Windows 10 is Too Messy!

Windows 10 is Too Messy!

Do you ever get the feeling that Windows has just become too complicated?  Remember the good old days when you just had icons and clicked on them to get stuff done?  Remember when the start menu was short and manageable.  No searching needed for your applications.

Well, there are a few things you can do to start simplifying Windows 10.

Start Simple by Simplifying START

First, look through all the applications and applets that are stuck on your start menu.  You can start pruning what you wish to stay and what you wish to go by right clicking on the icon and choosing “Unpin from Start.”. You would be amazed how many little icons you will never use you can unpin.

Get rid of that LIVE Tile thing. Live is Dead to Me!

Another thing that some people do not like is the live tile feature. Now you may wish to keep “Weather” live so it shows the current conditions outside, but why would you want a live “Photos” or live “News”.  You can also right click these panes and choose “Turn Live Tile Off.”

I Don’t Need Virtual Help!

One feature in Windows 10 is Cortana. It is a virtual assistant that can help create reminders, find files and more.  However, it can be a pest when you don’t want it to listen to you and it does and does something unexpected First, you can hide it by right clicking on the taskbar and selecting “Cortana” and then “Hidden.”

To turn it off you can launch it from the search bar and from the left pane click the “Settings” button.  Then under Cortana (the first option) slide switch to “Off.”

I Just Want it to Look Like Windows 7 Again!

While there are several step by step instructions to make Windows 10 look like Windows 7, there are some great little utilities out there that do it all for free.

Let’s start with the shell.  The program http://www.classicshell.net/.  Classic Shell lets you customize the start menu, change the start button, use various skins and themes, and change many of the status toolbars for File Explorer, Internet Explorer and others.  I have used it before and it make it look and feel exactly like the good old Windows 7 startup menu.

Sometimes progress is good.  Other times, it if works, don’t fix it.  You can be the Windows 10 gizmo a plenty user or a Windows 10 – Just the facts user, and everything in between.  It’s all your choice.

Do I Park It or Take It with Me?

Do I park it or take it with me?

This is really the age-old question, “Do I buy a Desktop Computer or a Laptop?”

I like Power!!

If you have the desire for a Mustang, but have the budget for a Yugo, then a desktop might be the right choice.  For the same cost, you can get a desktop machine with a faster graphics card, more storage and a faster CPU. 

I like the road!

If you often wish to Walkabout, or take the Great U.S Road Trip, then lugging around a desktop is probably a little much.  Laptops are exactly that.  They (mostly) fit on your lap.  Ultra convenient, small, light and can even be in your carry-on if you need to fly.  You will sacrifice some power, and future expandability, but they won’t let you check in a 25 lbs tower without at least buying another airline seat.

Portability is the number one reason Laptops are sold more often than Desktops.

I like Reliability!

If you really want something that lasts and lasts then a desktop beats a laptop.  There are fewer moving parts in a desktop.  A desktop does not move.  It is rarely hit, jarred, or dropped.  They have more robust power supplies.  This is not to dismiss laptops outright.  Some manufacturers produce very reliable laptops.  However, desktops still inch out the laptops in this area.

Show me the World!

If you love watching that big 52” flat screen at home, you might feel a little cramped working on a 12” or 15” screen on your laptop.   The newer laptops do have spectacular resolution on those tiny screens.  However, you will pay more.  Desktops usually come with 21”, 23”, 24” inch screens already; and that can be upgraded to the truly magnificent UltraHD 4K screens.

My Electricity Bill is Too High Already!

Here is where Laptops really beat Desktops.  Laptops can use as little as 1/8th the power of the equivalent Desktop.   Laptops are also turned off more often than Desktops; some which run 24/7 for weeks at end.  Plus, if you wish to save power you can always take your laptop to your friend’s house and use their power!

There are several questions to ask before purchasing a Desktop or Laptop; and only you can really make that choice.

Shut the Front Door - Powering Windows 10 Down

Shut the Front Door

Have you ever just wanted to shut everything down.   It has been a long day and you just want to power off, hit the road, and forget today ever happened.

Well, there are a couple of shortcuts to powering down your Windows 10 system without just pulling the plug.

This Combination Feels Altered.  Alt + F4

You can directly shut down your window PC by pressing the key combination Alt + F4.  This immediately brings you to the Shut Down Windows screen and defaulting to “Shut Down”.  However, you can change this to Reboot if you wish.  Just hit OK and your computer will shut down.

Run Down

You can also use the RUN command to shutdown.  Open Run program from pressing Win + R keyboard button. Type shutdown /s and press enter for shut down your window machine.

X Marks the Spot

This method works in Windows 10 only, but is perhaps the most fun.  Press the Windows Key and the letter “X” and the start menu will go directly to “Shut Down or Sign Out” and just choose “Shut Down” and your machine will power off.

I am sure you wish to try all these ways to power off your Windows computer and feel that rush of power. 

Happy Computing.

Can a Chromebook Replace Your Laptop?

Can a Chromebook Replace Your Laptop?

With many offerings out there for significantly less than the price of a true fully-fledged laptop, the Google Chromebook is a tempting thing for many people, but can it really replace your workhorse completely, or will it fall short when you need it most?

Google has recently made the Google Play Store available for Chromebook users, with recent software updates making it possible to natively run Android applications on the hardware. This can be great for some apps, but for others it doesn’t work right just yet. Some applications work flawlessly with the mouse and keyboard approach, while others still require touch input to function. On higher end Chromebooks this is a non-issue, since they offer touch screens inaddition to the more traditional style inputs, but lower end devices that do not include this feature will just not work.

There are a plethora of productivity applications that can be found through Google Play, such as Microsoft Office applications and others, but these are much less full featured than the true desktop versions. This might not be a problem for some, while for others it could make them basically not worth their time.

One thing about these thin clients that people may or may not know is that they can be hacked to allow you to run Ubuntu Linux on them, meaning that if Chrome OS just isn’t your cup of tea you can actually change that around to be more usable, if you are fairly tech savvy.

What do you think about these inexpensive devices and the potential they do (or don’t) offer?

Read more about this topic here.

Windows Vs. Macs

There is, in the industry, still a cold war between those that love Mac versus those that love PC's.  Some of the discussions have become quite heated.  Yet, if you talk to the real professionals in the field, they will rightly point out that each has it's place in a business.   Each has it's strengths and each it's weaknesses.

I don't want to talk about how they look.  Mac beats out PC's by a long shot in terms of sleek lines and minimalistic yet elegant architecture.  You do not buy a business computer based on looks.  You buy it based on what it can do for your business.

So let's look at what a they bring to your business:

PC's - All PC devices that run Windows Operating System

One recent advantage with Windows devices is that they offer such variety to users. You can have laptops and desktops (with the option of a touchscreen if you want), dedicated gaming rigs, ultra-thin models, or a device that converts between a tablet and PC.  More options are coming out all the time; and since restrictions on third party manufacturers of these products is loose, you have true variety in choices.

Another advantage is that there is still more software out on the market written for Windows than for OSX.  Though this gap is quickly closing.  

One feature of Windows PC's is that they can run legacy programs much better than corresponding Mac machines.  In the business world, there are several applications that were written ten or more years ago that Windows can run in compatibility mode or use an overlay such as .Net Framework or Citrix to run such programs in a modern Windows 10 machine.  Several businesses have mostly Mac machines but may retain one or two Windows machines to run these Legacy Applications.

The other large advantage that PC's give over Mac's is security.  Though again this gap is closing quickly.  However, security is also the PC's Achilles Heel. Statistically there is far more chance of contracting a virus or malware when you use a PC. This is offset by the ability for a PC to apply several layers of security:  from the login, to individual applications, to security templates that can lockdown almost any aspect of the Operating System, User Interface, File Access, Network Access, etc.  Security in a PC can be as loose or as tight as your business requires; from machine to individual file.

Businesses that require secure, backward compatible, application rich machines still turn toward PC's in their purchasing decisions.

MacBook, MacBookPro, MacBookAir, MacPro, iPads, Tablets

Now let’s not forget the benefits of an Apple computer to your business.

First and foremost, Apple products are close to being ready to use as soon as you unbox them.  Their user interfaces are intuitive and the learning curve for using one is very shallow.  Most users in a couple of days learn how to do the basic tasks they need to do.  This is in contrast to the PC’s, which have a steeper learning curve.

Apple products are built to last.  The rule of thumb for PC’s is that they need to be replaced about every three years.  Mac’s can stretch that to about four or five (depending on applications.)  The track record for reliability and repair costs over time also favors the Mac’s.

The Mac OS is optimized for 32 and 64 bit performance with no legacy code.  What this means is that it runs a comparable application much faster than on a PC.  Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, AutoCad, and many other drawing or modeling programs are best run on an Apple computer.  

Again, let’s not forget security.  Mac’s are less frequent targets of attack by viruses, ransomware, spyware, Trojans and the like.  Since there are still far fewer Macs than Windows PCs out there, Apple's platform simply presents a smaller target for attackers.  Not many viruses have been written to compromise the Linux shell (the operation system language) than the Windows shell.  That is not to say you don’t need to protect your Mac’s just like your PC’s.

Consumer reports also rated Apple Computers and the support for them in the top 5 for the last decade.  Customer service, RMA returns, Apple Repair has always rated quite high in comparison to PC’s.

So if your business has a need for graphic intensive, design or production multimedia or CAD/CAM applications, with a reliable and sound architecture, and smaller learning curve, and cost of deployment, then choosing a Mac is the right choice for your business.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both platforms.  Most companies choose a few of each, since they have different needs in different areas of their company.

Regardless of which you choose, ZenIT can help you decide, purchase, setup, and maintain both machines.  We can tell you what you may need and help you use the computers you choose to the greatest benefit to your business.