Tech Immersion

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

10 Computer Shopping Tips

Follow these guidelines and you are sure to have a solid machine.

1. Do not buy crappy pre-built computers or barebones combos from Fry's; you are better off with a Dell or HP they've been tested and warranted, where as the Fry's box is not. The pre-builds often use cheap components (usually the motherboard) that will burn out in less than a year.


2. When purcahsing a computer, DO NOT BUY computers with processors branded "Sempron" or "Celeron". These low budget CPUs are about 15x slower than the quality versions they mimic. If you want to avoid a lot of headache simply avoid them. If price is an issue hold on to your money and buy a new sealed in box model from ebay. At a minimum, the processor speed should be 2 ghz referred to as "2 gigahertz" or more commonly "2 gigs"

Processors I Like

Intel Pentium 4
Intel Core Duo-
AMD ATHLON 64 X2-notice the x2 it means dual core- 2 processors in one
AMD TURION 2-2.2ghz

AMD ATHLON 64 X2 3800+
Intel Pentium 4 2ghz or higher
Intel P4 3GHZ or Higher
Really Good
AMD 64x2 6200

3. Memory- The more the merry. Your standard for purchase should be at least 1 gigabyte, especially for a laptop. It doesn't matter how fast your processor is if you only have 512mb of ram you will never be able to reach your potential. It would be like having a new ferrari with wooden wheels-you're not going anywhere. Look for the Brand Corsair and the Series XMS or OCZ platinum revision 2.


1gb-anything is better than 512mb



Really Good


4. Buy Computers Online- you will save more money without mail in rebates and get the latest and gratest instead of overpaying for last year's model.

5. For Dell and HP browse the different stores within the website for the same model- often times you can
find a better deal for the exact same machine if you were to click on
the other stores like "home and home office" or "small business" or
"graphic design" These are Different stores from the same vendor and
they run different deals on the same model so shop around.

6. On Ebay be sure to read the seller approval rating- if it is below 98% be careful and study up on the seller read the complaints. If time is of the essence and money is an issue hop on ebay and look at computers that have the"BUY IT NOW" option AND the "NEW SEALED IN BOX" under condition. Ebay is a great place for purchasing a new Dell or HP system.

7. DO NOT BUY a Geek Sqaud protection plan!-this is like signing your kid up for little league with a convicted sex offender for a coach. Geek Squad is a shady group and certainly has more bad than good stories going for it. Find a local shop where you will get more for your money and treated like a valuable customer. IF you don't know where to go email me and let me know the city and state you live in and I will find you a reputable service shop-

8.Buy Windows XP Professional. Don't buy Home Edition- it has limited functionality and doesn't play nice with other computers. Avoid the headache and go PRO or Media Center Edition


9.Do not buy extended hardware warranty for a computer=chances are the technology or the demand on technology will change before your hardware goes out and you'll need to buy a new model before the warranty is expired. Expect 2 year max shelf life, 3 years if you buy a nice one, after that it is probably time to upgrade.

10. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE SALES PERSON-I worked in retail before I became a consultant and I have many friends who still do. They will lie, cheat,

10. Words to avoid
Mail In Rebate
MANAGER'S SPECIAL-great low price for store brand technology or discontinued products that have known issues that render them crap.
ACER-for the most part a company with horrible support and crappy products, if you are an intermediate geek their laptops are good, but in general avoid this brand
EMACHINES=POOP-a few good models here and there but mostly poop
GATEWAY=POOP-a few good models here and there but mostly poop

11. Words to look for


NEC-great LCD monitors spend the money
VIEWSONIC-also usually great aim high
DELL-2007 widescreen 2405fp-what I currently use-24 inches of bliss
16:9 aspect ratio-widescreen great for movies, games and design
8ms response time-make sure this isn't grey to grey response time
at least

Dual Core

Hard Drives
7200 RPM-hard drive
5 year warranty or at least anything better 1 year
SATA= fast

Video Cards
PCI-EXPRESS X10 OR X16-for latest graphics capability
SLI= Dual Video Cards
EVGA,BFG, PNY=lifetime warranty on graphics cards


CORSAIR XMS 2= quality

Power Supply
ANTEC POWER SUPPLY- these are usually kid tested and mother approved-solid and dependable

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


[The airtrax sidewinder is very impressive as a lifting unit. I would not be surprised to see the military adopt it in some method or another. Check out the video of the sidewinder]


Gizmodo, The Gadget Blog

[This is the one stop shop for all the latest gizmos. However engadget and gizmodo share so many of the same stories it is hard to determine who the original authros are]


Friday, April 14, 2006


The Secrets of Great Security

1. Use Security Software- A shocker I know.

If you can afford a security suite I recommend Zone Alarm Internet Security Suite- the download version. It will set you back $50 big ones but it is the most well rounded solution out there. If you are hurtin for cash download AVG

DO NOT BUY MCAFEE OR NORTON. These products are notorious for causing problems. It is ajob security feature for us IT Consultants because it causes more problems than it solves. If it's not the overloading the CPU issues of McAfee, it's the multitude of un-uninstallable email software that locks up outlook or printer issues.

2. Keep it Up To Date!- These are complex theories aren't they.
Most security suites automatically update themselves but just in case update your armada of software. Rule of thumb: If it interacts with the Internet, keep it up to date. Patch anything that can be patched for the most part especially critical service packs from Microsoft update.
This includes
Windows Media Player
any other media player
Anti-Virus solution
Web Browser
Operating System
Productivity and Office Products.
Email Clients

3. Do NOT download unknown file attachments for any reasons.
If it is unexpected write back to the sender and confirm the contents of the attachment.
Be especially suspicious of e-cards, v-cards, any other web cards and particularly web files (.html xml and java) along with compressed attachments.ASK your ISP about scanning inbound email, chances are for legal reasons, they offer an online scanning tool.

4. Do not click anything without reading it.
One of the most common issues my clients face is errors that they are given messages for yet they refuse to read, or they have clicked on a liscense agreement and installed third party software that trashes their computer. IT DOESN'T TAKE TECHNICAL SKILL TO READ WHAT IS IN THE WINDOW.

5. You Haven't Won Anything.Don't be a Dumb Browser.
Don't click on sidebar games or anything in a pop up window other than the x or close button

If You practice these five steps you will have about a 1% chance of logging in to a trashed computer.

Mixing it Up with Multiple Solutions

The Combination Cocktail that Knocks Spyware & Adware off of your Computer

1. Protect Your Computer

AVG- a free antivirus program
Ad-Aware-fights them nasty bug
Spybot Search & Destroy-fights nasty bugs
Spyware Blaster-Works like a flu shot
CCleaner-Crud Cleaner-the equivalent of a colonoscapy.

2. Scan Early, Scan Often

Make it a weakly habbit to scan for bugs and download updates using the different programs.

3. Regular Back-up

Cobian Backup
As obnocsious as it is, get an automated backup tool for your computer. How about a great one for free that is super easy to use and set up? Allow me to introduce you to Cobian Backup.
Cobian is free, easy to use and very powerful. I use it with many of my corporate clients and it out performs software that costs hundreds of dollars.

Block Those Nasty Pop-Ups!

The Simplest and Most Effective Pop-up Blocking Methods are Free!

1. Switch to Mozilla Firefox
Go ahead, I will wait. Please visit and get with the program. There is an entire community of thousands of people who develop tools to try to make your browsing experience faster, safer, more reliable and more efficient. It is free so unlike most browser solutions- its focused on people not money.

2. Download and install Service Pack 2 if you are on XP.
SP2 comes with a built in pop-up blocker for Internet Extorter er... I mean Explorer.
This will help out the dedicated IE fans out there.

3. Keep Your Computer Clean of Spy-ware and Ad-ware.

There are many different approaches to this. I will post some links and an overview soon, but for the most part, Keep your security suite up to date and get these programs from file hippo
AVG- a free antivirus program
Ad-Aware-fights them nasty bug
Spybot Search & Destroy-fights nasty bugs
Spyware Blaster-Works like a flu shot
CCleaner-Crud Cleaner-the equivalent of a colonoscapy.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Introduction to Identifying Technology

Welcome to Identification 1

We will be discussing and going over some basic concepts on the subject of technology. When We Get through the Gadgets we will then focus on desktop interfaces and operating systems. Let's Begin.

We willl begin by learning the following concepts:







A computer is a machine for manipulating data according to a list of instructions - a program.
Computers speak a very simple language their alphabet consists of two characters 0 and 1 called binary language. They work like a light switch, they can only understand on and off They create words like you and I combining letters, but they combine 0's and 1's instead. There words translate into small instructions and combining their words creates programming. For example, to say hello in computer lingo you would have to type "01101000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111" This would take a very long time but computers can do this faster than we can even think about it.

Exercise 1 Computer Lingo

Exercise: Binary Fun

Tips: If you cannot complete this exercise do not worry basic operations will be covered in later courses.

To learn about copying and pasting please visit the links below by clicking the text before attempting the exercise.

Please visit the link below to try the binary translator type something in english and press the encode button and look at the binary in the result or if you have received binary code paste it in the binary section and press the decode button

Decode the following message by copying binary below and pasting it in the binary section of the site and pressing the decode button

message 1

01001001 00100000 01110100 01101111 01101100 01100100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01101100 01100101 01100001 01110010 01101110 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100010 01100101 00100000 01100110 01110101 01101110 00100001

message 2

01000010 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001 00100000 01101100 01100001 01101110 01100111 01110101 01100001 01100111 01100101 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01110011 01101111 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101111 01101100 00100001

message 3

01001110 01101111 01110111 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01110111 01110010 01101001 01110100 01100101 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01100001 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 00100000 01101111 01101110 01101100 01111001 00100000 01100001 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01110000 01110101 01110100 01100101 01110010 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 00100000 01110101 01101110 01100100 01100101 01110010 01110011 01110100 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100001

message 4

01101001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01100001 01101011 01100101 01110011 00100000 01101101 01100001 01101110 01111001 00100000 01100011 01101000 01100001 01110010 01100001 01100011 01110100 01100101 01110010 01110011 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110011 01101001 01101110 01100111 01101100 01100101 00100000 00110000 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 00110001 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01100010 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001 00100001

For Advanced study please read about bits and bytes by clicking the link below (not required for course):

Types of Computers

Computers come in all shapes and sizes, from digital watches, to cellular phones, to calculators, to microwave ovens, video game consoles, and cars; computers are everywhere! But when most people think about computers they think about the machines that help them browse the internet, write documents, compose presentations, and play games as well. We will focus in on the more powerful computers that help us in our day to day lives.

Desktop Computers

When talking about computer hardware, a desktop computer is a personal computer that is too large to carry and designed to remain in the same place. Desktops come in all shapes and sizes but the two types of desktop computers are PCs (or personal computers) and Macintosh's (a computer with specific hardware and software designed by a company called Apple)

All desktops consist of a tower-the box where the key computing parts are

a monitor- the screen you watch

a keyboard- a device with keys that allows you to enter letters

and a mouse-that allows you to naviagate around the screen






A macintosh PC is a desktop PC that has a specific set of features and parts. A Mac is easy to identify because they always have an apple logo somewhere on them. The mouse on a mac computer only has only one main clicking button. The Mac comes in many colors but predominately white in recent models. A few examples of Macs and the Mac logo are shown below.

Mac Desktop Computer


Exercise 2: Montage Moment 1: MAC & PC


Visit the link below by clicking it with the left click button

in the search field do a search for "MAC computer"

Then click the create montage button

click on some of the images that most closely resemble the mac examples above in the montage to get a feel for what a mac is

Go back to the montage page and do a new search for "PC computer"

Then click the create montage button

click on some of the images that most closely resemble the examples

Do a new search for "Desktop Computer" in the search field of the create a montage site

Then click the create montage button

Do you understand what a desktop computer is?

do you know the difference in appearance of a Mac desktop and a PC desktop?


a server is a computer system that provides services to other computing systems—called clients—over a network. The term is most commonly applied to a complete computer system today, but it is also used occasionally to refer only to the hardware (physical parts) or software (programs and instructions) portions of such a system.The typical server is a computer system that operates continuously (it is on all the time) on a network and waits for requests for services from other computers on the network. Many servers are dedicated to this role, but some may also be used simultaneously for other purposes, especially when the demands placed upon them as servers are modest (lax, layed back not a heavy load). For example, in a small office, a large desktop computer may act as both a desktop workstation for one person in the office and as a server for all the other computers in the office.

Servers today are physically similar to most other computers, although their hardware (physical parts and guts) may be particularly optimized (specially designed) to fit their server roles, if they are dedicated to that role. Many use hardware identical or nearly identical to that found in standard desktop PCs. However, servers run software that is often very different from that used on desktop computers and workstations.


A laptop computer (also known as notebook computer) is a small mobile personal computer, usually weighing from 1 to 3 kilograms (2 to 7 pounds). Terms for subtypes of notebooks (and related computer types) include:

  • Notebooks smaller than a regular sheet of paper and weighing around 1 kg are sometimes called sub-notebooks or subnotebooks.

  • Notebooks weighing around 5 kg are sometimes termed desknotes (desktop/notebook).

  • Powerful laptops (often heavy) designed to compete with the computing power offered by a typical desktop are sometimes known as desktop replacements.

Laptops usually run on batteries, but also from adapters which also charge the battery using mains electricity.

Laptops are capable of many of the same tasks that desktop computers perform, although they are typically less powerful for the same price. Laptops contain components that are similar to those in their desktop counterparts and perform the same functions but are miniaturized and optimized for mobile use and efficient power consumption.

There are PC laptops and Mac laptops. Mac Laptops usually have that same Apple logo that appears on desktop Mac's. Mac laptops like the Mac desktops have specific parts and feel and always look similar. There are far more PC laptop choices than Mac.

Below are some examples of PC Laptops

Desktop Replacement

Big, clunky, and power hungry it takes a lot of electric juice to power the desktop replacement laptops.


Portable enough to take to a coffee shop or traveling to different places, and powerful enough to do most computer tasks.


So small you can pack this sub-notebook on a sub-marine and the batteries would last for a long time. But this little laptop is not as powerful as those that we have already seen.

ibook or also known as a

Mac Laptop

There are different versions of these floating around and they are most easily identifiable by the apple logo that is on the back of the LCD screen


Personal digital assistants (also called PDAs) are handheld devices that were originally designed as personal organizers, but became much more versatile over the years. A basic PDA usually includes date book, address book, task list, memo pad, clock, and calculator software. Newer PDAs also have both color screens and audio capabilities, enabling them to be used as mobile phones, web browsers or media players. Many PDAs can access the Internet, intranets or extranets via Wi-Fi, or Wireless Wide-Area Networks (WWANs).

PDA's come in many flavors here are the most common:

PALM and Treo PDAs use Palm OS

Pocket PC-Windows Mobile OS

Sharp Zaurus & Linux PDAs


PDA Example- Palm Operating System

An operating system is a special computer program that manages the relationship between application software, the wide variety of hardware that makes up a computer system, and the user of the system. OS's or Operating Systems will be discussed in later courses

Pocket PC running the Windows Mobile OS

Sharp Zaurus A Linux OS PDA

Treo 650 running PALM OS

Blackberry and Blackberry OS

Exercise 3 : Montage Moment 2:Servers, Laptops, and PDA's oh my!

Click on the create a montage link below

using the text field marked search on the create a montage web page

Do a search

Click Create a montage

click on the images that most closely resemble the example pictures of the following:




desktop replacement



A computer is a machine that works with data based off of instructions called programs.

A computer speaks binary language only understanding 0 and 1 and programs are written to translate into combinations of 0 and 1 that make the computer perform tasks.

There are desktop computers, servers, laptops, and PDAs

Desktop computers come in two flavors PC and Mac. There are far more options and configurations for PC's and thus far more PC's than Macs.

A Mac Desktop Computer has an Apple logo and usually can be characterized by a mouse with only one button. The other desktops are PCs and come in many different shapes and sizes.

Laptops are portable computers- there are ultra portable sub-notebooks that are very small and lightweight but not that fast or powerful
There are regular laptops that weigh 6-7 pounds that are powerful enough for most tasks and easy to travel with, and last but not least there are desktop replacements that are as powerful as desktop PCs and very large and heavy.

PDA's (personal digital assitants) act as cellular phones, organizers, and web browsers.

There are different PDA's with different Operating Systems (OS)

Palm and Treo PDAs with PALM OS
Pocket PCs with Windows Mobile OS
Sharp Zaurus and other PDAs with Linux OS
Blackberrys with Blackberry OS

Privacy Rights And Children

Privacy and Safety Tips

Privacy policy. Read the privacy policy statements on the web sites visited by your children. Teach older children to do the same. Look for policies that explain what information is collected, if any, what the web site operator does with it, and how you can choose whether or not the child's information can be collected.

Consent. If your child is under age 13, you must decide if you are going to give permission for web sites to collect personal information from them, a requirement of federal law (see Section 2). Be sure to carefully read the privacy policy and terms of service before making this decision.

Web seal. Look for a privacy "seal of approval," such as TRUSTe,, on the first page. Participants agree to post their privacy policies and submit to audits of their privacy practices in order to display the logo. Web seal programs also provide dispute resolution services. TRUSTe displays a seal especially for children under age 13. The Council of Better Business Bureaus also has a seal program,

Contracts. Encourage your children, especially teens, to take responsibility for their online behavior by establishing a contract with them. The Federal Trade Commission's "Site Seeing on the Internet" provides sample language, The web guide for parents, GetNetWise, also provides contract language,

Family rules. You can establish family rules for online computer use. Among those suggested by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children ( are the following:

  • Tell your children never to give out identifying information such as family information, home address, school name, or phone number in chat room discussions and when visiting web sites. They shouldn't even reveal such data in private e-mail unless they know who they are dealing with. They must also not send out personal or family photos without your permission. It's best for children to use "screen names" that are different from their own in chat rooms.
  • Explain to children that passwords must never be given to anyone else, even someone claiming to be from the online service.
  • Warn your children not to respond to messages that are threatening, suggestive, demeaning, or otherwise make you or the child uncomfortable. Tell them to report such messages to you.
  • Set reasonable usage rules, including time limits, for your child's use of the computer. Watch for excessive use of online services late at night. That could be a tip-off there is a problem.
  • Try to make online use a family activity. Keep the computer in a family room rather than the child's bedroom.
  • Get to know your children's online "friends," much as you try to get to know their other friends. Never permit a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without your attending at least the first meeting.
  • Explain that people online may not be who they seem to be. Someone claiming to be a 12-year old girl might be a 40-year old man.
  • Also explain that not everything they read online may not be true. Any offer that's "too good to be true" probably is.
  • Learn about the online services your child uses. Find out about ways to steer them to child-friendly sites. If you are a novice to online use, ask your child to show you what they do online and how to log on to online services. Better yet, take a class and learn to navigate the Internet yourself.
For more information click here for the entire guide

Explaining Adult Content to Children

How does one explain adult content to a child?

If your children have unattended computer and internet access I garantee you they will run into adult content. Pornography is all over the web and makes up a large majority of Internet traffic. Chances are, your children will be exposed to adult content before you would like them to be.

According to a recent study (not that one needs a study to conclude this) exposure to sexual content through the media be it magazine TV or music increase the likelihood of a child having sex before the age of 16. The age seems to be getting younger and younger. The study concluded and I agree with the statement that you should talk to your children early about adult content. If you would like to see the original study click here.

What steps are you taking to prepare your children?

Want to Contribute?

Share Your Thoughts and Post Opinions

If you are a concerned parent, educator, expert, and have some opinions or ideas, please feel free to post comments on Tech Immersion. If you would like to become a contributor you will need an account on and a vlaid email address. It is totally free simply click here.

Once you have your account setup please email me at:

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Welcome to Tech Immersion

The Rundown on Tech Immersion

After a lot of work and discussion, Tech Immersion has been moved to blog form so that is easily accessible and freely available to everyone. This blog is dedicated to educating those age 10 (accompanied by parent or adult) and above in the world of technology. On this blog you will find introductions to technological concepts and plenty of fun filled activities to help illustrate concepts in technology. For those of you migrating from the Nuvvo form of tech immersion-There are no quizzes, no grades, but feel free to post comments and ask questions and I promise I will respond as soon as possible. The other goal of Tech Immersion is to get feedback from parents, educators, and experts on the best ways to teach technological concepts to children. If I can reach children in a fun and meaningful way, than I can reach anyone. You will also find interviews from experts and of course parents on this blog. There will be news articles program and website recommendations to, personal and expert opinions, psychological and health studies, etc. Serious Discussions will be brought up from a potential educators perspective abd will include hard topics like pornographic content, identity theft, web predators and right to privacy. I and the world of educators and parents want to know how to teach the tough subjects in technology. Basically we asking you the reader how do we (educators and parents) teach children about this stuff? what do we say? along with presenting our own thoughts. Feel free to email me or post your comments!