Laptops Overheating


With summer starting I wanted to write about the effects overheating has on hardware, specifically laptops. As you may know, Birds on a Cable has moved offices, and I’ve experienced a spell of my laptop overheating at our new location. Yes, I know, I’m supposed to be an expert and not allow such things to happen, but even us gurus are fools at times. For that very reason, I thought this would be important subject for all of us. With laptops being so convenient and hassle-free, it’s easy to forget that they need regular maintenance. We take them into any (and every) environment without hesitation, and rarely think of the damage these elements might cause.

Working on the Wing


Our clients are all over Chicago, and so we go all over Chicago. I’d say that our days are evenly split between a) a client’s office, working face-to-face on a project or problem of the day b) at the Nest, working screen-to-screen with our clients via PC/phone/email, c) bouncing from at least two to three locations, working catch as catch can from laptops, cell phones, on trains, buses, Divvys, foot or Uber. More and more, our clients have the same work-style challenges. Real estate agents are bouncing from office to showing to coffee shop to closing. Lawyers are at the airport, office, or at trial. Some work during their commute into the city via Metra (The Way to Really Fly!).  And any of us on “vacation.”

Why The Cloud is Good for Small Business


Let’s talk about THE CLOUD. I won’t bore you with details about security risks or pros v. cons. Those types of details muddy the real value of The Cloud, which is keeping up with cutting-edge IT without a huge IT budget. This is especially significant for small businesses.

Maybe you’ve already been wondering, should we move our business to The Cloud? and what type of Cloud? Cloud data storage or Cloud computing? What’s the difference? Or, maybe you’re asking, What is The Cloud anyway? Isn’t it something for large companies?

Samsung IconX Headphones: Apple What?


I’m sure you’ve seen people walking around wearing those signature white headphones that are made by a company I am known to detest. There is a new wireless flavor of those headphones, and everyone who has a pair LOVES to rant about how magical they are. Since they are made by Apple, I knew there had to be other products out there for a comparable price, and luckily, that happened to be Samsung.

Let me start off by saying that I am a bit of an audiophile. And when I say “a bit,” I mean that I refuse to own an audio device (including cell phone) that does not have built-in equalizer control, and have trashed an expensive pair of Bang & Olufsen headphones because of their mediocre sound clarity and bass reproduction.

Getting a Slice of Raspberry Pi


Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, wrote a paper in 1965 that reviewed at the past 7 years of semiconductors. He predicted that every 18 to 24 months, the amount of components you could fit in the same space would double. This exponential growth, known as Moore’s Law, has continued roughly on track since then. With this doubling comes decreases in size, increases in power, and decreases in the cost of electronics. It’s what put computers in every office, and smart phones in every pocket. In 1977, purchasing a Cray-1 supercomputer would cost you $8,860,000 ($36,239,300 in 2018 dollars). The primary use of this massive 5.5 ton beast was to compute what was known as “Floating Point Operations,” which is a specific type of calculation that require either very large or very small numbers to be calculated quickly. The Cray 1 could do roughly 160 million of these per second.

Home Network Upgrade, Part II


(And in case you missed it, here’s link to Part I)

A home mesh network typically is comprised of 2-3 devices, doing triple duty as a router, a range extender and a wireless access point.

For example: You buy a system of 3 devices. They can be interchanged, and whichever you pull from the box first will get plugged into the cable/DSL modem and act as the primary router. The other 2 (or more) generally puck-shaped devices can then be plugged in and set around your house, and they’ll automatically pair with the primary puck to act as additional access points. This system of pucks will determine how best to share your internet signal between each other, and also among all the client devices asking for WIFI. This is often orchestrated by an app on your phone or tablet.

Phishing, Part II


With all the security issues in cyberspace, I’m sure everyone has either heard of “phishing” or been targeted by it. If you have not, I’ll explain what it is and how to avoid being a target. Let’s start with the definition: phishing is the act of defrauding someone online by posing as a legitimate company or person. Simply put, phishing occurs when hackers pretend to be someone or something they are not — to steal from you.

Wait a Minute… How DOES Bitcoin Work?


Over the past few years I’ve developed a continuing interest in Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency boom that we are currently experiencing is nothing short of mind-boggling, especially when you compare one of the first Bitcoin transactions (someone buying 2 pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoin in 2010), with the current going-rate of a single Bitcoin (over $10,000). Because of my interest, I’m often asked how Bitcoin works, why it isn’t a scam, and why people shouldn’t just go out and buy a bunch of graphics cards in hopes to get rich. I think it’s high time to sit down and write a quick primer on just how all the underlying technologies work.

Bitcoin is based around three technologies that have existed for years but are put into novel uses. These are the following: