Computers & Equipment

Make Free Calls from Your PC with Gmail

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Google has launched a new feature that allows you to make free calls from your PC using Gmail.  It’s built into their existing “Google Chat”, which recently added voice and video pc-to-pc calling.  Now it also includes a “Call Phone” link which opens a phone keypad window that you can use to make calls (plug-in download required).   You can simply dial a number, or choose from suggestions it finds in your address book as you type a number or name.  According to the announcement in their Gmail blog post, calls to the U.S. and Canada are “free for at least the rest of the year” and minimal rates to overseas.

What’s even better is that this feature will work with your Google Voice account if you have one (now available to the public). (more…)

4 Steps to Get Over Your Fear of the Cloud

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With the growing use of web-based software, more of us today are becoming accustomed to working “in the cloud”.  Cloud Computing simply refers to the sharing of computer resources using the internet.  You are using the cloud when you’re writing an article for your blog on WordPress.com, uploading your photos to Flickr.com, or entering your customer information into Salesforce.com.  Despite the benefits to using the cloud, many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of storing their information in vague locations around the internet.  While it’s prudent to be cautious about the online services you use, there is no reason to be fearful of the technology itself.  Most people were apprehensive about shopping on the internet during its infancy, but today it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t bought something online at least once.  If you’re one of those folks having trouble getting cozy with the cloud, here are a few steps to help put you at ease: (more…)

Avoiding Computer Viruses in 2010

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Figure 1: A brief history of computer virus prevention:

1990:
  • Write-protect your floppy disks.
  • Don’t install software you are unfamiliar with.
2000:
  • Keep your anti-virus software up to date.
  • Don’t download email attachments from people you don’t know.
2010:
  • Don’t click on anything

We are connected to the internet almost constantly these days, making the transmission of viruses, spyware, trojan horses, and worms easier than ever.  Malware, short for “malicious software”, is the general term used to describe these various types of programs intentionally conceived to steal your personal information, monitor your surfing, send spam, or just wreak havoc on your computer. (more…)

How to Shop for a Multifunction Printer

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I recently received a question on “Ask Craig” about how to shop for a multifunction printer.  These are very popular and useful machines that are available today in a multitude of shapes and sizes.  Around the turn of the century, “all-in-one” printers were available only as small, desktop machines.  If you needed something for more heavy office usage, you needed to buy separate machines for copying, printing, and faxing.  As printer manufacturers began noticing that offices of all sizes could use multifunction printers, they started to offer them in larger, more robust varieties.  Additionally, copy machine manufacturers added network printing and scanning capabilities to many of their products, making multifunction available for even enterprise and commercial use.   Whether your office is large, small, or at home, the idea of a machine with multiple uses may be appealing, but with so many to choose from it can be hard to know where to start.  Here are a few areas to consider before you shop: (more…)

Windows 7: To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade

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There is lot of buzz about Microsoft’s latest operating system, and the consensus seems to be that this upgrade is more meaningful and more stable than the previous release of Windows Vista.  But rushing to upgrade before you’re prepared could leave you hanging.  In business, downtime can mean lost income, so before jumping in there are few things you’ll want to consider:

Your Hardware: You’ll need to verify that your current computer hardware will meet the requirements for Windows 7.  Any computers you have that are running Windows Vista will probably support Windows 7, but your older hardware running XP may need to be upgraded or replaced.  So, you’ll want to decide on the best timing to invest in either of these options if necessary.  Sure, lots of computer stores have been running specials coinciding with the launch, but as with most technology, pricing will only go down, not up. (more…)

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