What's on your mind?

When it comes to understanding technology, some questions never get old. Although a little early for spring cleaning, we are cleaning out our mailbag today. Please keep those questions coming as I will try to answer you directly or in this column!

What’s the difference between "virus" and "malware"?
Although some people keep the two separate, I like to think of “virus” as a subset of the umbrella term “malware.” The word malware is short for "malicious software” … and a virus certainly falls under that category. They are both something you want to avoid becoming infected with. So practicing good computer usage habits while keeping anti-virus and anti-malware software up-to-date is recommended.

Should I leave the computer on all the time or shut it down when not in use?
There are two schools of thought here. On one hand there are people who recommend leaving the computer on all the time because the act of turning on a computer is when the most electrical current surges through the system, putting stress to the parts. The other side argues why waste energy by leaving the computer turned on while not in use? I leave my computer on all the time because after a certain period of inactivity it sleeps by itself, and draws a minimal amount of electricity.

What do you think is the next big thing in 2015?
The world seems to be looking closely to Apple’s interpretation of a smartwatch. First it was the phone, then the TV and a couple years ago our wristwatch became “smart.” I suspect this trend to make any device smart will continue, perhaps even be accelerated, as the next buzzword, “internet of things,” mesmerizes the world – just like “the cloud” did (which my readers know is the internet).

What is the difference between Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer?
If you think of your Windows computer as a cavernous filing cabinet with intelligence, Windows Explorer is like a looking glass into your computer so you can find your documents and pictures that you filed away. “Finder” is the Apple OSX equivalent. If Windows Explorer and Finder were looking glasses into your computer, Internet Explorer is your looking glass into the internet so you can visit the websites you like. It belongs in the application category called “browsers.” While Internet Explorer is made by Microsoft, other browsers include Chrome (Google), Firefox (Mozilla Foundation), and Safari (Apple). Isn’t it nice to have choices?

How much should I pay for a new computer in 2015?
Computers, and electronics in general, are commodities; they are like fruits with a shelf life due to built-in obsolescence. If I make an assumption that you use your computer for basic needs I’ve seen decently configured computers on clearance for under $400 this past month. Remember that you have to think holistically when buying a new computer so additionally budget for a monitor, backup device, printer, software and other peripherals you may need.

Have a question for Tak about computers, software or other technology? Send it to editor@wbvobserver.com.

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart consulting, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 7, Issue 3, Posted 9:36 AM, 02.03.2015