Why Repairing Your Electronics Should Be Your First Option

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That’s a pretty attractive computer you have there. I bet a lot of work went in to manufacturing it. Actually, I can guarantee it. Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that in order to make just one computer and monitor it takes over 500 lbs of fossil fuels, almost 50 lbs of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water. Just for one computer, like yours. This is a huge amount of Earth’s resources just for a family, or even one person to have ease of access right in their own home. And what if it just suddenly… stops working? Do you have it repaired? Or throw it away and opt for the latest technology?

Unfortunately, the latter option is most interesting to consumers. Of course, we all want the latest technology, but having it comes at a major price not only to us, the consumer, but also to this rotating rock that we all live on. In 2014, the world’s e-waste (electrical waste) reached 41.8 million tonnes, and the StEP initiative (Solving the World’s E-Waste) expects this number to reach 65.4 million tons by this year!

All the electronics we use on a daily basis contain gold, silver, copper, aluminum, plastics, as well as many other harmful chemicals such as arsenic (which is used to make high-speed computer chips). When things break, or are just tossed aside due to boredom, they most of the time end up in the trash. All your trash then ends up in landfills, which seeps in to the Earths soil and eventually ends up in our drinking water. This is one of the reasons why we were always told to recycle batteries and not just throw them away. Which reminds me: Recycle your batteries and don’t just throw them away! 🙂

When I was a child we were all told of “the three R’s”: “Recycle, Reduce, Reuse.” Millions and millions of this e-waste could have been recycled and reused, but it wasn’t. Let’s go back to the attractive computer you own. Instead of just throwing away this computer if it’s broken– repair it! Take it to a computer repair shop and see what can be done! What if you are bored with it? Upgrade it! Don’t know how? Again, take it to a repair shop that offers upgrades.

Now, upgrading does only go so far because some older computers just can’t be upgraded anymore with their current motherboard. And the motherboard ultimately determines the future of your computer. That’s why when building or buying a new computer you want to make sure that the motherboard can accept future technology so you are able to get the most out of it for longer periods of time. This is more specifically called “future proofing” your computer. But…

What if my motherboard is not upgradable? Is my computer therefore trash?”

The answer is simple: Absolutely not! Depending on the computer case you have, it will work with many types of motherboards, and the parts you already own (power supply, memory sticks, graphics card, cables, monitor) may also work with the new motherboard. If you’re not sure then take it to a professional to discover your options. This will not only be less expensive than buying a brand new computer, it will benefit the Earth because you are reusing a product instead of throwing it away, therefore not contributing to the already millions of tons of electrical waste.

So instead of jumping first and buying a new computer, or a new mobile phone, or any new electronic, think about your options first. Can it be repaired? Can it be upgraded? Can this be reused? And of course, can this be recycled? And if you’re still unsure, check out Zero Waste for some assistance. Every little bit you reuse, reduce, and recycle is helping!

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Random Access Memory: RAM Explained

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Random access memory is an important thing to know about when building computers, or even when just buying a new computer. You will often hear RAM be simply referred to as ‘memory’. On the other hand, there is also ROM, which stands for Read-Only Memory. RAM and ROM should not be confused as they are two separate types of memory.  Here I will discuss only Random Access Memory, and save ROM for another day.

So, what is RAM? Physically, they are simply the thin rectangular sticks that are (in parallel) plugged in to your motherboard. What they do is hold information that you access, such as files and folders. This information will stay in the RAMs memory banks for as long as they are supplied power, but once power is lost – so is the information held inside RAM. Why does it constantly need power?  That is because RAM is volatile. And WTH is that?!

In order to really understand this, we need to learn about the two most types of RAM:

DRAM: Dynamic Random Access Memory

SRAM: Static Random Access Memory

Dynamic RAM is again, volatile, meaning that it needs to be refreshed many times in order to retain the information inside its memory banks. This ‘refreshing’ is more or less reminding itself what it is storing. Even while supplied power the memory cells will still weaken, until it is refreshed again. This happens over, and over, at very fast rates in order to retain this information. Once power is turned off, the information inside DRAM will be almost immediately lost. DRAM is used as the main memory for computers and is relatively cheap.

Like DRAM, Static RAM is also volatile, but the difference with this kind of RAM is that it is able to hold information for a longer period of time and does not need to be refreshed. This is because the cells inside SRAM require four to six transistors, where DRAM only has one. Simply, there is more help to retain the information for longer periods. Once power is turned off, the information inside SRAM will over time be lost. SRAM is much faster (and much more expensive) than DRAM, and for that reason is used as cache memory inside CPUs.

Now that we know what DRAM and SRAM are, we can talk about the different kinds of DRAM. As you will see, as RAM technology is improving and able to process data faster, it is also requiring less voltage to do so.

First – imprint this equation in to your mind:

Transfer rate (or MT/s) x 8 bytes = Bytes per second (data throughput)

(8 bytes being the width of all DDR SDRAM)

Note: MT/s is mega transfers per second. Or simply, a million transfers per clock cycle.

Later on these equations might get longer. And I know people might comment and say there are with simpler equations, and that mine are a little drawn out. But these are the original equations for determining data throughput, and in the end multiplying MT/s by 8 bytes will always give you your throughput. But I take the extra steps to hopefully make you understand how we came to the figures. Believe me, I am not a wizard at math and I have dreaded doing this blog on RAM because it can at times be a little complex to understand, but I believe it is rather important. That said, moving on.

SDRAM:  Synchronous Dynamic RAM. This type of RAM ‘syncs’ itself to the system clock speed. The CPU is also tied to the system clock speed. Meaning, SDRAM syncs itself with the same timing of the CPU. The CPU communicates to the Memory Chip Controller (also tried to system clock) telling the SDRAM when they are able to transmit data, and then transmits this data through independent banks on the memory chips simultaneously one time per clock cycle. If you relate it to taking breaths, SDRAM transmits one piece of data every time you take a deep breath. SDRAM also uses pipelining, which means the memory chips are able to accept new information before processing the old information, achieving higher data transfer rates.

Say you have a system clock speed of 100MHz. Your transfer rate would be 100 MT/s. And one stick of RAM which has 8 bytes. Multiplying the MT/s by 8 bytes will give you the rate (megabytes/second) in which your system processes data.

100 MT/s x 8 bytes = 800MB/second = PC800 = PC rating of SDRAM operating with a clock rate of 100 MHz

RAM Clock Rate I/O Bus Clock MT/s
SDRAM 100MHz 100 MHz 100 MT/s

SDR can also stand for Single Data Rate. The power consumption for SDRAM is 3.3V.

DDR-SDRAM: Double Data rate SDRAM. Where SDRAM transmits data one time per clock cycle, double-data rate will transfer two. This is referred to as “double pumping.” While maintaining the same clock frequency, DDR doubles the input/output speed. If we think of the breathing concept again, DDR-SDRAM will send data when you take a deep breath in, and then send data again when you fully exhale. That being said, DDR-SDRAM is sending data on the rise and fall of a full clock cycle.

Referring back to our equation of MT/s x 8 bytes = data throughput (MB/s), since DDR doubles the data rate of SDRAM (still using same clock rate of 100MHz), we would get the following equation:

200 MT/s x 8 bytes = 1600MB/second = PC1600 = PC rating of DDR SDRAM operating with a clock rate of 100 MHz

RAM Clock Rate I/O Bus Clock MT/s
DDR SDRAM 100MHz 100 MHz 200 MT/s

The power consumption is roughly 2.6V. Unfortunately, DDR is not backward compatible with SDRAM.

DDR is comprised of the following:

RAM Clock Rate I/O Bus Clock MB/s
DDR-200 100 MHz 100 MHz 1600
DDR-266 133.33 MHz 133.33 MHz 2133
DDR-333 166.67 MHz 166.67 MHz 2666
DDR-400 200 MHz 200 MHz 3200

DDR2-SDRAM: Double Data Rate 2nd Gen. SDRAM. The benefit of DDR2 is that it halves the speed of the internal clock to that of the data bus. Simply, it doubles the bus speed. With a higher bus speed it is able to transfer double that of DDR: four transfers per clock cycle. So our original 100 MHz doubles our internal bus speed to 200 MHz. And DDR2 quadrupled our original clock cycle speed (100 MHz) to give us our transfer rate of 400 MT/s.

Referring again back to the equation, we would get the following:

400 MT/s x 8 bytes = 3200MB/second = PC3200 = PC rating of DDR2 SDRAM operating with a clock rate of 100 MHz

RAM Clock Rate I/O Bus Clock MT/s
DDR2 SDRAM 100MHz 200 MHz 400 MT/s

Due to the internal clock at half speed, power consumption is reduced to roughly 1.8V. Like DDR, it is not backwards compatible.

DDR2 is comprised of the following:

RAM Clock Rate I/O Bus Clock MB/s
DDR2-400 100 MHz 200 MHz 3200
DDR2-533 133.33 MHz 266.66 MHz 4266.67
DDR2-667 166.67 MHz 333.33 MHz 5333.33
DDR2-800 200 MHz 400 MHz 6400
DDR2-1066 266.67 MHz 533.33 MHz 8533.33

DDR3-SDRAM: Double Data Rate 3rd Gen. SDRAM. With DDR3, we are tripling the clock rate to get our bus speed. And to get our mega transfers we are “doubling” yet again, from four data transfers to eight data transfers, per clock cycle, giving us 800 MT/s.

Again, back to the drawing board with our equation:

800 MT/s x 8 bytes = 6400MB/second = PC6400 = PC rating of DDR3 SDRAM operating with a clock rate of 100 MHz

RAM Clock Rate I/O Bus Clock MT/s
DDR3 SDRAM 100MHz 400 MHz 800 MT/s

Power consumption is reduced from 1.8V to 1.5V. And like the generations before it, DD3 is not backward compatible with DDR2 or DDR.

DDR3 is comprised of the following:

RAM Clock Rate I/O Bus Clock MB/s
DDR3-800 100 MHz 400 MHz 6400
DDR3-1066 133.33 MHz 533.33 MHz 8533.33
DDR3-1333 166.67 MHz 666.67 MHz 10666.67
DDR3-1600 200 MHz 800 MHz 12800
DDR3-1866 233.33 MHz 933.33 MHz 14933.33
DDR3-2133 266.67 MHz 1066.67 MHz 17066.67

DDR4-SDRAM: Double Data Rate 4th Gen. SDRAM. First off, systems that are using DDR4 SDRAM cannot operate at a clock rate of 100 MHz. DDR4 requires a minimum clock rate of 200 MHz, so that is where I will explain.  With DDR4, we are tripling the clock rate (now 200MHz) to get our bus speed of 800 MHz. And of course, our mega transfers are “doubled” that of DD3, from 8 to 16.

1600 MT/s x 8 bytes = 12,800/second = PC12800 = PC rating of DDR4 SDRAM operating with a clock rate of 200 MHz

RAM Clock Rate I/O Bus Clock MT/s
DDR4 SDRAM 200MHz 800 MHz 1600 MT/s

Power consumption is reduced from 1.5V to roughly 1.2V. And of course – not backward compatible.

DDR4 is comprised of the following:

RAM Clock Rate I/O Bus Clock MB/s
DDR4-1600 200 MHz 800 MHz 12800
DDR4-1866 233.33 MHz 933.33 MHz 14933.33
DDR4-2133 266.67 MHz 1066.67 MHz 17066.67
DDR4-2400 300 MHz 1200 MHz 19200

For a long time now people thought that DDR4 would be the finale when it came to DRAM, but DDR5 will soon be reaching our doorstep, with a release in the year 2020. And when I say soon, I mean like a year and a half after it is actually released. DDR5 is slated to be installed in to servers first before is it released to the major population. Since we are already at transfer rates of up to almost 20 GB/s (standard, without overclocking), I’m curious as to what DDR5 will have in store for us.

All I know is that it will not be backward compatible. Spoiler alert!

Solar-Powered Weather Station: Part II

This is the second (and final) part to the weather station I am building. If you haven’t read the first part of this blog then you can read it here:

Solar-Powered Weather Station: Part I

In the first part we discussed the parts needed to build the weather station and how to assemble them. Lastly I discussed how it communicated. In this part I will cover how to provide solar power to the weather board and the final preparations before putting the weather station outside.

How to Provide Solar Power

I plan on having my weather station attached to the top of the house, so it needs to have its own power such as a solar panel. This requires a couple parts. The first piece is the actual solar panel. I chose a Voltaic Solar Panel. To power the solar panel, it needs to be connected to a solar charger. For my set up I am using the Sparkfun Sunny Buddy. This is a maximum power point tracking (MPPT) solar charger intended for single-cell Lithium Polymer Batteries. We need a battery to store the power, so for this I purchased a LiPo battery with an output of 3.7V at 1000mAh which is suitable for the Sunny Buddy. The battery plugs directly into the Sunny Buddy. There is also a spot on the weather board for a two wire power connector. The connector end plugs in to the weather board, and the other end can either be soldered to the Sunny Buddy, or mounted with a 2-pin screw terminal. I would recommend the screw terminal because you will be disconnecting it quite often.

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LiPo battery (left) plugs in to Sunny Buddy (right). Two-wire cable from Sunny Buddy connects to Weatherboard (center).

Bringing It All Together

At this point we have everything we need to power our weather station, as well as communication that we covered in Part I. There is only one thing left to do, and that is assembling it all together so we can test it.

You should have already soldered on the RJ11 terminals to the bottom of the weatherboard. After that you can also solder on two 10-pin headers so you can attach an Xbee. At this point the weatherboard is ready to communicate.

Next we want to take care of the Sunny Buddy. Like I said in the Power section above, you can attach a 2-pin terminal to the Sunny Buddy so you can connect the weatherboard, or you can just solder the power wires directly to the board. I would recommend the terminals so you’re able to disconnect the weatherboard whenever you wish (i.e. troubleshooting). The LiPo battery is attached to the weatherboard, as shown in the above picture, and the solar panel connects to the Sunny Buddy via a barrel plug.

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Solar Panel plugs in to Sunny Buddy via a 3.5×1.1mm barrel plug. LiPo battery plugs in to Sunny Buddy via connecter labeled ‘BATT’.

Now we need to set up the Xbee on the computer side so the weatherboard is able to relay weather information to us. This requires an Xbee Explorer, an Xbee module, and a mini USB cable. Attach the Xbee to the Explorer (also note the proper orientation!). Finally, plug the Explorer in to your computer using a mini USB cable. The Explorer should find the previous driver you downloaded earlier and install successfully. If not, you may need to install manually. Just follow the same steps mentioned in part one.

If you take a look at your weatherboard, you will notice two switches. One switch allows you to switch between USB power and BAT (battery/solar) power. The other switch is for communication, and allows you to switch between USB and RF (radio frequency). For the two Xbee modules to communicate with each other, the weatherboard needs to be set to RF. Once set to RF, and both weatherboard and Explorer are supplied power, the weatherboard Xbee will automatically connect to the Explorer Xbee and transmit information.

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Switches (bottom center) for Communication and Power.

In order to see the output from the weatherboard, you will need a terminal emulation program that communicates with serial COM ports. There are many free, open-source terminal emulators out there such as Tera Term, PuTTY, and HyperACCESS. I use Tera Term but you can use any program you wish. Just make sure you select the correct COM port that your weatherboard is using from within the terminal emulator. Once you do so you should get an output like in the picture below. Outputs will show up as ‘FAIL’ if there is no data to display. This can be changed by editing the code.

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Weather Data Displayed through Tera Term

Yours may look a bit different than mine. I modified my output to metric since I live in Europe. It’s all too easy to do so – just press CTRL + Z from within the terminal and you will get the weatherboard menu.

Note: Changing the wind speed from miles per hour to a metric reading will instead give you meters per second (m/s) rather than the usual kilometers per hour (km/h). After much aggravation, a simple way of changing this was found. If you need help with this switch just let me know.

Final Preparations

Now that our communications are working and have external power, we are able to house it all in an outdoor case to place outside. In these outdoor cases it is easy to cut the foam in to square sections for the electronics. Cut out the foam and place in the weatherboard, battery, and Sunny Buddy solar charger to suit your needs.

After you are satisfied with your layout, you need to remove everything (including foam) so you can drill the side holes for the solar panel and two RJ11 wires, including a hole for the duck antenna. You want to size these holes so you are able to screw in at least two cable gland joints big enough to insert the wires, but small enough so they can tighten around the cable to prevent water seeping inside. I also sealed the glands with waterproof sealant. I made three holes altogether: one for solar panel wire, one for both RJ11 connectors, and lastly the duck antenna.

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Once the holes and gland joints are in place, replace the foam and electronics. Insert wires, connect, and tighten joint caps.

Note: For a tighter, more secure hold, you can wrap the wires in electrical tape at the point where they are secured by the gland joints.

For connections, you should:

  • Connect the two RJ11 connectors to corresponding terminals on weatherboard.
  • Connect the U.FL antenna wire to the Xbee module on the weatherboard.
  • Plug in solar panel cable to Solar Buddy
  • Make sure Solar Buddy is plugged in to weatherboard
  • Attach LiPo battery to weatherboard
  • Make sure switches are set to RF and BAT

Finally – put it outside and be able to know exactly what the weather is in your own back yard! I have still been unable to attach this friggin’ thing to the top of the house. I’ll edit the last picture (and title picture) once it is finally in place. In the meantime, here is a picture of it lifting weights while doing its thing on the balcony.

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Thank you for following along. I hope you enjoyed this article and that your weather station is suiting your needs!

== Errata / Corrections ==

  • The wire coming off solar panel is way too short so I added a Voltaic 4 FT extension cable for ease of use and mobility.
    • Voltaic 4 ft. Extension Cable for Solar Panel: 3.5×1.1mm
  • When drilling holes through outdoor box, be sure to drill them through the bottom and not the sides. Helps prevent against moisture! Obvious mistake I made and noticed right after.
  • Edited Firmware v1.4 code:
    • Changed metric wind speed values from m/s to km/h
    • Increased ranges on all readings to bypass “FAIL” message.
  • FAILED light reading due to weatherboard inside dark enclosure:
    • I will eventually add a light tube of some sort, or a see-through opening on the box so light can pass through to the light sensor.
  • I ended up removing the two-pin terminal I used for easy disconnection of Solar Buddy from weatherboard. I couldn’t get a solid connection with it so I just soldered the wires to the board. It has worked great since, but unfortunately I lose the ability to disconnect the solar charger.
  • Due to sensors being inside outdoor box, there is a rough difference of about 3 degrees compared to the actual outside temperature. Seeing this, I adjusted the code to take in this difference.

From Screeching Dot-Matrix Printers To The Gateways Of The World

It is hard for me to think of the time before computers entered our household. I don’t remember my childhood or youth without all the electronics. I must say the house was pretty lively. Sometimes you would think of it more of an office setting. It was common some mornings to wake up to the sounds of a paper shredder, or an automatic paper tri-folder.  Or the best one: that annoying screeching sound of the old dot-matrix printer. Listening to that sound these days would probably drive someone insane. I don’t think we were a normal family though.

I remember playing the classical games on my Commodore 64: Bubble Bobble, Jumpman, Dig Dug, and Choplifter! Eventually, the Commodore had to go away to make room for Windows! Windows 95 was the first OS I can remember having from then. But the Commodore was the first computer I had. It makes sense to me why I have this thing for computers and electronics. I was surrounded by it at a young age. There were times when I would go to my friend’s house and it would make me feel uncomfortable because it was so… silent, and… electronic-less. I was freaking weird, I know. But that was when I knew how much I enjoyed being around it. I was a nerd then as well, but I still played with dirt. And I ate just about as much dirt as all the other kids during those times. These were the times though, long ago but not forgotten.

Now we live in different in a different time. Let me switch thoughts here and take a different track. Up until now I have been talking about personal computers. Those blocks of steel that sit on or below your desk. A typical desktop computer or laptop. But what is a computer in general? According to definition, a computer is:

“An electronic device which is capable of receiving information (data) in a particular form and of performing a sequence of operations in accordance with a predetermined but variable set of procedural instructions (program) to produce a result in the form of information or signals.”

Basically, an electronic device that can be given information as input, and in return, changes it to give you an output based on a set of instructions or program. Your cellphone is a computer. The GPS in your car is also a computer. Raspberry Pi and Arduino? They are both microcomputers. I like to think that computers are a gateway. A gateway to – just about anywhere and everywhere! Whatever you wish to accomplish, you can do so through the use of a computer (or your mind, if you are a genius). There is no true limit. And if there were a limit, then it would be your mind.

We have made major technological advances. We are able to build robots that move like us. Or cars that drive like us (or way better, depending on the person). We can program robots that interact with other robots. We can make electronics act, and do, practically anything that humans can do. And we can make them perform better than us. If that isn’t enough, think of the countless electronic sensors that help us with our daily lives. All through the use of small computers.

When asked if I am more introverted or extroverted, I would like to think that I am both. Do I necessarily prefer to deal with the outer world through the use of a computer? Not necessarily. I live a normal life not glued to a computer. But… I could. Anyone could! Why? Because it is absolutely possible! With the IoT (Internet of Things) growing, all of your small and large devices will be able to communicate with each other, which in turn will communicate information to you, making the way you live a little easier (hopefully at least). That’s the goal anyway.

Should we be scared in thinking that robots could take over our lives? I am a person who believes in hard work, physically and mentally. I grew up in a world where if you wanted something than you had to put in the effort to get it, instead of having it given to you. I still believe in this way now. On the other hand, I think it is incredible how we can build robots that can manipulate the same actions as humans, allowing them to do work for us. They think for themselves and I just find that fascinating. But they can’t repair themselves, and they can’t re-program themselves either. At least not yet. So in that aspect, there will always be a human work force because computers are still not perfect. And the human mind is still (and will always be) much smarter and more complex than any computer.

The Linux Mint Experience

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So I am writing this new blog entry using LibreOffice 5. I didn’t have to pay for it, nor do I have a limited trial version. Not only that, I am also using LibreOffice from a newly installed “distro, Linux Mint.  It didn’t take me long to install Mint after writing my last blog entry about the operating system. I guess curiosity got to me. I installed Mint from bootable USB (and used Rufus to make the USB). My installation experience went rather smoothly. The only issue I had was selecting my time zone. I live near Vienna, and trying to select it for my time zone just wasn’t working for me. It wouldn’t even recognize Vienna. So I defaulted to Rome, which lies in the same zone. I don’t remember having that problem in other versions of Linux.

I installed Mint version 18 (codenamed ‘Sarah’) on an older laptop (which is perfectly acceptable for Linux). My processor is an Intel Pentium 2.16GHz dual-core. And I was originally running only 1GB of RAM when I installed Linux. In my last entry I wrote about the system requirements for Linux Mint. I mentioned that Linux requires only 512MB of RAM, and roughly 700MHz. After using Mint for just 30 minutes, I thought these figures might be a little downplayed. Linux states that for a comfortable experience you should install at least 1GB of RAM. Well, I think even that figure is a little low. With 1GB, I felt the OS was a little choppy. I could see the delay time when trying to pick my time zone. And there was even a big delay when only typing. It was definitely getting on my nerves having to sit there and wait for what I typed to even display on the screen before I could do anything. I cannot imagine what the delay would have been with only 512MB. I don’t even want to imagine that. The next day I found a 1GB stick lying around and quickly swapped it out with one of the 512MB sticks. I now run 1.4GB of RAM, and that extra bit actually helps dramatically, believe it or not. I still see a little choppiness on the log in screen when the background transitions to different pictures, but I can live with that.

I really like the layout of everything so far. It definitely takes more of a Windows approach with the Menu button (or Start button) and taskbar across the bottom of the screen. I would say Windows 10, to be more specific. That is a major plus for those migrating from Windows. As far as applications go, I haven’t used anything other than Firefox and LibreOffice which haven’t given me any issues. Windows usually comes pre-installed with useless applications that you end up deleting because they just waste valuable disk space. With Linux, I see more system utilities, graphics programs, and a couple multimedia programs that could prove more useful. It doesn’t seem clustered though! And they are sorted nicely in the Menu by type! This saves time of having to hunt! It feels clean because everything is very well organized. System updates seem pretty simple with the notifications. Although the Update Manager can be a little scary with the varied level of updates. Which makes me think, do I proceed with level 5 updates? They look rather intimidating.

Overall I really enjoy Linux Mint and definitely see myself using it more often. I’m looking forward to discovering everything it has to offer. Just need to get more accustomed to it first because, you know… that whole learning curve and all. 🙂

System Security Updates – Are They Really Necess… – Stop. Update Your Computer!

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I come across an article every now and then asking if it really is necessary to update your system… and I can’t help but shake my head in rather disbelief. I mean – really? I stopped reading said articles because I want to forget how uninformed some people can be at times and then wish to pass their ignorance on to others. I don’t know if it is laziness or ignorance honestly. Updating your system is not as dangerous or much of an inconvenience like it has been in the past. And yes, you are only risking the life of your system, as well as endangering your own security if you are one who likes to ignore updates.

Notice how I am not referring to one particular operating system here. Usually this discussion revolves around Windows 7… or 8… and now 10. Here I am talking about all systems – including your precious MacBook that you think is indestructible with its alien technology. Stop thinking that way because it’s a myth. I mean the part about Macbooks being indestructible is a myth. Alien technology is clearly a thing, but anyway. robot-707219_1280Security risks (malware, spy-ware, viruses, etc.) are not nearly as common with Apple products or even Linux for that matter when both compared to Windows. This does not mean you should ignore system updates because it still happens.

I’m sorry? What was that? Listen, you have the time, you really do. Just save your work and take the measly five minutes out of your busy day that is takes to update.

Stop complaining. Stop the excuses. Stop procrastinating.

Stop…

There are good reasons why you should keep your system updated. And in all reality, you should keep ALL of your software updated. Anti-virus programs, anti-malware programs, OS updates, you name it! We are all victims of seeing a notification for an update, and then pressing the “Remind me in 4 hours” procrastinator button. I admit, I have done it before. Some moments are just an inconvenience to update. But hours should not become days, or even weeks!

We live in a completely new world. Everything is connected to everything. Meaning, everyone is connected to everyone. I’m going to stop you from thinking only about yourself for a minute. I don’t even know you, but apparently your system is so unstable that it became a virus fest. binary-1414319_1920

Linking mad cow to everything you send out over the Internet, I somehow came within arm’s length of your misfortune. All because you wanted to be an independent wizard and muck the system. Luckily, my computer blocked your electro-bola because I’m smart and follow up on updates. But your lonesome soul and BFF Fidgety Francis who took your brave advice and refused updates as well decided to open up the Love Letter attachment and now the two of you are on your way to repeating the next mass virus like the My Doom worm of 2004.

I went down a different path there and I’m sorry, but things like this can happen. There are lots of reasons to stay updated, but here I cover the absolute most important.

New Viruses Every Day

According to CNN Money, as of 2015 there were almost 1 million new malware threats added to the Internet – daily. That is actually pretty scary, since a lot of malware tactics are intended to steal and/or distribute your personal information. And these were the numbers almost two years ago… in an ever-growing technological era. Hm.

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Better Performance

Sometimes programs just clash with others. And the operating system in general can often have its moments. Computers are not bug proof, and that is another reason why there are system updates – to fix these issues that suddenly come up and to help keep your operating system running smooth and hassle free.

And then you have those poor souls who never update. This brings me to…

Becoming Overwhelmed At the Wrong Time!

There was a time when a computer was our only gateway to the world. Now we have cell phones and tablets that practically do the same thing as our laptop or desktop. A lot of people who primarily used their laptop or desktop for everything now use their cell phone or tablet, and only turn the laptop or desktop on when they need it, such as to print something for example. And this will be the case for months! This might not seem like a big deal, but I think it is.

Your laptop, for example, is not receiving updates while it is off. It isn’t receiving anything. And you keep that laptop in the corner collecting dust until months later when you need to print something really important. Time isn’t on your side so you are rushing! You turn it on and once it connects to the Internet all of your programs automatically look for updates, as intended. Most likely there are updates for everything and the data starts flowing – bogging down your system resources. Pop-ups all over the place telling you to update this, and update that. And in the background, Windows update (for example) is downloading about 150 updates as well! All you want to do is print a document but you can’t because your printing software is also out of date. Tablets and phones are great, people, but try to keep those desktops and laptops updated as much as you can. It will only benefit you in the long run.

The main point to all this jabbering is security. There are a lot of people out there who care about your information in all the wrong ways. Updates not only help against hackers, but also help with system stability. Your information is vital. Treat it that way. Keep up with the updates before the day comes when it’s too late to react.