Archive for the ‘Tech News’ Category

Apple, where is the touchscreen?

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Apple where is the touchscreenIf you have seen any of the commercials for the new Macbook Pro you probably noticed that Apple has incorporated a new touchbar feature above the keyboard. The touchbar marketing makes this new feature seem sexy sleek and cool by allowing users to interact with certain programs by using the new touchbar. Apple calls this new feature “A touch of genius” and “Light. Years ahead”, but really is this that “genius” or awesome of a feature? This new feature certainly begs the question: Why doesn’t Apple just make a Macbook Pro that is a touchscreen, and how about they call it a Touchbook Pro (duh)?

The Apple team has explained that they just do not think Mac OSX would be effective as a touchscreen operating system. They would like to keep iOS the iPhone and iPad OS the touchscreen operating system and Mac OSX the old point and click version but now with the new touchbar. For the company that claims to create the most intuitive user interfaces for operating system it seems like Apple is missing the boat here since most Windows based laptops now include a touchscreen for ease of use. Windows has recreated the entire Microsoft Windows user interface to accommodate both touchscreen and tradition mouse and keyboard users. So is Windows ahead of the curve here? Has Windows finally taken back the prize for most intuitive operating system interface?

In Windows the computer user is never forced to exclusively use the touchscreen as they can still use the touchpad mouse and keyboard to navigate the operating system as well. It just seems logical to provide Mac OSX users with the same experience to stay competitive. There is nothing wrong with touching the screen every once in a while to launch a program or to move the focus to a search field in the web browser.

Perhaps there is something else holding the Apple company back from making a touchscreen laptop. Maybe it has something to do with the chipset they have created for the Macbook laptop, and they just do not want to re-engineer a touchscreen into the motherboard due to cost and profit margins. While we may never really know what is holding this feature back, it is safe to say that the Macbook Pro laptop and Mac OSX is lagging behind in using the cutting edge features that touchscreen brings to the usability of a laptop.

Can You Ditch Microsoft Office for Free Open Source Libre Office?

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libre-office4Microsoft Office has grown to become a suite of office document, organization, presentation and organization tools. You probably have heard of some of these applications and perhaps used them all. There may be some too, that you haven’t heard of and wouldn’t have a reason to use. If you fall into the category of a basic office software user, you may be able to save yourself hundreds of dollars by using LibreOffice instead.


Microsoft Office made its debut when the first release of Word was released in fall 1983. Tho not required, Word could be purchased bundled with a mouse. Word could take credit for introducing the mouse to a larger population of computer users. Its dominance in the market was secured by its .doc file type becoming the de facto standard for documents. In 2007 Microsoft Office became compatible with other document types.


Back in the day, Lotus 1-2-3 was the dominant spreadsheet application. But Microsoft quickly outsold Lotus 1-2-3 after it was released first for Mac in 1985 and then for Windows in 1987. Excel is useful for keeping spreadsheets for organizing information, lists, macros, and for doing equations on data.


Powerpoint is used for making slides for presentations. You can use text, graphics, and other objects. It is usually used for presentations where the presenter is using a projector. Its slides can also be printed on transparencies or slides. It is frequently used by students, salespeople, educators, real-estate agents, and others for presenting information when public speaking.


Microsoft Access is a beginners database system that contains an easy to use graphical interface for managing database tables. Powered by the relational database engine, “Microsoft Jet Database Engine,” Access stores data in its own proprietary format based on the Access Jet Database Engine. It also has the ability to link to other data objects in other databases and applications.


Microsoft Outlook (not the same program as Outlook Express) is primarily used for managing personal information (“Contacts, phone numbers, emails, email attachments, calendars etc…” Microsoft Outlook is losing favor for online web/cloud based email systems like Gmail and Yahoo. Outlook is tricky to set up correctly and stores its data file outside of the user directory. This makes it easy to unwittingly erase all of your email, or for it to get out of sync with your phone or another computer that is also running Outlook. South City Computer has assisted many customers with fixing email problems and recovering emails that were caused by misconfigured or misused Microsoft Outlook.

Introducing LibreOffice: Free, open source alternative

“LibreOffice is a powerful office suite – its clean interface and feature-rich tools help you unleash your creativity and enhance your productivity. LibreOffice includes several applications that make it the most powerful Free and Open Source office suite on the market: Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing).”


Much like its counterpart, LibreOffice Writer is an easy to use word processor with a familiar graphical user interface and the ability to read and save to many different file formats. Writer has all the needed features for all day to day word processing and contains other advanced features that enable a poweruser. It is a full word processing and desktop publishing software tool. While basic enough for a quick letter it is powerful enough for you to create complete full length novels and books full of diagrams, pictures, indexes, etc… Writer gives you the ability to work on what you have to say and it will make it look great. This author has been using LibreOffice writer since the early 2000’s. It was used for a college degree, and was used at South City Computer from the beginning. Anyone looking to save money on a word processor should seriously consider LibreOffice as it does everything you need it to do.


Spreadsheets are helpful for organizing everything from shopping lists to complex accounting reports. If you are a newcomer to spreadsheets you will find its interface intuitive and easy to learn. Experienced experts and professional data miners find Calc to be the spreadsheet they always dreamed of. Number crunchers will appreciate the full range of professional advanced features such as build-in wizards and templates that streamline the creation of projects. Plus there is a huge template repository for ready-to-go spreadsheet solutions all downloadable for free. The ability to choose styles and direct formatting make it a joy to engage in flexible cell formating options. Freely rotating contents, backgrounds, colors, templates, borders and more make becoming a spreadsheet expert with Calc within reach of just about anyone. Specialized tools like the Scenario Manager allows you to ask what if and compare such things as profitability with high, medium, and low sales forcasts. And Calc’s Solver Component gives power users the ability to solve optimization problems like what is the optimum value of a particular spreadsheet cell has to be based on the constraints placed on other cells. South City Computer uses Calc all the time. We highly recommend you do too.


Making a multimedia presentation? Look no further. Impress is an outstanding program for creating engaging and effective multimedia presentations. Slides come with different editing and view modes (Normal for general editing, Outline for organizing your ideas, Notes for viewing and editing the notes you can attach to a slide, Handout for printing paper materials, and Slide Sorter that shows you thumbnails to make it easy to locate an organizing your slides), and supports all kinds of media (Pictures, movies, sound files, tables, and HTML links to name a few). There are components for easy to use drawing and diagramming that will allow you to add your own style and some sophistication to your presentation Slide shows and animations and effects all come packaged in Impress. You can also create very nice looking 2D and 3D images from text. You can build and control three dimensional scenes all the while incorporating a large choice of objects and other components.


Base is Microsoft Access on steroids. While still easy to use with an intuitive full-featured desktop database front end. Base is designed to meet the needs of a broadest array of users from simple home to database administrator. Base is built for power users and enterprise requirements so it provides out of the box native-support drivers for some of the most widely employed multi-user professional database engines: MySQL/MariaDB, Adabas D, MS Access and PostgreSQL. Plus, the built-in support for JDBC- and ODBC-standard drivers allows you to the power to connect to virtually any other existing database engine as well. Base is pre-configured with the full HSQL relational database engine making it the idea solution for everyday jobs and for beginners who need an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand database system. Data is stored directly inside the Base file making it highly portable. Base also supports dBase flat files. There are wizards for new users to help with creating new database projects, tables, queries, forms and reports. There are even pre-defined table definitions like templates, that are great for tracking assets, customers, sales orders, invoices and other common business items.

Want to include formulas and equations in your documents? LibreOffice comes with Math, a formula and equation editor that allows you to place your formulas directly in your documents. This is something MS Office doesn’t have.

Like the name says, Charts is an application in LibreOffice that allows you to create charts from various data sources, Calc spreadsheets, or Base databases. Bring color and visual clarity to your spreadsheets and documents.

So Can You Make the Switch and Do the Ditch?

If you already have a Windows license you can always keep using MS Office, and download and install LibreOffice to give it a try. You might be surprised that LibreOffice is a great application with lots more features and more compatibility than MS Office. But if you are just starting out, or for some reason don’t have your costly MS Office license key, you can easily forego MS Office and use LibreOffice instead. The cost savings will be significant and the program will be hardly different. In fact, you might decide you like LibreOffice more.

Zorin OS: An Ubuntu Based Linux Distro That Looks and Feels Like Windows 10

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Windows 10, Microsoft’s new flagship operating system that has caused so much consternation with Windows users over the past year, may have an open source Ubuntu based Linux distro competitor. Windows 10 has been fraught with issues, starting with forced and botched upgrades, wifi issues, blank screens, and blue screens of death. But the user interface sure is nice if it works right? Well there may be another option for a computer operating system that has the look and feel of Windows 10 but without the bugs, cost, and security vulnerabilities.

Enter Zorin: An Ubuntu Based Linux Distro That Looks and Feels Like Windows 10.

Zorin OS is a replacement for Windows and macOS, designed to make your computer faster, more powerful and secure.

“Zorin OS was started in 2008 with one goal: to bring the most advanced technology into the hands of everyone. We believe in creating a product which is open, so you can take back control of your technology and not the other way around. By maintaining a clear focus on simplicity, we’ve been able to create a powerful computing experience that millions of people love to use every day.”


Ubuntu Linux is the most popular Linux for the Desktop, and the folks at ZorinOS took that Ubuntu core and made it look like Windows. Mind you, the programs you run will have to be Linuz programs as Windows and MacOSX programs usually don’t run on Linux because the architecture is different. But there are many other open source programs that are designed to have the same functionality and replace their Windows and MacOSX counterparts.

For a Windows 10 lookalike operating system Zorin OS is promising.

Who is using Zorin OS?

The City of Vicenza, Italy is launching a pilot program which aims to migrate the municipality’s computers from Microsoft Windows to Zorin OS. Thanks to the performance, flexibility, cost and ease of use of the system, Zorin OS was selected to replace Windows on the municipality’s 700 workstations, serving 895 employees.

Are You Ready To Try Zorin OS?

You can download ZorinOS from Zorin OS Download Site

Office Max Busted for Fake Repairs

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dishonest-mechanicFinding a trustworthy computer repair shop is akin to finding a good honest mechanic. Most people when they bring their computers into a shop have the expectation that they are receiving honest well-informed answers to their computer problems. But unfortunately there are unscrupulous technicians who will invent problems on your computer in order to up-charge you for services you really don’t need. One hopes that they are being given honest answers but unethical behavior is pervasive in any industry where there is a naive customer and a dishonest business. You might expect this sort of behavior to be more prevalent at small independent shops staffed by greedy proprietors. So you might be surprised that actually you are at far greater risk of being duped by large companies that pressure their service techs to meet sales quotas and revenue goals.

Just this week OfficeMax was busted by Fox2 News in Boston and in Seattle by undercover reporters who were investigating a complaint made by an employee whistle-blower who alleged that OfficeMax was telling its sales associates to lie to customers about malware infections to drive up the cost of the repairs. He leaked, Officemax pushes each employee to meet sales goals for tech services, and each technician’s goals are posted for other employees to see.

“The program itself is mandatory. It’s not an option to not run the program. You have to run it on every machine that comes in the building,” he said.

When the diagnostic tests are being ordered, Officemax repair technicians are required to ask the customers about pop-ups, computer speed, virus warnings, and shut downs. But even one of the boxes is checked the software automatically returns a possible malware problem.

While asking customers questions about their computer is an important part of the diagnostic process, this gerrymandering of the software is really a sleight of hand to automatically recommend removing malware without actually testing for it in order to generate more revenue for OfficeMax.

OfficeMax may be the most recent company in the news for unethical and dishonest computer repairs, but they are not the first. Other companies such as Best Buy as also been in the news after they were caught lying to customers about unnecessary repairs and employee insiders revealed Best Buy computer techs overcharging, lying, and snooping through Best Buy computer repair customer’s personal files. It was revealed Best Buy employees were even trading these files and making fun of the customers personal photo collections.

South City Computer has a core commitment to maintaining the highest standards of ethics, accountability, honesty and integrity with its customers. We have seen firsthand the diagnostic and repair work of the big companies that have been caught, and a couple others that haven’t been yet. We’ve fixed “bad motherboards” with replacement power supplies, we’ve recovered data when our customers were told “the hard drive is dead.” We don’t make any assumptions about viruses or malware based on our customer’s self reporting. We actually spend the time to test and empirically decide based on industry best practices what we think is wrong with the computer and needs to be done. We recommend the least bit of service that will correct the problem. We do this because we do the right thing. And we can say from what we know about our local independent repair shop competitors is that they pretty much do the same things as us. You are far more likely to be bamboozled and overcharged at a big box store than at an independent local shop because we rely on word of mouth and repeat customers.

South City Computer makes the promise to its customers to do its best to diagnose computer problems and accurately estimate computer repairs, and when it makes more sense to recommend a replacement we do that even if that means we take a hit on the transaction. We have administrative and technical safeguards in place to protect our customers’ privacy. Our technicians don’t have to look through a customer’s file system because we utilize automated computer programs that blindly manage operations on customers’ data. Our employees are not paid bonuses or commissions on repair sales because we don’t want to incentivize dishonesty. We do not have any minimums or quotas our employees need to reach either.

South City Computer’s mission is “Being Awesome!” In order to live up to that we have to be better than the other guys. To us that means keeping our prices fair and not taking advantage of our customers’ naivete. You trust us to give you good advice, and it is our promise to deliver the best that we can provide

Does Microsoft Love Linux?

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Historically Microsoft has been one of the most closed secretive companies when it comes to source code and other trade secrets. The motive behind this is to prevent Microsoft’s competitors from gaining an advantage in the market. This closed-source policy has created a captive market for Microsoft products, including vendor lock-in and golden handcuffs.

But as technology has changed and open-source Linux has grown to a viable competitor thanks the the diligent efforts of altruistic programmers and companies that sponsor development, Linux has begun to take a large enough share of Microsoft’s market.

Linux has been deployed on hundreds of thousands of servers and runs 80% of internet sites. It’s free cost, ease of access, complete documentation, and large network of professionals has made Linux the #1 operating system for websites, research, and technically savvy home users wanting a free operating system and nearly all free software.

As desktop Linux has grown in popularity among hobbyist home users and has started taking a foothold in the home desktop market Microsoft has taken notice. In fact, Microsoft has begun making applications available for Linux that 5 years ago would seem impossible.

After years of fighting against Linux Microsoft has come to embrace Linux and open source and has made that public by joining the Linux Foundation, “the organization of choice for the world’s top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption.”

The Linux foundation supports the development of the Linux kernel and funds open source development. The Linux foundation also provides an organization for companies, developers, Linux professionals, and individuals to come together to share ideas about promoting Linux and open source software.

By joining the Linux Foundation, Microsoft is changing its stance from fierce opposition to Linux and open source to supporting a platform and operating system to run its software. This will bring improvements to Linux and also help Microsoft maintain a foothold in the market for its server products.

Microsoft has announced that it has ported a beta version of its popular and powerful flagship product, Microsoft SQL server, to the Linux operating system. This public beta is free to download and try

Microsoft has also announced its plans to bring its cloud application service, Azure, to Linux making its apps available to Linux users.

The changes are an ongoing effort by the Microsoft to adapt to the changing market and support Linux and open source in different ways that will benefit the consumer and users. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella first said in 2014 that “Microsoft loves Linux.”


Microsoft is joining the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member. It will join the company of other heavy hitter companies like Intel, Oracle, Samsung and IBM. The change in direction makes sense for Microsoft, given its open-source leanings of late. Jim Zemlin, the Foundation’s executive director, said that he expects Microsoft will intensify “its involvement and commitment to open development.”

We can see how Microsoft has adopted elements of Linux into its operating system by including a bash interpreter in Windows 10, and by making its flagship software product SQL Server run on Linux. While there has a been a long history of Microsoft fighting Linux and open source software, this change refelects the changing market forces that are forcing Microsoft to adapt. Microsoft says we are working on creating a space “where developers can come and work on making Linux more effectively interoperate with Microsoft products.”

This will ultimately benefit consumers as they may have the choice then of using Microsoft on the desktop, or saving some money by using Linux on the desktop with the full assortment of free software in addition to Microsoft’s commercial pay to play software. In this regard it could be a win win for consumers and Microsoft.

Refurbished Lenovo Thinkpads for Sale

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Lenovo Thinkpads for SaleSouth City Computer currently has a large assortment of affordable refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad laptops for sale. Lenovo Thinkpads are high end corporate laptops that can not be purchased in big box stores. The laptops are grade A refubished quality meaning they have very little wear. These laptops were engineered tough and durable and have a well thought out design. They feature a tough protective ABS plastic shell, the classic Thinkpad trackpoint, as well as a matte screen to cut down glare, and also feature a keyboard light for illuminating the keyboard in dark places. These Lenovo Thinkpads come with Windows 7 or Windows 10 pre-installed as well as a subscription to our South City Computer club. These make great laptops for just about anybody including students. Come to South City Computer today to see the Lenovo Thinkpads laptops we have available for purchase. Hurry they won’t last long!

Windows 10 Free Upgrade Ends this Month

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South City Computer Windows 10The Free Windows 10 upgrade is set to expire later this month. The last day to upgrade for free to Windows 10 is on Friday July 29, 2016.

Nearly one third of Windows devices have already been upgraded to Windows 10. This number is shy of the anticipated 1 billion devices Microsoft has targeted to upgrade. Many Windows users have remained on their current version of Windows and do not feel the need to upgrade. The Windows 10 operating system will be available for purchase after the Free upgrade expires. After July 29, upgrading to the Home version of Windows 10 will cost $119, while the Pro flavor will be priced at $199.

Ready to upgrade to Windows 10?

Are you ready to take advantage of the Free Windows 10 upgrade? Are you hesitant because you are afraid to break something or lose all of the data on your computer? South City Computer is offering Windows 10 upgrade assistance. We will ensure your upgrade to Windows 10 happens smoothly, or be able to get you back to where you were before the failed upgrade attempt. For assistance upgrading to Windows 10 contact South City Computer today.

Don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10?

So you are going to pass on the Free Windows 10 upgrade? That is fine if you are content with your current version of Windows. South City Computer can remove the Windows 10 upgrade from your computer to ensure your computer is not automatically upgraded. Contact South City Computer today for help removing the Windows 10 upgrade from your computer

Is your computer Y2K compliant? #tbt

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Y2K Compliant TBT

Will you be ready when the clock strikes midnight January 1, 2000? All chaos could possibly ensue when the Millennium Bug stings. This is the day that all computers as we know it may cease to function. Our telephones, bank accounts, and emails will be lost forever in pile of useless computer junk left over from the turn of the century when Y2K struck hard. Our electricity would shut off the moment the clock struck midnight. Traffic signals would go bazerk. Perhaps it is time to stock pile food and water in case of the worst. There would be no rejoicing in this new year because an “apocalypse” was about to dawn. Right?

Ok, so you probably remember this time in the late 1990s when nobody knew what was going to happen when the computer clock rolled over to the year 2000. There were a lot of doom and gloom scenarios going around. Computers and software were being marketed to the masses as “Year 2000 Compliant” and “Y2K Ready”. You may have been one of the “daring” few who actually set their computer clock forward to watch it roll to the new year in hopes that it would lockup and completely melt down your computer.

Computer experts warned that computer programs that used 2 digit year representation such as 98 instead of 1998 would not function correctly due to the year turning to 2000 and instead would be turned back to a previous year such as the year 0, 1000 or 1900. However most computer programs and software already used 4 digit year representation and so the whole Y2K thing was a bit of a joke, pun intended.

The reality of this event, after years of speculation and discussion of what could and or would happen and or go wrong in this instance of time, was that nothing happened.

Windows Vista Approaches End of Support

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Windows Vista End of SupportIn less than a year Microsoft will “end of life” Windows Vista. The official end of support date for the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system is April 11, 2017. You may recall Microsoft ended all support for the Windows XP operating system just over a year ago. Microsoft will no longer offer technical support, release any Microsoft updates or security patches for Windows Vista after the end of mainstream support date. Windows Vista users will be left to fend for themselves. Windows Vista will no longer be safe to use on the Internet and will no longer be able to install newer software.

The Windows Vista operating system is now 3 versions behind the current release of Windows. Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 have all come into the market after Windows Vista so the choice to upgrade to a newer version of Windows is available. The next predecessor, Windows 7, will not end mainstream support until January 14, 2020.

Windows Vista was officially released into the consumer computing market nearly 10 years ago on January 30, 2007. Most computers that were originally built for the Windows Vista operating system are also reaching the age range of 7 to 10 years old. The lifespan of most laptop computers is 3 to 5 years while desktops can last slightly longer for 5 to 7 years. If your computer is still running Windows Vista, then congratulations, you have had a very reliable computer, but unfortunately it is probably time to upgrade.

While Windows Vista was once the acclaimed version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, it has now become nearly obsolete, being surpassed by the usability, functionality, speed, stability, and ease the of use of Windows 7 and Windows 10.

Windows Vista computer users can come into South City Computer to discuss what options they have to upgrade or replace their computers. South City Computer has suitable replacement laptops and desktops computer in stock. South City Computer also offers computer recycling service for Windows Vista laptops and desktop computers. Please call or come by! 314-400-7918

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