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Best Sites on the Web!!

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These are some of the best sites on the web. They are not sponsors and we are not paid to link to them they are just some of the best sites on the web that we like to use.

 

Toms Hardware

This is one of the very best sites on the internet if you want to know what the best hardware is to buy right now. They have up to date articles and reviews of the best buy for your dollar as well as high and low end hardware. This site has been around since the 90s and if you need to know what the best video card, mother board, memory etc. is this is the place to go.

Tiger Direct

Tiger Direct is one of those sites that almost always has the best prices and offers. If you want to get new hardware go to Toms Hardware first to see what the best hardware is then go to Tiger Direct to buy it!

WinMatrix

This is a great forum for all topics related to Windows.

Sea and Sky

This site is a great resource for anyone into astronomy or the study of the oceans. Some great pics of space and ocean life as well as many other related items.

Michele's Paint Shop

Michele's Paint Shop is dedicated to providing you with free PSP Tubes, Paint Shop Professional Tutorials, and information on Web & Graphic Design optimization.

 

Raids, Benifits and Options

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Raids, what are they, what do the various raid levels mean? RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. In general any raid is better than no raid (except for raid 0 which only offers performance increase). You can think of a raid as a way to make your hard drive more reliable and therefor reduce the likelihood that you will loose your data or system. A raid automatically in real time backs up your hard drive. For most personal users the way they backup there system and data is to think about it and then never do anything. The result is calling a friend or paying someone to try and recover data from a crashed hard drive. One other option is to back up you data to an external device. This is ok but the data is only as current as your last backup and it requires actual effort by the users...so it is actually not done..most times.

 

Raid

To make it simple a raid is a set of hard drives (as few as two) that back each other up constantly. When one drive fails the other takes over the load and keeps the system running and your data safe. Raids can be used on all operating systems and have been around for a long time. Now for some technical stuff... There are various levels of raid, some are better than others for various reasons. In general the lower the raid level the less robust the raid is and the greater chance of a failure. I will summarize for you, if you want more data you can go here for greater detail about the various raid levels Wikipedia Raids.

So....here it is.

Raid 0 Striping - The simplest raid, data in a RAID 0 system are split up in blocks that get written across all the drives in the array. By using multiple disks (at least 2) at the same time, RAID 0 offers superior I/O performance. This performance can be enhanced further by using multiple controllers, ideally one controller per disk. Raid 0 will NOT maintain data if one disk fails...this is an important point

Raid 1 Mirroring - This is a good option as it will actually write date twice, once on each drive. This is an invisible way to backup your data in real time. If one drive dies the other has all of your data on it. If a disk fails, you just replace the failed disk, the raid will then copy the data to the replacement disk. Thats the good news...the bad news is that if you put 2, one gig of hard drives in your system you will only have 1 gig of storage available. In addition usually raid 1 is not hot swapable, this means you have to power the system off to put replace the bad hard drive.

Raid 3 - Parity on separate disk - On RAID 3 systems, datablocks are subdivided (striped) and written in parallel on two or more drives. An additional drive stores parity information. You need at least 3 disks for a RAID 3 array. This type of raid is good for storing large volumes of data but of you have a lot of small files or disk I/O

Raid 5 - Raid 3 but data are transferred to disks by independent read and write operations. This means that the I/O is not and issue and this is a common and secure raid level.

Raid 10 - This is a mix of raid 1 and raid 0 - It has the  advantages (and disadvantages) of RAID 1 and RAID 0. It provides security by mirroring all data on a secondary set of disks  while using striping across each set of disks to speed up datatransfers.

There are other raid levels but this should give you the idea.

Many motherboards today come with raid built in. Even discount motherboards such as this one $79 at Tiger Direct have raid 0, 1, and 10 built in. With hard drives being so large and so cheap having a raid 1 system is really a smart thing to do if you are at all concerned about your system and maintaining it. These kinds of raids are easy to set up and offer constant backup of your data. Never again will you loose that important data and maybe you will even sleep better at night. As Ron Popeil would say "just set it and forget it!".

 

 

 

Help I think my computer is taking over my life!!

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Often times I wonder, and get asked, how fast and powerful will computers get? Moores law has been working for some time now the power has gone up, and cost down just about exactly as predicted. If it continues to hold we may as well give up now, just admit defeat and let the computers take over, we are doomed...
Of course that is a bit of exaggeration ..maybe.. but there will come a time when computers are so powerful and fast that they will mimic, and may even have, intelligence. We of course are all doing our own little part to help in this as we create ever smarter programs to take advantage of the ever more powerful hardware. We are also creating this wonderful web we all use and love to connect all of these powerful programs and computers ..can you say Skynet...Borg..Terminator..
In any case in our lifetimes we most likely do not need to worry about our PCs reaching out to take over but we are defiantly in a time of ever changing power and functionality. Someone reading this article most likely will have a conversation some day with their computer that will be so close to talking with a person that they will basically forget they are talking to a computer. There have been programs in the past that were specifically designed to mimic thought and intellect. In the future these will not be specificlly designed to do this but will just have this capability as a normal course of events. When that happens we will start to really blur the line between interacting with a computer and interacting with a human.

We already have the ability built in to be able to talk to our PCs and have them talk back to us. This capability is actually fairly sophisticated and capably today. We are just a few steps away from a more meaning interaction. With multiple core processors, cheap ram, fast clocks, we are a few software strokes away from what could pass as a real interaction with our technology.
So you may ask yourself why do I bring all of this up...From time to time we have to remind ourselves that this is technology meant to make the human existence better. We should not loose site of the fact the we have been around a lot longer that computers and we do need to be mindful of allowing them to control to much of our lives. We all in our own way are working to make computers more capable. Even if you are not in the industry simply using a PC and buying software supports that evolution. They can do awesome things and are an integrated part of our lives now, like it or not. Unless you live in a shack in the woods and don't have electricity your life is touched every day by the technology. Use it, enjoy it, but keep it in perspective.

 
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