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Enter the Net: Memory a key to efficient computer operation

January 7, 2013

By Dave Hughes

First, I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year. Most folks wish prosperity for others and I follow that tradition, but the last few years have taught me that without health, prosperity and other goodies are hollow.
Also a shout-out to Mrs. Hahn (although I am almost 65, she will always be “Mrs. Hahn” because calling a former teacher by their first name seems disrespectful (grin). I saw in the paper she has hung up her weekly column – citing age and the need to spend more time with Mr. Hahn, also a retired teacher.
I have been writing weekly columns off and on in many publications for almost 40 years and I know sometimes it’s very hard to come up with ideas for the next one. Mrs. Hahn’s columns were always interesting and many times brought a smile and a memory.
Thanks, Mrs. H for sharing your insight and humor with your friends and former students. You will be missed.
One of my friends in Benton is a budding photographer and we sometimes get together via Mr. Bells new-fangled gadget for a chin session on photo tips, etc. Earlier this week he and I discussed his computer and why sometimes he couldn’t open a program or performance was like Kayro Syrup ® on a cold January night.
My friend told me the computer was custom-built for gaming and should be great for photos. Since I spent a few years as a customer service manager in an Internet Service Provider I am familiar with asking questions to locate problems. After a few minutes conversation I think I had the answer.
He has the problem many others have who were unfamiliar with buying computers and how important it is to purchase towards your end use. My friend’s problem was his needs/uses changed since his original purchase.
Now, instead of spending time playing games he utilizes his computer to process the high megabyte sizes of digital photography images and he needs a lot more memory in his machine. His computer is trying to work with only four megabytes of memory when he needs a minimum of eight. Actually, 12-16 Megs would be much better and make his photo processing more efficient and a lot faster.
I also suggested he contact his builder to see if his motherboard could take a faster or more complex CPU, such as an Intel I-5 or I-7 chip. This would make photo editing a pleasure instead of something tedious waiting for one edit to finish before applying another.
Just upgrading memory will also allow my friend to work on multiple projects, programs and images at the same time because all the work will be done in direct cached memory without havening to write to the hard drive before continuing to the next step.
I also talked to him about what kind of virus and malware detection used on his machine. He seemed satisfied with it, but I told him that many of this type program has significant impact on a computer’s memory and CPU usage penalties. Finding the right program took me a long time, but about 10 years ago I found a company called Eset which manufactures a great little program called “NOD32” which has never missed a virus and has the smallest memory and CPU usage.
Converting to that program can also increase many program speeds. Go to eset.com/leo for a 10 percent-off offer and a 30-day free trial. It costs about 40 bucks a year or $60 per year.
Now that the Christmas season has passed many of you either received or purchased new computers and are putting them through their paces. I encourage anyone who now has one of the scores of “holiday special” computers offered online or in stores to intensively test your machines to see if they will meet your needs.
The reason I suggest this is many of your computers may only have four – or even less – memory onboard. While that may be enough to get the computer to come on and probably do a decent job on the Internet, it just won’t cut it if you want to play any of today’s highly touted games you have to play directly on your computer (as opposed through a pure online service).
You will be very disappointed in performance when you work with photos from regular digital cameras and also making and editing videos on your computer.
All is not lost because replacing and upgrading memory today isn’t brain surgery. Just go online to places such as Amazon and tell them what kind of computer you have and they will send the correct type of memory. Most laptops have a special door or hatch to replace memory easily. NOTE: NEVER OPEN A LAPTOP CASE itself.
Desktop computers require taking the case cover off and MAY void your warranty. Make sure you understand this. Many computer shops charge $25-$50 to do the service which is a rip-off. Sometimes, you can take it back to the seller and they will do the labor for free if you are a good customer.
I hope you enjoy your computer and remember that sometimes it’s better to save your data and just format the hard drive and start over.

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