Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Google Chrome Review

I've been using Google Chrome for a while now off and on, and I am impressed. The first release version has even made some improvements over the last Beta release. Chrome seems to be a lightweight, fast, and overall user friendly browser. They have also added full bookmark support which is a big improvement. Also I have to admit some of the key features of Chrome, namely the all-in-one address / search bar and the dynamic homepage that displays your most visited pages. Some bloggers are complaining of missing plug-in or browser compatibility issues but this not something that I have run into so far.....

There are some things about Chrome that I think still need work. First off, I think I still prefer Firefox because of the wide array of extensions and add-ons that are available. In particular the Foxmarks bookmark synchronizer that allows me to keep my bookmarks no matter which of my numerous machines I happen to log in to. Recently I saw on Foxmarks site they are "working on" a version for Chrome... so who knows. Also to really gain my full support the browser needs to be cross-platform. Google needs to develop Linux, Mac, and other versions to make Chrome available to all users.

All in all my current outlook is somewhat more optimistic than in my earlier Chrome beta post. I think Google has done a good job of listening to the people and working out some of the early bugs. I would defiantly recommend Chrome and think it is here to stay.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Top Picks

Here is a short list of some of my favorite products and manufactures:

Best OS: Ubuntu

Best Antivirus Software: Avast AV

Best OEM Manufacture: HP

Best Free Webmail Host: Gmail

Best Search Engine: Google

Best Browser: Firefox

Best Media Printer: HP Laserjet

Best Hard Drives: Western Digital

Best Video Adapters: ATI

Best Motherboards: ECS

Posted By:
Josh Nicholes

Thursday, December 4, 2008

First Impression of Songbird

A few days ago Mozilla made available for release Songbird 1.0 its new media player and potential iTunes killer. I gave it a brief test drive today and I have to say that initially I am impressed. I have been a fan of both the Firefox web-browser and Thunderbird Mail client since their releases and again Mozilla has impressed me. True its still a little rough around the edges, but give it a chance.. I think you'll like it.

First off, its a truly cross-platform app that works on Windows, Linux, and Mac unlike iTunes which supports no Linux version. It has integrated into it a huge collection of extent ions and feathers (skins) which will only continue to expand. Just like Firefox these add-ons can greatly extend the functionality and customizability of the app. It has has built right into it many of the great features of Firefox that we all know and love. It appears to have great support for a range of mobile mp3 devices and has some nice features like streaming media from the web and the ability to play a wide range of media formats.

However there are a few things missing. Some pretty important things. First off, no ability to rip CD's to the library. Maybe worse than that, no ability to burn media files to disk. Until these features are added many users may not want to switch from iTunes. Personally I really hope that they get these features added soon. It really annoys me that Apple all but forces you to install Safari or some of their other software if your an iTunes user. I also love to be able to use the same app no matter what OS I'm using. I defiantly think that we haven't heard the last of Songbird.

Posted By:
Josh Nicholes

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Art of SEO

Although I put my very first and rather crude webpage on the internet back in 1999 it hasn't been till recent years that I really cared if my web site was listed in search engines. However, what I have learned from those experiences is that search engine optimization is truly an art that can take years to master. Believe me I still have a lot to learn. There is so much content out there competing for that #1 spot and keywords alone just don't cut it.

Modern search engines have evolved right alongside the rest of the net and they use a variety of techniques and algorithms to rank and catalog web content. These include the number of sites that contain link to a particular site, the frequency the content is updated, and the overall popularity of the site and its content compared to similar sites to name just a few.

In order to be #1 and most importantly stay #1 your content needs to be the best it can be and it needs to stay fresh and current. Here are a few tools I have found to help you improve your sites rank in search engines. GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS - a great way to get your content listed in google and learn a little about how google sees your content. XML Sitemaps - a great tool to generate and easily update sitemaps. SEO Centro - this is suite of tools that allows you to analyze various aspects of your site including meta tags, keywords, and your page rank and makes suggestions on what you need to do to improve. Finally, the greatest tool of all... patience. Understand that you will not get listed overnight complete indexing and ranking takes weeks or even moths.

SEO is important in order to drive traffic to your site. Most of us know that every web journey starts from google, yahoo, or msn. I use google search everyday to find what I'm looking for. Take a little time to work on SEO and help improve your chances of being found. Good luck.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Monday, November 3, 2008

Google Apps - First 30 Days

For the last several years I've been using Microsoft Exchange for my email services, and before that Sendmail. I've found things that I like as well as dislike about all of these various systems. If you are a user of my site then you've probably noticed by now that about six weeks ago that joshnicholes.com has switched to google apps for all of our email services. So here is what I found out after the test drive.

First the added features that this service provides are by themselves worth making the switch. While all of my previous systems offered calendar services google apps offers google docs and google sites on top of their great calendar. The ability to create store and share documents, and to post web content are far beyond what we've offered to our users in the past. Additionally google offers apps users 100 mail accounts at about 7 GB each, which is far above the amount of web storage we had offered to our users in the past. Which was about 2.5 GB by the way. Lastly their spam filter and search capabilities are excellent bonuses.

There are a few things that I don't like however. First I really wish that google offered the ability to save multiple signatures. Additionally I wish that google offered the administrator more configurability in terms of the frequency that the spam and trash folders were emptied. By comparison these short-comings are very minor. I recommend that any small-business or home user consider google apps. All in all I am very pleased with the service.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My take on My Space

Many of my friends and acquaintances have accounts on My Space, or Face Book, or one of the various other social networking sites. I do not like these types of sites nor do I have accounts on any of them, here's why. Personally it doesn't make sense to me that the ultimate way of expressing oneself on your My Space page is by posting everyone else's copyrighted content. These sites post ads to their users' pages and the user has absolutely no control over what ads are there or what they are endorsing. There have been numerous confirmed reports that supposed "private" user profiles and information have been compromised and distributed all over the interet. Now "My Space" is everyone's space. Lastly these sites greatly increase your exposure to malware and supposed "hot girls" that want to be your friends. These are clearly scams and often great security risks.

My advice if you want some "space" on the web create an account on a reliable free web-host that does not put ads on your pages, learn a little html, and post whatever you want. And no, Tom, I don't want to be you friend.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Friday, October 17, 2008

Often overlooked IT shortfalls

No one can dispute that daily our society, our economy, and our daily lives become more dependent on information technology and communications networks. From the stand point of IT administration this means that their role becomes increasingly more important. I think however there are several key areas that are often overlooked that can have serious consequences.

First, off site data back-up. Most organizations are serious about backing-up and safeguarding important data. They spend a lot of energy, time, and money purchasing and setting-up back-up software and establishing policies and practices to ensure data is safely backed-up. However if the back-up media is stored right alongside the servers then an environmental disaster (fire, flood, theft, etc.) will claim not only your original data but the back-ups as well. To be stored in another physical location preferably in another region to provide true safety.

Secondly, no single point of failure. Every aspect of your network should have a redundant or a fall back system. This includes everything from having raid arrays on your drives, to an alternate Internet connection in case one fails, to having a secondary electrical power source if there is a power failure for critical systems. Not to mention there should be two of every server on your network. Web and mail servers, dns, dhcp, wins, domain controllers, and so on. If one goes down the other one needs to be able to step in and take over. This type of a system also makes most maintenance appear seamless to users since they rarely even notice if something goes off-line.

Third, disaster recovery plans are important. Have you planned for all of the contingencies that might occur? Have you actually tested your back-ups and redundant systems? Do you have procedures in place to deal with failures and or mishaps. This will help to reduce panic in a disaster situation as well as establish clear guidelines and procedures. Additionally it will help you analyze the types of threats and situations that may occur and may even lead you to some that you hadn't thought about.

Fourth, remote access. Now I realize their are some security concerns that go along with this as well but the fact is that IT admins are human and cannot always physically be on-site to deal with issues or outages. It is worth at least considering some type of remote access solution to allow admins to gain access and manipulate the network from any location. This may mean the difference in restoring service in minutes as opposed to days or weeks.

Lastly, network monitoring. Admins need to monitor security and event logs on all systems as well as implement network inventory and monitoring solutions. It is important that you remain aware in real time of the devices that are connected to your network and their health. Rouge, unauthorized, and malfunctioning devices can pose not only a very serious security threat but also a physical threat to your networks as well as your data.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Thursday, October 2, 2008

10 PC Troubleshooting Tips

I've been doing PC repair and IT administration for almost 10 years now, and here are some things that I hope will help anyone fixing PC problems. If you follow these tips you should be able to resolve 90% of your pc problems.

1. This is the most important tip that I can give anyone at any level of expertise. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Most issues have very simple solutions, if you over complicate it the answer will be hard to find.

2. Check the connections, is everything plugged in? This question irritates even me when tech support asks it but the fact is TRY THE SIMPLE STUFF FIRST. Make sure all the cables are plugged in properly and are secure. Additionally are all of your expansion cards tight, are all the internal cables plugged in properly. Numerous times I have had to take the side cover off of a brand new machine to plug in an IDE cable or a power cable.

3. What has changed? What is different now that you are having problems. Have you installed any hardware or software? Have you applied any security patches, or updates? Has anything changed in the physical environment?

4. Try a reboot Sometimes, as silly as it sounds, this can fix many problems. Unplug your peripheral devices shut down the PC for several minutes and boot it back up again. It is always worth a try.

5. Viruses and spyware. What can I say these days malware accounts for about 75% of the problems that I deal with. Make sure your anti virus definition files are up to date and do full through system scans. Don't be afraid to use on-line scanners or stand alone tools like stinger.

6. Hit the blogosphere. Chances are someone out their has already faced your problem. Don't be afraid to ask for help. There is a wealth of knowledge out there and don't be afraid to share what you know with others.

7. Don't spend too much time on your problem. It doesn't pay to get frustrated, walk away. Sleep on it. Sometimes a fresh outlook is all it takes to uncover the answer.

8. Determine if the problem is hardware or software. If you can answer this question I'll bet you can solve the problem much more quickly.

9. Replace suspected bad with known good. OK OK ... I know everyone out there probably doesn't have a whole pile of parts to test and troubleshoot with but most of us have more access to spare parts than they realize. Give it a try.

10. Don't put a lot of faith in those software packages that promise to identify and solve your problems for you. My experience is that NONE of them are very good. Most good IT techs don't use them and there is a reason for that.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Googe Chrome - Lean, Mean, and low on features:

Google continues to impress me with their projects and innovations. After taking a look at their first attempt at a web browser, Chrome, released yesterday. I am initially somewhat impressed, but I don't think I'll be switching just yet.. Chrome is is very small, very fast, but gives you just the basics. Contrary to some other Blog posts I've read I don't think that Firefox should be too scared... at least not yet. At some point there needs to be a trade-off between pure speed and some options and features. Chrome has basically no features save for bookmarking. Let's not forget however this is only Google's first attempt, as they usually do, give em time I think they'll get it right.

For now Firefox is still my browser of choice because of its excellent performance and security, and the countless addons and options that increase and customize its functionality. That being said I think that IE should pack it in. It is still the slowest and most insecure browser out there, and although IE 7 and the new IE 8 have added some nice features we must not forget that all of those features for the most part were ripped off from Firefox and other competitors. It is simply too little to late for IE who hasn't shown any real innovation for quite some time now.

Bottom line folks with all the other superior options out there (in order from my favorite to least favorite); Firefox, Opera, Safari, and now Chrome, there is no reason to still be using Internet Explore. I am anxoius to see what the future holds for Chrome, and must admit I quite enjoy the "Browser Wars" and look forward to the next battle.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Truth About WiFi Security

Many organizations have resisted the installation of Wifi appliances and access points citing poor security as their primary reason. In short this is bogus... the fact of the matter is WiFi can be as secure or insecure as network admins configure it to be. In fact, in most cases people go to great lengths to configure WiFi security features such as passwords, encryption, and MAC address filters and totally ignore any such features on their standard cabled ethernet networks. One can walk in to nearly any office building plug in your lan cable and get an IP address.

Their are a host of options available to secure wireless connections (and wired for that matter) such as WPA, WPA2, WEP, and RADIUS using a variety of protocols and encryption levels. Additionally through the use of MAC address filtering and DHCP configurations a good network admin can ensure that only authorized clients can even establish a network connection.

The use of wireless networks provides enhanced security,flexibility, mobility, and usability to any home user or organization. Most of today's wifi equipment is relatively easy to set-up and configure. Also, stop relying on physical security to protect your wired connections. Implement encryption, MAC filtering, and DHCP reservations to trully protect your networks.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My Thoughts on Vista

The net and tech publications alike are jammed with every geeks opinion of Vista so here's mine... I started using Vista in the very early releases and have been using it for several years now. In general I am a fan of Vista. The search functions, Sidebar, pleasing appearance, enhanced security features, and improved networking functionality are all nice extras and I think MS is taking a big step in the right direction. That being said there are also several things that I am greatly annoyed with in the new OS. Starting with the fact it took MS long enough to release it and to find out there are still major gaps and fixes needed is almost enough to make you abandon Vista altogether. Further the fact that it requires such beefy hardware and requires so much overhead does not make it a good choice to upgrade to. The fact that it is incompatible with several pieces of software I use (which shall remain unnamed) that are less than three years old is also very irritating, and the boot-up and shut down times are too long.as a rule. My general thought, Vista has failed to live up to all the hype.

Most non-techie types I know hate Vista and some have even downgraded back to XP, mostly I think because they do not like the way things have been moved around and the menus have changed. Or perhaps they are using older hardware and are unhappy with the performance. I would encourage everyone to give Vista a chance with an open mind and the right hardware it is a good OS. I do however have some advice for people thinking about upgrading your XP box... don't. Don't bother trying to upgrade your two to three year old PC, buy new hardware, it takes lot of ram and pretty impressive video hardware to get the full Vista experience.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Linux Crosswalk

I believe that the single biggest reason that people are reluctant to switch to an open-source OS is the fact that they are unfamiliar with the software or what programs offer an equivalent linux version of the programs they are used to using with their windows box. The truth is their is far more software available for Linux systems than there are for Windows. The same however can not be said for Apple's OSX, traditionally it has been hard to find software for Macs. Their are a few cross-platform apps out there that I use on all my systems no matter what OS:

Firefox Web Browser
Adobe Acrobat PDF
Avast Antivirus

and there are some open-source packages that offer more than adequate substitute for there windows counter parts:

Open office does everything that the MS office suite will do and more and it even looks identical. Not to mention it is cross platform and free. This covers Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access.

Kompozer is a fine substitute for Frontpage or Expressions.

Scribus works in place of Publisher.

Gimp works for Photoshop.

Evolution mail is a great mail client that works with almost any protocol or server system.

Amorok and movie player provide a great replacement for media player, and Rhythmbox is a iTunes clone.

Kmymoney or Gnucash provide alternatives to MS Money or Qucken.

Here is a site that provides a much more complete list of apps note that the open-source alternatives are almost 2 to one over popular windows apps and a great deal of them are cross platform. http://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Linux_software_equivalent_to_Windows_software

If that's not enough for you check out the WINE project (Wine Is Not an Emmulator) it allows you to install and run windows software in a Linux OS environment.

Posted By:
Josh Nicholes

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Return of the Penguin

I have been a Linux user for about 10 years now, primarily sticking with Red Hat and Fedora. However I have used Debian, Suse, Mandrake, Turbo Linux, Free BSD, and Slackware. However I have basically completely moved away from Linux for about the last 2 years to concentrate on learning and supporting Windows Vista and Server 08 (I like them both by the way).

However I have been hearing a lot of buzz about Ubuntu lately so I decided to go ahead and install it on both my laptops one 32 bit and one 64 bit. IT IS AWESOME! Tux I missed ya buddy. I think the folks over at Microsoft should be nervous, I think their is a great possibility for Ubuntu to be a windows replacement with the resistance to especially Vista.

The install was a breeze, all of my hardware works fine with no tweaking. Additional software is a snap to install, and perhaps best of all Ubuntu migrated my data from XP.

Here are the high points (Pros):
1. Great hardware support, it even found third party drivers for my hardware.
2. Synaptic package installer is awesome it makes it easy to find and install software
3. The OS fits on one cd and gets rid of 4 to 6 to 8 install cds.
4. Ubuntu offers long-term product support and updates.
5. Ubuntu is actively recruiting big name OEM's
6. Its free, all of its additional software is free, and support is free.
7. Linux GUI's (KDE, Gnome, etc.) have come a long way in the past few years.
8. Its great that they are supporting both 32 and 64 bit systems.
9. Its great that they are offering both a desktop and server version.
10. It has a decent base install that gives you what you need to get going immediately.

Some things I didn't like (Cons):

1. There is no repair option on the CD.
2. The basic visual themes are a little plain and boring.
3. It installs Firefox 3 beta 5 (still has some issues, I removed it in favor of Firefox 2).
4. The installer does not allow you to set the root password.

All in all I am a fan. I strongly recommend that you give it a shot. Another great feature is that it ships on a Live CD, meaning you can try before you install without making any changes to your current system.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Friday, April 25, 2008

Best Password Partices

I thought I would take a moment to share the way I develop easy to remember, secure, and complex passwords. Think of a phrase that contains six to eight words; like: "The best things in life are free!" Pick something that is easy to remember or has a meaning to you personally. Take the first letter in each word. SO: TBTILAF!, alternate capitals and lowercase like so: tBtIlAf!. It is also very useful to add in a number or special character if possible. Some suggestions are replace "to" with "2" or "at" with "@". In my case I am going to change the last word of the pharse to "three" instead of "free". So our password would be tBtIlA3! This password is 8 characters long, contains both capital and lowercase letters, it contains a number, and a special character, and is not a word in any dictionary.

This is the technique I have used for a long time to develop passwords, although the one above is not on of mine... sorry. If you must wirite it down then write out the entire pharse, people will think its just an insparational quote not your password.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Help! The internet is making my computer obsolete

Our lives revolve around the Internet these days. As more and more features are added to the Internet I find myself less and less dependant on stand-alone applications. I do all of my banking online, I file my taxes online, and my contacts and calendar are managed via the web. I can even now compose documents and spreadsheets online thanks to Google. With so many sites offering massive amounts of storage space I can even save my data to the net for free. Best of all I let them worry about the backups. Recently I have gained the capability to listen to my mp3 collection from any Internet connected PC no software needed.

So whats the point? Hardware is becoming less and less important. All we need is a slim, lightweight PC, with great battery life to connect to the net. Let all the application processing be done server-side, thanks to common broadband Internet connections this is even a realistic prospect. Let IT pros do all of the security patching and and backups to manage this software. Best of all if we scale back the hardware performance we make actually see the days of a $50 PC. However I am not saying that this means we don't need to worry about backups and security. Ever computer needs to have updated virus and malware protection and make use of a good firewall. Also every user needs to make sure they are installing patches and hotfixes for the software they do have installed and be backing up all of their data to at least two seperate locations... no exceptions.

Many companies are embracing this reduced overhead philosophy. Lean OS'S are beginning to pop-up, and more companies are allowing visitors to use their software server-side with no need to do any installs. There are at least two companies out there however that have not yet caught on to this new trend... Microsoft (Vista) and Apple (OSX). I find it amazing that by and large the demand for more procesor powerand more ram is being driven by OS development.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

10 Ways to Protect Your PC

Here are 10 simple ways to protect and secure your data.

#10. Backup - hard disk fail, laptops are stolen, bad things happen. Never trust your computer, thumb-drive, or external hard disk. Data should be in two places at all times.

#9. Use Antivirus Software, and Keep it Updated - I recommend avast antivirus.

#8. Use Spyware Scanner, and Keep it Updated - I recommend Microsoft defender.

#7. Enable Windows firewall or use a third-party firewall - At the very least use the windows firewall or use Zonealarm.

#6. Install Updates and Patches - Enable automatic updates and don't forget to install optional updates and driver software.

#5. Protect User Accounts - Make sure all accounts are password protected and disable guest accounts.

#4. Keep all software up-to-date - Periodically update all non-ms software such as adobe, firefox, nero, or java.

#3. Use strong passwords - Passwords should be longer than 5 characters, contain capitals, lower-case letters, and numbers.

#2. Disable file and printer sharing - especially on public networks.

#1. Protect documents - Use encryption and or passwords to protect word docs, spreadsheets, databases, or pdf documents.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Stop or I'll call the internet cops!

Does anyone else think that it is bogus that AT&T, Comcast, and some other ISPs have agreed to play internet cop and filter out torrent traffic and file sharing content they believe to be copyrighted material? First of all how do they know what traffic constitutes copyright infringment? Have they forgotten that there are ligitment uses for torrents and other types of file sharing? I am concerned that this is the first step in regulating the internet. I do not advicate piracy however this is not what I want from my ISP. They are a 'service provider' which means I want fast, reliable,uncensored internet. Let me worry about what I download. I also see that the torrents have developed a type of encryotion to beat this filtering. All I can say to that is... GOOD. The internet is supposed to be publicly accessible, unfiltered, and remain in the public domain. Tell your ISP to stop filtering traffic and spying on your net usage and mind their own business.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Welcome to the Google Revolution

I predict that one day Google will rule the world. I am continually impressed and intrigued by the projects that are produced by Google. We all know that they have the best and most sophisticated search algorithm, but what about all the other cool Google projects. Scholar, Blogger, Gmail, Calendar, Translator, Maps, Mobile, Earth, Moon, Gadgets, Books, Imaging, Shopping, News, Groups, Youtube, Reader, Docs, Translate, Video, and Webmaster Tools to name a few. It is truly amazing that you can manage gis, email, scheduling, and creating docs and spreadsheets via Google without any need to install software on your PC. Add to that the release of go ogles unofficial operating system and Google truly can be your one-stop for all things Internet. In fact Google is putting this power of integration and web management in the hands of companies. The question is what can we expect from Google next?

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

What's Up MAC?

Seems to me that things not looking so good for Apple computers these days. I've read numerous articles calling the iPhone a flop. It's overpriced, feature poor, and only works on AT&T's service. (Unless you have one of those hacked versions that everyone's talking about.) Other manufactures are offering their own touch phones that have more features and are less expensive .

Sales of the iPod are way down suggesting market saturation, seeing that 40% of Apple's revenue last year came from the iPod this is not a good sign. As with the iPhone many manufactures are offering iPod clones that have more features and a smaller price tag. I recommend Sandisks Sansa player.

Apple's computers have traditionally been more expensive than other pc's running Windows or Linux, but they have maintained a loyal following of faithful OSX users over the years. To be fair though their are some features found only on Mac's that are interesting. However, now that Apple is using Intel hardware many users are using OSX software on non-mac pc's. Giving raise to what's know as the Hackintosh.

So I have to wonder what's in Apple's future. Are they going to give up the hardware industry and focus only on their software?

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Monday, January 21, 2008

An Endless Sea of Printers

It is no secret that printer manufactures make their money selling ink not printers. For the last several years now consumers have been able to pick-up an inexpensive color ink jet printers for under $40. These printers work fine for day-to-day print needs as long as you aren't looking for super high quality or volume. When it comes time to replace the ink cartridges the cost is often higher than that of just buying a whole new printer with ink cartridges. Basically this means that the landfills might soon be full of printers that have only used one set of cartridges. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this?

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ranking of OEM Computer Manufactures

I have been working in IT for a few years now and I have worked on all the models of computers out there. Here is my ranking of some of the top companies generally speaking.

# 10. DELL - In a word garbage, don't waste your money. Extremly cheap components and some of the worst tech support. Why do they sell so many machines - the power of advertising.

#9. Alienware - Extremly overpriced and prone to failure.

#8. E-Machines - Inexpensive machines, and you get what you pay for.

#7. Acer - Decent enough midgrade machines but don't get your expectations up.

#6. Sony - Too expensive.

#5. Gateway - Good starter computer, but be sure to backup often.

#4. Compaq - Since the merger with HP they are much better than they used to be.

#3. Toshiba - Good machines, very durable.

#2. IBM/Lenevo - Since they invented the PC no surprise. Their machines last forever.

#1. HP - My personal favorite. Great tech support, tough machines, and very dependable.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Who wins Blu-Ray or HD DVD - My Opinion

Many other posts out there are touting Blu-Ray as the winner of the Hi-Def DVD wars. Sighting Blu-Ray's superior features as their reason. I disagree I think that HD will emerge the ultimate winner. Though it is true that a long list of heavy hitters are supporting both formats, plain and simple HD DVD is cheaper and it will win. Think back in every other tech battle - least expesive technology always wins. Superior technology doesn't matter. Examples: USb vs. Firewire, Floppy vs. Zip-Disk, and even as far back as Beta vs. VHS.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes