TANG Tech Tips – December 2009 to March 2010

Republished from our newsletter — here’s a December to March archive of Holly’s Tech Tips:

December 2009

Getting discounts for AVG Anti-Virus Software

OK, first off, if you are currently using AVG Free, you will need to upgrade your AVG to 9.0.  Here is the page for that.  It is a little hard to see where the free version is, but the download is at the bottom, on the left.  There is also a how-to here. But you really shouldn’t be using AVG Free for anti-virus control in your library — it is only for home use. AVG does give discounts for libraries, and here is the information for getting discounts.

I do not know how cheap AVG is going to be with discounts, so you will want to also look at TechSoup to see the prices for Symantec, etc.  For instance, a 10 user license for Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition 10.2 is only $50 on TechSoup.  If your library is not already set up to receive discounts on TechSoup.org, I can help you through the registration process.

My favorite site of the month – MakeUseOf.com

I’ve discovered a really fun resource for information on all things tech:

http://www.makeuseof.com

I suggest you subscribe to this site, so you can get downloads only subscribers can access, such as the Laptop Buying Guide for 2009.  With a subscription you also get regular reminders of their articles, how-to’s, reviews, etc.  They are big proponents of open source software (such as my favorite, OpenOffice) – but remember to check that these are OK for use in your library.  Some products are only for home use (such as AVG Free.)  Two goodies from MakeUseOf:

More websites for fun and learning

January 2010

I need more memory!!!

Many of you have realized that your PCs are SLOW.  There can be many reasons for this but a common problem that is pretty easy to fix is that there is not enough memory on your PC. Upgrading the memory in your computer is the fastest way to better performance in Windows.   I’d recommend at least 1GB of RAM, but don’t bother going over 3GB if you are using 32-bit XP or Vista because Windows won’t be able to use all of it.  More about 32-bit vs 64-bit in a future Tech Tip.

To quickly see how much memory you have on an XP system, click on Start–> Settings –> Control Panel –> System.

The last bit of information is the memory, in this case, 2.00 GB of RAM, which is actually a good amount.  But if you find that your slow computer only has 512 MB of RAM, it is probably time to look at adding more memory.

If the idea of installing memory makes you nervous, you should plan to attend the Certified Library Computer Technologist Program, starting February 11 in Mason.  Yes, this is a shameless plug – information on this workshop series follows this article.

You can also be brave, boldly go forth, and add memory.  First you want to find out what kind of memory your PC currently has.  A great tool for that is the Crucial Memory Advisor (http://www.crucial.com).

You have two options with the Crucial Memory Advisor.  You can install the Crucial System Scanner tool (show on the left in this screen shot) or, if you know the make and model of your PC, use the online Crucial Memory Advisor tool (on the right).

I liked the information I got with the installed Crucial System Scanner tool better, since it told me what memory I already had installed.

February 2010

Information Overload!!

Everyone these days is complaining that there is too much information coming into their lives – phone calls, texts, emails, social networking, snail mail, magazines, radio, television, on and on.

I’ve come across an excellent article on this problem, “Being Wired or being Tired:  10 Ways to Cope with Information Overload”, available online here.

This article begins with describing why information overload is so draining.  For instance, “University of London researcher Glenn Wilson showed in a 2005 study that people taking an IQ test while being interrupted by emails and phone calls performed an average of 10 points lower that the baseline group without those interruptions. A frightening footnote to this study is that another test group had been tested after smoking marijuana, and they only performed an average of 4 points lower than the baseline group.”

So it is not just you, we are all having difficulty with this issue.  The author (sarah Houghton-Jan) gives 10 very pratical suggestions for controlling the information flow.  One very easy suggestion is to set your email lists to digest.  This causes the list to send you only one or two messages a day, rather than 5 or 10.

Here is a short video that will show you how to set the CTLS-L list to digest.

March 2010

Minimizing Downtime

Many of you have asked about backups, network documentation, etc.  Last week I attended a TechSoup webinar that I think you would find helpful:  After the Crash: Minimize your Downtime.

“Computers crash, viruses infect, and disasters happen.  But they don’t have to affect your ability to continue working if you’re prepared. There are some key things you should know about your computer system and your applications — and things you should do with your data — to ensure that you’re back up in a few hours instead of a few days.”

The recorded webinar is here, and you can also access the slides, handouts, and background information here.

In particular, note the “Template Network Documentation”.  This documentation is very important for restoring, preparing technology plans, and for continuity when there are staff changes.  Contact Holly Gordon if you would like help with this document.  Also check out the Tech Soup Security discussion forum here.

What is the speed of my internet connection?

It is E-rate time, and libraries are looking over tech plans, starting to look ahead to next year.  One of the questions I am getting is “How fast is the connection we have in our library now?”  This is really two questions – what kind of connection are you paying for, and how fast is that connection in actual practice…especially once the kids at the local junior high school get to your library to “do their homework” on YouTube and game sites.

To answer the first question, contact your internet service provider, or consult a recent bill for your internet connection.  Here is a good site that explains various connections, with a chart that is especially helpful.

  • DS0 – 64 k­ilobits per second
  • ISDN – Two DS0 lines plus signaling (16 kilobytes per second), or 128 kilobits per second
  • T1 – 1.544 megabits per second (24 DS0 lines)
  • T3 – 43.232 megabits per second (28 T1s)
  • OC3 – 155 megabits per second (84 T1s)
  • OC12 – 622 megabits per second (4 OC3s)
  • OC48 – 2.5 gigabits per seconds (4 OC12s)
  • OC192 – 9.6 gigabits per second (4 OC48s)

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