Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why Computers Are Fast and Slow

My friends that know me know that I'm a writer, deep in my heart, but I have never found a way to make a decent income writing (along with 99.8% of all other writers) so I have my other trusty skill; PC (and copier/general electronics) repair.

Years working in IT departments, Tech. Support (actually both of those with Gateway), as an online repair tech., with my own business now for the second time working on PCs--years of hearing people say, "It's too slow, I can't find my files, my mouse is upside down, can you see into my house?, how many CDs can I put into one drive?, I'm a woman and I'm tired of getting ED pop-ups, I'm a man and I clicked on some boobies and now my all I see is flash images pop up in the thousands of cow births; I don't understand: HELP ME!"... years of that led me to this quick little post.

This isn't something you can't Google to learn, but maybe I present things in a more understandable way--you be the judge.  I'm just trying to help.

*NOTE: don't click "yes" on anything you don't understand... don't mindlessly sign up for contests, especially if they require ANY type of software download, and guys, if you are going to get into the porn., all I can do is wish you luck and say that I and others like me are here to resuscitate your pc when it all comes crumbling down...

What makes a PC fast?
Well, what kind of "fast" are you talking about?  You could open Word, then open a modern, resource-hogging PC game, then open the internet and start having video conferences all at once and never notice any difference in PC performance from when you're just writing a note in Notepad.

Are we talking internet speed?  That's signal strength, bandwidth, and transmission/receive methods.  Cable and fiber-optic connections are fast. Then we step down when going to dsl, wi-fi, satellite, or (gulp) dial-up.  But even the fastest connections can be slowed down.  It depends on what programs, apps, or bad stuff on your PC (viruses, malware, spyware, adware, etc.) are using your bandwidth to either update themselves, send themselves, or otherwise intentionally clog up your bandwidth while you try to do the thing that is now moving too slow to make you happy.

I hear from people a lot: "My internet is too slow.  I can't even play Farmville."  When we do a speed test, they are moving at Mach V.  So why?  Well, apps like Farmville and others can be slowed down/stopped by a need for updating your Flash Player for that particular browser (what are you using?  Chrome, IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari?  All are different).  Could be 100 other things causing that, too, which I won't go into (give too much away, and my job is gone).

If you're talking more about fast in general, like closing, opening, and operating within programs, and we manage to rule out all the "bad" stuff (for example, you are up-to-date on anti-everything-bad and you've traced down resource hogging background apps) then we need to look at which operating system you are running, how updated it is or is not, how bloated it is or is not, and, sometimes most importantly, the hardware, which is where we'll start.

Why is mine so slow?
If you've got a 5-year old pc or older, don't expect much out of it unless you bought a very unusual PC (you can still pay $50k bucks for a PC, getting the quantum-jump on latest and greatest).  What limits speed?  Well, I'll be honest with you; really, it's heat.  The closer we try to get "transistors," which really aren't transistors but behave like them, onto a chip, the more one's heat affects the other, because we are, essentially, jamming them together to fit more on; usually, the goal is to increase computing power without increasing size (as a matter of fact, one of the goals is decreasing size which increases heat problems).  But with your system, we can look beyond that because although that is the fundamental source of slow computing, it probably isn't what is causing your hardware-related slow-downs.  Why?  Well, chances are you have 2 or 3 or 4 fans blowing at any given time to keep those cool.

What your problem is, more likely than not, is your processor's speed, the amount of its Level 1 and Level 2 cache (which is faster than RAM but always in a much smaller amount because it is memory that is actually cast directly onto the die of a CPU; precious space, indeed), its bus widths and speeds (consider them the highways in your components that information travels down--an old system may have a two-lane highway with a 35mph limit while in a newer computer, there's an eight-lane interstate with an 80mph speed limit), the speed in the operation of the RAM (random access memory), the efficiency of the CPU chip itself as well as its cooling components (heat sinks, which dissipate heat away from the chip and/or fans which do the same--heat in an actual CPU chip will lock up a computer faster than you can say wiggles), the capacity/speed of your video card or chips (many video "cards" are now on the motherboard in the form of chips rather than being separate cards, which is called "integrated" whenever you're dealing with add-ons like video, sound, or wi-fi), the power output, stability, and temperate/cooling efficiency of your power supply, the tightness of your cable connections and the integrity of the cables themselves (many get brittle or have a pushed-pin from people fiddling with them and putting them on wrong), the health of your hard drive (a dying, overheating, or otherwise failing hard drive will lock you up regularly or just cease to allow you system to function), and it could be a few other things.

Many times, on more modern computers, the problems that I fix to speed up computers are related to software and cleaning.  For software, there is usually a battle I have to take to the viruses, malware, spyware, and adware to pull them up by the roots.  This takes many "re-boots" which is the worst time-killer in computing but necessary for this war.  After I get those out, I have to go remove anything in the background which isn't necessary/desired but that is hogging your resources and get it out of there.  After that, I have to do a full software/hardware clean which I won't go into because, again, I need my job security.

Moral of the story?  If you have an older system, keep it clean and protected and don't expect too much out of it.  If you have a newer one, especially if it's under warranty and there is no cost and the problem is something you can't fix AND the shipping is free (I can fix these sometimes for less than the shipping), send it back.  Get it fixed free or get a new one.  If you don't have warranty coverage or don't want to bother hunting all the paperwork down and make the calls and do the packaging and (...), then bring it to me (local people only; remote people, I can work on yours remotely for a flat $35 IF you have a speedy internet connection).  $45 gets you in and out the door (as of this date) repaired, cleaned, protected, tuned, and happy in 24 hours or less with a 6-month guarantee.  If it requires hardware, we talk.  If it's not worth fixing, I call you and tell you and you pay a small $10 diagnostic fee.  (E-mail me at wutzthedeal at ya plus hoo dot com; hope you get that--have to put it in code language anymore or spammers' sweeping programs aggregate and snag yours, multiplying the amount of spam e-mail you get).

*NOTE: if you have a work PC that is slow, it could be any of the above but it could also be their "monitoring" software, which, very commonly now, is watching and recording every move you make on the internet, or their proprietary "firewall" whether it's software or hardware-based can be a choke point, and finally, the software that you run to do your job is often not designed with allowing a pc to maintain its speed and functionality outside of that software.  It's designed to take as much as it wants (in the way of computing power/usage) to get the job done, and that often leaves loose ends on it which cause the software to be a real resource hog.  A good IT department will know all of this; they'll order software that includes a focus on having a "small footprint," if they are required to use monitoring software, they'll find the least resource-hungry, and they'll have a physical firewall that doesn't limit incoming traffic a noticeable amount as it analyzes who might be a hacker or what might be bad software, etc.

Hope this was worth something to you.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

You Don't Need a Mars and Venus Story

(I'm writing this from a heterosexual POV: for the gays, you'll have to change the he's and she's as necessary and the truths will vary slightly, but this article can help you, too, I believe).

I see couples of all ages shaking their heads.  The man tosses his hands up when he's talking to his friends and says, "I don't get it?!"  The woman does the same, talking to her friends, saying, "He's impossible!"

We are either at a very strange point in an adaptation process as humans, perhaps moving toward asexual alien-types or some greater force had a sick sense of humor to make men and women need each other and then dislike each other, all on the same day.  Sometimes within the same minute.

I'm going to break down two common things that are happening--not the whole answer to the woman/man crisis, but the two biggest ones, in my opinion.

1.  Testosterone

Guys have it.  We have it in high levels, too, depending on age, and women have it in lower levels with few exceptions.  Our man-nature tells us (and most of us have no effing clue that this is even what's driving the desires) to go dominate the gene pool with the most fit women--the ones most likely to have healthy babies that allow our genes to spread on.  It's kind of a selfish natural tendency if you think about it.  And both men and women share the desire to find the mate with the highest likelihood of passing on the "good" genes, even though men alone, with few exceptions, carry enough testosterone to want to try out as many partners as possible.  And even as men look for the ideal partners to spread their genes with, they will settle.  Oh, child, listen to me: they will settle on any given night as the chemicals flow.  Settle they will.  ANY genes that involve 50% of their own genes moving on is good; if theirs can move on with good genes, that's great.  If they can toss their seeds into a chance of moving on with great genes, that's nirvana.

As men become older, the testosterone drops, and, in a surprisingly high number of cases, maturity grows.  We men back out, sit down on the park bench instead of running those laps, chasing desirables.  If we have a good lady in our life with whom we have a good relationship--a definition of which will never be the same between two men--we respect her.  But the testosterone remains, clinging with its nails into our veins, hanging on for dear life, forcing our heads toward the 21-year-old girl washing the car even if we couldn't give her anything more than a gasping whisper and a request for an aspirin.  Even if all we can offer her is a ride in our non-tricked-out, half-rusted Gremlin with it's non-thumping AM radio, we'll damned near wreck a car and break our necks to get that glance.

That's nature.  That's not anything else--it's is a very, very strong force in human nature.

For the younger man, it's what he does with that nature that defines his will and constitution; what is he made of?  With nature throwing him around like a baby sock in an industrial dryer (and you're damned right it's that bad), can he avoid a hoot and a holler if he's in a "committed" relationship?  It really comes down to his beliefs.  Does he believe in monogamy?  Men can "justify" tossing a seed out into any garden if they can just think of one thing their girl did wrong--if they can just convince themselves that maybe she has already cheated?  It comes down to his honor, and in a young man, strong honor can be defeated.

I like to believe in older men that strong honor cannot be defeated, usually.  Mine can't.  You can find whoever you think is the prettiest girl in the world, put her in front of me with a bikini on and have her tell me to have a blast, and I'll walk away.  Now, a man who has never had such an opportunity will have his honor challenged.  At that point, for him, it's not just the waning-but-ever-present testosterone at work--it's not just his honed honor and the knowledge that he has a good woman in his life in a committed relationship--it's curiosity jumping into the now complex mix.  Maybe he's never been that close to a "perfect" body, set aside for a few nights out in which he came home with very few dollar bills left.  "Is it that good?" he may ask himself.  "Should I throw away my good relationship [at this point in his life, he knows she'll find out--he's no longer naive enough to think it can stay hidden] to get just one evening with this elusive type of lady with a "perfect" body that millions of women around the world long to have?  That millions of women have surgeries to try to get, because they know that the results equal flat-out power?  Is it worth it?"

Women may find themselves challenged nearly as much as men, though rarely to the same degree, and they may succumb for different reasons.  As nature was tossing us baby socks around in her industrial-sized dryers, it is a different force working on women.  Any of the following can produce the break in honor with women: revenge, lack of attention from her man (or if she doesn't have a man, lack of attention from any man), finding a desirable, an unfulfilled need for shoe-shopping, a surge in testosterone caused by any of 100 different things, often from that biological clock's alarm going off at unpredictable times, or any of 1,000 other complex things.  What, you thought I could fit what might make women cheat into one paragraph?  I couldn't fit the reasoning behind women's ink-pen preferences into one paragraph.  Give a brother a break, man.

 If you cheat (for men or women) it will come out.  It will.  It always does.  Always.  Just know that if you do it, the clock starts ticking for the countdown of the other person knowing.  Good luck with that.

2.  Thing X

It's very complex.  Sometimes it's a growth away from each other in interests.  Or in political or religious beliefs,  Sometimes it's the inability to forgive things that may be said in haste during an argument or a misunderstood word or action.

Ultimately, though, as I try to describe Thing X, which I'd bet you ten cents you thought was going to be about exes, what I'm describing is a failure on one or both members of the couple to identify, understand, and respect what is important to the other person.  Please, trust me on this, and I believe it so deeply and care enough about my fellow humans that I need to repeat it: you have to identify, understand, and respect what your other half finds important if you want your relationship to succeed.

Women, your men may love a sport, or cars, or collecting coins.  If you want to do your half, you have to first identify (not hard; just observe and learn) what they are interested in outside of yourself, then understand it.  That means read a little about it.  Go on the internet and you'll probably find that your man's interest isn't so uncommon.  You'll probably find that very normal people have the same fascination with his interest(s) as he does.  So, learn a bit about it.  Find out what the attraction is.  If he's a car nut, find out why he loves the car that he loves so much (the one he talks about buying when he gets rich).  Be able to hold a 5-minute conversation with him about it.  Do not act.  Men aren't as stupid as you think we are--we'll pick up on it in half a second.  We've had to act from the age of 13 on.

Now that you have identified it and learned a bit about it and, HELL, maybe even had a conversation with him about it, respect it.  Respect that he has an interest.  Respect that HE respects it, and if you mock, ignore, or otherwise marginalize the importance of that interest to him, it will hurt him.  Literally.  It will punch him in the heart, it will invigorate the fuck-you part of his ego, and it'll be the beginning of a lot of silence that wasn't necessary.  His thoughts from then until (when?) will be, "Bitch," or, "She just doesn't get it," or, "I sit there and listen to her talk about fucking Tupperware for twenty minutes and she can't listen to me explain a car I saw at a show for 30 seconds?"  This is where it starts, couples.  This is where silent couples are born from.  It can alllllllll be traced back to this.

Men, all of the above goes for you, too.  Don't act; women always know. And for us, since our mind works a bit differently, we may have to actually burn some brain power to discover what she finds interesting.  But we're pretty good at researching/learning about it once we find out and we'll do that if we care about her.  As for showing respect, same as above; you never belittle her, her interests, or her beliefs.  Her interest is just as real to her as yours is to you.  You respect that in any person that you hope to remain close to.  If you don't, you're simply saying an early, subtle goodbye.

In closing, you're probably pissed that I didn't produce some one-line answers to solve your relationship problems.  Well, if that's so, I'm about to piss you off some more; there are none.  It's a big, complex ball of emotions, thoughts, and actions.  If you can only take one thought out of this article to remember how to do as much as you possibly can to make your relationship survive, remember to RESPECT while DEMANDING EQUAL RESPECT.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Quick Jab at the Paranormal: Am I onto Something?

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know shit about shit.  Yeah, I get half to three-quarters of your standard Jeopardy  questions right but that's man-made whatever.  I'm talking about in the unknown.  I'm talking about in parapsychology and religion and philosophy and psychology and physics.  If you read the first sentence in this paragraph, you'll never believe the one that follows this semicolon; I love where I am in my education.

Socrates said (I may be paraphrasing; depends on your source): "One thing only that I know, and that is that I know nothing."  Well, smack me with a house slipper and call me Jilly McWilly.  I knew it all when I was seventeen--even more when I got into college.  Yet, to be as wise as Socrates, I had to go down a path of open-mindedness like I had never imagined.  I had to let go of almost everything I believed if I wanted a chance at uncovering truths.  That shit is flat-out hard, leaning toward the impossible!  Ever made a 5 or 10-year run at deprogramming yourself? Good Gawd, man.

But I did it.  I think like I believe Socrates thought way back then, and that makes me incredibly happy with my way of thinking.  Hell, I think if Socrates were an American today, we'd be nearly identical in our philosophies and beliefs.  I get him.  I get his openness and his old faithful fallback; pure logic.  Once you close your mind on a subject, your learning of alternatives is over until you de-program yourself or somebody (or something) does it for you.  While I have searched the internet from end-to-end to find a quote that I thought was by Einstein (but since have not been able to find it by anybody,  but I know I read it and I know it was from a more famous historical figure, and I used it, paraphrasing, in my book, Name of Alt), I could not find it.  It went something like this:

"To have true intelligence, you must look at the information available in the world as you would look at traffic at a crossroads.  Let your mind be the crossroads.  At one point, it knows a car is in the center--at another, it is gone.  Be willing to strike down old beliefs if newer, better, more believable evidence emerges in a given category.  Let information go so information can flow.  The most intelligent in the world have a mere "working truth" in their mind; a current observation built from all the information that has passed before them combined with all of their thoughts about that information and mixtures of that information AND their imagination; look at knowledge as you would look at flowing water under a microscope.  Always be in a state of believing in "working truths," truths that you will certainly allow yourself to strike down in the face of more convincing evidence."

Truth be told, I elongated that like a balloon clown, but I needed to get my philosophy across.  We don't need to go into the "world is flat" argument, or the "Copernicus" argument, or anything else that was believed worldwide but dis-proven; just understand that I am an open tunnel through which information passes, and I grab onto what is believable, and honestly, I do wish everybody was that way instead of being so rigid in what their parents and teachers "taught" them 30 years ago.  But I accept them and entertain their thoughts; always have, and I believe I always will.

Now, let's apply some of that to the supernatural (more specifically, ghosts, aliens, telepathy and telekinesis).

For ghosts and UFOs, I believe it's entirely possible that they are very real, that they are very normal, but that they are natural "accidents."  I do not believe in grand design.  I believe in chance design, just short of chaos theory.  If, in fact, some of our scientists are right who come from the platform of quantum mechanics and, among those, the ones that come from the platform of m-theory and string theory, then it is entirely possible that our universe is occasionally bumping into a parallel universe, which shows real things, right before your eyes, that disappear.

I can already hear some arguments; "But the ghost I saw was transparent, and walked through a wall while the UFO I saw was not transparent and simply traveled fast after hovering for a while--for a long while, longer than I've every seen a ghost hang around."

Ok, so your ghosts could be "souls" or "formerly human energy fields that contain all but your conscious" that got trapped between two universes--between the two flapping sheets.  Therefore, they truly are nothing more than small energy fields with some type of manifestation powers.  UFOs on the other hand (let's discount the hoaxes and man-made ones and get serious here; we're talking about the unexplained ones) may have actually started within that parallel universe and find themselves surprisingly in ours (or us in theirs), not knowing what to do or how to get back after an unexpected "bump."  The scientists like to explain these "branes," (short for "membranes") as bed sheets flowing in the wind, only a slight distance apart, and they occasionally "bump," placing something from one universe into another for a period of time, until it separates again.  Essentially, the difference between UFOs and spirits could be where they originate from and what form they are in; energy fields or physical structures/beings.

We have only begun to scratch the surface of a global consciousness and connected thoughts for telepathy.  Even though they have successfully, in a lab environment, proven that telepathy works with one person transmitting thoughts to another, we still don't understand the natural (a.k.a. before 2012) mechanisms at work.  It's so easy to say, "EMF.  Yep, EMF.  That's EMF."  To me, that's like the scientists saying "The universe is 70% Dark energy, and 25% Dark matter" with only 5% being known substance," which they have said.  To me, that's the perfect equivalent in logic as saying about our very complex oceans, "The Oceans are 95% water, and they're wet (and what a humble scientist should admit is that, "That's all we know right now," but instead, they act like they figured something out; please.  Ego, go home.

Telekinesis has very few scientific examples supporting its existence, yet you'll see somebody try it sometimes and it's very convincing.  Tossing out cheats, what's going on?  I believe that the human brain could have 30, 100, 6000 senses, and we've only discovered and employed 5 (and part of the sixth) now.  We are really dumb, and the sooner we accept that as a species, the sooner we'll make massive gains in education (yes, I get it; we put a man on the moon, but I'm talking about dumb as in comparing our knowledge to what is unknown, not what we have done compared to primitive man).

So, it could be that those people have been early out of the gates on developing their sixth sense which may include powers of telekinesis, or that some other natural force happens, occasionally, while they attempt these experiments and just ONE out of a THOUSAND works, and they convince themselves that therein lies the proof; they are full-blooded telekinetics.  They believe that they only need to hone their skills.  And it may be total bs.  It may cause them to waste the rest of their lives trying to bend forks with their minds when really, it was a moving portion of earth's magnetic field, or something else, that worked that one time for them.

So out of all this, what is real?  What is really real is observable, record-able, and repeatable phenomena.  With those three combined, you've got something.  With those data, you can begin to open up a study that has merit to it; a solid, empirical foundation.  This is where you can draw your very intelligent scientists in and have them start working on it to figure it out.  In my mind, that's where I am right now.  I want to give them something, whether (as I'm confused about) it is proof that something exists or just enough to convince them that these phenomena MUST be studied more closely with more manpower/brainpower/computerpower.  Stop blowing it off!  It's happening!!!  Let's give it the study it deserves.

Do your Google searches for famous NASA astronauts, pilots, heads of state, and other very respectable witnesses who have seen both ghosts and UFOs AND aliens WHILE in groups who describe the same sightings.  IT.  IS.  REAL.  Give it the study time it deserves.  Re-open the parapsychology deparments at your major Universities; call it "PScience," if you want to keep it modernized and shake the ridicule that is/used to be associated with the narrow-minded "Oh, you believe in little green men" people who are just dumb, in my opinion, or terrified that their comfortable and protected little world may, once again, be disrupted.  All I'm asking for, all we're asking for, is give us ten years of good, wide-spread study without the backdrop of ridicule to try to explore empirical evidence from uncertain phenomena--within that time, I'd bet you a Buffalo nickel that most of what we now call "paranormal" becomes "normal."

Thank you for reading.