Technology Explained Better

Cloud Computing

what is it?

Basically it’s a hardrive in the sky. Rather then storing everything on your computer or local server , it can be stored remotely. Think of your house and the garden shed.  If you have a parasol, you don’t want to keep it in your kitchen. You may only use 2 or 3 times a year, but you still need to keep it, so you put it in your shed. This is the same with the cloud. You may have hundreds of documents, you might not need them every day so you store them in your cloud. This frees up your computer and keeps it clutter free, but its still easy to find and access.

Who really benefits?

Everyone!! The last paragraph was an example of how an everyday user can benefit but how about we look at a business. There are a number of reasons why it’s of great benefit for a business

Expense: There are tonnes of cloud software applications out there. Most of these you pay for as you use. It turns Capital Expenditure into Operational Expenditure. So instead of buying a stocktake software program that may cost 3 or 400€, you pay as you use at a fraction of the price.

Security: Nothing needs to be stored on local servers or computers. Nobody can physically steel your data. All data is stored centrally, so things are a lot less likely to go missing.

Productivity: Multiple users can use a cloud at the same time. An example would be a shop with departments. One person is looking after fruit, another veg. Instead of the fruit guy having to save the work and email it or copy with a flash drive. The 2 can work at the same time. This saves man hours and means extra productivity.

How do I get a Cloud?

There are lots of websites offering small free clouds

www.dropbox.com

www.onedrive.live.com (Microsoft)

Apple iCloud, Google Cloud

These are extremely easy to use, and larger storage is quite cheap.

Social Media could be considered a form of Cloud. We all store our photographs on facebook. How many people have you heard of that broke their laptop but their pictures were saved because it was on facebook. This is a prime example of how effective a cloud can be.

What are the negatives?

Like most things the clouds aren’t exactly environmentally friendly. These are huge servers which need to be constantly cooled and powered. Personally I don’t see this as a problem but with everybody trying to go  “greener”, sustainability could be hampered. This is why it’s so hard for start ups to get a foot on the ladder.  We know that Apple and Microsoft are multi billion dollar companies and they have the money to keep their servers running. Smaller companies will find it a lot harder to gain thrust.  Also you are technically at the mercy of the company you subscribe to. If you have 100gb of cloud data and its costing €40 per month. There’s nothing to technically stop them from upping their prices. They have your data, you may have to pay a lot to get it back, blackmail in a way

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AC Wifi

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So what are Extended Warranties?

Put simply they are an extension of the manufacturer’s warranty you get when you buy a product. They cover the same things, generally hardware and mechanical issues. With a laptop for example an extended warranty will cover things like the hard drive, the motherboard, the ram, basically the parts the end user can’t really tamper with. They wouldn’t cover software, simply because the manufacturer can’t be held responsible for the end user’s actions or habits.

So should you buy one?

With everything nowadays the price of this product is probably key. For me I wouldn’t pay more the 15% of the product’s value for one.  So for example if I buy a €1000 laptop, I would pay up to about €150 for an extended warranty. I think it’s definitely worth having as even a simple hardware problem can cost a lot of money. Saying that, I see certain companies charging up to €300 for extended warranties on €1000 machines, that’s a Rip Off.

So is Extended Warranty Insurance?

No! it doesn’t cover what insurance covers. Think of it like a car. If you buy a new car and you drive it for 100km and it just breaks down, you bring it back to the garage and they will Repair, Replace, or Refund. This is warranty. If you drive the car for 100km and crash it into a tree, you will not be entitled to a warranty repair. Same applies for laptop. If you’re using the laptop and it suddenly stops working then that is a warranty issue. If you get a virus, or you spill something on it, or drop it, then the blame is on you so it would be an insurance issue or pay to have it repaired from your own pocket.

What to take from this?

Extended Warranties are not the Devil. They work and are very useful. Technology isn’t built to last nowadays, its built to perform. You may have your old Dell desktop for 15 years, you will not get that out of a new machine. With that in mind 3 to 5 years is a good lifetime for a computer. If you can get 3 of them years knowing that if it stops working, and it’s not your fault, it will be repaired or replaced then happy days. I’m not in the business of naming and shaming but some companies just charge ridiculous prices. My advice would be to always try and haggle prices of these non boxed products, you most likely will get a better deal.

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Whilst the iPad Mini with Retina Display rules the roost for highest resolution screen, a massive 2048×1536 Resolution (324 ppi density), there are machines out there that are starting to rival it, most notabley the LG GPad 8.3.

Standing taller and more slender, the LG definately is lot nicer in hand. Addding to that the metallic back which gives a stylish look and feel without being a finger print magnet like the Apple. One thing that has to be given too the iPad is the mechanical buttons are very nice aesthetically and functionally. They feel alot more part of the device, the LG would be a bit more plastic.

Back to the display, there’s no doubting that the Retina Display is beautiful, but the 1920×1200 resolution of the GPad isn’t exactly shabby. Colours are vibrant, fonts are precise and pictures come to life on the Full HD panel. What more could you ask for? With both tablets utilising IPS technology, even if Apple don’t call it that, you can view the screen from pretty much any angle.

Then there’s functionality and useability. iOS 7 vs Android 4.2.2. The old concensus is Android is better for developement and customisation whereas iOS is easier to use and more protected. In a nutshell this remains the case but that’s another days arguement.

When looking at processing power and memory, Apple always seems to be able to do more with less. The iPad Mini 2 boasts the first mobile 64 bit CPU, in the form of Apple’s Dual Core A7. 1GB Ram and a powerful GPU make it an awesome graphics machine. Again, the LG is not to be messed with, A Quad Core Snapdragon CPU and 2GB Ram, aswell as an Adrena GPU make this pure functionality and beauty. On paper the LG is more impressive, but the 64 bit technology does shift the power to iPad.

Both standard models contain 16gb storage with roughly 30% taken up by an OS. This is where the LG excells though. To upgrade your iPad it will cost the guts of €500 (a new one), to upgrade the LG you will have change of €20 (Micro SD Card). Further more its not like Samsung, you can actually store apps on the card.

All in all both tablets are game chnagers. The iPad Mini with Retina is revolutionary with its 64 bit system. The LG has broken the Samsung shackles on the Android Market, by giving a top quality piece of kit instead of cheap plastic. If it was my money and for my use, internet, social media, playing apps, movie streaming then I couldn’t justify the extra money I would need to spend on the iPad. The LG offers excellent build quality, excellent performance and ,in todays world the most important thing, excellent value for money

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Next to screen quality the processor is the most important part of your tablet. This is the brain of the machine and it will decide whether your experience will be positive or negative. If you intend on watching Movies (especially HD) or streaming Sport then a fast processor is a must. This will help prevent lag and blocky-ness.

What do I look for? Like computers, the tablet processor has evolved from just being about clock speed. The architecture is now the key. Example being, an ARM Cortex-A8 CPU at 1GHz is stronger than an ARM Cortex-A5 at 1.2GHz. It’s basically clever technology, the A8 can do more with less

(nb: In general the higher the clock speed of a processor, the more power it requires from the battery to run)

What processor is what? Like explained above a higher clock speed on a weaker architecture can be bad for your battery life and make you extremely frustrated, some of the really cheap tablets can just about squeeze an hour’s web browsing. It’s basically like a brand new 1.6L car versus a 15 year old 1.6L car. The technology in the new car allows it to travel further and faster on the same amount of fuel. In general you will find the lower grade processors in the cheap tablets (€60-€130). This is how they are so cheap. You could almost go as far as calling the cheapest ones “web browsers” because it’s basically all they are suitable for.

Why pay more? Well if you’re not convinced by the last 2 questions then how about we focus on something even more simple, the camera. Although a tablet should not be considered a substitute for a proper camera it can take some decent shots. Take 2 big sellers, the Prestigio 5780 (Quad Core, ARM A9, with 5mp camera) and the LG G Pad (Quad Core, ARM A15, with 5 mp camera). There is a difference of about €100, the Prestigio is by no means a poor tablet, but for arguments sake I am comparing it to a premium tablet. So why buy the LG over the Prestigio based on the camera? Well it’s simple, when I press the shutter the LG camera the photo takes instantly. When I do the same with the Prestigio, it takes about 2.5 seconds. This doesn’t seem like a huge amount of time but it’s the difference between the child looking at the camera and looking away. This is down to the processors ability to manage and control the hardware better.

So far we have gathered that a stronger processor gives you longer battery life, better media handling and a faster camera. What else is there? Of course, the apps! The lifeblood and reason why tablets have taken the world by storm. Basic games such as Angry Birds and the Social Apps such as facebook will pretty much work across the board, they require very little processing power. If you want to play the popular games such as Candy Crush, Mine-Craft or any kind of Simulator then a good CPU is a bare minimum. Something worth noting is the Google Nexus 7, This has a top quality processor, beautiful graphics, and a vivid HD display. It isn’t made by Google, it is simply the one they recommend because its hardware can run any app in the Playstore. If the processor on the tablet you are looking at is weaker then the Nexus 7 then there is a good chance that some Apps won’t work properly.

All in all the processor decides what type of tablet experience you are going to have. If you want to play the latest games, watch the latest movies, take fast pictures and have a decent battery life then it’s well worth investing in a higher grade tablet with a minimum of a dual core processor with strong architecture

Architecture in order of performance

  1. ARM Cortex A15 (Typical Premium Brand, LG, Sony, Apple)
  2. ARM Cortex A9
  3. ARM Cortex A8
  4. ARM Cortex A5 (Typical Low end, €60-€130)

My Honest Opinion of best tablets

  1. iPad Air
  2. Microsoft Surface 2
  3. LG G Pad 8.3
  4. Nexus 7
  5. iPad Mini with Retina
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Dont be fooled by big numbers. Follow the key points of CPU, Graphics, RAM, Hard Drive. I see a lot of companies, advertising laptops with 6GB Ram and 750GB Hard Drive and a Celeron Processor. Sounds impressive, its not. In fact 4GB Ram will run faster and smoother then 6GB Ram. Dont ask why, its complicated, easiest way I can explain is a wheelbarrow race. The 4gb ram is made up by 2 equally fast parts, so the guy running on his feet, and the guy running on his hands are travelling at the same speed, makes for perfect tandem, and better manoeuvrability and most importantly more speed. the 6gb is like a person with really fast legs and the the guy on his hands has really slow arms. It will eventually get there but there’ll be confusion and awkwardness. So when buying a laptop be sure to buy 4,8,12,or16gb ram, basically any number that when divided by 2 gives you an even number.

Now for the 750gb hard drive, yes its big and will store loads but when you have a processor as slow and weak as the celeron it will make file transfer, file saving, and file discovery very slow and frustrating.

My recomedation is to always look for the intel core series processor (i3, i5, i7) or the AMD “A” Series (A6, A8, A10), these are the best performing but more importantly the most modern Processors on the retail market.

So how to think of a laptop. I like to humanise and compare to a car. The Ram is the Engine, the Hard Drive is the Boot, and the Driver is the CPU (processor).

So take your typical under €500 laptop – Dual Core pentium/Celeron CPU, 8GB RAM, 750GB HDD

Now the pentium or celeron by todays standards are dated and quite weak so they are the equivalent of a learner driver. The 8GB RAM is a big powerful fast motor so maybe a 3L Turbo BMW, and the hard drive is the big boot. Now whats the first thing that will happen when you give a learner driver a stupidly big engine, yep, theyll crash. Same with your laptop. The RAM will be going a hundred miles an hour but the processor wont be able to think fast enough to control it, thats when the sand timer will appear.

Take your typical 550€ to €650€ laptop – i3 CPU, 8GB RAM, 1TB Hard Drive.

The i3 CPU will be a professional and efficient driver. He will be able to handle the powerful engine, and guide it through bends and turns. The size of the boot wont matter because the driver is so organised, he will no where everything is and where theres space for anything new to go.

If you go a little higher to maybe an i5 or AMD A8 CPU then suddenly you have a race driver, he will fly through corners with ease and make everything look easy.

So ask yourself when your buying a laptop, DO you want FAST, CLEVER, or CHEAP.

If its CHEAP and FAST it wont be CLEVER

IF its CLEVER and FAST it wont be CHEAP

Now Cheap depends on everyone’s situation. For a laptop I would say around €600 is average. You wont be getting top of the line but you defo wont be getting a poor one. This is the price point people should be looking at.