops sold through December of 2012 were touch screen computers.

One challenge is there are not many high quality touchscreen laptops on the market today. To give you an example. The retail giant Best Buy offers more than 700 different laptops for sale through local retail stores and online. Only 30 or so of those laptops have touch screens and only a handful of those 30 different make and model touch screen laptops are high quality. Most are made up of low quality hardware and are considered to be junk. Only two of the the 30 touchscreen laptops earned a high quality rating from consumers who bought them.

Another downside to these touchscreen laptops is they will cost you on average of $120 to $180 more then a non touch screen laptop computer. The most affordable touchscreen laptop is a 11.6 inch Asus VivoBook which sells for around $500 give or a take a few dollars while the full size touch screen laptops are around $625 and up.

Granted that’s not a huge expense for a laptop, this does provoke consumers to really think whether they feel its worth it to shell out the extra money for having a touchscreen laptop or touchscreen computer system.

Touch screen monitors and laptops are an are not an afterthought in Windows 8. Touch screens are the core to the entire Windows 8 operating system. The whole Windows 8 OS virtually begs users to touch the computer screen with their fingers. Windows 8 is outright clunky and cumbersome when used with a keyboard and mouse and will leave computer users feelings disappointed and left out unless they are using a touch screen laptop or monitor.

Getting people to adopt to touch screens on their desktop or laptop computers wont be an easy chore because people are use to using a real mouse and keyboard to control their computers.

Windows 8 is pretty cool yes but the reality is they are not going to replace desktop computers in the offices of businesses and other organizations. Windows 8 is best for home use for fun and entertainment.

Today’s touch screen technology is being heavily dominated by today’s smart phones such as the apple Iphone, Droids, and tablets which has shown very little vendor and consumer demand for larger size touch screens needed for touchscreen desktop and touchscreen laptop computers. This means suppliers are not manufacturing many touchscreens for computer systems, which also drives up the price for touchscreen laptops and monitors.




Posted in Computers, Laptops, Microsoft, Operating Systems0 Comments

USB 3.0 Ports on Intel Sandy Bridge Motherboards and Operating System Installation

On the Intel Sandy Bridge motherboards including the Intel DH61BE motherboard I have noticed that keyboards and mice do not function when they are plugged into USB 3.0 ports when installing an operating system. The USB 3.0 ports are the blue USB ports. I also noticed while installing an operating system with these intel motherboards while the hard drive is plugged into a blue SATA port that the OS installation CD will not recognize that you have a hard drive present. If you have a USB keyboard and or USB mouse plugged into the USB 3.0 port which is the BLUE USB ports during the installation of an operating system, the keyboard and mouse will not function thus preventing you from installing an operating system. This is due to the fact that USB 3.0 functionality is being provided by a separate computer chip on the motherboard versus the legacy USB chip that is built in – integrated into the motherboard for the old school USB 2.0.

This means when installing an OS to ignore the blue USB and SATA ports on these intel motherboard and plug your hard drive and USB keyboard and mouse into the black ports. After you get the OS installed you can switch to using the USB 3.0 ports if you really want to but this isn’t necessary. Once the operating system is completely installed then the USB 3.0 ports will function.

Posted in Computer Repair, Computers, How To's, Motherboards0 Comments

APPLE iTunes Phishing Email Alert

The subject of this particular apple phishing email reads “Account Info Change,” the phishing email appears to look like it comes from APPLE, but the email address shows it came from do not reply@itunes.comvia,”. This means this email did not really come from apple and instead came from a fraudulent third party email service provider. (Real APPLE emails will show “” as the address. If you are unsure if the email you receive is real or bogus then it’s a good idea to call your network administrator of a qualified computer consultant to look at the email for you.

The fake emails look identical to real emails from APPLE which makes it dangerous for unsuspecting victims of fraud.

The bogus email informs email recipients that their Apple ID was “updated” and includes a link users can click on “to review and update their APPLE account security settings”. The fake link tricks users into believing the link goes to the real apple website but in fact the link takes users to a fake webpage that is cloned to look like the real apple web page.

The bogus APPLE page asks for users to log in with their APPLE ID and password, which of course ais sent to cyber criminals which then take your user name and password and access your real APPLE account and steal your credit card information along with your home or business address, your phone numbers and this quickly turns you into a victim of identity theft.

This kind of cyber crime is blooming up all over the internet and is very popular in Orlando Florida.

It is also important for APPLE users to understand that APPLE laptops, computers, iPhones and Ipads, which are thought to be safer and more secure then Microsoft computing platforms are not immune from online cyber crime and cyber attacks. A long list of new malware and computer viruses have recently emerged targeting and crippling APPLE computers – Macs. Rather than hoping your Apple product will be safe it is best for users to install commercial quality anti-virus software and better yet to use a high quality firewall designed to filter malware and computer viruses.

Of course, there is no substitute for knowledge and common sense. No antivirus software, firewall or other product can completely protect you from cyber crime like this. If you ever receive an unsolicited email like this, pick up the phone and call your network administrator and computer consultant and have him or her look at the email and whatever you do not click on any links in the email as this can open up a serious threat to your computer and your network. A good Managed Services Provider will proactively monitor your computer and network safety and will filter content so you do not have to worry about doing so but it is not always possible to detect and block these kinds of emails because of the never ending trends of technology and trickery.

Posted in APPLE, Computer Viruses, Computers, Email, Ipad, IPhone, Malware, News, Security0 Comments

Microsoft discloses Windows 8

Microsoft unveiled its next generation operating system which is called Microsoft Windows 8. Windows 8 is a drastic overhaul when compared to previous versions of Microsoft windows including Windows 7 and Windows Vista. Microsoft is gearing its focus on touch screen devices in an effort to compete against the Apple Ipad tablet. During a software developers conference in Anaheim California Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky whom is the president of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live division. Steven spoke in depth about the new and upcoming operating system Microsoft Windows 8. Microsoft is going to be facing an uphill battle when it goes to sell its new operating system to businesses. Microsoft Windows 8 is expected to be released sometime in 2012 but as of right now nobody knows for sure. Now on the other hand consumers will most likely jump to the new operating system and many personal computer and laptop manufactures will likely roll out future computers with windows 8 for consumers to enjoy. This means that it is very possible we may see new computers in retail stores with windows 8 pre loaded on then again nobody knows for sure. Microsoft Steven Sinofsky stated he believes this new OS will be powering the table computers of the future. “We are going to completely reimage Microsoft Windows from the ground up inside out so it functions completely different with the memory in a computer all the way to how it interacts with new CPS’s – computer processors and all the way up to a brand spanking new GUI – graphical user interface. Some of the GUI changes are going to be focusing on the touch input controls which geared more for tablet computers – touch screens. Other features will include a built in “pop up keyboard inside the operating system and a built in spell checker.


Posted in Computers, Microsoft, News0 Comments

Memory limits for the different versions of the Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System

How much memory can you use with Microsoft Windows 7 ?

First without getting into a bunch of technical detail here is a straight to the point breakdown of how much memory is supported with the different flavors / versions of Microsoft 7.

Microsoft offers it’s Windows 7 operating system in six different versions.

First you need to know that the maximum RAM – memory limit for 32-bit Windows 7 operating system editions is 4GB.
Which is more then enough for the average user.

For power users, special application computers, etc 4 GB of memory may not be enough.

The 64 bit editions of Microsoft Windows 7 support the following amounts of memory.

Microsoft starter Edition: 8GB
Microsoft Home Basic Edition: 8GB
Microsoft Home Premium: 16GB
Microsoft Professional : 192GB
Microsoft Enterprise: 192GB
Microsoft Ultimate: 192GB

These memory limits are similar to those with Microsoft Vista flavors / editions.

Which version is right for you?
We will get to that in another article….:)

Posted in Computers, Memory, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Questions & Answers, Software, What is?0 Comments

How to find a Microsoft Outlook .pst file

If you do not know where an old or existing .pst file resides on your computer and you want to add this .pst file to your Outlook profile, this section explains how to search for the .pst file and then add it to your Outlook profile.

To search for the .pst file, follow these steps:

  1. To search for the .pst files:
    • If you are running Windows Vista: Click Start, and then Computer. Locate the search window in the top right corner.
    • If you are running Windows XP: Click Start , and then click Search .
    • If you are running Microsoft Windows 95 or Microsoft Windows 98: Click Start , point to Find , and then click Files or Folders .
    • If you are running Microsoft Windows 2000 or Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me): Click Start, point to Search, and then click For Files or Folders .
  2. Type *.pst, and then press ENTER or click Find Now. Locate the desired .pst file you want to add to Outlook. Record the location of the .pst file.
  3. Close the search window and start Outlook. Click on the File menu, and then select Data File Management.
  4. Click on the Add button, and then choose the correct type of .pst file to add: If your .pst file was created in Outlook 2007, then choose Office Outlook Personal Folders File (.pst). If your .pst file was created in an older version of Outlook, such as Outlook 97, 2000, or XP, then choose Outlook 97-2002 Personal Folders File (.pst).
  5. Navigate to the location of the desired .pst file that you found during your search above. Select the .pst file and click OK.
  6. Either type a custom name for the .pst file or accept the default name. Click OK. Click Close to exit the current window.

Outlook now displays that .pst file in the Outlook folder list.

If these methods did not help you, you might want to ask a network administrator to help you.

Posted in Computers, Email, Exchange Server, How To's, Microsoft, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook0 Comments

How to back up Microsoft Outlook settings files

If you have customized settings, such as toolbar settings and Favorites, that you want to replicate on another computer or restore to your computer, you might want to include the following files in your backup:

  • Outcmd.dat: This file stores toolbar and menu settings.
  • ProfileName.fav: This is your Favorites file, which includes the settings for the Outlook bar (only applies to Outlook 2002 and older versions).
  • ProfileName.xml: This file stores the Navigation Pane preferences (only applies to Outlook 2003 and newer versions).
  • ProfileName.nk2: This file stores the Nicknames for AutoComplete.
  • Signature files: Each signature has its own file and uses the same name as the signature that you used when you created it. For example, if you create a signature named MySig, the following files are created in the Signatures folder:
    • MySig.htm: This file stores the HTML Auto signature.
    • MySig.rtf: This file stores the Microsoft Outlook Rich Text Format (RTF) Auto signature.
    • MySig.txt: This file stores the plain text format Auto signature.

    The location of the signature files depends on the version of Windows that you are running. Use this list to find the appropriate location:

    • Windows Vista or Windows 7: Drive\users\Username\appdata, where Drive represents the drive that Outlook was installed to and Username represents the user name that Outlook was installed under.
    • Windows XP or Windows 2000: Drive\Documents and Settings\Username\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook, where Drive represents the drive that Outlook was installed to and Username represents the user name that Outlook was installed under.
    • Windows 98 or Windows Me: Drive\Windows\Local Settings\Application Data, where Drive represents the drive that Outlook was installed to.

Note If you use Microsoft Word as your e-mail editor, signatures are stored in the file as AutoText entries. You should back up this file also.

Posted in Computers, Data Backups, Email, Exchange Server, How To's, Microsoft, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook0 Comments

How to use the Personal Folder Backup utility to automate the backup of .pst files

Your .pst file contains all the local Outlook folders, such as Calendar, Inbox, Tasks, Sent Items, Outbox, Deleted Items, and user-created folders. To automatically back up these folders, create a backup of your .pst file.

The Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders Backup tool is an Outlook add-in that automates the backup process. The Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders Backup tool works with Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002, Outlook 2003, and Outlook 2007. To download the add-in, visit the following Microsoft Web site:

With the Personal Folders Backup add-in, you can choose which of your .pst files you want to back up and how frequently you want to back them up.

Each .pst file contains all your Outlook folders. This includes the Inbox, Calendar, and Contacts. You can have a single .pst file (usually called “Internet Folders” or “Personal Folders” in your Folder List), but you might also have an additional .pst file that you use for archiving (“Archive Folders”). The Personal Folders Backup add-in lets you back up any of these .pst files.

Note The Personal Folders Backup add-in backs up only .pst files. If you have a Microsoft Exchange Server mailbox, the server mailbox folders are backed up regularly by the server administrator.

To use the Personal Folders Backup add-in, follow these steps:

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. On the File menu, click Backup.
  3. Click Options and select the .pst files that you want to back up.

To use the Personal Folders Backup add-in with Outlook 2010, follow these steps:

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. On the Ribbon, click Add-ins.
  3. Click Options and select the .pst files that you want to back up.

The Personal Folders Backup add-in can back up files to a disk. However, the add-in cannot spread the .pst file across multiple disks. When you change backup options, select a storage location that has sufficient free space to handle your whole .pst file.

Posted in Computer Repair, Computers, Exchange Server, How To's, Microsoft, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook0 Comments

How to back up Microsoft OUTLOOK Personal Address Books

Your Personal Address Book might contain e-mail addresses and contact information that is not included in an Outlook Address Book or contact list. The Outlook Address Book can be kept either in an Exchange Server mailbox or in a .pst file. However, the Personal Address Book creates a separate file that is stored on your hard disk drive. To make sure that this address book is backed up, you must include any files that have the .pab extension in your backup process.

Follow these steps to locate your Personal Address Book file:

  1. If you are running Windows Vista: Click Start.If you are running Windows XP: Click Start, and then click Search.If you are running Microsoft Windows 95 or Microsoft Windows 98: Click Start, point to Find, and then click Files or Folders.If you are running Microsoft Windows 2000 or Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me): Click Start, point to Search, and then click For Files or Folders.
  2. Type *.pab, and then press ENTER or click Find Now.Note the location of the .pab file. Use My Computer or Windows Explorer to copy the .pab file to the same folder or storage medium that contains the backup of the .pst file.

You can use this backup to restore your Personal Address Book to your computer or transfer it to another computer. Follow these steps to restore the Personal Address Book:

  1. Close any messaging programs such as Outlook, Microsoft Exchange, or Windows Messaging.
  2. Click Start, and then click Run. Copy and paste (or type) the following command in the Open box, and then press ENTER:
    control panel

    Control Panel opens.

    Note If you see the Pick a category screen, click User Accounts.

  3. Double-click the Mail icon.
  4. Click Show Profiles.
  5. Click the appropriate profile, and then click Properties.
  6. Click Email Accounts.
  7. Click Add a New Directory or Address Book, and then click Next
  8. Click Additional Address Books, and then click Next.
  9. Click Personal Address Book, and then click Next.
  10. Type the path and the name of the Personal Address Book file that you want to restore, click Apply, and then click OK.
  11. Click Close, and click then OK.

Note The Outlook Address Book is a service that the profile uses to make it easier to use a Contacts folder in a Mailbox, Personal Folder File, or Public Folder as an e-mail address book. The Outlook Address Book itself contains no data that has to be saved.

Posted in Computer Repair, Computers, Data Backups, Exchange Server, How To's, Microsoft, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook0 Comments