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Going Back to School? Get Your Tech Ready!

- August 24, 2011 - 1 Comment

Going Back to School for some is the most “wonderful time of the year”!   New clothes, new apartment, new schedule, new friends and the best of all new technology!  Well it can all seem daunting and expensive to get everything new all at once – but it really doesn’t have to be, at least for technology.  Here are a few tips to get you tech ready easily and affordably this back to school season! 

  1.  Need a new computer?  Think again.  Have you considered taking in your laptop for spring cleaning?  Maybe upgrading your memory, updating your wireless card with Wireless-N, getting a new hard drive, or just upgrading your operating system.  It can be less expensive to upgrade your computer’s components as you have the budget, than going out and getting an entirely new computer.   
  2. You bought a new computer and now, what do you do with your old one?  Well this is great for parents with kids – you get the latest and greatest computer and give your kids the “hand me down” computer.  Okay, but make sure you upgrade the “hand me down” for your kids– you don’t want them to have ancient technology and you want them equipped with the best tech to excel in the classroom,  right?
  3. You moved out of your Parents’ house and now you are on your own – what tech do you really need? Okay besides your Xbox and a computer – you should have a good Wireless-N router.  Your wireless-N router will amp up your devices with the high speed access they need for both school work and entertainment –from research to video streaming.  A good router is a must for gaming online, and if you’re going to video chat with mom and dad, you don’t want annoying jerky pictures that start and stop.
  4.  You have roommates and you worry about them hacking into your computer?  Well a Dual-Band router can easily help with this concern.  A Dual Band router is like having two wireless routers in one.  There are two bands – the 2.4 GHz band and the 5.0 GHz band.  When you set up your network, put yourself on the 5.0 GHz band and have your roommate(s) on the 2.4 GHz band.  You’ll get a few benefits from this including your own network with its own network name and separate password so your roommates can’t touch your network. Plus, you’ll take advantage of the 5.0 GHz band that has less interference so you can get faster speeds.  Win win!
  5. Lack of cellular coverage in your dorm or apartment? Going wireless and utilizing Wi-Fi might cost  less than your cellphone plan charges.  Check with your wireless provider on rates – but if you have a wireless router in your home already – you can benefit from using Wi-Fi rather than cell service.
  6. You live in a Sorority or Fraternity house and you can’t get a Wi-Fi signal in your room? This can be a nightmare because being on Facebook or playing games all hours of the day and night is the livelihood of your college existence.  Well, for $89, you can get a range extender like a Linksys RE1000.  The range extender will help boost the wireless signal from your router and get into rooms that lack a signal for access to the Internet.   The RE1000 has a tool that helps you put it in the right place in the house so you can get the signal to all the rooms.   Rushing? This knowledge might give you the extra shoe-in you deserve!
  7. College books or food money?  Yes we all hate shelling out $800 for an anthropology book – but have you considered getting your book on your e-reader or tablet?  The latest trend in textbooks is to save money ( and trees) by downloading your books rather than getting hard copies.  You can save somewhere in the 20% range.  That is a lot of money and can buy a lot of Top Raman! However beware, you can’t sell them back and it’s hard to take notes on the pages.  But eventually – could all books be digitally in school?  A strong possibility.  Another reason why Wi-Fi can be handy.
  8. Online classes – Score!  Everyone who has had an 8:00 am class or a 6:00 pm Thursday night course can relate to “I wish this class was online”.  Rolling out of bed and hopping on to the computer for a course sounds like heaven.  However, if you don’t have Internet, it can be a problem.  Why not opt for Cable or DSL, of course, and the latest wireless router, and a computer with a Wireless-N network card.   This way you’ll have the speed and connectivity to your online course.  And if for some reason the power goes out – you can always head over to Starbucks – you’ll be able to concentrate no problem.
  9. Staying secure online.  The last thing you want to happen is losing your term paper to hackers, so checking a few things on your network could save you all semester long.  First, make sure you have a network name on your router.  If you have a Linksys E-Series router, you don’t need to worry about this for Linksys names your router for you.  But if you have an older router – it might keep the default such as “Linksys”.  Second, change your WEP/WPA password every few months.  And if you want to go a little extra, connect all your devices on the network thru Mac address filtering.  This will register each device to your network so the network knows that is the device you want connected.  This keeps unwanted devices, such as a neighbor’s PC, from piggy backing off your wireless connection.   Also, if you are at Kinko’s or Starbucks using their network – you might also want to have software security such as McAfee or Symantec (paid versions) or free security from companies like AVG, Avira and Avast.
  10. Making sure your kids are using the Internet appropriately.   If you have young teens in the house you probably don’t want them surfing the Internet without your supervision.  Or maybe you have teens and you don’t want them using Facebook or chatting with friends during homework hours. No problem, parental control software can help you manage all of that.  All Linksys routers include basic parental control tools to filter out sites you don’t want your kids on. It will also block sites at your discretion (Ideal for grounding!) and also block time frames so your kids won’t be online during hours you don’t want them to.  It also works for devices connected to your router such as smartphones, tablets and game consoles.  Using parental controls may just help your kids to get straight A’s this year!

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