Category Archives: Hardware

  • 0

What is HDMI?

HDMI, or high definition multimedia interface, is a type of audio and video interface that is used for the transmission of uncompressed digital streams. Essentially, HDMI can be considered an alternative method to transmitting data streams, rather than making use of conventional methods such as coaxial cabling, VGA, or component video equipment.

What Type of Sources May Be Employed Using HDMI?

Quite a number of devices and sources on the market today will work with the use of HDMI. The Blu-Ray disc player, a relatively new innovation, was created with the use of HDMI specifically in mind. Most personal computers that are sold today are ready for use with HDMI, as are the majority of video game consoles in the stores currently. A set-top box also is usually compatible with HDMI, as are such entertainment options as digital television. Essentially, any type of computer interface today will function with the use of HDMI.

How Does HDMI Work?

HDMI will work with a single cable connection to such devices as televisions or personal computers. In general, HDMI will function fine with any television or PC that is standard, enhanced, or high definition in the video component. However, it is important to note that HDMI does work independently of many of the DTV standards, although use of HDMI will not impact the quality of the digital transmission. Generally, these standards apply to some configurations of MPEG movie clips and files. Since these are compressed, HDMI will simply decompress the data and make it possible to view the clip.

Are All HDMI Versions The Same For All Devices?

No. There is a range of specifications that are employed by HDMI, and a given device will be manufactured to comply with one of those specifications. The most simplistic specification is identified as 1.0. With each succeeding version, the capabilities of the previous version remain intact, but are joined by other capabilities that will allow the version to function with a given device. Because technology is always advancing, HDMI continues to advance as well. However, older versions remain active, as they are often used with devices that require less functionality, and they also continue to be helpful in situations where older systems are still running and are in operation.

Where Did HDMI Come From?

HDMI was created and has been enhanced by the efforts of several prominent names in the computer and electronics industry. Consumers will recognize the names of Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Silicon Image as just part of the roster of corporations involved in the ongoing enhancement of HDMI.


  • 0

What is CPU Clock Speed?

The CPU, or central processing unit, of a computer is the part which performs all of its logical and arithmetic calculations you need in order to make the computer work. All calculations are done by first converting the user’s input into binary, and then the calculations are performed on the binary. The binary system consists of only two different digits – 0 and 1. They are referred to as the logical zero and logical one. For every calculation the computer alternates between these two numbers. A single change from 0 to 1 or vice-versa is known as a clock cycle. The speed of a CPU is measured in clock rate. In short, the clock rate is the frequency of the clock in a circuit. It is measured in Hz, MHz (Million cycles per second) and GHz. The clock rate can also be defined as the speed at which the microprocessor executes instructions. This rate is used to compare the speeds of different computers.

The clock rate of a CPU depends on various factors such as system architecture, clock rate of RAM and file system, so two computers with the same clock rates may not perform the same. The first commercial PC the Altair 8800 which used the Intel 8080 chip had a speed of 2MHz while the original IBM had a clock rate of 4.77 MHz.

The Intel Pentium (2002) chip ran at 300MHz while the more recent Core i7 4790k runs at 4 GHz (4 billion cycles per second).

To find your CPU’s speed (Windows):

1. Right click on “My Computer” and click on “Properties”.

2. Under the “System” section, look for Processor – The processor’s name as well as speed (in GHz) will be mentioned.


  • 0

What is RAM?

Tags :

Category : Hardware , Tech Tips

RAM is a moniker for Random Access Memory. It acts as a short-term memory much like the human brain to store a wealth of information. The RAM is accessible through the computer’s brain called the CPU which stands for Central Processing Unit. RAM has the capability of being retrieved only while a computer is on. When the computer is turned off the RAM is no longer accessible. ROM chips along with BIOS (computer boot firmware) allows the RAM information to be retrievable when the computer is rebooted.

Most computers come equipped with 2 gigabytes of RAM already on the computer. Additional RAM can be placed within the system. However, there is usually a limitation placed upon just how much RAM can be added to a computer system. RAM is not random as its name would lead one to believe. The RAM is highly controlled and the storage can be directly ascertained. There is a decisive method that RAM utilizes to make its memory available to certain areas of the computer system.

Forms for RAM

RAM is what is known as discrete microchips which means that it is separate from the rest of the computer and motherboard. An additional form of RAM is modules which attach into outlets in the motherboard of the computer. A network of electrical pathways to the processor allows the connection to spark for the RAM.

Why is RAM Important

RAM serves the very important function of retrieving information that must be accessed in a quick manner. This operation is very similar to the human brain’s function in retrieving necessary facts from short term memory. Open files and the utilization of applications on a computer systems requires the assistance of RAM. Users that play alot of video games with detailed graphics or keep alot of folders open while on their computer, will need the use of additional RAM. This will allow them to better access the information they need when the time comes. RAM is held onto a limited time, but it allows the information to come up quickly and without much fuss on the part of the computer user.


  • 1

What is EProm?

EPROM or Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory is rewritable memory chip that can hold its data without power. A programmed EPROM can keep its data for up to twenty years and can be read indefinite number of times. An Israeli engineer, Dov Frohman invented the EPROM chip in 1971.

EPROM chips are embedded on an external programming device before being used on the circuit board. The EPROM chip requires a costly ceramic chip package with a small quartz window that is sheltered with opaque, sticky tape. For reprogramming, the chip is extracted from the circuit board, the tape is detached and it is placed below a concentrated ultraviolet (UV) light of wavelength 235nm light for approximately 20 minutes.

Some microcontrollers, before the era of EEPROMs and flash memory, used EPROM to store their program. Such microcontrollers include some versions of the Intel 8048, and the “C” edition of the PIC microcontroller. Similar to EPROM chips, such microcontrollers came in windowed (expensive) versions that were handy for debugging and program development. Leaving the die of such a chip exposed to sunlight can change its behavior in unexpected ways.

EPROMs come in several sizes with regard to both packaging and storage capacity. Parts of the same type of EPROM from different manufacturers are intercompatible as long as they’re only being read, there are subtle differences in the programming process.

Most EPROMs can be identified by the programmer by forcing 12V on pin A9 and reading the two bytes of data. However, programmer software would allow manual setting of the chip to ensure proper programming.

EPROMs are the forerunners of the modern EEPROMs and flash memory.


  • 0

How to Find Information Online

With so many different ways today to find information online, it can sometimes be hard to know where to go to first. I want to look at the major and most effective ways to find information online.
The biggest and most commonly used method is to use a search engine such as Google or Bing. All  of these search engines offer similar features. Text search, Image search, Local search, Product search, are a few of the services they offer. It used to be only a few years ago where Google dominated the Search Engine market. Due largely to the fact that their search technology was the most advanced. Because of the huge investment other companies have put into their search technology, it’s getting harder and harder every day to say which one is really the best. With this in mind I think it comes down more now to which company do you prefer or which layout you like the most.

Another method used to find information is through what is called a Web Directory. Web directories will usually either be relative or general:

Relative – A relative web directory will contain information and links to websites that are all to do with one topic. An example would be a Weight Loss directory that contains only information and links to sites that have something to do with Weight Loss.

General – A general web directory is a site that will contain links and information to do with all types of categories. It will usually be arranged topically to allow ease of use in finding exactly what you want. The biggest and one of the most used directories is dmoz.org, which contains links and information to thousands of different sites, all arranged into categories.

I would recommend checking out a few of these sites, and really trying them out for yourself to see which one will be suit your needs. I’ve found that each site can be used most effectively in different situations. Happy information finding!


  • 0

Why Get a Desktop Computer

If you are in the market for a computer, there are a number of factors to consider. Will it be used for your home, your office, or perhaps even your home office combo? First off, you will need to set a budget for your new purchase before deciding whether to shop for notebook or desktop computers. Many offices use desktop computers because they are not intended to be moved around a lot. In addition, affordability often plays a large role in someone’s decision as to whether to purchase notebook or desktop computers.

While you are shopping around, it’s important to keep in mind some of the benefits that go along with owning different types of computers. To that end, this article provides five important reasons to purchase desktop computers.

– Desktop computers are typically much more affordable than notebook computers. With notebooks, you are paying more for the convenience of portability. For as little as $299.00, desktop computers can be purchased from one of the leading manufacturers and a notebook computer for as little as $499.00.

– Unlike notebook computers, replacing a keyboard, mouse, speakers or even a monitor does not require having your computer serviced by a professional repair shop. Because notebook computers have everything built in, including the aforementioned features, it is more difficult to replace a keyboard or monitor as opposed to desktop computers, which operate on external connections.

– In the event of an unlawful entry into your home, desktop computers are not as likely to be stolen because of their weight and bulk. Notebook computers, on the other hand, are small and portable. This, alone, makes them more appealing to a thief than desktop computers.

– Desktop computers are stationary by nature. Unlike a notebook computer, which can easily be moved from room to room, they are less likely to be dropped or broken because they are not moved as often.

– The vents on desktop computers are located on the back of the tower, which allows for proper ventilation that will help to prevent the computer from overheating. Notebook computers, on the other hand, feature only one vent on the back with the remaining underneath the base. If placed on a table, the air vents can become blocked and the computer may overheat. If prolonged use leads to overheating, damage may result.

When choosing from the many desktop computers on the market, always make sure that you purchase from a manufacturer who has experience in creating computers. Even though they are more affordable than notebooks, desktop computers are not cheap. With an investment that involves several hundred dollars, you will want to consider the length of time the manufacturer has been in business, their reputation with customers and their warranty.

Additionally, when choosing any system, including desktop computers, always look at the potential for future upgrading. As you grow, you will want your computer to grow with you and a part of that will include a slight upgrade from time to time. This is the only way to get the best use of your desktop computers and make sure that your investment is one that lasts for years to come.


  • 0

Memory Stick Speeds Explained

In a few short years since the launch of the first 4Mb flash memory card, the number of flash memory cards, aka SD Cards, available for digital cameras and other devices has exploded with a number of different formats and speeds of memory card. It’s no wonder the average person is totally baffled by this plethora of memory cards.

Not only are there different shapes (the format) and sizes of memory sticks such as Secure Digital (SD) Compact Flash, Memory Stick, etc, but also different speed ratings.

Memory card speed is the card’s performance with regard to how quickly data can be transferred to or from it. The card speed is often stated in ‘Times’ ratings i.e. 12X, 40X etc (just as the speed of recordable CD’s and DVD’s is measured), and sometimes more specifically in megabytes per second (Mb/s). By today’s measure, sub 30X represents a standard speed, 30X to 60X is mid-high speed and over 66X is high speed. The chart below shows the relationship between the two figures.

8X = 1.2 Mb/sec
12X = 1.8 Mb/sec (Also known as Class 2 for SD Cards)
20X = 3.0 Mb/sec
25X = 3.8 Mb/sec (Also known as Class 4 for SD Cards)
30X = 4.5 Mb/sec
40X = 6.0 Mb/sec (Also known as Class 6 for SD Cards)
60X = 9.0 Mb/sec
66X = 10.0 Mb/sec (Also known as Class 10 for SD Cards)
80X = 12.0 Mb/sec
90X = 15.0 Mb/sec
133X = 20.0 Mb/sec

Why do we need different or higher speeds cards?
This is mainly due to the advancement of our digital devices, especially digital cameras, camcorders and music devices. As manufacturers develop higher and higher spec devices (i.e. higher resolution cameras and more intense multi-media functions), they are creating increasingly larger amounts information to store pictures, movies, music and so on. This in turn takes longer to record onto the memory card. For example if you have ever used a high megapixel camera with a standard speed card you may have noticed the time lag between pressing the shutter button and being able to take the next picture. This lag or delay, in most cases, is caused by a slow write speed. Similarly, copying your photos to your PC could take time too and is caused by a slow read speed.
So who really needs high-speed memory cards?
Professional photographers and enthusiasts using professional grade cameras such as digital SLR’s should use high-speed memory cards of at least 40X speed. If you own a camera with a megapixel rate above ten million pixels, you will certainly benefit from a card with a higher speed rating. If you’re like most of us using a compact camera under ten million pixels, you’ll get great performance from standard cards with 25X or more.

Those using digital camcorders and devices recording MP3 music or video will also benefit from higher speed cards. It used to be where very few people would actually benefit from very high-speed cards. Typically only professionals who used expensive, specialized products benefited, but it’s fast becoming a requirement on many of the latest PDA’s, Cameras, phones and other mobile devices to make use of the extra speed made available by high speed cards.

People using high speed memory cards with equipment that has been on the market a while may not notice any difference in performance, but this has more to do with the limitations of the device than the flash card itself. This is because not only does your memory card have a maximum speed rating, but your camera or mobile phone will also have its own speed rating. When these products are combined, they’ll work at the “slowest common denominator” e.g. if you use a 12X flash card in a camera with a designed for a maximum of 8X speed, you’ll be transferring data at the slower 8X speed.

You should always check the capacity of your device before splurging on mega fast cards, but determining the speed compatibility of your device can be tricky. Most manuals just don’t tell you what speed of flash card you should use, now that would be far too easy, but they do tell you to buy their brand, which isn’t much help! So a general rule of thumb, if your camera is less than three megapixels the speed rating of the flash card doesn’t matter much. Most modern cameras have the ability to support far higher speeds than the cards available to purchase today, therefore, if speed is of importance, go for a faster card. Most mobile phones are fine with standard speed cards although some newer models will benefit from higher speed cards but not generally over 60X speeds. Hope this info helps you pick your next SD Card wisely.

 


  • 0

Why you Need to Keep your Computer Clean

If your computer is used a lot and kept on for hours at a time, it’s a good idea to clean it every now and again. Dirty computers often do not run as fast as they are advertised to and have a lower life expectancy than ones that re well kept and cleaned often. One of the main problems keeping your computer form running at its optimal speed is dust. Dust inhibits the fans form properly cooling the computer parts and often leads to hardware failure. Dust is also conductive, so in theory it could short circuit your computer and cause it to not work any more.

If you have a desktop computer, then the main place dust accumulates is around the CPU unit and fan areas. To prevent your processor from overheating, there is a fan connected to a heatsink which sits on top of the processor to disperse the heat. This fan blows air down in to the heat sink to cool it down as the heat is passed up from the CPU into the heatsink. Because the fan is constantly blowing in air, it also blows the dust particles from the air in to the heat sink. Over time this can clog up the computer’s heat sink, reducing its effectiveness. Because of the dust, the fans ionside of the computer may have to blow faster to maintain the same temperature on the actual processor. This makes your computer louder and more costly to run. Normally, you can see if the fan is clogged up simply by opening your computer up and looking at it. If your fan’s heat sink is really clogged up with dust, it is a good idea to give it a clean. When dealing with the inside of your computer, or anything electrical for that matter, ensure the power is turned off and your computer is unplugged first.

The best way to clean out the insides of your computer is by using a can of compressed air that includes a special nozzle. This special nozzle is a long plastic straw that protrudes from the sprayer. This tool allows you to reach into very small spaces and clean without having to take apart your computer.  You can buy this from any electronics retailer. When spraying the compressed air on to your computer, make sure you don’t spray it for to long as condensation may form some drops of water. When you spray compressed air, the air is very cold. this cools down the parts of the computer and if you spray the air on one place too long, condensation could form. As we all know water plus electronics equals bad results. After blowing away any dust from your computer’s heatsinks, give it a gentle wipe over with an anti-static cloth for good measure. You can also use the compressed air to clean your power unit and keyboard.

Cleaning the inside of your computer doesn’t take long providing you have the correct equipment, and once it is done, you notice an immediate improvement in your computers performance. The fan won’t need to blow as hard, so your computer will be quieter. And thanks to the processor running at a cooler temperature, your whole computer should generally run faster. I try to clean my computer every 4 or 5 months to keep it running efficiently. Doing small things such as cleaning your computer could have lasting positive effects.


  • 0

All About Backups and Keeping Your Data Safe

There has been an increasing amount of emphasis in recent times on the subject of keeping the information on your computer safe. The terms Back-Up, Archive, Data Storage and Security being mentioned frequently, but what is all about?

In simple terms, people are increasingly holding more and more information on their computers, be it photos, personal data and finance, business data, accounts, contacts, addresses and much more.

What everyone needs to understand is that the information held on your computer is a very vulnerable entity and can be very easily and completely lost, either by component failure, malicious acts or theft. If loss of the information you keep on your computer would cause you distress, then you need to take steps to ensure it is kept safe and that you would be able to continue even if your computer was stolen.

The only definite way of safeguarding against the many different kinds of threats is to have a copy of the valuable information and keep it away from the computer, this is commonly referred to as back-up. In case of loss, the information can then be restored to a computer from the safe back-up copy. A back up consists of an exact copy of this important data, kept on a separate storage medium such as a CD / DVD or an external tape or hard disk drive.

Naturally, a back-up is only as good as the last time that you actually made a back-up copy, so it is common practice to create a new back-up frequently and overwrite the old copy. How frequently you do this depends on how often your valuable information changes, the more changes, the more frequent the back-up. A back-up can be performed manually by simply copying the data you wish to back-up to your chosen media, or the process can be automated by using specialist back-up software programmes. Back-up software allows you to select the data that needs to be backed-up, when to make the back-up and where to copy the backed-up data to, this set up can then be memorised by the back-up software. Backing-up your data then becomes a relatively quick and simple process.

Many confuse back-up with “archiving”. Archiving is where you transfer data, which is important enough to keep, but no longer required (e.g. old photos, old accounts) to an external, safe storage medium for future reference. The archived data is then removed from the computers main hard drive to free-up space.

Whether backing-up or archiving, there is a choice of media you can record your copy on to:

Recordable CD or DVD
If you have a CD or DVD recordable drive, this is a better longer-term solution with more space. The downside is that the recording process can be a pain as you cannot just drag and drop and that you need CD’s or DVD’s to record on.

This type of backup can be cumbersome, time consuming and sometimes frustrating, depending on the software and the quality of disks used.

When using this method of backup, remember to check the disk you have transferred your data to, to make sure your computer can read the disc ok in future.

USB Pen Drives
Also known by various other names USB Pen Drives are an excellent low cost solution for smaller back-up purposes being easy to use and they are also great for transferring data from one computer to another.

External USB Hard Drives
For most users the best storage solution for back-up and archiving purposes is the USB external hard drive, being reliable, easy to install (just plug in to your USB port) and easy to use (just drag and drop your files to be backed-up). USB External Hard Drives are available in pocket or desktop sizes and storage capacities from a few Gb to 250Gb + offering a huge amount of recording space. Being a plug in device they can be easily disconnected and kept separate from your computer and out of harm’s way. Some external USB Hard Drives like Iomega come packaged with back-up software too.


  • 1

Choosing the Right Motherboard

The motherboard is the heart of every computer. It is that big flat board inside the computer that everything is connected to. It performs the role of directing information and connecting components. A motherboard is often the central part of the computer design process. Therefore, choosing a motherboard that’s right for you is essential to your computer build.

Choosing the right motherboard does not have to be a problem, even though there is a lot to consider. We will start off with the larger parts and move onto the things that are less essential.

Firstly is the socket type. The socket is where the processor (CPU) connects to the motherboard. There is no compatibility between sockets, so you have to get a processor and motherboard with the exact same socket size. The socket connection needs to match the connection of the processor you have or the one you intend to buy for the computer.
Most older Intel Pentium 4s utilize socket 478. Newer computers use socket 775 and 1151. AMD chips utilized socket A for a long time, but now the AMD Athlon 64 series and Semprons use socket 939. Be sure to double check the socket size before ordering your products! It saves a lot of time and frustration later if you do your research before you order the parts.

Your choice of CPU will have a lot to do with your needs, but choosing one with an up to date socket type will ensure slightly longer motherboard life as you can upgrade the chip for a while.

DDR3 is the RAM of choice for most systems, but some newer systems, like the ones with the new core I7-6700K use DDR4. These two kinds are not interchangable and have a different number of pins. DDR2,  DDR3 and DDR4 RAM chips come in different speed ratings measured in MHz. Make sure your motherboard supports the speed in MHz that yuo want to buy your memory in. This can be found in touring a prospective motherboard’s manual online.

Finally, we must look at the expansion slots. If you want to add a graphics card to your system, make sure you have a PCI-E x16 slot on the motherboard. That is the long slot with a clip on the end of it. This will allow you to expand your system in the future.

Choosing a motherboard should be proactive; you should think about how you want to upgrade your system in the future when you purchase a motherboard. Motherboards aren;t extremely cheap and if you can reuse the same motherboard in a future build or upgrade it currently, you can save a lot of money in the long run.

A motherboard must be chosen carefully, to both match all the other components and fit in the case you choose. A little bit of research before you buy will save a lot of hassle later on.