With the budget like it is we all want to find ways to save money. When it comes to computers we have covered way one, which is to cut the energy cost. By being picky about the parts used on a new PC, adding a smart surge system and making good use of sleep modes it is possible to cut the cost of the PC fairly well and not sacrifice quality. However this savings comes at us over time and we want our savings now.
With this in mind lets look at the various computer parts we consider in our build and see what we can do. First as home users we will find that there is typically not much that really makes the computer work. Gaming and Video encoding are about the most intensive tasks the typical home user will get into.
With this in mind it is hard to justify the current Intel offerings. While they are great chips that are truly the fastest possible, their speed difference is not something that 95% of the public will notice when actually using their computers. The i5 might change this and I am anxiously awaiting Intel to get me a sample so I can test drive this new chip. Once we have seen the chip and gotten the final pricing I might have to revise my opinion. With this in mind I see two likely choices. The best pure bang for the buck to me is still the Phenom II X3 720. This chip can routinely be found at or around $120. This chip offers over clocking options as well as great stock speeds. The other great option is the Phenom X4 945. While coming at at a base price of $169 might seem steep you have to understand that this price is only $30 above the none sale price of the 720. It offers a better base speed and an extra core.
Next we come to the motherboard. The enthusiasts tend to go for the big motherboards and typically look down their nose at the sub $100 boards. However Gigabyte has delivered for the AM3 platform a 770 based board that actually did not skimp on real world need features. With solid capacitors, a decent base feature set and good power control on the board it looks a winner. When I test ran this board and compared the numbers to a high end Asus board I found ZERO, yes you read that right, ZERO difference in performance.
That means a board costing less than half as much as the high end board gave me the same performance. Now I do lose the ability to use RAID 5, big deal since most home users, most gamers, most everyone does not use RAID. I did lose crossfire ability, again big deal since a single video card can EASILY handle gaming on any monitor up to a 1080 HD display. So the features I lost really do not counter the price reduction.
Next we come to RAM. The economical builder will point out that DDR2 and motherboards that support it are typically cheaper right now. They are correct but I do not think the choice is wise. DDR2 is heading toward death, no one argues this. It might be a few years but it is heading that way. The AM3 approach might cost a little more but has better upgrade potential. The cost difference here is actually pretty minor so I say spend this extra money and get the upgrade options.
Storage is an area where I will have to say I am a bit torn. SSD drives cost a lot more but have a good chance to be more durable, save power and offer a killer performance boost. However for a large majority of people the lesser space is a killer. With this in mind even as I work to stay within the limitations of my SSD I find myself likely moving back to a traditional HD. The reason is pure space. The other day I wanted to play a game with my friends and have to make sure I had room on my drive. It has been a long time since I have had to do that.
With this in mind I suggest that people look at a typical HD. However use some common sense and buy a size that fits you, 640 Gig is a nice sweet spot in price and getting the Caviar Black edition you get solid performance. If you want to save a little more money grab a WD Green drive. It will cost less than a Black of the same size and will also cut energy cost. Not a huge savings mind you but in an energy efficient PC every little bit helps.
Optical drives are where I expect the flaming to begin. I suggest just getting a BASIC DVD ROM drive. Not a writer, not a Blue ray, just a plain Jane DVD ROM. The reason is that unless you are SURE you are going to be burning CDs or DVDs there really is no need anymore. CDs are slowly dying out to digital media. Instead of a CD we now use our MP3 player. Even cars are coming equipped to use flash drives or MP3 players for music. For movies unless you are making home movies to pass out what is the point? With this age of digital media it is easy to find a website your friends can all watch the home movie on at their leisure and it is easy to share with anyone anywhere. Backup can now be done easier using flash drives and external HDs.
Finally we come to the video card. I have been test driving a nVidia GTS250 (thanks Paul at Hitechlegion for the card, nVidia if you are reading I would love some review samples of other cards) and comparing it to the ATI HD 4850. Now I am not going to do the review here, that is what the radio show is for, however I can say I am loving the results.
Both cards, costing right at $100 are able to deliver OUTSTANDING gaming performance at 1680×1050. That with high detail in many games and AA and AF enabled, the games look amazing. This is not with dual cards or overclocked cards, this is stock speed easy to find cards. Oh sure for $60 more you can go to the next level but I can tell you that even going up double the price, a 4890, I was not able to see any difference in my gaming experience.
If you are a DIY Hobbyist you can build a system like I described above with the case and PSU for around $650. That is not with a monitor or OS but these are easy to pick up. The system described will run any game on the market right now with a 22” monitor and look GREAT!
Not bad when only a few years ago a descent video card for gaming on a 22” monitor would have cost $400 by itself. Budget gaming is no longer the last resort, now it is the best resort. Great gaming, low cost, this means you can afford to buy the games you want play and plenty of diet coke to drink while you play. A win for all!
It seems no matter how much we think we KNOW we should back up we seldom do. Backing up our data can be confusing, time consuming and lets face it our computer will never fail, right?
The key to understanding why we backup is to understand that your computer will fail. We do not back because something might happen we back up because something will happen. I promise you no matter how great of a system you buy sooner or later the computer will fail on you, and typically when you need it most.
There are many programs to back up our data. All are automated in order to allow us to not have to worry about backups any more, yeah right. Automated backups sound great and many use them every day, but I ask how many of you have checked to make sure your back is good? To many people rely on the program they bought and the automation to ensure their data is safe. They go merrily along their way until one day they need their backup. On that day they discover that somewhere along the way the automation failed and their precious data is no more.
Over the years I have found there is no software that can replace the peace of mind that comes from manually backing up your data. In the “old” days this was a pain in the behind as data was spread out over the hard drive. However today it is pretty simple as most of our data now resides in a single location.
The simplest data backup is to go to the C drive on your computer, in XP look for a Documents and Settings folder, in Vista and Windows 7 look for Users. Now in that folder find your user name and copy the entire folder with your user name to an external HD. That’s it, almost all of your data has now been backed up.
Now if you use specialty software like some doctor’s offices and even insurance companies then you might have a little more work to do. The good news is these programs usually have a “backup” option. The way to make it easy to work with is have the backup these programs do go to your My Documents folder. In there create a new folder called backup. Now when you make the backup of your My Documents folder you are also making a backup of your backup.
What about email, I need to keep the emails I have received, how do I back those and my address book up? If you are a business you are likely using Outlook. Backup in Outlook is easy, just export your email using the Personal Folder options. This will take all of your mail and address book and back them up to a single file. Again by placing that backup in the My Documents folder you make backup a one stop event.
Backing up the address book for Vista and Windows 7 is easy if you are using the built in mail, the folder Contacts which we backed up earlier is the actual address book. For Windows XP users go into Outlook Express and Export the address book. However if you are a home user the BEST way to keep your email and address book safe is to use an online mail service like Live Mail or Gmail. The mail and address book are stored online so your computer crashing does not lose it.
The next question I always hear is; What about backing up my entire computer? There are great programs for doing this, my personal favorite is Acronis True Image. However these are best employed when the PC is first prepared. What I mean is you have a new PC and you have just finished updating it and putting on the software you know you will always need. Now before you add your data and begin actively USING the PC run True Image and make a backup of the entire PC. If you have issues down the road you can return to this clean, pristine point in minutes instead of the hour or two you spent the first time.
Using this system as a regular backup however over time is a bad idea. Oh it sounds good, it keeps your data and new software you add later. However it will also keep the junk your PC has built over time. Often a virus will come in the form of a Trojan. It will hide on your PC for some time and then suddenly pop open. Your full system backup could be a carrier of that and just give you the infection again after doing a restore to get rid of it.
The best idea is to JUST grab the data. Now I keep mentioning backup to the My Documents folder but if you only deal with a few docs and thus do not need to backup that folder often you can still use the built in back up of your software directly to the external HD. This allows you the peace of mind of a daily backup of your vital info and an occasional backup of your other data.
You will notice I keep referring to an external hard drive. This is serious the best way to back up currently available. For around $100 you can get 250 gig or more of backup space in a compact size like the Seagate Free AgentGo or Western Digital Passport. These are very small in physical size and use only a single cable to plug into your PC. This makes them easy to plug in, make your back up and unplug. This is important as if you keep backups on a drive you leave plugged in your data risk is vastly increased. You see that same surge that might have destroyed your computer could also get to your backup. By unplugging the backup we keep it safe.
There is one more backup I suggest using, online backup. Now I know I said earlier that automation is bad and I stand by that statement. I do not suggest you use the online as your ONLY backup. I suggest it is used with the manual backup. However online back up is a pain as you have probably found if you have ever tried it. The transfer rates can be slow and it can take a long time to get a backup done. I suggest limiting the online backup.
What I mean is use it ONLY for vital data. For example I keep all my contracts, address book, original business documents and a few special pictures on my online backup. I do not use the automation of the software but manually perform the backup weekly. This is data I could NOT live without and so I keep it on my regular backup but online as well. This way if a disaster hit my home and destroyed my backup as well as my computer then I know the vital data is safe.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that we keep good backups of our data. This used to only be a big deal for business users. However with home users now keeping family pictures, music, important documents and even banking on their PC it is a big deal that we keep that data safe.
I talk to people all the time about the advantages of a custom built machine over the cookie cutter design, in fact I did a piece here not that long ago as well. (Killing the Cookie Cutter) When I do one the things I stress is the energy efficiency advantages, but that is one of the hardest things to get people to understand.
You see the average computer in the home is left on 24 hours a day, usually only turned off for repairs or storms. This is NOT a bad thing. It allows easy file sharing, the computer can do it maintenance while you sleep and it is ready at a moments notice to respond to your needs. However right now we are all watching our pennies, so we are looking for anyway we can to save some green and I do not mean trees. With this thought in mind lets look at a computer setup and how we can save some money each month on the electricity it uses.
First we must look at the computer design. If you are getting a new PC this is the chance to make sure the system is green from the start. There are a number of components that all contribute to this. The biggest is the PSU, Power Supply Unit. This is the part of the computer that takes the power from the wall, i.e. the power you pay for and turns it into power the computer can use.
Now we would like to believe the computer draws just the power it needs, this is not true. The PSU does a lot with the power and in the process suffers some lose. In the case of a cookie cutter PC this lose can be anywhere from 40% to 50%. What that means is that when your computer needs 60 watts of power the computer has to pull 100 watts to meet that need. With a typical computer, not gaming, pulling around 250 watts under normal usage load this means your computer will have to pull close to 400 watts to meet that need.
However this is changing with new energy efficient PSU designs. The best way to find an efficient PSU is to look for the 80Plus certification. This is done by an independent organization that rates all PSUs on their energy efficiency. 80PLus means the PSU is at least 80% efficient in normal usage ranges. Taking our typical PC as exampled above our 250 watts requires requires around 300 watts of power to do the same job with a more efficient PSU. That is a savings of 100 watts of power.
Now your computer does not run at this power level all the time but this is a good base number to work from.
This more efficient PSU however does not just mean better power usage, it means less heat is generated by the PSU. This in turn means less heat by the PC reducing the need for a lot of high speed case fans to cool the PC. This means the computer is quieter and uses a little less electricity to power all those fans. Plus it also means the computer room is cooler in the summer reducing the need for AC.
Now these side benefits are very hard to measure as they are small and vary greatly on a number of factors but as you can see just having an energy efficient PSU can help with power costs quite a bit.
Next we come to the CPU, the brains of the PC. We can again look for energy efficient components here. AMD actually makes a specific model of each of their CPUs that has a reduced energy consumption. This does result in a slower model of processor but still a solid CPU. The savings however from doing this is not large enough in my opinion for the premium you pay or for the lose in speed unless you are a hard core I must save power nut or you have a LOT of computers setup, such as an office or school.
However the good news for us is that both AMD and Intel offer methods for the CPU to “clock down” or lower it’s speed and power consumption when not under load. For AMD this is called Cool-n-Quiet. The idea is that while in use many times the CPU is not using anywhere near it’s full potential. With this in mind it is possible to lower the voltage the CPU is pulling as well as reduce the speed of the processor and not take any noticeable lose in the computing experience. This does work and I have seen some pretty good drops even in some games that are less demanding. Using these methods means your PC pulls a little less juice reduces the cost even more.
How about the hard drive, personally I had never consider it’s power usage until Western Digital introduced their Green line. The idea behind these drives are that they use use less power, reducing the energy footprint of the computer even farther. A typical hard drive such as the Caviar Blue uses 8.7 watts of power when under load, being active and right at 8 watts or power when just sitting there. The WD Green series drops that to 5.4 watts under load and 2.5 watts when idle. That’s a pretty drastic cut.
It does this again by sacrificing speed to lower consumption. The sacrifice in the case of the HD means programs will seem to load slower. This is one difference that actually is easier to “feel” on your PC. It is not huge mind you but it is noticeable during the computing experience.
Want to cut the power a little more and gain speed then look at an SSD. These have typical consumptions of 1.2 watts under load and less than 1 watt at idle. Despite this sipping of power they are actually FASTER than an ordinary HD.
All things considered the Green HD is the best choice if you want to save power. The cost to size comparison is way in it’s favor and the speed lose means you might have wait an extra second or two for your email, take an extra drink of coffee.
Now not just hardware can effect your PC. The computer has an option in the OS known as a sleep mode. Essentially the computer powers down as low as it can and sits there waiting for you to come “wake” it up. This power down can take the total computer consumption down to below 40 watts. The faster we make the computer enter sleep mode the more we can potentially save.
The best way to set this however is to look at your computing habits. If you typically are up and down from your PC a lot and only away a few minutes each time we want the PC too wait longer before going to sleep. I hate getting up to grab a coke and then coming back and my PC is asleep already. You want the computer to go to sleep when you know you will not be back for a while.
The best suggestion to getting into the habit of putting it into sleep mode manually. This way if you know you will not be back it goes in instantly for max savings. Also set the computer to not use a screen saver but to actually go into sleep mode when idle. I have found 15 minutes to be good for me as if I am gone from the PC more than 15 minutes I am not going to be back for a bit.
As the final piece of this puzzle we will look to of all things the surge protector. You see when a computer goes into sleep mode it puts it’s other devices into a low power state as well but they all draw power still. This is called leeching. Think about it, your speakers, monitor, printer and so on are all pulling power even while the computer is off.
APC and others however have begun to introduce energy smart surge protectors and battery backups. These devices have three kinds of plugs. First is the “master” plug that is typically plugged into the computer. Next they have a number of slave plugs, these work great for your monitor, speakers and various devices that are only needed when you are using your computer. Finally they have a few normal plugs.
The concept of the master slave is that when the device plugged into the master plug goes below 15 watts it kills power to the slave plugs completely. The claim by APC is that this could save you up to $25 a year and they are right. Be sure however that devices that would effect other computers if off are NOT in a slave plug. (Such as your router and DSL modem)
Now with all of this done how much are we actually saving? Well if we figure the usage based on the way I use my PC, about 10 hours of day total usage divide between work, web surfing, email, occasionally watching a video on Hulu, listening to music and gaming then you are looking at a savings of about $150 per year.
$150 per year does not sound like all that much but it would pay for a year of MMO play, new software, a nice hardware upgrade and more. But do not stop there. What if you have two computers in your home, surveys say that 60% of us do. That can be $300 a year, not something to sneeze at now. What if you have more? Well the benefit just gets better.
With families putting more PCs in our homes and the ever increasing costs of power this can add up quick.
It is true however that to get a PC with this kind of efficiency you must get a custom build. There is a very specific effort to make a truly energy efficient PC. We have to understand however that a computer purchase is a long term investment. The typical user will keel their PC for 4 to 5 years. With that in mind compare the cost of a generic PC to an energy efficient custom build. Lets say you can get the cookie cutter for about $700 and the custom PC for $1000. Forget for a moment the other benefits the custom PC gets. Just the energy efficiency means the custom PC will cost $150 per year less than the cookie cutter. Over the course of 4 years that can be as much as $600 saved. In other words almost the cost of the cookie cutter can be saved over the typical life of the PC.
Now as with all things the mileage as it where on this will vary with individuals, their usage habits, what they are doing with the PC and so on. However it is easy to see that paying a little more green today means saving a lot of green tomorrow. It is an added bonus that green you save will not just be in your wallet but in the environment as well.
Back in the day there used to be a saying, the minute to open the box of your new PC it is obsolete. While this was a bit of an exaggeration, it was only a bit. New software was released at least once every 6 to 9 months it seemed that would force you to either buy a new PC to enjoy or at least do a massive upgrade. The hardware industry of course loved this mantra and preached it whenever they could. However during the years something has happened, while we still speak the mantra and buy more and more the hardware industry has raced so far ahead of the software industry that the mantra is now meaningless.
To explain what I mean we need to look at computer gaming, the part of the industry that has truly forced hardware evolution. Find any game you want to find today and begin going backward in hardware, go until the gaming experience is just not enjoyable. Now I know there are exception but consider the normal gamer, not the extreme RTS gamer.
I personally have seen systems as far back as an X2 4200 still provide a solid gaming experience for a family. This is with a CPU based on technology that is over 4 years old. So much for open the box and it need to be upgraded.
Consider the move from Windows XP to Windows Vista. There has been a lot of talk about the need for a massive system upgrade to run Vista but this is just purely not true. Vista runs fine on older system, you might not get some of the eye candy but the OS runs just fine if you give it enough RAM, 2 Gig minimum. Now using this OS with supposedly huge system requirements, how far back can we go?
I have sitting next to me a Pentium IV 3.0 GHz machine running vista smooth as a newborn’s bottom. That’s right the OS that has such crazy hardware demands runs just fine on a system based on technology 6 years old.
Now if we are able to run on these older processors why do we see newer and faster ones release every few months? MONEY! In the end that is what it is all about, how much money each of the processor and for that matter all the hardware companies can make. They will throw bigger and bigger parts at us and the mantra tells us we need to make the move.
It is not just CPUs, how about hard drives. Now in this case it is not about obsolete technology, it is rather about not having enough space. We are told each year that our OS’s are bloated and new software uses so much space and we need bigger and bigger hard drives to be able to even do computing.
As I showed in my blog entry on using a hard drive as well as the review I collaborated on over at Hitechlegion the need for a larger HD is vastly exaggerated. If we can kill the pack rat and pirate mentalities we will find our hard drive needs are actually modest and most people would happily be able to get by with a 250 gig drive. Again however the mantra drives us forward.
Next up Video cards, this part of the industry has been the fastest mover for some time with ATI and nVidia slamming at each other at a break neck pace. For many people it is easy to get dizzy from all the new products coming out. However this part of the industry is also beginning to feel the merry-go-round slow down.
Today even budget video cards can give outstanding gaming experiences. You can grab 2 year old video cards and still play most of the current games out today. With the rise of the MMO that life span of the video card could be increasing, with projects like Onlive coming out in the next year it could be increased even further.
So what about RAM, we have been told to get more, is this also exaggerated, yes and no. RAM is the one place where the exaggerations where not a big. The good news however is that this has slowed down as well. XP for a time was considered best at 1 gig but the truth was it was always at the sweet spot at 2 gig. The reason for the earlier smaller memory size was cost. However as with all the above parts as the technology marched forward the cost marched down. 2 Gig is the minimum RAM I would suggest in ANY system today; XP, Vista or Windows 7. However that too is about to change.
With RAM prizes at amazing lows we are seeing the industry move from 32 bit to 64 bit. From the consumer end not a lot will really change. 64 bit allows basically more to be done. However that move will change the minimum RAM needed from 2 gig to 4 gig. This move though is still a transition so we will see 32 bit support for at least a few more years which means no need to rush forward. However if you have a new PC guess what, except for how much RAM you have you are very well already set to move to 64 bit.
Now I write all of this with a purpose in mind, a new mantra if you will. I have been talking to a lot of people about setting their computing on a cycle. What I mean by cycle is develop a computing hardware strategy and never worry about the merry-go-round again. Lets say you start today with buying a brand new computer, you outfit it exactly to fit your needs within a reasonable budget. It does everything you need it to do and does it well. Now we begin the cycle. Look at the cost for that PC. For our example we will say something rounded and easy, $1000.
Now you need to honestly evaluate how you use the PC as we begin setting our cycle. If you are a business person, someone that does the web, word processing, excel, you know work, the cycle is pretty long. You can get the most out of your current hardware purchase when compared to other types of users. A Business User would be on a 5 to 7 year cycle. What that means is we take that $1000 and split the cost of it up over lest say 5 years, $200 per year. You take that money and put it away for your “technology” fund. In 5 years if you need it or not you buy a new PC. Now realistically this can be pushed to 7 for most businesses but 5 years is a safe number.
Now I know you are going back a bit and saying wait, the CPU can be viable for longer than that, why so quick? The reason I chose 5 to 7 years has to do with my experience with watching hardware hold up over the long haul. At about 5 years you begin to see most PC suffer hardware failure. Usually it is minor but gets worse as time goes on. Additionally in 5 years the hardware changes available will not just be baby steps, it would be a real leap forward in the new system. The idea of the cycle is to ensure you always have a good solid up to date system and get into a new one before the old one begins to nickel and dime you to death on repairs or a major failure causes lose of valuable data.
What about home users? If they are casual users, basically use their PC like described above then the same cycle holds true with the likely hood of pushing out 7 being greater. A home user is typically not as hard on their PC as a business. However this equation changes if you have a gamer in the house.
If you are a computer gamer my experience suggest this cycles would be better fit at 3 to 4 years. You see while the merry-go-round for the rest of the world has really slowed down, it has not done so as much for the gamers. Now if you are an MMO player only you could likely stretch that to 5 years even but if you are a serious, I buy ever new game, gamer then the 3 year cycle is the safest bet.
Now if you are a DIYer then the route is different, you can do upgrades here and there to extend the base life of the PC. Upgrade a CPU, add RAM, more HD space or even a video card can be ways to make a PC work for a year or two longer. For the average users that is not a DIYer this option is not a great choice. The cost of the part and labor for the upgrade when compared to the price of a new PC is hard to justify, especially as the new PC will likely have a bigger impact for them than the upgrade.
I guess what I am trying to say is this. Just because a company announces it’s glorious new part does not mean the PC you are using needs to be replaced. Just because some benchmark shows the new part is twice as fast, this does not mean your part will not do the job. In this economic times doe not get caught up in a race to stay current on technology, instead stay current on your needs. If you computer does what it is supposed to do and you enjoy your computing experience then you have the best PC for you. If your PC experience is marred because everything does not work as you think it should then l;looking at new hardware makes sense. If you are going to look at a new PC remember the cycle of PC purchase and do not get caught back on the merry-go-round.
Piracy, a much more romantic name than calling a person a thief, is beyond epidemic proportions in the are of computer software, music and movies. I have heard it termed as a victimless crime but this is far from the truth. No matter how you dice it a thief is a thief.
Consider this for a moment, about 45% of all theft not computer related, such as breaking in to a home or pick pocketing is actually perform for a need. Now what I am referring to is drug addiction in or in some cases poverty. The drug addict needs a fix, the poor person need food. Now the reason does not condone the action and I am not saying these people should get a pass but lets take this and look at theft in the computer world. Does your kid NEED the latest song, do you need to see a movie before it hits theaters, do we need office software or for that matter the latest OS or game? If we look at this from that perspective you have to come to the same realization I have, computer pirates are worse socially than many common thieves.
Piracy is the ultimate form of childish entitlement mentality. Think about the argument a moment. You ask someone, why did you download that movie. Well they wanted to see it. Why not go pay to see it at the movies. Well the movie industry makes way to much money on this stuff and it is to expensive. Why not wait to see it when it releases on DVD and rent it. Well this way I can own it and watch it whenever I want. Why not buy it when it is out on DVD? I don’t want to wait and why does it matter no one is hurt by this.
The act of piracy is basically simple to boil down, a selfish brat with no regards for anyone but themselves. What they want when they want it and who cares how they get it as long as they get it. Besides we are owned this from these companies.
Now I cannot say I am unsympathetic to this I do agree that the music and record industry rakes us over the coals. Actors and musicians are paid insane salaries and that is pass along to us. I do understand this. But at the same time piracy has added to this mess. Now these companies have to assume a certain percentage of piracy and pass that cost along to the legitimate consumer. So that act of stealing the movie, the one you though would hurt no one, it does hurt people. Not the movie industry, not the actors but rather those of us that would prefer to be honest and not thieves.
This damage becomes even more true in the world of computer software. People seem to think programs are developed in a vacuum. The truth is that it can be very expensive to develop these software packages we use. It does cost a lot to hire a talented team of programmers to work on a project, they are not as common as you would think and so the competition to hire them is furious. Add to this all the time needed, writing a program is seriously complex and making all the various parts work together like they should can take a lot of time. Add to this the demands of deadlines.
You see computer consumer, especially gamers are the most ungrateful, obnoxious, over bearing, demanding and yes childish group of consumers on the market. We will demand the program or game we want to have the features we desire most. Forget if it can be made to work if the program is not the way we personally think it should be it must be crap and the programmers at fault. If the program is not out by the time we determine it should be then the programmers have dropped the ball. If they hit the deadline but run into a glitch it is again back to blaming the programmers for being crappy at their jobs. So they will put in 14 to 18 hour days for weeks on end as the release date closes in to make sure everything is perfect.
Then of course they find out that the hard work and sweat they have put into a piece of software is being bashed on and oh by the way 50% of the people bashing it never bought it, they stole it.
As if the fact that the piracy is a crime and hurts others is not not enough, how about the fact it hurts you?
Malware makers look for easy marks, people that do not know any better or in many cases are just silly enough to let them have their way in, hello pirate. Malware is everywhere in the pirate world. They know these spoiled three year old mentality people will do whatever it takes to get what they thing is there chance to do it to the man and grab something great. So they seed infected files within this community just waiting for the next little petty thief to come along. Being a pirate increases your chances of having an infected machine almost 500%. I am not joking the increase is that huge. By the way it does not matter how great you think your AV software is, if you keep deliberately putting your PC at risk sooner or later it will get infected.
The truly sad part of all this is that there are great free alternatives, as well as budget solutions to get done the work you need. For example, Microsoft Office is one of the MOST pirated programs on the market. Yet for free exists Open Office which can do the same job legally. Do not even get me started on the vast number of video games pirated each year when there are amazing budget and yes free alternatives. If you want a specific game all you need do is wait a little and the price will fall to budget bins within a few months. Want your music cheaper? There are a ton of online sources that sell individual songs off of albums for around $1.00, all legally BTW. Free movies or TV shows, sites like HULU allow you to watch them without having to pirate them. Want to reduce movie costs look at sites like Netflix where you do not deal with late fees and typically pay less per month and watch more movies.
There is one final consideration on piracy as well, the cost you might pay soon. The movie, record and software industry have begun more aggressive campaigns to tackle this problem. Many ISPs have joined the fight and have begun monitoring traffic patterns to help predict which IP addresses are using pirate sites. BTW this can be done legally, without a warrant and is not an invasion of privacy. They are not looking at the content, they are looking at the data flow patter to see specific patterns of data traffic that are indicative to pirating software and sites. With this data in hand the companies can now go for a warrant, and use the information to quickly track down the thief.
If you are caught doing this you could get off with just losing your ISP service. However you could also receive jail time and even fines. Oh by the way parents, YOU are legally liable for the actions of your kids on any PC in your home.
The reason this article popped up today was the recent news that the copy of Windows 7 that was sent to a hardware company to prepare their new line had been stolen and was out on piracy sites. I was amazed as I watch in forums as people openly talked about downloading the pirated copy and using it. When asked, they felt no remorse, no concern, they felt it was owed them. They want to use their computer and Microsoft is a big company so they own them an operating system.
There is no excuse for piracy, there is no justification. You see I can find some sympathy for a thief that breaks into a home because he was driven to it by an addiction. I can find some compassion for one the does it to feed his kids because he just cannot find a job. But a thief that does it because he wants something and he should not have to pay to have it, I have no compassion for. This is not a crime of passion or need this is pure unadulterated greed, immaturity and selfish behavior.
I know a lot of good people that have done some piracy because they where lied to and told it was okay, everyone does it. This is not true. The time has come for us to stand up and show our integrity not just when we see a person face to face but in ALL we do. As for the Windows 7 piracy. I have already pre-ordered mine and currently run the legally registered Release Candidate. My copy of Office is 100% legal as is every piece of software in my home. I am like all of you, I have to live within my means so I use a lot of free alternatives. Well some because of cost, some just because they are great products.
In the industry we talk about how the computer age is still in it’s infancy, well by now it’s mid teens. The time has come for the computer users to grow out of the childish behavior however and become adults.
If you have software you know is pirated but do not know how to find a legal free alternative email me and I will help you find software that will fill your needs legally.