How Computers Work

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Sorry if this seems basic, but I was explaining this concept to an associate in an email, and thought it might desire a wider audience.

This seems complicated but it isn’t really.  In order to do something with a computer you need four things:

  • The computing device – the hardware, the physical bit of electronics (computer, laptop, server, tablet, smartphone, baby monitor, and these days television, refrigerator, thermostat)
  • The Operating System – the operating system turns the device on and makes work possible, turns it from a brick into a wicked hot calculating machine. (Yeah, it’s just a calculator, because everything that happens eventually happens to binary numbers.  Computers are a way to turn anything you want to do into a series of mathematical calculations.  Pretty awesome when you think about it.)
    • Most computers run some version of Windows.
    • Or Apple OSX and iOS.
    • Or Linux. Most web servers, and lots of little Internet connected things like routers, switches, wireless access points, thermostats, baby monitors, etc. are running Linux under the hood
    • Or Android (which is sort of Linux-y when you look at it.
  • The applications, also known as Apps or software or programs – all different names for the same thing.  An application will let you use the wicked hot calculator to perform a specific task or group of tasks, without having to know how to do the math, or even that the math is happening.
  • And the network – strictly speaking we don’t NEED a network, the wicked hot calculator can work on its own, but these days we connect our applications to remote services like web sites, email, Office365, DropBox, online banking, Amazon, and so on to infinity.

I’ve been at this a while (20 years) so to me it seems like child’s play.  But then when I am driving my car I really only have the vaguest notions about what is actually happening to make my journey possible.  I just want the journey.  So maybe it isn’t child’s play, maybe it is hard and confusing.  Maybe my explanation helped someone “get it.”  Hope so.

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WyzGuys + CIT = Better Computer Support

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CIT-logoThis post is to inform you of some exciting news:  WyzGuys has become part of Computer Integration Technologies, Inc. (CIT), Inc. a technology solutions organization based in Woodbury, Minnesota.

Over the last few months, I’ve been in discussions with CIT personnel, and have found them to be a solid and reliable IT resource.  Joining CIT was a natural next step in furthering my goal to significantly enhance the services and expertise WyzGuys has offered its clients all along. As many of you may know, my deepest expertise and passion is in cybersecurity and this merger will allow me to focus those efforts within CIT’s cybersecurity service offering.

Bob WeissRest assured, you may continue to work directly with me, receiving the same level of personalized service and attention to detail you’ve enjoyed all along, but now backed by the abundant resources of CIT and the considerable expertise of its over 70 employees, and the additional services and solutions they can offer.

I would like to personally invite you to a CIT open house (lunch, presentation, and tour) on October 28th from 11:30AM-1PM. If attending, please send your RSVP to marketing@cit-net.com with your name, contact information and number of attendees. This gives me the opportunity to introduce CIT and the additional services that I can now offer to you.  If you have any questions or would like to setup a time to meet, please contact me directly at my usual cell phone number 651 387-1668 or via email bob.weiss@cit-net.com.

In addition, I have enclosed CIT’s brochure that provides you with an overview of their services and solutions. Here’s to a bright future of serving you and the needs of your organization better than ever!

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Hate Tiles In Windows 10 Start Menu?

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Windows 10 is here and the good news is they gave us back the Start Menu.  The bad news is they stuck us with the lame Windows 8 Metro style App Tiles.  Now I have managed to put together a pretty decent collection of useful apps, and resized them all to the smallest size, but I really miss the Windows 7 right hand column with the list of useful short-cuts.  I used them all the time, and I really miss them.  I also miss the search programs and files box at the bottom of the start menu.  Yeah, Cortana is cool, but I still really believe that Windows 7 was the pinnacle of operating system development.

For those of us that use the computer as a work tool and not a toy, some of the changes are just hard to justify.  I don’t want my computer to be like my phone any more than I want my car to be like my vacuum cleaner.  Or my hammer like my screw driver.

Good news is that Classic Shell, whose wonderful Start Menu replacement program made Windows 8 useful for the tens of millions of Windows 8 users who installed it, has release a windows 10 Start Menu application that will return the familiar and more useful Windows 7 style Start Menu to Windows 10.  I am running this on a file sharing computer in our organization, and I really like it.  So far I am sticking with my commitment to pure Windows 10 on my principal work laptop. Classic Shell is free, as before.

Another option is available from Stardock, called Start10.  Start10 is $5.00, but has some features that you may like, such as the ability to mix the classic right column with some app tiles.

More information:

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Windows 10 Upgrade Media Sites

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Windows 10 invitationOne of the issues with upgrading to Windows 10 is that you have to rely on an online upgrade process.  First you need to click on the little Windows icon in the task tray to reserve your upgrade, then the installation files are downloaded to your computer (which can take a lot of time, depending on your Internet service provider).  Then the upgrade process begins.

But what if you don’t get the invitation, or perhaps you need to install Windows 10 a second time.  What then?

Below are some links to a couple of very helpful Microsoft sites.

Download Windows 10  This site will get you the download files for either 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10.  If you are doing the free upgrade, you can only upgrade 32 bit to 32 bit or 64 bit to 64 bit.  You cannot upgrade 32 bit to 64 bit, even if your hardware supports 64 bit.  That requires a full new installation, and a 25 digit license key to activate it.  Please read an follow all the directions here, especially if you want a “free” upgrade.

Installing Windows 10 using the media creation tool  To me, this looks like the site of choice if you just want to replicate the free upgrade process, but you never got the invitation.  Again, read an follow the instructions.

More information:

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I Took The Plunge With Windows 10

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Like many in my profession, I have beenWindows 10 playing around with the Windows 10 professional preview for the last year, and yesterday I took the plunge and upgraded to Windows 10 on my new Windows 7 laptop.  The upgrade process went smooth as silk and there weren’t any unexpected issues at all.  It runs great on the systems I upgraded it on, very fast and nimble.  So if you are thinking about it – well go for it!

First you should BACK UP ALL YOUR FILES!  In my case it was an unnecessary precaution that frankly took more time than the upgrade did.  Better to be safe, though.

You will want to have a Microsoft account set up, so go to OneDrive on the Microsoft website and set up an account, unless you already have a OneDrive or Outlook.com (MSN, Hotmail, Windows Live, etc.) account, in which case you will use that one to configure your computer.

I’ve only be playing with it a couple of days, but here’s my take.  The new Start Menu is ok, I could live without the tiles in the right column, but you can right click them to resize them smaller, which I did.  This is evidently a hold over from the Windows 8.1 Start Screen that we will have to live with.  Cortana, Siri’s little sister, should be fun to use.  The new Edge browser is great, and Internet Explorer 11 is available for legacy applications that won’t run on the Edge.

If you are using Windows 8.1, I would just recommend to go ahead and upgrade.  Windows 7 users, I guess I would say move on, but I know in corporate computer environments Windows 7 will stay around for a while.

If you don’t like what happens, you can revert to your former operating system for 30 days, so don’t dwell on it too long, or the change will be permanent.  Just go to Settings on the Start Menu, the select Updates and Security, Recovery, and you will see an option to go back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, whichever one you upgraded from.

So I am pleased with the upgrade process, and I expect to get used to the changes and many improvements in Windows 10.  My recommendation – just do it!

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