Why Your Lap is Dangerous to Your Laptop…And Vice Versa…

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Browsing Bowser here:   Dangerous? Really?  OK.  I’ll bite… How can my lap be dangerous to my laptop?  I mean, isn’t my laptop named so just because it is so lap friendly?

Well Browsing Bowser, you would be right about laptops that were first introduced before the turn of the century (that’s the 21st century…).  Laptops were designed to provide mobile computing capabilities to mobile business people by putting “computering” right in their lap – literally. The laptop computer allowed the busy computer user the ability to keep on working with a computer anywhere, anytime – right on her/his lap.

As the popularity of and demand for laptop computing increased, so did its ability to do all the things the big boy computers were doing – providing high computing power and high storage capacity just like those big, ugly, stationary boxes were providing – and looking better and more stylish at the same time.

But there is a “cost” for packing high computing power into smaller spaces and lighter form factors (geek speak for computer shape).   That “cost” is called HEAT.   HEAT – like in HOT; like in OverHEATing; like in cooking delicate computer components as well as motherboards.  (Motherboards are the communication centers for the computer.  No motherboard – no computer).

HEAT, Browsing Bowser, is a big problem for the mobile computer and the mobile computer user! And therein lies the danger

Newer laptops have components and systems to manage the large amount of heat generated by their increasing processing power. These include fans, vents and various other controllers.  If you take look at the bottom and sides of your laptop, you’ll find several venting systems. Obviously, all the vents must be kept unblocked to properly dispel heat.

However, if the vents become obstructed, heat cannot be dispelled and the laptop will go into self-preservation modes to counteract overheating.  Some signs of laptop overheating are constant running of the fan, sluggish performance, error messages, freezing up or unexpected shut downs.  And especially, don’t overlook actually feeling the heat….

Continued overheating however, can result in destroying the motherboard on your computer! If that misfortune happens – unless your device is under warranty – it might be cheaper to buy a new device than replace the motherboard… That’s a whole lot of dog food…

So what blocks the vents, you ask?   Laps, beds, pillows, blankets, towels, – all are common items that block laptop vents. Actually, anything that creates an uneven surface under the laptop can block vents and cause overheating and subsequent damage. Even laptop “cooling pads” can be damaging. Although the pad provides a necessary flat surface, it can “trap” heat at the same time. If you do decide to buy a “cooling pad” for your laptop, be sure to select one that has a fan. The fan types are usually the same price so the choice is easy…

Browsing Bowser here:   OK!   “That’s a cool laptop” takes on a whole new meaning!   I get it.  My lap can block the vents that cool my laptop that keep it healthy.   But you also said “Vice Versa”.   Does that mean a laptop can be dangerous to my lap as well??

Bingo, Browsing Bowser!   An overheated laptop potentially creates “burn hazards to the consumer”.   In 2010, Sony recalled 233,000 Vaio model laptops for just that possibility!     See Source 1 below.

Not only that, there is a potential hazard to your dog house, Browsing Bowser.   It is reported that Fire Chiefs in the United Kingdom issued warnings that laptops left on beds overheated and caused damaging house fires.   And yes, I checked that out so I’m not passing along those irritating hoaxes…    See Source 2 below.

Browsing Bowser here:    Well, you got my attention and I can see you weren’t just being cute with words.   I see that laptops have changed so much that they really aren’t lap devices…that there really is a proper way to treat my laptop and proper care and cooling will help keep it a DogGoneGood laptop.

Come to think of it, I think I understand why I see them referred to now as “notebooks” rather than laptops.

But I have one more ear-scratcher about the origins of laptops…  Why in the world did anyone let a 20+ pound device sit on his/her lap in the first place?!   Everyone knows a Great Dane isn’t a lap dog!!


Source 1:  http://mobileoffice.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=mobileoffice&cdn=gadgets&tm=53&f=20&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=13&bt=2&bts=2&zu=http%3A//www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10284.html
Source 2:  http://www.harrogate-news.co.uk/2012/02/24/fire-chiefs-issue-warning-that-overheating-laptops-can-cause-fires/



RIP Windows XP

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RIP XPAre you still using Windows XP Operating System on your computer?  You are?  Really?  Oh, Wow!

On the positive side, this shows you know a good thing when you own one and you are loyal to a fault.

On the negative side, you are about to lose a valued friend; and, if you don’t prepare now for that event, you are setting yourself up for pretty much guaranteed doses of hacks, attacks and cyber crimes.

Windows XP was one of Microsoft’s most successful operating systems. It was introduced in August, 2001; it will be put to rest on April 14, 2014. When Microsoft lays an operating system to rest, it means, in Microsoft’s own words, that “there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.”  Zilch, nada, nic, nicht ein, zéro updates, security patches or support.

“So what?” you say.  “I will still use XP because it is still usable.  It works just fine for me and for what I do. Who cares about updates and patches!”

If you have this attitude and plan to continue to use XP after next April 14th, then there is one step you MUST  take – pull the plug on your internet connection!   Wired or wireless – after April 14th, 2014, don’t ever use that computer to connect to the internet again!!!  Not Ever! Never!

Here’s why: Hackers, cyber criminals, malicious code writers all have the Windows XP end date on their calendars! Anticipating that there will remain many, many XP operating systems online, the bad guys have a big incentive to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of those many, many unpatched systems with the exploit codes they are ready to unleash at that time. They realize there will be no protections against their exploits – no patches, not even anti-virus and/or malware protection programs (which cannot protect against unpatched operating system exploits).

Stolen identities, emptied bank accounts, credit card fraud, commandeered computers into bot nets – these are some of the anticipated worldwide impacts of huge consequence. By not upgrading your computer to a current operating system now or at least planning to pull your XP system offline by April 14, 2014, you are actually abetting cyber crime. Please consider the consequences as very serious before you choose to ignore the XP support end date.

Edmund Burke famously said – “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”   Please do not do nothing…

PS   If you don’t know what a bot net is and why it is seriously dangerous to you, your community and the world, please see my post – Botnets? Zombie Armies? What the Hack are They and Why Should I Care?

Windows 8.1 – Silver Bullet or Shot in the Foot?

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From the blogs.windows.com blog spot comes this announcement from Microsoft:

“I know a lot of folks are eager to find out when they will be able to get Windows 8.1. I am excited to share that starting at 12:00am on October 18th in New Zealand (that’s 4:00am October 17th in Redmond), Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 will begin rolling out worldwide as a free update for consumers with Windows 8 or Windows RT devices through the Windows Store.  Windows 8.1 will also be available at retail and on new devices starting on October 18th by market. So mark your calendars!”

You might, however, ask why did Microsoft choose New Zealand time to introduce the update?   I’m not really sure why… But I can say that the release date and place is no more mysterious to me than the operating system itself is!  If you have never used Windows 8 then you will have little appreciation for why there would be an eagerness to update this operating system.  If you are a Windows 8 user, I have to believe that the update was hoped for, no begged for, as soon as the first user saw Windows 8 come up on their display screen and shrieked in disbelief!

So, if you are running Windows 8, then this upgrade is probably good news for you. From what I’ve read, the upgrade – Windows 8.1 – is stable and corrects a lot of the controversial changes that Microsoft unleashed with Windows 8. If you’ve been holding off buying a new Windows device, then waiting till the rollout begins in October is probably a good strategy.

Without going into detail about the many changes, the ones that are probably the most asked for are the option to start with the familiar “desktop” screen and a return of the “Start” button, denatured as it is. For a more complete list of changes made by Windows 8.1 see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/dn140266.aspx.

But are the changes enough to get Microsoft out of the doghouse for this most controversial operating system? I like the way David Cardinal from extremetech.com puts it: “If you’re running Windows 8 or need to, then Windows 8.1 is a slam-dunk improvement over Windows 8… If you’ve held off on moving to Windows 8, waiting for a silver bullet that will make all its problems disappear, this isn’t it. If you are a Windows 8 hater, nothing in the new release will change your mind.”

There must be some reasons why Dell and HP sales took a dive since last fall (all ship with Windows 8 installed) and Apple sales have soared. I can remember when people didn’t want to go to Apple devices because they didn’t want to learn a new way of working.  Microsoft fixed that argument with Windows 8…