Street Team: Motorola’s Project Ara

In case you missed the technology news this past week, Motorola teamed up with Dutch designer Dave Hakkens to create a new kind of phone. The following video came out earlier this summer, and it caused quite a commotion among technology lovers and phone manufacturers alike.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDAw7vW7H0c&w=320&h=240]

The concept “Lego” phone was just a figment of imagination for many, a Utopian phone that would never be mass-produced. That changed when Motorola, a Google-owned company, picked up the Phonebloks design for Project Ara.

“We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software – create a vibrant, third-party developer ecosystem,” the firm posted in a blog.

“To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs and how long you’ll keep it.”Through Project Ara, users will be able to customize a phone based on their wants and needs. Unlike phones on the market today, if you break your screen, wear out your battery or just decide you want an upgrade, you can keep your existing phone and update it with a new part.

There has still been a lot of negative feedback about the phone’s practicality and durability. (you can take a look at one of the main reddit thread about Phonebloks here: http://www.reddit.com/r/electronics/comments/1m4m0f/this_is_currently_on_the_front_page_a_good/). Some of the most common complaints have been that the phone will not have all of the features of a regular smartphone because there will be limited space for the blocks. For a regular smartphone, designers cram in all of the pieces and find the best way they fit together. Without this process, consumers would have to solve the jigsaw of compiling their technological needs onto a small space, not an easy feat! Users may have to sacrifice things in order to have the things they want. So while it may be practical to ditch your storage for more battery if you only use the cloud, you could not get more storage and more battery at the same time without sacrificing something else. The end-result may turn out to be a bulky, unstable, and unattractive.

Nevertheless, Motorola is launching a pilot-phone to gain feedback and create a Project Ara community. It will certainly be interesting to see just how the Google company executes this project. Experts predict they will be launching a developers kit sometime this winter, so be sure to keep an eye out for this environmentally conscious phone in the future!

Street Team: Emergency Notification System (ENS)

The winds started picking up and everyone knew it was coming. Superstorm Sandy, one of the costliest storms to ever hit the United States, was scheduled to hit Philadelphia on October 29th. Pennsylvania was in a state of emergency and Philadelphia had shut down its public transportation system.  Everyone on SJU’s campus was preparing for the storm but as Sandy hit, members of campus began to realize that our methods for communicating emergencies were lacking. The existing system served its purpose, but it could be better and reach more people.  At the time, the Emergency Notification System (ENS) was used to communicate via text and email.  In the case of an emergency, we wanted to be able to reach as many people as possible, as efficiently as possible.

The Office of Information Technology (OIT), including User Services, Media Services, Web Services, Project Management, and Telecommunications, created an updated version of ENS to better notify students, faculty, and staff in the event of an emergency. The yearlong project has been a collaboration among a number of departments on campus.  OIT’s charge was to hear from various SJU constituents what they’d like to see in the ENS and build the technology.

The first phase of the new ENS project was modifying the system so emergency communication was extended to encompass text messages, email, RSS feed (on MySJU, sju.edu’s campus status page, notification bar and the campus TV system), as well as the University’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Because we are aware that most people are plugged into some form of technology most of the time, we wanted to reach SJU employees and students through their mobile devices. The pictures below show what you would see displayed on www.sju.edu and the university’s status page in the event of an emergency:

statuspagealert

campusalert

Procedures were also simplified and clarified during this update to the ENS.  A select group of people are designated to determine the message and communication channels if and when there is an emergency on campus. These administrators then fill out a form to identify the emergency and check off what form of communication to use. This form is then sent to an alias in The Office of Public Safety and Security.  Public Safety will then sends out the outage or emergency notification to communicate the issue with the rest of campus. There are monthly tests of the system in order to test its effectiveness and key employees are routinely trained. Just last week, the emergency notification system was utilized to inform students of the Philadelphia water main break. In the future, there may be more updates to the system, but for now, it covers everything imaginable.

So, while the few emails and texts you get may be annoying at the time, you can be assured of your safety knowing our campus will be ready in case of an emergency.

 

Spotlight: Media Services

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has a great deal to offer the Saint Joseph’s University campus, but there are some departments within IT that many people may not have heard of and therefore cannot take advantage of.  OIT is comprised of User Services, Application Services, Computer Services, Network Services, System Administration, Telecommunications, Web Services, Office of the CIO, and Media Services.  Over the next few months, we will be highlighting the individual areas and the work they do for campus.

Media Services (previously ITDL) is generally known campus wide as the classroom support specialists, but the department offers much more than that.  Media Services is divided into three teams: Classroom Support, Engineering, and the Production Team.

The Engineering Team focuses on upgrading technology in classrooms. The team has been working hard to create and uphold a general standard for all classrooms. Besides the normal in-class computers and projectors, they install special equipment upon request. Their goal is to create a campus where the learning spaces meet the needs of faculty and advance student learning. Their most technologically advanced classroom is Merion 174. It is a new collaborative technology classroom designed to support the expansion of the Communication Studies program. Some other technologically advanced classrooms include Mandeville 295, 310, and 313. Cool equipment they have installed includes a wireless desktop sharing system where students can project their desktop image to the class, and an interactive display that acts like a virtual whiteboard where teachers can annotate notes and save them.

 

2013-10-15_16-00-50

Classroom Support is available to help maintain the classroom equipment. Media service has offices located on both in Merion and in Barbelin to reduce wait time if a problem arises on either side of campus. The team also performs routine checks on all the equipment to eliminate problems before they start. They have a monitoring system set up so they can remotely troubleshoot issues and pinpoint troublesome equipment.

 

2013-10-15_16-03-59

The Production Team is where creativity meets technology. For students, the production team loans out equipment, such as projectors, cameras, tripods etc. They also provide troubleshooting for cameras and major-specific equipment for communications and film students. Faculty can make requests for recording, setting up and recording a class, editing, authoring and copying DVDs, or setting up live stream events for guest lecturers. The production team works with faculty and staff to create concepts for projects and can arrange outsourced services such as voice overs or sound mixing.

The production team is currently involved in some really interesting projects. They are currently compiling a documentary of the history of SJU by interviewing around fifteen people who have been on campus over various decades. The video will highlight how the campus and culture has change, especially since changing from an all-boys school. They are also working on creating a video about the Bolivia exchange trip available to faculty and staff every other year. The exchange includes an immersion trip for SJU faculty and staff to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the local people, and a trip to SJU for Bolivian educators on the off years. You can view some of the production team’s other projects on the SJU YouTube page, and occasionally in the news section of the SJU website. Past projects include the virtual tour on the SJU webpage, a video on summer scholars found at http://sju.edu/news-events/news/student-faculty-research-project-studies-turtles-local-wildlife-refuge and our own TSC video. The video they made for the TSC recently won the Communications Award of Excellence in the category of Short Promotional Video/Audio from SIGUCCS (Special Interest Group on University and College Computing Service) and can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBCHIIyktGE

Follow these links to check out some more of the production team’s videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBddZfJvGP4&list=UU1cWjIQ9s3sqr6ghbbqSGfQ&index=15

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eQvHcuxddU&list=UU1cWjIQ9s3sqr6ghbbqSGfQ&index=39

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEjiRvJgf1Y&list=UU1cWjIQ9s3sqr6ghbbqSGfQ&index=53

 

The staff that make up the Media Services department are:

Jim Wilson: Director & Chief Engineer

Mark Beideman: Manager, Classroom Services (SJU alumnus)

Ben Ellis: Manager, Media & Event Services (SJU alumnus)

Ed Basile: Tech Operations Specialist

Justin Fowler: Engineer

Mike Gallagher: Video Production Director (SJU alumnus)

Angela Gisondi: Senior Tech Ops Specialist (SJU alumna)

Gary Greco: Senior Tech Ops Specialist

Dan Moretz: Video Production Technician

Michael Troy: Tech Ops Specialist

Kyle Tucker: Assistant Engineer

Jason Ward: Tech Operations Specialist

 

To contact Media Services:

Email: mediaservices@sju.edu

Call Main Campus x1170 or Merion Campus x3360

For high-end production projects contact Ben Ellis at bellis@sju.edu

*The production team is happy to partner with other departments to improve their image!

 

Top Apps: Sneak Preview

As college students, many of you are already familiar with the latest apps for smartphones and tablets. In today’s high-tech world, there is literally an app for almost everything.

Here are some you may not have heard of…

  1. Songza                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Price: FREE

This app is by far my favorite of the ones on the list. It provides music playlists customized to the time of day, your activities, or your mood. When I first downloaded it, I sat in my living room with my roommates laughing hysterically about some of the playlists’ names. Examples include Hyped All Day (getting hyped for taco bell), Songs from Apple Commercials, The Twerk Tape, Ladies be Pregaming, and (for you Breaking Bad fans) Cooking with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Somehow this app has come in handy at least a few days a week since I downloaded it and the music always suits my mood and needs. There is also a website similar to Pandora if you don’t have room on your phone, Songza.com.

Check back in on Monday for the rest of the apps Katie recommends!

Street Team: Midterm Studying Tips

This week, Andrew Wyschynskyj, a Sophmore, Food Marketing major, has some midterm studying tips for you. Andrew has been with the TSC since he started at SJU in 2012.  He recently became a Brand Ambassador for the Office of Information Technology.  We love his enthusiasm for SJU and OIT and are thrilled to have him as a member of the Street Team!

 

Midterm Studying Tips

The new school year has started a few weeks ago, and it does not really seem to feel that new anymore. Now that there are midterms right around the corner we all start to stress out about our grades. Everyone has a different style of getting ready for their exams, but there are a few general study tips that can be useful for many people. If you have good study habits and study techniques, then you will be prepared for your midterms and keep your stress levels to a minimum.

books

The first thing you need remember is not to wait until the night before your exam to start studying.  I know many of you are procrastinators like I am, but seriously, study early!

  • Space out your studying
  • Review a little bit each night
  • Review right before/after each class. (if you ever get to class early just review your notes from last class)

 

You should learn the general concepts first. It helps to understand what you’re studying, before learning the smaller details.

  • Highlight major topics
  • Make an outline of your notes
  • Study from concept to detail
  • Make flashcards for important vocabulary words.  StudyBlue is a cool app where you can create “flashcards” and share study materials with other students in your classes. iTunes U is also a cool app that has supplemental videos and lectures on a topic you may be studying!image

Some studies have shown that you are able to remember more at the beginning and end of a study session compared to the middle of a session. This is a good excuse to use to stop studying for a bit when it is getting boring.

  • Take short breaks while studying
  • Change up the order you study the material

 

The best way to know if you are prepared for the exam is to see how much you actually know.

  • Take practice a practice test
  • Have a friend quiz you, or quiz a friend
  • Use the review questions at the end of each chapter

 

Friends and other students in the class can help make studying less boring, and make you more willing to actually do it.

  • Form study groups (with other students who will actually study)
  • Go to SI sessions

 

There can be a lot of distractions to prevent you from studying. Try to find a good location where you have access to everything you need, but will not be tempted to do anything other than study.

  • Avoid studying in your bed (or you may fall asleep, I know I have)
  • Stay away from loud, or social environments
  • Common places to study on campus (Drexel Library, Campion, dorm lounges, Claver)drexel

You know what works best for you so put your headphones in and tune out everyone else if necessary.  It’s a fact that most student’s don’t study without technology anymore, so don’t forget that if you run into any technology problems while studying, we’re here! The TSC has 24/7 phone support and walk-in hours everyday.  As Rich touched on in a past article, make sure to back your school work up and save it in more than one place (Dropbox, your Gmail account, a flash drive, anywhere)! You don’t want to lose the only copy of your work the night before it’s due.

 

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

Street Team: Top Apps for College Students

As college students, many of you are already familiar with the latest apps for smartphones and tablets. In today’s high-tech world, there is literally an app for almost everything.

Here are some you may not have heard of…

  1. Songza                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Price: FREE

This app is by far my favorite of the ones on the list. It provides music playlists customized to the time of day, your activities, or your mood. When I first downloaded it, I sat in my living room with my roommates laughing hysterically about some of the playlists’ names. Examples include Hyped All Day (getting hyped for taco bell), Songs from Apple Commercials, The Twerk Tape, Ladies be Pregaming, and (for you Breaking Bad fans) Cooking with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Somehow this app has come in handy at least a few days a week since I downloaded it and the music always suits my mood and needs. There is also a website similar to Pandora if you don’t have room on your phone, Songza.com.

  1. Mint.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Price: FREE

Mint.com is a budgeting app that is convenient for people who are on the go but still want to keep track of their expenses and where they are spending their money. After you create an account, you automatically can see where your money is going. The upside is that it is super easy and safe. I’ve read hundreds of reviews of the sites security precautions and all say the system is secure. The app works by tracking and analyzing the places where you use your credit/debit card and categorizing the expenses as entertainment, food, clothes etc. Simpler budgeting apps are available if you normally pay in cash or don’t feel comfortable entering in your information

  1. Reference Me                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Price: FREE

This app is great for anyone who ever has a paper with a works cited or bibliography. Reference Me creates citations; however, unlike any citation-creation website, it can scan a UPC code and transform it into a pre-made citation. Something to keep in mind when you have a few big papers to do and not enough time to get citations for every book you looked at in the library.

  1. Sleep Cycle                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Price: $1.99

Sleep Cycle is on a whole other level compared to other apps. It involves sleep and as a college student sleep is one of the biggest necessities. Sleep cycle tracks your sleeping habits and patterns based on your movements while you sleep. You place your phone face down next to your pillow while the app is running and it notices when you toss and turn in the night. You can input various things like working out and drinking coffee to see how they affect your sleep. After your first week or so, the app starts providing you graphs on how your sleep varies night to night. Some graphs include sleep quality per day of the week, time in bed per day of the week, time you went to bed and daily graphs of your rem sleep cycle. The coolest portion of this app though is probably the alarm. You’re able to set a “smart alarm” that wakes you up during your lightest sleep in a given time frame so you never feel groggy. The snooze is also pretty advanced and wakes you up better by shortening the snooze time as you reach the end of your time frame.

  1. My Fitness Pal                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Price: FREE

Watch out freshman! That extra serving at Campion adds up and eventually you may be among the large percentage of adults who watch what they eat or diet. If you do, get this app. It customizes your calorie intake based on your height, weight, and activity level. You can input your food and drink choices and see exactly what you’re putting into your body. What distinguishes this from most other dieting apps is it has a large database of food and drink with the nutrition facts already entered and you can often get this information by scanning an item’s UPC code. It also shows you what you’re lacking in your diet and when you go over your daily limit for something such as sugar.

  1. 7 Minute Workout                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Price: $1.99

Another great app if you are trying to get fit, 7 minute workout provides customized high intensity interval training workouts based on what you would like to improve and the equipment you have (a chair). The workouts are great for college students because almost everyone can find 7 minutes in their busy routine to try to get healthier. Plus, you can workout in the comfort of your room.

  1. Wifi Finder                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Price: FREE

Ever feel like you can never find a WiFi connection off campus? WiFi finder provides the locations in your surrounding area with public and even private WiFi connections. Some places within walking distance of St. Joe’s campus include Starbucks, T-Mobile, and Mcdonald’s.

  1. Duolingo                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Price: FREE

Duolingo has been recommended by many bloggers as one of the top language apps. Although you can only choose from German, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, the program teaches you a language much like the top software companies do: “the natural way to learn a language.” Also, if you want to learn more than just a language check out iTunes U which provides courses and lectures from other universities.

  1. Google Drive                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Price: FREE

This one is probably one of the most popular apps on the list.  Obviously Google is a successful international search engine among other things, but if you don’t have the app on your phone, get it. Google Drive is great for cloud storage and allows you to jot down notes and access them later online from any device. And like most cloud storage, its really convenient and hassle-free, especially in a place with campus-wide WiFi.

  1. Viber                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Price: FREE

Viber is essential if you or any of your friends are studying abroad. It allows you to send free texts, and call while abroad. It was perfect for me when I was only abroad for a month and did not find it necessary to spend $100 on an international mobile plan. The app does require wireless but there are generally cafes and restaurants that will provide free WiFi while abroad.

  1. Lemon Wallet                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Price: FREE

This app is a virtual wallet and wonderful if you happen to misplace your wallet. You can add your credit, debit, bank, and club cards by scanning them and never risk losing all the information in your wallet. Lemon Wallet also includes receipts and expense reports to make shopping hassle free. The app is popular among college student who often misplace, forget, or don’t bring their wallet out with them, especially on weekends.

  1. Pulse                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Price: FREE

If you like to keep up with all the latest current events, Pulse provides all the news you need in one spot.You can select some of your favorite interests and customize what you read. Each interest has a variety of sources to explore for example, science includes articles from Discovery News and National Geographic among others. You can select which channels you’d like to have and create a profile to link up your social media. Pulse caters to any student who can’t seem to find the time to sit down and open a newspaper, but has a quick five minutes here or there to catch up on what’s going on.This app will also come in handy if you ever need to take a current events class or if your major requires you to be up-to-date.

  1. iStudiez Pro                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Price: $2.99

This app is basically a comprehensive calendar and planner that is with you at all times. I know I personally have trouble remembering when I have meetings projects and tests. With iStudiez Pro you can keep track of assignment due dates, tests, classes, and events. The app automatically syncs with your current calendar on your phone so you don’t have to import your meetings if you download it. I’ve been using it for about 2 weeks now and it already has become a lifesaver. I check what I have for the day when I wake up and it has customizable reminders for important events. It might not get you and A in all your classes, but it will definitely help with time management.

And for those of you who are 21 and older

  1. Mixology                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Price: FREE

When you want to make mixed drinks, but aren’t sure what to use or what you want, use Mixology. You can search all drinks for a recipe, get a random one mixed up, or look for something with a specific ingredient. The app also allows you to input your liquor cabinet for ideas involving what you’ve got at home.

Bonus: search for bars and liquor stores and receive some bartending tips!

  1. Drink Owl                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Price: FREE

Tried and true, Drink owl finds you deals at your local bars. Give your location and automatically find the local bars in your areas with specials that night. For example $10 margarita pitchers Monday night at Cactus in Manayunk. Comes in handy when you and your friends can’t decide where to go out that night.

 

Do you have a favorite app you think others should know about? Let us know!

Street Team: Initial Feedback on iOS7

iPhone Home Screen (iOS 6 v iOS7)

After hearing many passionate reviews on the new iOS7 on blogs and twitter, the TSC decided to find out how our SJU students feel about the new upgrade.  Katie went on a mission to get reviews around campus.

 

Here’s what SJU students had to say:

“I like that it’s new and refreshing. The new notification center is very informative and convenient and the new ringtones and sounds are more fun. The new camera is more high tech and the upgraded navigation system is better for walking. I think certain people don’t like the extreme change of colors and style.”

Jess Russo, Food Marketing ‘15

 

“I don’t like the new text messages. I think the iOS7 looks ‘juvenile.’ I feel like the software makes the phone look older and not as cutting edge as the software before.”

Kylie Smeraglio, Education ‘14

 

“I think it’s weird, it’s trying to copy the Samsung Galaxy and doesn’t feel very ‘Apple’ and all around not very manly.”

Ryan Masserano, Sports Marketing ‘15

 

“I’m iffy about it. I don’t like setup but I do like the navigation system. It also seems to make my phone slower.”

Lauren Brands, Political Science ‘15

 

“I like it. The design is fresh and new. I love the colors and the new background but it’s slow and takes up more battery.”

Hannah Tomkovicz, Food Marketing ‘16

 

“The update is way more efficient but it was weird at first. I think people are afraid cause it’s new.”

Andrew Kolpack, Finance-Management double major ‘15

 

“It’s ok… I’m just used to the other one. It’s very bright and I don’t like chat bubbles in the new iMessage.”

Tori Evans, Early Childhood Development and Special Ed ‘16

 

Many students with the update were not as passionate as what has been circulating the internet, but the consensus was that it was definitely a change they would have to get used to but seemed to be alright so far.

As of those who did update their phones, some cited they were told by websites to wait about two months, other didn’t have enough room on their phone or just hadn’t gotten around to it yet; however not many were refusing to eventually upgrade like some tweeters are.

 

What are your initial thoughts?

Street Team: Backing Up Your Schoolwork

If you’ve ever had your computer crash with one page left to go of a 3,000 word paper, then this article is for you. A lot of students who come into the Technology Service Center simply don’t backup their data. Even if you’re saving your work every 5 minutes, backing up your files is essential. You can save all you want, but if a file becomes corrupted or if your hard drive mysteriously catches on fire, you’ll be completely out of luck. There are a few different companies that offer solutions to this problem, but Dropbox is arguably the most popular.

Dropbox is a service that allows you to backup and share files via the internet, quickly and easily. You can save all of your schoolwork in a single folder and, without you doing a thing, Dropbox will copy all of your schoolwork to its servers for safekeeping (or sharing, if you’re into that sort of thing). Setting up Dropbox is straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time.

Setting up a Dropbox account:

 

1. Navigate to http://www.dropbox.com (or just click the link) in your web browsers

2. In the top right corner, click the “Download” link. A new page should open, and a download link should appear.

3. Once the file finishes downloading, double click it and the installer should begin running. Click “install” and Dropbox should begin installing.

4. Eventually, the installation dialog should display a screen asking if you either a. don’t have a dropbox account or b. already have a dropbox account. If you haven’t already registered an account at dropbox.com, select the first option.

 

5. The sign-up form should now appear. Fill-in the required situation, give your computer a name for Dropbox to recognize, and click next.

6. Dropbox’s pricing list should now show up. Unless you wish to pay a monthly fee, select the free 2GB option. Pricing options on the paid Dropbox plans are availabe on the Dropbox website.

7. On the next prompt, select typical setup. Dropbox may now prompt you for your mobile phone number, this is optional. Only enter your phone number if you wish to set up Dropbox on a mobile device as well.

8. Continue through the setup prompt and Dropbox tour.

9. Setup should now be completed.

 

Now, inside your user folder (where your find your Downloads, Music, Videos, etc. folders) will be a folder titled “Dropbox”. Any files you put inside this folder will sync to your Dropbox account.

 

If you prefer not to use Dropbox, for whatever reason, there are a few different services that offer similar free plans (and use similar setup proccesses):

http://mozy.com/home/free/

https://spideroak.com/

http://www.google.com/drive/

Good luck, and don’t forget to back up your data!

Meet the Team: Katie Baldwin

Katie Baldwin is the TSC’s first official Student Worker of the Month. Since the start of the Fall 2013 semester, Katie has been non-stop.  She works as a student technician, fixing computers, removing spyware, and replacing parts.  In the month of September, the TSC for the Street Team and Katie picked up double-duty serving as a Brand Ambassador for the Office of Information Technology (OIT).

 

afterlight

 

As a member of the Street Team, Katie writes blog articles, takes part in campus events representing OIT, and testing new technology that students may be interested in.  Outside the TSC, Katie is a Junior International Marketing major. She is pledging AOII and plays Gaelic Football.

We are very thankful to have Katie is a member of our team and couldn’t do what we do without her!

 

 

Street Team: 5 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

This week, our featured Street Team member is Rich McIntosh.  Rich is a Junior BI major who has worked in Information Technology since he was a freshman. He is now serving in the TSC in the position of Brand Ambassador.  Keep an eye out for Rich at a campus event near you!

 

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

Pretty much everyone has had the experience where, seemingly for no reason, their computer begins to run slow. Sadly, the reality is that computers start to slow down for various reasons over time. This applies to both Mac and Windows computers, and it can put a huge damper on the computing experience. Fortunately, though, there are a few steps you can take to speed things up.

 

1) Defragment your hard drive (Windows Only)

A fragmented hard drive (essentially meaning that it’s disorganized to the computer) can be a big performance killer. Almost all Windows laptops and desktops will suffer from this issue at some point in the computer’s lifespan. If you have an Apple computer, this probably won’t be an issue for you. The way that OS X writes files to the hard drive largely eliminates the need for defragmentation. However, for the vast majority of users on campus, fragmentation will become an issue over time. Windows has a built in defragmentation utility that will suffice for most situations, and you’ll want to make sure you have at least 10-15% of free space on your hard drive before you run it.

You can find step-by-step instructions on defragmenting your hard drive on Microsoft’s website. Click on the version you have to be taken to the site:

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Windows 7

Windows 8

 

2) Clean off junk files from your hard drive (Windows & Mac)

This particular tip applies equally to both Mac and Windows computers. Third party software tends to install a significant amount of “bloatware” (unneeded and unwanted programs/files) and over time this can slow a computer down significantly. A good, free utility for cleaning off these junk files is called CCleaner and it can be downloaded at http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner. Instructions on using CCleaner: http://www.piriform.com/docs/ccleaner/using-ccleaner. Make sure that you are downloading CCleaner from piriform.com, the official website, or filehippo.com, another official location for the download.

 

3) Eliminate unnecessary startup programs (Windows & Mac)

 

If your computer is taking a long time to boot up, it’s almost always going to be as a result of the number of programs attempting to run when it boots. CCleaner has a utility built in that allows you to see what programs are running on startup and delete them. Almost no software has a need to be running as soon as you turn on your computer, besides antivirus or antispyware software. Otherwise, there’s very little benefit, and quite a few drawbacks.  Also, when you install many programs (for example, Spotify) you will be asked if you want this program to run at startup. Choosing NO is the best option.

4) Run regular virus/spyware scans (Windows & sometimes Mac)

This tip applies especially to Windows machines, although arguably will apply to Macs as they are becoming more and more widely used. You should be running virus scans weekly, at the very least, on your computer. All it takes is clicking the “Scan your computer” button and letting it run in the background for 45 minutes to an hour. Viruses and spyware can bog a computer down and render it more or less unusable, and that’s one of the less severe results of malware. If you need anti-virus software installed on your computer, you can stop by the Technology Service Center (TSC), where we do any software installs and hardware troubleshooting in SC129, any time during business hours and it will be installed free-of-charge.

 

5) Don’t save every single file to your desktop (Windows & Mac)

 

Does your desktop look something like this (or worse)?

This one may sound a little silly but it’s one of the most common things I’ve seen working on both Faculty and Student computers. If you’re saving every single file to your desktop, your computer is going to be noticeably slower. It has to render the icon and store meta information for every single file, and it’s very taxing on the computer when you start nearing hundreds or thousands of files. Even creating a folder on the desktop and saving everything in there would be an improvement, but ideally one should utilize the Downloads, Documents, Videos, Music and Pictures folders. Both Mac and Windows use pretty much the same setup as far as those five folders are concerned, and using them instead of the desktop will both help you be a lot more organized and possibly eliminate some performance issues.

 

As always, if you have any questions on these tips or need assistance following any of the instructions, we are more than happy to help at the TSC in SC129!