A few weeks ago, I found myself suddenly shopping for a new router. Initially puzzling transient “No Internet Connection” service outages became constant in a few days, and the culprit was finally readily identifiable. Router failure symptoms can include isolated wireless or Ethernet cable connection failure and marked slowing of data transmission. Rarely are there dramatic puffs of smoke or other visual indications of failure. Premature failure can be caused by excess heat, electrical surges, mechanical shock, static electricity and corrosion, but electronic devices still inexplicably fail under seemingly ideal circumstances. Warranties range from one to three years, but there is still no reliable way to predict product lifetime.
Twenty years ago, 97% of all personal computers were desktops and laptops running Windows. Today, 90% of desktops and laptops run Windows, but now constitute just 36% of all personal computers. While business still runs on Windows desktops and laptops, only 15% of new tablets feature Windows and Windows phones are virtually nonexistent.
Microsoft had big expectations for Windows 10 at product launch on July 29, 2015, predicting that one billion devices would feature Windows 10 in “two to three years” since Windows 10 would work on every conceivable device.
On May 28, 2018 the FBI issued a public service announcement urging everyone to immediately reboot their routers in an attempt to thwart a Russian malware attack identified as “VPN Filter”. This attack can gain access to connected devices, copy your personal information and even permanently disable your router.
My laptop computer already has a completely dead battery, even though it has seen infrequent use. Originally priced at $650, it is now worth $160 in good working condition on eBay. A replacement battery is $65 and requires professional installation for an additional $100; replacing it now makes more sense than repairing. The lifespan of a laptop battery varies depending on how it’s used, but averages between 18 and 24 months. This is planned obsolescence at its finest, especially since a user replaceable battery is now a rare commodity!
Exploring the World Wide Web and discovering new information and ideas is one of my favorite computer activities. Most of us have acquired rudimentary browser skills, but all too many casual users fail to explore the wide range of web browser choices available by staying with “the one that came with my computer.”
Just which program is the best web browser?
Introduced in 1985, Microsoft Windows proceeded to dominate the world’s personal computer market, peaking with a 95% market share in 2003. That dominance began to fade by 2009 and was finally surpassed by Google’s Android operating system in 2017.
Steve Balmer became CEO of Microsoft in 2000 and established a “devices and services” strategy. Under his 13 year tenure, revenues more than doubled. He added the profitable x-box entertainment and data centers divisions to Microsoft’s product lines, but he failed to capitalize on tablet computing, smartphones and music player opportunities, seeing them as threats to the continuing success of Windows and Office.
The first cell phone call was made 45 years ago – on April 3rd, 1973 by Martin Cooper, a Motorola engineer. He jubilantly called Joseph Engel, his rival at Bell Labs. Mobile telephone service had been introduced in 1946 by AT&T; their MTS system linked VHS radio signals to the local telephone system, requiring eighty pounds of hardware mounted in an automobile.
Andrew Weinreich launched “Six Degrees” in 1997. Based on the theory that every person in the world could be connected to each other by just six degrees of separation, the new web service encouraged members to share personal profiles and contacts. Now regarded as the first recognizable social networking service, Six Degrees grew to over one million members but closed in four years. MySpace and LinkedIn gained prominence in the early 2000s. By 2006, Facebook and Twitter first became available worldwide.
Laptop computers by their design are frequent travel companions and are subjected to a wide variety of hazards. Consequently, about one third of laptops will need repairs averaging $150 to $300 by the end of the third year of ownership.
If it’s been a while since your last computer purchase, you’ll find the marketplace has undergone a sea change in the last few years. You’ll have a bewildering number of choices and receive conflicting advice. For SaddleBrooke residents, your first computer was almost certainly a desktop or laptop that came with a Microsoft or Apple operating system. Often shared with the whole family, it was usually located on a desk in a quiet area. Remember those “Are you a Mac or a PC?” commercials circa 2007?
Most business offices continue to regard desktops as standard equipment. Desktop computers remain the go-to computers for serious image editing and software development. Desktops are still preferred by advanced gamers and longtime tech hobbyists; they provide the best value for those who need powerful, highly customizable systems.