Off or on?
Where else but CNET would a discussion of whether you should turn your PC off at night become the hottest thread
in the history of our user forums?
My position in the debate: I say, forget the thing even has a power switch. Leave it on. That way your machine is instantly available, just like every other tech product you own. It also lets backup programs, antivirus apps, and spyware cleaners do their thing thoroughly every night without slowing you down--or vice versa. That's how the pros run machines after all.
The cost? The average PC draws something like 60 watts in normal operation. At the average national rate of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, that's $6 a month running all the time. Add in a monitor, and you might round up to $10, much less for an LCD. So we're talking maybe $120 per year.
PCs are like jetliners--they almost never crap out when cruising, but you have to watch those takeoffs and landings.
What about wear and tear? The only part of a PC you really worry about breaking is the hard drive. My Seagate Barracuda
is a 600,000-hour part (as measured by its mean-time-between-failures rating). That's about 69 years, always on. I've also noticed that PCs are like jetliners--they almost never crap out when cruising, but you have to watch those takeoffs and landings. Cycling the power on a PC is when you should tighten your seat belt.
But if the benefits of instant-on and background housekeeping don't turn you on, here's a more human-based reason to never shut down your machine: It takes my computer 48 seconds to boot. During that time, if you're like me, you sit there, pretty much staring at the BIOS and Windows screens. Maybe you're even mouth-breathing. Done just once a day, that's 4.9 hours of looking stupid, every year. I'll gladly play $120 to take that off my resume.
News flash: Google not perfect
I have a bone to pick with Google. Go there and search doubletree club las vegas. You'd expect to get a result up high that links to that hotel's site. But no. In fact, nowhere on the first page of results is there a link to any site run by the Doubletree hotel chain--just a bunch of junky travel reservation aggregators you've never heard of, emanating from long, hyphenated domains.
You get the same thing with four seasons las vegas reservations (more my style, anyway). I expected at least one result on the first page to point to, say, a Four Seasons hotel page, any Four Seasons hotel page. No.
Cables irritate me, cascading on and off your desk, connecting all your desktop gear in an inefficient, expensive, snarled mess.
Unfortunately, we love Google so much, we've conferred a sort of utility status to it. Thus, it needs to handle searches such as those above more adroitly. Google should tune the algorithm so that when the name of a major business or another large entity is searched, at least one official, main link is returned. It can't be much harder than rotating those goofy holiday graphics on your front door.
A cure for cable clutter
Cables irritate me, cascading on and off your desk, connecting all your desktop gear in an inefficient, expensive, snarled mess. The cat always wants to climb them and, as Cooley's Rule predicts, always ascends the one connected to the most expensive piece of gear, which means the Nikon film scanner takes a header onto the floor--the hardwood floor.
Yes, I've been accused of being tidy, but even the slovenly among you will like this trick: Install a plastic rain gutter on the wall your computer desk sits against, just below table height. Then lay all your cables in it, drilling perhaps one large hole where they need to escape and find the AC outlet. This will keep most of your cables off the floor and out of the cat's grasp. I like RainGo's gutter line for this project. Think you're even tidier? Try me, hot shot. I have a thread going with sebrenner on the topic in the CNET forums. (Wash your hands before clicking.)
Brian Cooley doesn't really compute with earmuffs on--in fact, he's eager to hear from you. Tell him your gripes