The end of one year, and the beginning of the next, is always a good time for reflection and planning. As you already know, technology ages quickly and last year's computer can become this year's paper weight.
Here are some guidelines for your technology purchases for the coming year.
- Retire Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and Macintosh OS 9 computers
"The time has come, the walrus said..." to move beyond these technologies. In all cases, Microsoft and Apple no longer provide support for any of these operating systems. We can use online resources to research issues, but if you are still using these operating systems, its time to move on.
- Vista and Leopard are coming
Both Microsoft and Apple will be rolling out major new versions of their operating system in 2007, so prepare accordingly. I don't necessarily recommend upgrading existing machines to the new systems, but you want to insure that any new computers you purchase are ready for them. Windows computers being sold now should have some indication of "Vista Ready" on their case or in their documentation. Any Apple computer using the new Intel processors should also be fine for Leopard.
That said, you will also want to insure that any new system has enough memory to run Vista or Leopard well. Where my previous recommendations for memory (RAM) was a minimum of 512K, these new operating systems, with all their new bells and whistles, has caused me to raise the to 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM. If your new system does not include this amount of memory, have it added before you take it home.
- Dial-up Internet Access
The time has also come to eliminate any dial-up Internet access accounts you have. The size and frequency of updates from Microsoft, anti-virus vendors and others is simply to great to allow the usage of dial-up connections any longer. Most high-speed internet providers are offering lower-speed options (yet still much faster than dialup) at prices rapidly approaching that of dial-up.
Make sure you are getting the most from your computer. Don't slow it down with a slow Internet connection.
- Save money by making use of FREE open source and Web-based applications
As each day passes, it becomes less necessary for many users to spend hundreds of dollars on Microsoft Office and other productivity suites. Free software like OpenOffice (http://openoffice.org) and online word processors, calendars and spreadsheets like Google Documents (http://docs.google.com), mean that you can be productive without draining your bank account. Look for an upcoming TechnologyIQ article on my favorites.
If you have any questions or comments on these recommendations, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your questions on the Friends in Tech Forums at http://forums. friendsintech.com/
Ask your technology questions BEFORE you buy. Join Douglas E. Welch, a computer consultant and writer with 20+ years of technology experience, and find out what to buy the technology-lover in your life.
TechnologyIQ is a LIVE talk show about technology, including, but not limited to computers, home appliances, cell phones and any other technology you might encounter during your day. Join the discussion and ask your most pressing questions LIVE. The show will also be available as a podcast -- meaning you can still receive it automatically, even if you can't attend.
If you ever attended one of my computer classes at the Sherman Oaks Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, this show will be along the same question and answer format but the topics will be more varied.
The next episode of TechnologyIQ is scheduled for Monday, December 18, 2006 @ 6PM PST, before the Christmas holiday, so you can get some great advice for all those holiday purchases.
Please let me know what days and times would be best for you for future shows. We will have a national audience, but I want to include as many of my clients and past students in the mix, as possible.