Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Score Big with Bing

Honestly? When the Bing search engine was first released by Microsoft, all it garnered from me was a shrug. I was in China at the time, so my top priority was minimizing my bandwidth use – when you’re working at dial-up speeds, you don’t care about resource-heavy perks or the background eye-candy that Bing is so fond of. I just wanted speed.

The homepage on Bing.

The homepage on Bing.

Now that I’m back in the US, I’ve tried it out rather extensively as I order parts for my coming computer build. I’ve got to say: Bing isn’t perfect, but it’s off to a great start. Search is decent, as are the various categories that filter results. What’s great right now, though, is the cashback program. Continue reading

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August 13, 2009 Posted by | Tech | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Bought Windows 7 Today, or I Am Victorious: Return of the Victorious

Pre-ordering: it's what all the cool kids do.

Pre-ordering: it's what all the cool kids do.

Before we get into any of this, note the title. Yeah, that’s witty; it even references an earlier post, which is always fun.

Okay, down to business.

I pre-ordered Windows 7 today for $49.99. Fine, $55.97 if you want to get technical and include shipping.

It was good. It was lovely. And for a few hair-raising minutes, it looked like it wasn’t even going to happen.

Newegg didn’t officially show it as in stock, and just had the auto-notify button up. Office Depot was out of stock. Microsoft’s online store crashed every time I tried to access it. Enter my hero: Amazon. Ordered, confirmed, and scheduled to arrive on the day Windows 7 officially releases.

Before any of you go off into some sort of anti-Windows / anti-early adopter / anti-other stuff rage, let me make a few points: Continue reading

June 26, 2009 Posted by | Gaming, News, PC gaming, Personal, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Juice: Getting Power to Your Gadgets

This post was originally published on my other blog, The Study Abroad Experience. It has relevance to Tech + Lifestyle’s content, so I thought I’d post it here as well.

While applying for my study abroad last semester, it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure was sort of power standards exist in China. There’s communist power, of course, and power to the people (though in China, that’s an irony if there ever was one), but what about the power that comes out of the wall? I had no clue about that power.

Fortunately, there are a ton of resources on the subject. If you’re going abroad, and haven’t bothered to check what sort of power your destination country uses, check out Treehouse, a great travel guide that includes information about power standards. This page has an exhaustive list of possible destinations, and here is where I found what I was looking for about China.

As it happens, electricity in China is 220 volts, at a frequency of 50Hz. While this is firmly within the normal range, the shape of plugs is not. Prongs are set at an angle, with the grounding prong at the bottom – kinda like a capital Y. My plugs just aren’t going to work.

Kensington 33117 Travel Power Adapter

Kensington 33117 Travel Power Adapter

The solution to my problem is the Kensington 33117 Travel Plug Adapter. The name might be a little long, but this thing is worth it. It includes configurations that are compatible with more than 150 countries, so it’ll probably work for wherever I end up in the next few years, too! The only caveat is that it is certified up to 550 watts – anything over that, like a hair dryer, shouldn’t be used with it. In case you were curious, it can be purchased from Office Depot or Newegg, a great online electronics retailer.

Before you go off and buy one for yourself, take note: this is only an AC adapter. It doesn’t convert the wall’s electrical output, it just gives it to you in a physical format that your stuff can plug into. Check everything you’re taking with you to ensure it’s compatible with the electrical output of your country. All my gear will work with 110-240 volts and 50-60Hz, so I’m good to go. If you’ve got something a little less flexible, you might end up frying it by plugging it in.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Tech | , , , , , | Leave a comment

PC Component Selection Guides

While I’m still on the topic of pc components, having written up part one of my pc build series exclusively on the parts my friend Raymond and I chose for his build, here are some excellent, up-to-date guides online to choosing components when building a PC or merely replacing or upgrading a part. If I’m not completely certain about a part, I often reference web pages like these. They can be absolute lifesavers for those of us that don’t do PC builds/repair work professionally. Continue reading

September 20, 2008 Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Computer Build

Maybe the title is a little misleading. While this is my first build, it isn’t really mine. I’m putting together a gaming rig for my friend Raymond, who has plenty of money available but not a ton of knowledge when it comes to computers. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve upgraded computers quite a few times, throwing in new hard drives, memory, graphics/sound/wireless cards, etc. From time to time I’ve performed hard drive reformats, and I seem to have become 24-hour tech support for my family and friends. Raymond happens to be the most recent example, and I’m excited to challenge myself (and a little encouraged by how many people online state that “any idiot with a screwdriver and a how-to guide can build a computer”). Continue reading

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment