Monday, April 7, 2014

What should you do about the end of Windows XP?

I continue to be asked by friends and acquaintenances what they should do about Microsoft Windows XP reaching the end of support.  My answer is short and sweet.

If you love Microsoft Windows, then find a good deal on a new laptop or desktop and find a friend or service to help you migrate your data from the old computer to the new one.  I also encourage them to upgrade to Windows 8.1 so they have the option to preserve some familiarity to Windows XP.  I keep an eye out for laptops and you often can find a decent new Lenovo or Toshiba at for $350 or less.  You can also get great deals on season close outs a local retailers as well.

For those wanting to find a new Windows based laptop, I have a few more words of advice.

  1. If all you really want to do is surf the web, do email, and watch movies, you may be much better served long term to just get a Tablet (Microsoft Surface, Apple iPad or Android...).  Tablets are much easier to carry around and typically have much better battery life.
  2. If you plan to buy a laptop, one thing that has changed over time with the intervening versions of Windows and the malware protective software required together with Windows to keep Windows safe have raised the minimum amount of memory (aka Random Access Memory or RAM) required to at least 2-3GB.  Therefore, if you are doing basic word processing, watch Netflix, 4GB of RAM should be sufficient.  However, if you plan to run memory intensive applications like video editing software, Logos or run virtual machines, you will need at least 6GB of RAM and possibly more depending on the demands of the mix of applications you plan to run.
  3. If you plan to run a virtual desktop through Microsoft VM, VMWare Fusion or VirtualBox, be sure that your computer is sized to add at least 2-4GB for the virtual machine and also be sure that you have at least 100-500GB reserved for snapshots or copies of the VM so that you have safe versions to revert to in the event that something goes wrong with the VM.

If on the other hand, you are ready for a change or just want more of a long term return on your investment, I encourage you to consider purchasing an Apple Mac.  One great thing about going the Mac route is that you can run Windows on your Mac so that you can have the best of both worlds.  When or if your Windows gets infected with a virus or malware, you can just revert to snapshot or archive copy of the Windows virtual machine image.  MacMall does a great job of offering new Mac's that are pre-installed with the latest version of Windows via the Parallels virtual machine desktop software.  If you want to know more about my perspective on the total cost of Apple Mac ownership, I've already written about that here.

I hope this helps your decision making process.

Blessings to you.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Total Cost of Apple Ownership...

Occasionally my friends ask my why I spend so much on Apple computers rather than buy an equivalent Windows or Linux based system for much less.  Below are my typical responses:
  1. At the hardware level, a truly equivalent laptop is typically priced about the same or more than an Apple product.  The problem is that most people compare lesser quality and lesser performing products to compare with Apple's offerings.
  2. Apple computers typically last 4 or more years without issues.  This is good for those like me that like to amortize the cost over a LONG period of time.  For the impatient that can't wait to buy the next shiny model laptop, they can often sell their old laptop for a reasonable price thus reducing the purchase price of the new version.  This article from 9to5 Mac provides some good examples of this use case.
  3. A new Mac includes for free both office software (e.g. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) and comes with many products for personal use (e.g. Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Messages, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, Garage Band, Reminders, and others)
  4. Any software that you purchase through the Mac App Store is amortized over up to 5 computers.  For example, when I purchased some of my favorite professional grade apps like 1Password ($50), OmniFocus ($80), OmniGraffle ($100), Pixelmator ($30), Day One ($10), Apple Remote Desktop ($80), Paprika ($20) and more..., the total cost is spread across 5 computers rather than just one.  Purchasing equivalent professional grade software for Windows costs about the same but you can only put it on one computer.
  5. Its tightly integrated and just works.  All of my essential data effortlessly syncs between computers and iDevices without issue.
  6. When you do have issues with software or hardware, just schedule a genius bar appointment at your local Apple store and they will work hard to take care of you.
  7. For those of you that are newbies to Apple computers, I HIGHLY recommend that you pay the extra $99 to get a full year of scheduled appointments at any Apple store through the One to One program.
  8. For geeks like me, the real tipping point came when Apple switched their underlying operating system to based on UNIX.  UNIX is highly resilient, reliable and offers my favorite working environment: bash shell script.
Hope that helps anyone that might be trying to figure out the pros and cons between getting a Mac versus something else.

Blessings to you and yours!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Are you 1 breach away from giving away access to ALL your online accounts?

Hello friend,

It's happened again.  Another friend's yahoo mail was compromised this week.  Sadly, if like many people that use the same password everywhere the loss of just one password can result in rapid breaches into every other online account they own.  Examples include their bank accounts, credit card accounts, brokerages, Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple iTunes, ... and the list goes on.  Please, please, please, I implore you to use a unique, long and complex password for EVERY online account.  One of my favorite tools toward this end is called 1Password.  Below is a video providing an overview of their product.  Disclaimer: I do NOT work for 1Password nor do I derrive ANY financial benefit from recommending their product.  The only thing that I get is the satisfaction of knowing that users of 1Password can help stem the tide of account breaches and reduce the impact to their online accounts when one of their many accounts are breached.

1Password works on Windows computers, Apple OSX computers, Apple IOS devices, and Android devices and better yet can be synced across all of them.  More info on 1Password at

May the strong password be with you...

Blessings to you!