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Welcome to the Blacksmith Blog. Here we answer commonly asked questions and share our opinions on today’s technology. Feel free to comment and share.

 

Windows 8: The Beginners Guide

Windows 8Windows 8 is a bold new interface designed for touch-enabled devices. But for keyboard and mouse users it can be extremely confusing and frustrating to use, with many controls now hidden for touch screen purposes. Using Windows 8 without loosing your mind can be a daunting task.

So, if you’ve just started using Windows 8 and wondering where to begin and where everything went, you are not alone. Many people have just went to their local Big Box Store and purchased a new PC with Windows 8 on it.

First, all of the controls and features of Windows 7 are still there, just not in the same place. If your upgrading from Windows XP, just try and relax. We will get you through this. Here are some basic fundamentals on how to navigate Windows 8.

Read Full Story Here

 

Five Free Apps I Recommend (And Use Daily)

A lot of people ask, “What’s your favorite app?” In response to this repetitive question, I’ve put together a list of five free apps that I use everyday on my Android smartphone. The listing order is based upon usage.

  1. RealCalc Scientific Calculator – In it’s defense, the calculator that comes with Android phones by default is a nice simple app. The difference is having a calculator that can calculate percentages and compound equations on the fly.
  2. DuckDuckGo Search – I still use Google Search too but it’s hard to deny that having a Search Engine app without the restraints of the “Bubble Search” Google uses doesn’t produce some interesting results. Try it and see for yourself.
  3. ES File Explorer – Organizing your smartphone data has become crucial for those on the go. The ES File Explorer allows me to organize files for my personal life and my business. I use PDFs, Word docs, and Excel spreadsheets everyday on my phone. Having data in the palm of your hand can be essential for success.
  4. The Weather Channel – Who has time to stop an check the weather? We all do if we have to but the Weather Channel knows that most of us won’t if we don’t have to. That’s why they created their app. It’s quick, easy, and fast. What more can you ask for? Wait… never-mind.
  5. ESPN ScoreCenter For Android – I like sports. Not all sports but I have my favorites. ESPN ScoreCenter allows me to choose which sports and teams I want to follow, then it does something great, it doesn’t bore me with news about the teams I don’t care about. Only five minutes a day of my life spent keeping up to date. Yay! When there’s no games on. 😉

There are other apps that I use and some I use daily. These happen to be the ones I use the most on a daily basis that did not come with my phone. Their addition help keep me productive and happy.

If there are apps you use (and I’m sure there are) that help you stay productive, please feel free to let me know. We are always on the lookout for useful apps and tools.

2013: Time For A Change?

Ah, welcome everyone to 2013 and a very Happy New Year. Every year something new and exciting is entering or has just entered the technology market. It’s one of the reasons I really love my field of work. This year is already proving to be no exception.

To summarize technology in 2013 in one word: Change. And leading the charge towards change is Windows 8.

In an effort to conform and compete in the tablet and smartphone markets, Microsoft has changed the way Windows looks and feels. Gone is the Start Menu that has been apart of Windows since 95. It’s replacement is a full screen, tile filled view. Gone is the ability to view more than two programs at once. It’s replaced with a one third/ two third split view no matter how large the monitor is. While tablet users may find these changes welcome, many desktop and laptop users are having a hard time accepting the new look.

So the question remains, is it time to change from the comfort and feel of Windows XP/ 7 (we don’t speak of the other here) for Windows 8 and it’s sleek but challenging new look?

Why Do We Need Anti-virus Software?

The PC has become your gateway to the world. Now you can stay connected to friends, meet new people, shop in foreign countries, attend business meetings, and so much more all from the comfort of your living room or office. The problem is that Windows XP, Vista, and 7 fail to prevent the things you don’t want, like viruses from visiting you. Viruses can steal your personal data and destroy your PC, thus costing you hundreds to thousands of dollars. Anti-virus software is like a security guard with a list of mug shots that is regularly updated. While not perfect by any means, anti-virus is the best solution available to keep your Windows PC safe.

Mac and Linux users’ use of anti-virus software is mainly dependent on their environment. While there are some viruses out there for Mac and Linux systems, most of them are out-of-date and not a real threat. The real threat, once again is for Windows PCs. For example, if a Mac user downloads a file that contains a Windows virus and shares it with a Windows user, he or she could potentially infect that user’s PC. We call this the “Carrier Effect”. In this case, the Mac user should use anti-virus software. If not for himself/ herself then for the sake of other Windows users.

Why Do Computer Repairs Cost So Much?

Typically, most people do not call a computer services company until their PC stops working. Routine maintenance or calling at the first sign of trouble more than often helps reduce the cost. Think of it this way, what if you waited till your car broke down to change the oil?