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August 2012

    The Well-Tuned PC
    Big LCDs

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The Benefits of a
Well-Tuned PC

There’s a subtle appeal in the notion of a well-oiled machine or a well-tuned instrument. The car engine idles with all cylinders firing in perfect harmony. The car waits quietly, patiently, prepared for any challenge to be thrown at it. The driver is confident and ready, knowing that the he can depend on his machine.

People know intuitively what studies bear out regarding the benefits of routine maintenance for essential equipment. Professionals in all areas recommend best practices centering on maintenance activities. Some examples: regular oil changes, flossing, sharpening mower blades, chlorine shock treatment for pools, changing air filters for heating/cooling systems.

Regular maintenance produces the following benefits:
  • the equipment does the job better (e.g. sharp blades give a cleaner cut)  the equipment is more efficient (e.g. sharp blades cut using less force)
  • the equipment is more efficient (e.g. sharp blades cut using less force)
  • the equipment lasts longer (the effect of dull blades can damage the mower itself)
  • properly maintained equipment spends less time in the repair shop
  • morale is improved – the equipment works, it’s more professional, it’s a better way
The same all goes for your computer. Ironically, sometimes, the tools that get the most use get the least maintenance. Often, people are ready to run their best equipment into the ground. But professionals maintain their tools to achieve peak performance. How do rental car companies treat their cars? How do professional skiers treat their skis? How do musicians treat their instruments?
If your productivity depends on your computer, then you need a computer that is fast - and reliable too. What’s the cost if your computer is down for a day, if you miss an important email, or if you’re working at 70% productivity because of a slow computer? How is your mental state if you feel like your computer may crash at any moment? How do employees feel when their bosses give them inferior tools for their work?
There’s a great feeling knowing that you can do your best because the equipment you rely on is working at its best.  “Give me a lever long enough and I can move the world.”

Large LCD Screens

My trusty old CRT did not die - the picture just faded away. It was time for a new screen.  Maximum PC magazine (July ’12) has a great article on LCD screens explaining the new LCD technologies and featuring reviews of six different screens, including the U2412M. As Maximum PC says: “No PC is so good that it can’t be made even better by a big, sweet, LCD screen.” Of course, I saw the article a few weeks after I’d already purchased a new screen.

I’d wanted a flat screen and I was looking for something that improved on my CRT’s 16 inches. Dual screens were not an option due to limited space. Dell is known for making nice displays and the Dell U2412M was an amazing 24 inches. The technology is e-IPS. IPS is a step above the more common, less expensive TN technology. e-IPS is a poor man’s IPS, but still better than TN. The new screen was incredible – so much more real estate and really good color quality.

A bigger and better screen:
  • allows for more windows displayed simultaneously - no switching from window to window
  • allows you to see more of a document , spreadsheet, or artwork without so much scrolling around
  • allows more room for menus, toolbars, buttons, desktop icons, widgets
  • looks great AND improves productivity
  • makes viewing of films and other video much more dramatic

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