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Tricks & Tips

Archive for September, 2009



One reader asks, “How much does it cost to run my computer? How can I minimize this expense?”

  • Scenario #1
    You leave your high end gaming computer on 24/7.   This comes in approximately $325/year.  Average computer on 24/7?  $145/year.
  • Scenario #2
    You have a new, energy saving, small laptop you only use 2 hours a day.   This could cost as little as $5 a year.  Average computer on 8 hours a day?  $93/year.
    Based on $.10 per kilowatt – current approximate price for residential in Greenwood, SC

That’s a pretty huge difference above.  These are of course, opposite extremes.  It depends on your computer, and your use.  And especially if you use power saving options.

A typical desktop computer uses about 65 to 250 watts. Add another 35 watts for a flat screen (LCD) and 80 watts for old school large monitor (CRT).  In sleep or standby mode?  Just 1-6 watts!

How to Reduce the Cost

  1. Use power saving modes (keep reading to learn how)
  2. Use an LCD monitor instead of CRT
  3. Turn off your computer when done for the day
  4. Use a power strip to turn off your computer and accessories with one click

How to Setup Power Saving Modes
Energy Start already has a good tutorial on this setup:

Or, just run the following scripts on your computer for automatic setting changes:



One reader asks, “Should I turn my computer off at night?  Would it save enough in the long run to justify? What about wearing out the switch?”

If you leave it on…

  1. Automatic updates will run when you’re not there
  2. Your backup can complete when files aren’t in use
  3. Virus scans are completed and don’t slow you down during normal use
  4. Your computer is ready to go when you are

If you turn it off…

  1. Save energy / expense
  2. Potentially safer (not connected to the Internet)

Switching a computer on and off every day versus leaving it on all the time is highly debatable, but I think most agree now days that with current technologies, it doesn’t make a difference either way anymore.

I use my computer a lot.  I want it on when I’m ready to use it.  I leave it on 24/7.  For others that may only use their computer once a day or every other day, stand by or off may be a better option.


Contributed by Bo Layer


CustomGuide has a great resource for quick, easy to use reference sheets for popular programs such as MS Office,  Mac OS, Adobe products, and more.

Don’t miss out!  These are free PDFs you can download, save, and print. No signup required.

Download here: http://www.customguide.com/quick_references.htm


Students/Teachers win again:  Microsoft offers Windows 7 for just $64.95. This is an official offer just like previous MS Office 2007 discount. Learn more… or buy now.

MS Office 2010 for Students just $79.95:  http://www.microsoft.com/student/office/en-us/

(Previously was $29.99, but that offer expired Jan 3, 2010)


Contributed by:  Brian Clark


What are these random letters I have to type before I can submit a form on a web site?
Maybe you’re signing up for an account, or attempting to contact a company via their web site, and you’re frustrated that you can’t just click ‘Submit’ and be done with it!

Google, Yahoo! and others have been using this kind of barrier for a while now, and while, at times, it may be frustrating, there is a method to their madness.  Its called CAPTCHA, or Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.  As the name implies, this tests to ensure a real person is filling a form, and not something automated.

Why go through all this trouble?
Without a CAPTCHA, automated programs written by unscrupulous people can automatically fill out a form thousands of times. Google uses it to stop spammers, among others, from signing up for a lot of Gmail accounts to send out ‘anonymous’ spam to other people around the world. Yahoo! employs CAPTCHAs for a similar purpose.

Other individual sites use CAPTCHAs to combat spam that is sent to the site owners through their own contact forms. Using this method, it ensures that their visitors’ emails are not lost in a flood of trash.

CAPTCHA techniques aren’t fail-proof, but they are evolving as fast as attackers find ways to have their automated programs, believe it or not, interpret CAPTCHA images without the aid of a human.
Tips to speed through CAPTCHA

  1. Often there is a refresh button – if you can’t read the letters, click refresh
  2. Be confident and submit anyway – if you’re wrong, it will reprompt you

Comic Relief…


More funnies… (couldn’t resist)

  1. Comic
  2. Comic

Find Restaurants with Urbanspoon

September 15th, 2009


Urbanspoon helps you find places to eat. Using GPS on your smart phone, it will locate restaurants near you by category, price, or only places with Wi-Fi.  How convenient. 😉  Read reviews, see photos of the restaurant, or view the menu.

Urbanspoon is online at www.urbanspoon.com, or available as a free download for your iPhone/iPod, Blackberry, or other smartphone.

Video demo….