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TMCNet:  Tech Monthly: Playtime: Your tech questions: Do you have to use Linux with the Raspberry Pi or will Windows work with the device? How can you stop your browsing history coming up on someone else's computer? And why is my laptop so very slow?

[February 09, 2014]

Tech Monthly: Playtime: Your tech questions: Do you have to use Linux with the Raspberry Pi or will Windows work with the device? How can you stop your browsing history coming up on someone else's computer? And why is my laptop so very slow?

(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Q The Raspberry Pi (below) is a brilliantly cheap way of getting young (and not so young) people into programming but, being Linux based, it is not to everyone's taste. Is there a low-cost equivalent - or DIY guide for sourcing components and building one - that will run Windows? Colin Meaden, Norfolk, via email A The answer to this is maybe. The Raspberry Pi is an excellent little device, but it is compromised and likely to frustrate some users with its performance without some system tinkering. These limitations are arguably by design as it tries to encourage young people not to be afraid to explore what they can do with computers - this is where Linux is an excellent companion for the Pi. It makes it much easier to tinker with the core of the system or, if you get more proficient, even compile your own version of the operating system. Linux may not be quite as user-friendly, but it's incredibly flexible for learning and has amazing package managers to install compilers easily, as well as to install other software. This also has the benefit that, if you ruin the system, you can re-image (clear off and re-add a new version of the OS) the SD card and start again.


If you require a Windows computer, however, it's hard to recommend anything close to that price point. This is because Windows is a much more bloated operating system and requires higher system specifications to operate and run well. You also have to be careful that you aren't buying a Windows RT device, as you won't be able to run your own code without some more setup and, even then, you'll be limited to which languages you can write.

If you can afford the extra, and need Windows, then purchase as you would a home computer - but you'll have to be more careful with what you touch, especially if it has important files without backups.

Q We recently upgraded to BT Infinity. My laptop is four years old and the wireless speed is rather slow. It shows a speed of 54Mbps for wireless and 100 for wired. Other computers are much faster. Do I need to upgrade my laptop? Robert Shaw, Worcester, via email A The speeds shown (54/100), are not download speeds, but are in fact the connection speeds from your computer to the router and they suggest that you have at most a G wireless card which is likely to be quite slow and, even then, the computer is quite old and probably beginning to struggle. I would recommend upgrading, especially if other computers on the network are significantly faster. You could also buy a USB wireless card for your computer, but its benefit may be limited by the slow performance of your computer.

Q The browsing history from my iPad comes up on my husband's Google Nexus 7. How can we stop this happening? Gillian Bassett, Bedford, via email Assuming that you're using Chrome for iOS on the iPad (as Safari would not sync history with Chrome and Android), it sounds like you're both signed into the same Google account in Chrome. There are two ways to prevent the search history from being shared between them: 1) Use personal rather than shared Google accounts.

2) Disable history syncing in Chrome for iOS preferences.

If you do use Safari, it's probably just search history being sync'd; you can fix this by using personal Google accounts.

Having bought a Which? best buy Google Nexus 10 (above), I find it irritating that it does not support Sky Go. Whose fault is this - Sky or Google? Presumably it's just a question of someone writing the necessary software? Hugh Ball, Eastbourne, via email A The Sky Go tablet app (released on 3 December) supports all Android tablets (7" and larger that run Android 4.0 or newer) apart from the Asus Transformer TF101 and Amazon Kindles. You should be able to find it if you search "Sky Go Tablet". If this doesn't work, make sure that your tablet is fully updated by going to settings and checking for any updates that may be available to the OS.

Daniel is a freelance programmer for iOS and the web. He is a student and has been coding since he was eight. He is an ambassador for Young Rewired State and can be found on Twitter @DanToml. If you have a tech problem for Daniel, email tech.questions@observer.co.uk with your full name and where you live Captions: Flummoxed? Our regular columnist Daniel Tomlinson will sort you out (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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