Ways to go green with your computer

For the last couple of years or so the biggest BUZZ word is going GREEN.  By now everyone should know how to go green with everyday living like recycling, reusing, etc., but do you know how to go green with your computer?  If not here are 3 tips to go green with your computer:

1:    The first thing you can do is shut your computer down when it’s not in use.  If you can’t shut it right down because you need to work on it throughout the day then you can put the computer to sleep or hibernate.  To do this check your power options for your computer or laptop through the control panel

 2:    The second thing you can do has to do with your printer.  Try not to use paper is better but when you have to print something try and use recycled paper.  You can also use a refilled ink cartridge.  Refilled ink cartridges are not as good as the original ink, but are a good alternative for everyday printing.  Just make sure it’s after the manufacturer’s warranty before you use them.  Some manufacturers will not cover warranty issues if you’re using refilled ink.

3:    Last but not least, when your computer is at the end of its life or you’re upgrading and need to get rid of your computer there are options available. One option is to recycle your computer.  It will be stripped down and any useful parts are reused, anything else is sent out for further processing back to raw materials. The other option is to donate your computer to be refurbished and resold to those who can’t afford to buy a new computer. If you decide to have it refurbished please make sure that you donate it to a company that is a Microsoft Registered Refurbisher.  Microsoft has strict rules as to how a computer must be refurbished and resold.

In further articles I will discuss what computer products are considered green.  For further details on the Microsoft Registered Refurbisher program please feel free to contact Scott’s Computer Emporium at 519-802-2721 or email scott@computeremporium.ca

Skype Call Recorder

I was asked to review a program that integrates very well with Skype called Riviera for Skype and it’s a Skype call recorder.   According to their website you can record your calls to an mp3 file and then later play that file on the built in player.  I was a little skeptical at first considering I’m not a big fan of Skype but after using this program along with Skype it seems that I was wrong about it.  It worked very well and I can see where it could come in handy for business calls or whatever.

The installation of Riviera was very straight forward, just like any other piece of software.  Once I opened up Skype and made a call I was asked to allow the Riviera software access to Skype. When you make or receive a call the Skype call recorder shows the dialog box asking if you want to record this call.  If accepted the call will then be recorded. When you hang up the recorded file will appear and you can decide to play the file or not. You can choose to have calls recorded automatically or you can choose when to record and that can be found in the settings window.

Why would you want to record your conversation you might ask? Well if you’re in business you would then have a record of your conversations. At the very least if you’re like me and forget what was said you would then have a record of what was said. You could also use it as a training session and record the session for later use. I’m sure you could come up with other uses as well.

The software sells for $11.21 Canadian which really isn’t bad for what you’re getting.  In my opinion this is an excellent piece of software to have on hand to record your conversations on Skype.

The software can be found here Skype Call Recorder, try it and let me know what you think.

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JCopia Software Review

Once again I’ve been asked to write a review on a piece of software called JCopia by the Jiteco Corporation.  This software captures flash video and audio streams from any website to your computer as files.

When I downloaded the program it required a windows .net framework 4 to be installed which wasn’t a big deal.  That took sometime to download. Afterwards the JCopia program downloaded and installed, but the part that bothered me a little was the fact that upon opening the software it required another program to be installed.  A little troubling but once again, no big deal. Although everything took a little time it did install without any problems.

With the downloads done and once the software is active on your system it will automatically download any video or audio from the website you happen to be on.  I tried it on YouTube and it downloaded the movie without a problem.  The software is extremely easy to use. The cost of JCopia is $19.60 Canadian which isn’t too bad.

Although it isn’t something I need in my opinion this is a nice, easy to use piece of software.  If you require software to download media files from the internet then check this one out. For more information visit their website at JCopia .

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Extended Warranties, Are They Worth The Money?

When looking for a computer or other house hold appliance the first place you go to is a big box store like Future Shop or Staples. You are then approached by a salesperson and you listen to their sales pitch on the product you’re looking at and then they try to sell you on the extended warranty.  Is the extended warranty worth the extra money? It depends on how you look at it and your past experience with them.  Extended warranties are like insurance policies, you may need it and you may not.  But why do the stores push them so hard? The bottom line is they make big money on them.

As a former Staples employee (Senior Technology Consultant) I’m very familiar with extended warranties, both the good side and the bad.  When you purchase your warranty it doesn’t take effect until after the manufacturers warranty ends, naturally.  There are several types of extended warranties available depending on what company you’re shopping at.  The two main types are Replacement Warranty and Repair Warranty.

If you got a replacement warranty and something goes wrong with the product they give you what you paid for the product usually in the form of a store credit.  This can be a great idea on digital cameras or printers that tend to break down after a year. The down side of that is you have to wait “X” number of days or weeks to get that credit.  In my opinion the replacement warranty is a good idea if you’re not in a hurry to receive your credit.

The other type of warranty is the repair warranty which extends the manufacturers warranty an extra year or two.  This type of warranty will cover the cost of repairing a computer or laptop if something fails, like the motherboard or hard drive.  The down side of this type of warranty is that the computer has to be shipped out, usually at your expense and could take weeks to be repaired.  If the system can’t be repaired they usually offer you a very small percentage of what you paid for the system to begin with.  It’s my opinion that these types of warranties are not worth the extra money you spend on them.

So in a nut shell, are extended warranties worth the money you put into them?  It’s my opinion that they are a waste of money.  It’s far less hassle to just go out and replace whatever breaks down then it is to get it repaired or replaced through an extended warranty.  Sometimes even getting something repaired under a manufacturers warranty can be a hassle. So save yourself the head ache and put that extra money towards something else.

Storm Season Are You Protected?

Now that winter is over with our next season is what I like to call Storm Season.  This is the time of year when we get some violent storms.  Although we get some bad storms during winter I’m talking about storms that produce lightning and power outages or power surges.

During this time of year it’s most important to protect your computer with a good surge protector.  Most power bars will have some kind of surge protection but they’re not enough to protect your computer.  The kind of surge protector you should have should be rated for a minimum of 2600 Joules.  Keep in mind the higher the Joules the better the protection.  A good surge protector will cost approximately $40.00 on up.  Think of it this way:  you just spent close to $1000 on your new computer system, why not spend the extra money and get a good surge protector?

The other type of protection you could get is called a UPS or Uninterruptible Power Supply or commonly known as Battery Backup.  These units will give you anywhere from 3 minutes to 65 minutes of battery backup to properly shut your system down.  If you live in an area where you get brown outs (where the power drops but doesn’t go out) then the battery backup system can help to regulate the power, so it doesn’t affect your computer.

What size of UPS do you need?  That depends on your system and how many watts your system is using.  The average computer system could get away with a 550va UPS which would give you about 4 minutes to shut your system down properly.  I would recommend that you get a 650va or higher UPS as that would give you better protection and a longer run time.

So if you take my advice and purchase a good surge protector or UPS and the next storm hits then you should have peace of mind knowing that your investment in your computer should be protected.

If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me at Scott’s Computer Emporium 519-802-2721 or email me at scott@computeremporium.ca