Importance of Software Testing in the IT Industry

Software development companies dedicate a substantial amount of resources and manpower for the development of applications according to requirements specified by enterprises or individuals. However, subsequent to development of such applications/software, companies are required to ensure that such software/applications perform in accordance with the client’s requirements. To ensure that any and all bugs in the software are identified prior to the deployment, various testing procedures are implemented by the IT industry. The importance of this is directly related to the ability of software to measure up to its potential. If the new software is unable to perform the task it was designed for, the client might face severe losses due to stoppage of work and also adversely affect the business of the software development company. The scope of these procedures is to facilitate identification of a problem in the software, fixing of such problems is not within in the scope of software testing. Some of the leading methodologies implemented by companies in the IT industry include General, Load, Functional and Regression Testing.

General Testing

This refers to the general tests carried out on software/applications to ensure the functionality of newly developed software. Some of the common tests included as part of standard Quality Assurance procedures are web performance and usability testing. The web performance testing procedure is mostly engaged in evaluating the online performance of a web-based software application or a website. Usability testing is a mainly subjective approach, which ensures that the software is capable of being utilized effectively in a given set of circumstances. The purpose is to identify the general operating capability of the software/application being tested and to help developers determine some of the areas of improvement for the software. A software development company usually performs general testing of software/applications along with other more advanced methods to ensure that the software conforms to the pre-defined operational capabilities specified by the client/user group.

Load Testing

The load testing procedure simulates operating conditions of the software/application during periods of higher/normal load to gauge the effect of such changes on the functioning of the software/application. This is not the same as stress testing, because load testing checks the operational capabilities in case of both normal load and high load conditions, while stress testing attempts to induce errors in normal operations by using increased system load. This is considered to be a type of non-functional testing, which is undertaken by software development companies to gauge the multi-user support capabilities of the application.

As a commonly employed practice in the software industry, its specific goals are widely disputed and the term is often utilized in conjunctions with volume, reliability, software performance and concurrency testing. By using load testing, developers can attempt to determine the reason for slow performance of software. The common reasons for such slow response commonly include load balancing between multiple servers, client-side processing, network congestion/latency, available database service and/or bugs in the application server(s) or software. The use of load testing is recommended for software/applications, which are subjected to SLA (service level agreement) for ensuring that the software is capable of supporting multiple users. As the procedure simulates an increase in system load by using multiple virtual users, various software are currently available to carry out load testing. Some of the leading load-testing tools used by developers globally are IBM Rational Performance Tester, Apache JMeter, LoadRunner etc. Additionally, a load testing tool commonly favored by software testing companies in India is available as part of the Visual Studio Ultimate Edition of Microsoft.

Functional Testing

This type of testing is a type of black-box testing based on the specifications of the software components being tested. The functions of specific components of the software are feeding inputs and checking the output thus obtained. In functional testing, the internal structure of the program is seldom considered hence, it is classified as a type of black-box testing. The key steps involved in functional testing include identification of functions, which the software is expected to perform, creation of input data according to specifications of the identified functions, determining output based on the specifications of those functions, executing the test scenario followed by comparison of the obtained output vs. the expected output. Functional testing is not the same as system testing as system testing involves validation of a program in comparison to the published system or user requirements, whereas, functional testing is carried out by checking a program with respect to established specifications and available design documents for the software/applications.

Regression Testing

The regression testing refers to any type of software testing, which attempts to identify bugs, which are present in either the functional or the non-functional areas of a system subsequent to making modifications such as configuration and patch changes. The key function of regression testing is to ensure that the use of a patch or upgrade does not lead to the introduction of a new bug into the existing system. Additionally, regression testing helps ensure that the changes in one section of the software do not induce changes in another part of the software’s code. Some of the commonly applied regression testing methods include the use of earlier tests to check for alterations in program operation and the search of any previously fixed bugs, which had re-emerged subsequent to introduction of the new code. Fixed bugs in software often re-emerge and regression testing is one of the leading methods to ensure that such re-emergence is identified and easily controlled before any lasting damage occurs. Software development companies repeatedly perform regression testing of software/applications after any change in coding such as use of patches etc. to ensure that the functionality of the application is unimpaired. Such repetitive testing is usually automated by using an external tool such as Bamboo, TeamCity, Jenkins, Hudson, Tinderbox or BuildBot. This type of testing is generally performed by the QA team in case of leading software development companies, however, smaller companies are often engaged in outsourcing such services to companies specializing in the field of software QA and testing.

What’s Next?

As new technologies emerge, more testing procedures are being developed and implemented by organizations all over the world to ensure that new software perform according to their requirements and specifications even when stress or when additional functionality is introduced into the software. The emerging testing solutions, which are powered by new technology, are designed to reduce the time and resources required for testing in order to streamline the quality control / quality assurance services associated with software development. Some additional types of testing, which are currently used in the software industry are white box testing, system testing, non-functional testing, acceptance testing and integration testing. Each of these testing was developed to identify and resolve application/software limitations in a specific set of conditions; hence they are useful for software testing carried out in case of specific quality assurance and testing procedures.

Finding Time-Saving Yoga Studio Management Software

Running and building up a yoga studio requires coordinating scheduling, marketing, accounting, class registration, class attendance, sales and credit card processing, inventory, payroll, staff management, documents, and so much more.

When you started teaching yoga, you wanted to teach yoga. Sure, you knew running a yoga studio or teaching classes involved administration, but perhaps running your yoga business is taking over your life.

Ask yourself:

How many software applications are you running to keep it all together? Are you using a fleet of spreadsheets?

The fact is there is some pretty cool software options available specifically designed for yoga studios that take care of all your yoga studio administration needs in a central, online location.

3 Fundamental Elements of A Great Yoga Studio Software Service:

  1. Cloud computing capability (web-based software); and
  2. Comprehensive, all-in-one yoga software that centralizes all your yoga studio administration operations.
  3. Automation – the more the better. Typically this is easier with comprehensive, all-in-one software.

1. Cloud Computing Yoga Studio Management Software is Where It’s At

Cloud computing is web-based software. You simply log-in to your account and manage your entire yoga studio on the Web. Stop with the downloads, installations, networking, and upgrades that plague desk-top software applications. Seriously consider putting your entire yoga studio software management needs on the cloud.

2. Centralizing Your Yoga Studio Software

Integrating separate pieces of software is a never-ending headache. When one application is upgraded, it then doesn’t sync with other applications. What you get is a mish-mash of software that more often than not malfunctions. Instead of saving you time, you burn up time trying to get it all working together.

If you can, get yoga studio software that is comprehensive and meets all, or as much of your computing needs as possible.

3. Automation

The more you automate, the more time you save which lets you teach more or take more time off. The fact is, running a yoga studio is managing a large number of variables – students, staff, teachers, schedules, inventory, sales, etc. The goal is full classes and regular students. Automation helps you take care of the menial tasks so you can put your mind and time to activities you enjoy and that let you build your yoga business (and take a vacation).

Yoga Business Software Features to Look For

Not all yoga studios have the same needs. The remainder of this article sets out yoga studio software management features available. Go through them and see what it is you need.

1. Yoga Class Scheduling

Online class scheduling – this is an extremely customer-service friendly feature for your students. Consider the following functions you might want:

  • Wait-lists: let your students add their name to a waitlist. With software, save yourself the time of managing these lists. Let the software do the heaving lifting.
  • Student self check-in: spare your students standing in line waiting for you. Let your students scan their ID card and get to class. You also get time to set up and prepare for class.
  • Printable sign-in sheets: maybe you prefer physical sign-in sheets. Get software that offers a print option with sign-in templates. You can load the data later… or not.
  • Equipment and room rental scheduling: do you rent out rooms and/or equipment? Why not automate the process and make it easy for your yoga clientele to book your rooms and equipment themselves.
  • Recurring bookings: nothing builds a business like recurring customers. Make it easy for yoga students to book multiple classes and commit to your classes.
  • Class attendance statistics: You only know how your business is going if you can measure results. Software that produces easy-to-read reports on class attendance statistics gives you tools at your finger-tips to assess your money-making classes and classes that may not be worth having.

2. Scheduling Ease

  • Drag and drop functionality for booking is a real luxury. In fact, drag and drop anything is great. Make it easy for your clientele to book classes and appointments with you.
  • On the Cloud (web-based): Not only does cloud computing save you networking costs, upgrade hassles, and installation nightmares, but you can access your entire yoga business anywhere.
  • Multiple schedule views: daily, weekly, by name, service, gender and more. Birds-eye views of your schedule can be very handy when looking at the big picture.
  • Color coding scheduling: sure, you must memorize the colors, but in time the colors will speed up your viewing of your schedules.

3. Yoga Studio Enrollment Options

Perhaps you offer more than just yoga classes. If so, look for yoga studio management software that has the flexibility to schedule all types of events such as:

  • Courses: still a popular yoga class structure – a series of classes building on concepts.
  • Seminars / special events: do you ever have a speaker or teaching events? Make it easy for people to sign up and a breeze for you to manage the scheduling.

Plus software that enables:

  • Payment plan processing: yoga studios usually offer a variety of pricing packages. Make it easy to sell packages (without the hand-held calculator) by considering software that tabulates and accepts payment for yoga packages.
  • Payment status information: every business has some customers who owe money. Yoga studios are no exception (generally). See at-a-glance who owes you money (and how much).

4. Payment Processing

  • Credit card integration. Some yoga software includes credit card processing “on the cloud” sparing you the hardware to pay for and set up.
  • Link payments with services. This way you can produce financial statements any time to see the financial status of your business.
  • Membership cards (i.e. swipe cards for signing in) and ID tag capability: Lose the paper and look professional with swipe cards enabling self-check in and much faster client tracking.

5. Online Store for More Revenues

If you sell retail, why not create an online store? It’s simple to do with the right yoga studio software. There is software that includes e-commerce capabilities so that not only can you track your in-studio retail sales, but you can actually start selling off your website.

In fact, you could consider partnering with yoga and health products suppliers to provide you products to sell on your online store. You can carry inventory or enter drop-shipping arrangements. The sky is the limit.

Moreover, with e-commerce, you can sell gift cards, yoga class packages, event tickets, etc.

6. Yoga Gift Card Selling Option

Gift cards are BIG business. Why not sell your own gift cards? You’ll earn revenues and get more students in your yoga studio. Some yoga studio software has the capability to provide gift cards and program them with the software so that you can create them, sell them, and track usage. Other considerations when implementing gift cards for sale include:

  • Prepaid gift card options.
  • Able to track student account balances.
  • Loading gift cards with flexible amounts of money.
  • Selling your gift cards in your studio and online.

7. Email Marketing for Your Yoga Studio

E-mail marketing can give your yoga business a huge boost. If you get yoga studio software, see if you can find a product that integrates with e-mail marketing software. This way you can leverage your yoga studio software contact database with your e-mail marketing rather than having separate databases. Trust me – when you can centralize, it’s worth it.

Not only can you use e-mail marketing to get more students or encourage regular attendance, but you promote sales, encourage referrals, sell products and yoga packages, promote events, send out class reminders, and more.

When you centralize your yoga studio student database with e-mail marketing software, you can segment your students so that you send the most appropriate messages to each person.

For example, if a student signs up online for a class, you can automate reminder class messages. This way you improve your class attendance, and in a worst case scenario, if the student can’t attend, they’ll be reminded to remove their name off the schedule opening up a spot for the wait list.

Then your e-mail system will produce an e-mail to the wait list alerting them to the open spot. Imagine doing all this manually. Automation is key.

8. Yoga Studio Inventory Tracking

If you sell retail, tracking inventory digitally can save you a lot of time. However, you need software that tracks the stocking and sale of items. Moreover, if you get software that includes inventory tracking, look for the capability to track in-store and online sales.

Again, this goes toward centralizing your operation. By tracking inventory with your yoga studio management software, you’ll integrate inventory with sales which lets you produce up-to-date financial reports… not to mention save you time syncing inventory with sales and re-ordering.

9. Yoga Student Account Management

When you use cloud software, you can create accounts for all of your students – so both you and they can log-in to their accounts. This way you and your students can track purchases, their profile, class attendance, referrals, etc. This is very convenient for you and your students.

Liability: What about the dreaded waivers. Necessary, but not a lot of fun. If you let students sign up online, be sure you offer an e-waiver for them to agree to. This too is available with some yoga studio software.

10. Yoga Studio Staff Management

Whether you love managing staff or not, consider saving yourself time and the ability to manage your staff “on the cloud”. Some yoga studio software enables you to do some or all of the following features:

  • A staff dashboard portal where you can send instructions to staff and to-do items.
  • Individual staff log-in accounts for each staff member.
  • Permission levels to various portals of your software. Again, this is where centralization works for you big time.
  • Staff scheduling – lose the monthly printouts and create staff schedules online where your entire staff can access it anytime from anywhere. Scheduling staff with software is much more convenient than on paper. Beside, how often does the schedule change in a month? Save yourself a few erasers.

11. Look for Payroll Management

Do you know how much you’re paying out in wages, commissions, fees, etc.? It’s not so easy to track with a yoga studio business given the variety of remuneration options yoga teachers opt for. There’s hourly, commissions, flat rates, and combinations of these payment options.

Again, a quality yoga software product will track all your pay-rates for all your staff – no matter how complicated. It makes tallying the amount you owe easy.

Take for example, a yoga teacher that earns a flat rate plus a per student rate after a class attendance threshold is met. Okay, one class with one teacher isn’t too hard to track, but imagine 30 classes and 5 teachers.

It gets complicated. Look for software that will track and tally all of this for you – all calculated with the swipe cards issued to your yoga students (if you opt for swipe cards – now you’re starting to see how beneficial swipe cards can be).

Another payroll feature to look for is a punch clock for hourly employees. I’m not talking about a wall-mounted contraption. I’m talking about staff being able to quickly log into the cloud software and entering start and stop times at the touch of a button.

Finally, you want to be able to export all this payroll data into your accounting software saving you reconciliation hassles come tax time (and saving you lots of money in accounting fees).

12. Track and Measure – Look for Reporting Capability

You won’t know where your business is going if you don’t know where it’s been and where it’s at. This boils down to the financials – but not just the usual income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

I’m talking about in-depth class attendance, payroll costs, number of students per yoga teacher, yoga student and employee retention rates, no shows, product returns, and sales figures (past, present and forecasts) – to name a few reporting capabilities to look for.

Benefits of Gaming – PC and Video Games

New PC and video games are not only capable of providing fun and excitement for everyone, but they can also give certain benefits and advantages.

With the help of advanced technology and popularity, the gaming industry has advanced and expanded rapidly over the years.

If we are looking for categorization of videos games, they are broadly divided into eight major categories:

Action

These are fast paced and may contain a large amount of violence due to this. Action games are usually inappropriate for children. Such games fall under the category “M” (mature-rated). Examples are Halo, Star Wars, Jedi Knight and Enter the Matrix.

Adventure and Role Playing

These are normally not as graphic as action games and can take the player into surrealism and fantasy. Though adventure and role-playing games often contain violence, it is not found to be as intense as the violence in action games. Examples of this category are Borderlands 2, Final Fantasy, Legend of Mana and Billy Hatcher.

First Person Shooters

As the name implies, it is a game in which the player sees the action through the eyes of the character he is representing and involves the use of pistols or rifles to kill the enemy. Due to the violence involved in this genre of games, they are not suitable for young children. Examples of these games are “Half-Life, “Half-Life 2”, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and so on.

Construction and Management Simulation (CMS)

As the name suggests, in the games belonging to this genre, the players are expected to build, expand and manage imaginary projects and communities with very little resources. Examples of this genre include, “SimCity” and “Harvest Moon”.

Strategy

Here the accent is on strategy rather than on violence and these games are slower which gives the player time for strategic thinking, resource management and planning to achieve victory. Most are warfare based and so violence is not completely absent. These games are not suitable for children. Some examples are Advanced Wars I & II, Civilization V and Crusader Kings II.

Simulation

These are video or computer games that simulate real world situations under game settings. In this category, the three well-known games are Racing Simulators, Flight Simulators and Sims. There are lots of games in this class to entertain children. Some examples of simulation games are: Football Manager, Farming Simulator 2013, The Sims and Evil Genius.

Platformer

The Platform Game or Platformer is consists of jumping between suspended platforms of varying heights or obstacles and sometimes both to move forward in the game. Some examples of Platformer are 40 Winks, Abuse, Action 52 and Adventure Island.

PUZZLES

Puzzle video games are a class of games that require puzzle solving. The kinds of puzzles that need to be solved can involve many problem solving skills such as using logic, word completion sequence solving, strategy and pattern recognition. Some examples of Puzzle Video Games are Mario, Bejeweled 3, Cradle of Rome 2 and Hidden Objects.

While on the subject, let’s not forget Sports games such as NHL 13, and FIFA Soccer 13 and Arcade games such Chicken Shoot 1, Toy Story Mania and Angry Birds to name a few.

Nowadays, video games are enjoyed by a wide cross-section of our society, from toddlers to grandparents and these have been accepted by everyone as a good manner of entertainment and seen to be better than watching TV as it requires the viewer’s participation and interaction.

The general feeling is that video games do not provide any benefits to the player and especially so in the case of children.

Contrary to this belief, there are many benefits in allowing children to play certain types of games. Most important of these benefits is the development of:

· Cognitive thinking skills

· Fine motor skills

· Real-time decision-making abilities

· Hand-eye coordination

· Cooperative playing skills

Keeping video games out of the reach of children can only deprive them of these benefits.

A child’s imagination can be stimulated through role-playing and adventure games. Even if some of these games can seem tasteless due to its graphic nature and violence, they can play a positive and important role in a child’s development by promoting teamwork, building confidence and improving motor skills. Playing such video games will only provide a child with a healthy means of expression.

Certain video games are believed to teach children high level thinking skills which they would benefit from in the future.

Now that we have looked at the benefits for children, let’s look at what benefits video games hold for the rest of us.

Research into the pros and cons of video games are being conducted by various bodies including universities in some parts of the world and the result is that the pros outweigh the cons in respect of benefits.

When playing video games, you would need to react quickly and take split second decisions in order to succeed in the given task. It is believed that this kind of practice would provide benefits in real life where you would be able react with speed and take quick decisions.

Brain scientists have discovered that a certain driving video game, created by a research and development team at the University of California in San Francisco could improve the short-term memory and long-term focus of older adults.

It was found that immersion in a game distracts the mind from pain and discomfort. Due to this reason, some hospitals have started to suggest that children and others undergoing painful treatments play games to reduce their distress and anxiety.

Some video games have provided improvement in “Cognitive Flexibility”, which is the ability to switch quickly from one task to another.

Researchers from North Carolina State University found a link between playing video games and mental well-being among the elderly. They found that those citizens who played video games, even occasionally, experienced a state of well- being and happiness.

Gaming can also improve family relationships, as some of these games can and should be played together.

According to some studies conducted at the University of Rochester, people playing certain titles of video games have shown improvements in tests in the following areas:

• Multitasking

• Attention

• Accuracy

• Vision

The only thing a video game player or his or her family needs to ensure is that it does not become addictive in any way. A video game player shouldn’t end up spending hours on end playing games and losing track of time and place and while neglecting duties, personal chores and responsibilities.

Another thing that the parents of minors need to ensure is that their kids get access only to educational or similar games which are suitable for their age group and the good news is that there’s a huge selection of games available that are appropriate for all ages.

A video game content rating is a system is available in many countries and they are used to classify video games into suitability-related age groups with respect to its contents which, if followed, will help to limit the negative aspects of some of the games.

Digital Games And Kids – A Different Perspective

The “Wikipedia problem” which means children turning to internet for readymade answers is the new age phenomenon baffling teachers and mentors globally. There are almost equal numbers of teachers who consider technology to be a solution as much as a problem. While a common belief is that technology is hindering the students’ capacity to think and analyze, there is also a strong opinion in favor of video games and digital gadgets’ ability to engage students and enhance learning by using more than one sensory stimulators. In spite of the growing concern about the students’ deteriorating attention spans, institutions are incorporating them in the process of classroom learning.

Children are inherently inquisitive creatures. They have a curiosity to discover new things and learn by way of discovering and experimenting even before they are subjected to methods of formal education such as reading or writing. Science is a discipline of experiments and discoveries. The National Science Education Standards emphasize that “science education needs to give students three kinds of scientific skills and understandings. Students need to learn the principles and concepts of science, acquire the reasoning and procedural skills of scientists, and understand the nature of science as a particular form of human endeavor. Students therefore need to be able to devise and carry out investigations that test their ideas, and they need to understand why such investigations are uniquely powerful. Studies show that students are much more likely to understand and retain the concepts that they have learned this way “. Hence, it becomes imperative to engage children in science education at an early stage.

Digital games are more capable to gain students’ interests and attention than other conventional means of imparting education in a classroom. However, some educationists also regard them as culprits of exponential decline in the attention span in children. The next sections in this article discuss the involvement of children in games in the tech age, types of games available in the market and the impact of digital gaming as learning aids in classrooms.

Gaming and the New Age Kids

Digital technology has expanded the horizons of video gaming in the modern world. Kids are subjected to far more complex and challenging technological environment than their counterparts were from over half a century back. Involvement of kids in digital gaming is a result of many significant changes in the lifestyle and culture of the modern society. Easy accessibility of technology, dispensable income due to dual income families and lack of infrastructure for outdoor activities in many cities are some major contributors in making screen games an important part of the children’s’ lives. A study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) found that only 20 percent of the census blocks are within half a mile of a block boundary. Also, the effect of peer pressure cannot be undermined in these times of social networking.

The digital gaming market is one of the fastest growing segments of the global entertainment industry. US is witnessing unprecedented penetration of digital games amongst youngsters. In the US, 97% of the teens play some type of game on a regular basis. In India, the gaming market has grown manifold in the last few years. Hence, it is imperative that educationists are continuously contemplating the use of digital gaming as a learning tool in classrooms. Institutions are also employing innovative ways to leverage the digital advantage for enhancing the learning experience at schools.

What are Digital Games?

There is no concrete definition of games as it may vary with an individual’s preference and profession. Games can be defined as a “system in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, which result in a quantifiable outcome”. Technology and digitization add new dimensions to games where simulations, interactivity, augmented reality, alternative reality, collective intelligence and sensory stimulators such as sound and visual effects. Digital games are also characterized by their portability and limitless accessibility.

Role-playing games, simulation games and puzzles are some of the most popular digital games. In role-playing games, the player enacts the role of a particular character in a virtual world moving from one level to the other based on the outcome of the earlier level. RPGs can be single player such as the dungeons and dragons from earlier days of gaming or multi-player games such as Diablo III, Xenoblade, Final Fantasy XIII-2 or Mass Effect 3. MMORPG or the Massive Multiple Online Role-Playing Games are an extension of the RPGs where large number of players interacts in an online virtual world. Simulation games create realistic situations in virtual worlds. The outcome will depend on the player’s decision-making and responsiveness and will be closely similar to what may happen in a real world in the same situation. Widely used in training and analysis, simulation games are also popular due to their unpredictable and personalized outcomes. Flight Simulator X, Live for Speed (LFS) and Need for Speed have been extremely popular simulation games for a long time. Puzzles genre of digital games involves problem solving and analysis with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the nature of the game. Crosswords and treasure hunt games are basic forms of puzzle games in both physical and digital form.

All types of digital games involve a social involvement of players. Some need collaborative efforts to play while others may be discussed or analyzed socially. In spite of some games being accused of outright violent visual effects, a well-designed game can accelerate the thinking process by motivating, engaging, involving creativity and developing a meta-game i.e., social interactions inspired and enhanced inside or outside the game. Incorporating digital gaming in the basic education framework can lead to augmented competitiveness and multi-dimensional growth in children.

Digital Games in Science Education – Why and Why Not?

The 21st century requires the mentors and the students to integrate technology into the curriculum. Though the ultimate goal is to benefit the students in terms of learning and experience, unsupervised, unorganized or irrelevant application can lead to complete failure or have negative effects. Some of the negative impacts of digital games in general and in context with the education are listed below:

    • Digital games have been facing constant rebuke for allegedly enhancing aggression amongst kids and developing a violent streak at an early stage. In a study by Anderson and Bushman (2001), Children involved in violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and decreased prosocial helping. Use of weapons and being rewarded for being violent is a cause of widespread concern.
    • Digital games can be addictive for children and make them physically inactive. Digital games, other than social networking, are considered for reduced physical activity leading to obesity in kids and postural and skeletal disorders.
    • Addiction to games is also known to make kids socially secluded. Impulsive behavior, depression and increased anxiety levels are largely attributed to excessive gaming in children. Some studies also suggest that the children playing games are unable to concentrate for a long span and have reduced attention span.
    • Children are prone to absorbing socially unacceptable behavior through some digital games such as using profanities and ill-treating the fairer sex. Lack of adequate knowledge about screening the material available online is a growing concern amongst the parents.
    • Digital games are considered a hindrance to better performance in academics. Students are often found to skip homework to play games leading to deteriorated performance at school. However, despite their reputation as promoters of violence and mayhem, digital games have in fact been shown to help children learn skills, content, and vital “21st-century” skills. From digital games children can learn: content (from rich vocabulary to science to history), skills (from literacy to math to complex problem-solving), creation of artifacts (from videos to software code) and systems thinking (how changing one element affects relationships as a whole). Strong arguments in favor of using digital games as learning aids in secondary education are summarized below:
    • Digital games involve extreme hand-eye coordination and enhance motor and sensory skills. Sensory stimulation theory proposed by academician Laird (1985) validates that effective learning occurs when the senses are stimulated. While some studies show that digital gaming reduces attention span, there are strong evidences of improved concentration in short intervals of time. Digital games involve keeping an eye on every detail, follow the rules and respond proactively to the given situation. Complex digital games help is developing problem-solving and decision-making skills. Some games also involve logical analysis of the situation and pattern recognition and improve memorizing thus assisting in the cognitive process. Playing by the rules teaches children to accept and respect a certain level of discipline.
  • Multi-player digital games develop a sense of constructive competitive attitude. Collaborative games also improve team-building attitude. They develop time management skills in a team and train the players to cooperate for mutually desired goal. They teach the players to accept defeat as well as strive for better results. Digital games provide an avenue for hyperactive kids to direct the energy in a constructive system based game. They also provide an outlet to release aggression and frustration, thus helping in diffusing stress. Some games also involve physical activity such as Nintendo Wii boxing helping kids to engage mentally and physically with the kids. Complex digital games involve high level of multitasking thus improving brain’s natural learning process. Brain based learning theory proposes that multi-tasking is an inherent activity of the brain and learning is enhanced by challenges at various levels. Digital games develop efficient situational analysis and strategy making in children. Since games have certain objectives at every level and a final objective of the game, it teaches players to devise short term and long-term strategies such as scoring points, retaining energy and reaching the ultimate goal of the game. Simulation games and the role-playing digital games help players gain expertise or learn by experiencing in replicas of real world situations. Experiential learning and action learning theories are based on the premise that individuals learn faster when they by experiencing and actually participating in action.

Master Your Computer Within Seconds!

A computer by definition is an electronic device that is capable of accepting data, processing this data using a set of instructions to produce visible out put such that could be printed out. Not quite long ago, experts discovered how this phenomenal device can be used effectively in solving financial, practical, mathematical, economical, scientific and social problems among many other complex problems confronting the world today. Because of the wild-range of computer application and usage in this fast growing and highly civilized world, there is a great need to not only know how computers work but to become the grand Master of computers.

The future of computer experts all over the world is quite bright and promising thereby making computer knowledge highly necessary for almost everyone. Many Companies are no longer willing to employ just any body. Even security men today must not lack computer knowledge as they may not be able to manage modern security gadgets that are computerized for proper security of the personnel, products and assets of the companies in question.

It is interesting to know that governments of many countries are fighting computer illiteracy with their every fleeting breathe by ensuring that all their citizens are ‘computer masters’ through the introduction of various computer training schemes. This is because computer revolution has brought great transformation to the entire world especially technologically. For instance, when you want to know what is happening in India, America, china, Japan or any part of the world, simply hit your web browser and engage the search engines like Google and wait for results. Sooner than you expect, you are connected to the entire world with your first hand information readily displayed in your web browser.

Have you ever imagined what the entire world will become technologically in the next ten years if what we presently have constitutes just about 4.9% of the total expectation of what is to come? What will be your answer to this humble question following? Where will you be, what will you be doing when this world finally depends on computers to eat, pay bills, travel, make friends, do business, make payments, pass judgments, secure property, control events, preach the gospel, broad cast news, drive home from the town, diagnose and treat the sick or diseased?

This is not a condition for a ‘peace treaty’ or dialogue but a wake up call to a total surrender and submission to learning and mastering computer operation. Listen to me friend, you will be obsolete, outdated, antiquated and washed out if you dare to remain a computer illiterate as you are right now. Are you already unaware of how to become a computer Master? Who looks up to for solutions to their computer problems and how do you handle them? You don’t even know how to boot your computer, or may be able to boot a system but can’t differentiate between warm and cold booting. Friend; you need to do something now!

I want to let you know that you can not Master your computer without first observing to have and do the following:

You must have a computer or at least have access to one as this will give you the freedom of practice any time you wish to do so. Learn one application at a time instead of combining many applications like Corel-Draw with Microsoft Word as doing so may leave you more frustrated and confused. Let me candidly advice you today please, enroll into a very good computer training program to save your self from the shackles of feeling lonely and dissatisfied having a computer but without the relevant operation skills. Read relevant e-Books and other relevant materials on computer training as often as you can. Practice any newly acquired operational skills till they permanently become a part of you. Seek for mentor-ship and ask questions where you do not understand. Finally, know that you are a potential computer master, so spend quality time with your computer daily.

Michael S. Justice is a young Online and Offline entrepreneur with relevant skills and vast knowledge on how to make it in this IT and computer Dependent world and take great business decisions for high profitability. He is the Manager of Sunshine Intercontinental Ventures Ltd, a leading company in the provision of general Car and Tyre security via Car Tracking and Tyre Sealant, a sure protection from all kinds of Car snatching and theft, punctures, gunshots, bullets, nails and more. He is currently the Director of Computer Trainings at Sunshine Intercontinental Computer Academy (SiCA), a leading Computer Training Institute in Adamawa State, Nigeria.

Scope of Online Degrees in Computer Sciences

Computer Science is very broad field based on the studies of hardware and software design. Computer science covers different areas of designing, installation and maintenance of complex systems. Major subjects of the computer sciences include computer systems, maintenance of communication network and development of core digital technologies. Areas of specialties include artificial intelligence, computer vision and machine behavior. Basic aim of computer science studies is to investigate algorithms and use of computer systems to solve problems of business and government. Computer science professionals create and maintain most effective computer systems with latest technology. Computer science is one of the rapidly growing industries at present. Many universities offer associate, bachelor, masters and doctorate degrees in computer Sciences.

Major Areas of Specialization

In combination to general subjects universities offers specialization in different areas of computer sciences. These areas include software development, language development and modification, system development, algorithms, hardware maintenance, database systems, numerical analysis and information management.

Skills Earned

Online degrees in computer sciences develop number of specific skills in the students. Some important skills include the following:

o You will be able to create and apply new technology.
o Software design and analysis
o Identification of problems and solution
o Complete multitask with in defined time frame
o You will learn to work independently as well as in teams.
o Also learn how to identify errors and rectify these errors
o You will able to select the correct programming language and hardware systems to complete assigned project.
o You will effectively use operating systems, text editors and compilers in documenting of programs.

Online Degrees Available in Computer Sciences

In addition to degrees offered by traditional universities different top accredited online universities and colleges also offer online degrees in computer sciences. These degrees include Online Associate Degree in Computer Science, Online Bachelor Degree in Computer Science, Online Master Degree in Computer Science and Online PhD Degree in Computer Science. Online education has now become a good option for many people who are not able to join traditional institutes due to some personal and financial reasons. Online Education is also beneficial for working professionals who wants to gain progress in their fields and want to upgrade careers with latest knowledge. Online degrees prove more beneficial if you also join any internship program. You can join different careers after earning online degrees in computer sciences. You can join number of different careers in the field of computer science such as software designing, computer and software sales, programming, computer system development, networking manager, computer hardware professional, computer game development, graphics designer and system manager. These are some examples of opportunities available for computer science degree holders.

Career Path for Online Degrees in Computer Sciences

Computer science consists of theoretical programming and advanced computing solutions. Computer scientists can work in three different areas.

o Computer Scientist design and build software
o Also design useful methods to solve computing problems such as storage of data in databases, transmit data over networks and new methodologies to solve security problems.
o Formulation of new and improved approaches to use

Design and Application of Software

Computer science professionals design software for various purposes including web development, interface design, security issues and mobile computing. Majority of computer science graduates join this career path. Bachelors in computer science provides gateway to enter this field of software designing and its application. Graduates can also continue their education and gain masters degree in computer sciences. You can find jobs in large or small software houses, companies providing computer services and every kind of large organization such as industry, government, banking, healthcare etc.

Develop New Ways to Use Computers

Instead of designing software computer professionals also find new ways to modernize the use of computers. This can achieve by making advancement in computer technology. Computer graduates who are involved in advance graduate work in research university, industrial research and laboratory invent new and improved ways to use computers. The basic aim of such innovations is to simplify the use of computers and computer users can enjoy using computers with new and improved devices and methods. These devices include robotics, computer vision and digital forensics. Dot-com language is the example of such progress in computer sciences.

Discover Effective Ways to Solve Computing Problems

Computing problems can be solved by developing and applying computer science theories and algorithms. Computer science professionals make use of these two i.e. theories and algorithms to discover best possible solution of severe computing problem. To join this field as career students are required to have graduate degree to Ph.D. level with current working experience in a research university, industrial research and development laboratory.

The basic aim of computer science is to explore algorithms, design efficiency and application of computer systems to solve the problem of businesses and government organizations. Computer professionals maintain and formulate effective ways with latest technology. Computer science is rapidly growing industry. You will have lot of opportunities to work as computer professional. Number of computer users is increasing day by day and that’s why development and maintenance of computer system has become important issue. More and more trained professionals are required to fulfill the needs of industry.

If you further need to know about any online degree in the field of computer science you can visit this web site.

The Evolution of Technology – The History of Computers

While computers are now an important part of the lives of human beings, there was a time where computers did not exist. Knowing the history of computers and how much progression has been made can help you understand just how complicated and innovative the creation of computers really is.

Unlike most devices, the computer is one of the few inventions that does not have one specific inventor. Throughout the development of the computer, many people have added their creations to the list required to make a computer work. Some of the inventions have been different types of computers, and some of them were parts required to allow computers to be developed further.

The Beginning

Perhaps the most significant date in the history of computers is the year 1936. It was in this year that the first “computer” was developed. It was created by Konrad Zuse and dubbed the Z1 Computer. This computer stands as the first as it was the first system to be fully programmable. There were devices prior to this, but none had the computing power that sets it apart from other electronics.

It wasn’t until 1942 that any business saw profit and opportunity in computers. This first company was called ABC computers, owned and operated by John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. Two years later, the Harvard Mark I computer was developed, furthering the science of computing.

Over the course of the next few years, inventors all over the world began to search more into the study of computers, and how to improve upon them. Those next ten years say the introduction of the transistor, which would become a vital part of the inner workings of the computer, the ENIAC 1 computer, as well as many other types of systems. The ENIAC 1 is perhaps one of the most interesting, as it required 20,000 vacuum tubes to operate. It was a massive machine, and started the revolution to build smaller and faster computers.

The age of computers was forever altered by the introduction of International Business Machines, or IBM, into the computing industry in 1953. This company, over the course of computer history, has been a major player in the development of new systems and servers for public and private use. This introduction brought about the first real signs of competition within computing history, which helped to spur faster and better development of computers. Their first contribution was the IBM 701 EDPM Computer.

A Programming Language Evolves

A year later, the first successful high level programming language was created. This was a programming language not written in ‘assembly’ or binary, which are considered very low level languages. FORTRAN was written so that more people could begin to program computers easily.

The year 1955, the Bank of America, coupled with Stanford Research Institute and General Electric, saw the creation of the first computers for use in banks. The MICR, or Magnetic Ink Character Recognition, coupled with the actual computer, the ERMA, was a breakthrough for the banking industry. It wasn’t until 1959 that the pair of systems were put into use in actual banks.

During 1958, one of the most important breakthroughs in computer history occurred, the creation of the integrated circuit. This device, also known as the chip, is one of the base requirements for modern computer systems. On every motherboard and card within a computer system, are many chips that contain information on what the boards and cards do. Without these chips, the systems as we know them today cannot function.

Gaming, Mice, & the Internet

For many computer users now, games are a vital part of the computing experience. 1962 saw the creation of the first computer game, which was created by Steve Russel and MIT, which was dubbed Spacewar.

The mouse, one of the most basic components of modern computers, was created in 1964 by Douglass Engelbart. It obtained its name from the “tail” leading out of the device.

One of the most important aspects of computers today was invented in 1969. ARPA net was the original Internet, which provided the foundation for the Internet that we know today. This development would result in the evolution of knowledge and business across the entire planet.

It wasn’t until 1970 that Intel entered the scene with the first dynamic RAM chip, which resulted in an explosion of computer science innovation.

On the heels of the RAM chip was the first microprocessor, which was also designed by Intel. These two components, in addition to the chip developed in 1958, would number among the core components of modern computers.

A year later, the floppy disk was created, gaining its name from the flexibility of the storage unit. This was the first step in allowing most people to transfer bits of data between unconnected computers.

The first networking card was created in 1973, allowing data transfer between connected computers. This is similar to the Internet, but allows for the computers to connect without use of the Internet.

Household PC’s Emerge

The next three years were very important for computers. This is when companies began to develop systems for the average consumer. The Scelbi, Mark-8 Altair, IBM 5100, Apple I and II, TRS-80, and the Commodore Pet computers were the forerunners in this area. While expensive, these machines started the trend for computers within common households.

One of the most major breathroughs in computer software occurred in 1978 with the release of the VisiCalc Spreadsheet program. All development costs were paid for within a two week period of time, which makes this one of the most successful programs in computer history.

1979 was perhaps one of the most important years for the home computer user. This is the year that WordStar, the first word processing program, was released to the public for sale. This drastically altered the usefulness of computers for the everyday user.

The IBM Home computer quickly helped revolutionize the consumer market in 1981, as it was affordable for home owners and standard consumers. 1981 also saw the the mega-giant Microsoft enter the scene with the MS-DOS operating system. This operating system utterly changed computing forever, as it was easy enough for everyone to learn.

The Competition Begins : Apple vs. Microsoft

Computers saw yet another vital change during the year of 1983. The Apple Lisa computer was the first with a graphical user interface, or a GUI. Most modern programs contain a GUI, which allows them to be easy to use and pleasing for the eyes. This marked the beginning of the out dating of most text based only programs.

Breaking the Computer Buying Cycle

If you are like most people when they go out and buy a new Personal Computer you probably get excited when you take it out of the box, turn it on and marvel at how fast it runs. When a computer is new it always seems to run faster and boot up quicker than your old computer. The applications and games seem to run without any slow down and when you get on the internet the pages load instantly on the screen, and you can quickly surf from one website to another. Overtime though, your computer can slow down and not run as quickly as it did when it was new.

This slow down can occur for a variety of reasons and when it happens it can be frustrating and spoil your computing experience. Often times when this happens it can be corrected by either cleaning up your hard drive, or running some diagnostics. Perhaps the computer has a virus and once you remove the virus, performance can be restored. What do you do though if you have done all those things and your computer is still running slow?

If your computer is running slow even after you have removed any viruses and attempted to improve system performance, it could mean that the demands you are now placing on your computer have exceeded the computer’s capability.

As we use our computers we tend to install new software applications and attempt to run more applications simultaneously. The new software we install can require greater computer resources such as more computer memory and a faster CPU, or central processing unit to run the software applications or games properly.

If you are like me you like to have multiple software applications running or multiple internet browser windows open at the same time and that can utilize greater amounts of computer resources as well. The more resources you use, the slower the computer will run.

This is a constant problem in computing because computer technology doubles roughly every 18 months. In a demand for more feature rich software applications, software developers create more resource consuming software programs. To meet the increased demands of the software, computer manufacturers continue to build faster, more expensive computers. This, in my opinion, is a vicious cycle where in order to maintain a fast and enjoyable computing experience, the computer user is forced to go out and buy a new computer every few years.

Fortunately for me I have never had to worry about that problem. I am a certified computer professional and have been building and repairing computers for over 15 years. When I want a faster computer I do not go out and buy a new expensive computer. I have learned how to break the new computer buying cycle by upgrading my computer. By upgrading my computer rather than buying new, I can simply make myself a faster computer at a fraction of the cost.

You can break the computer buying cycle too and you do not have to be a computer professional like me to do it. You only need to know a few things about computers, be handy with a screw driver and be able to follow a few simple instructions; but before you begin to think about upgrading your computer, it might be important to get a brief overview on how a computer works.

Computer Basics

Computers are made up of a combination of hardware and software working together. When you aren’t familiar with how a computer functions then they can seem very complex. You can reduce that complexity, once you understand how a computer works at a basic level.

At its most basic level a computer receives input and produces output. A computer receives input through input devices such as the keyboard and mouse (hardware). Every time we click the mouse on a link or move the mouse across the screen we are giving the computer input or an instruction to do something.

The computer receives the input as an electronic signal created by the mouse click or keystroke on the keyboard. This signal is transmitted through the computer and is converted into digital data where it can be interpreted as an instruction by the operating system, software application or game.(software)

The computer processes digital instruction data and produces output as either an image or words on the computer screen or perhaps as a printout on a printer.

What makes a computer fast is its ability to receive input, and produce output quickly. There are several components a computer needs in order to function but there are three primary components that directly affect how fast a computer can operate.

The three primary computer components which handle the processing of input and make a computer fast are the:

  • Motherboard or Main System board
  • CPU or Central Processing Unit
  • RAM or Random Access Memory

The Motherboard

Without getting too technical, the Motherboard is the computer component that connects all the hardware together on the computer. You could think of the Motherboard as a data freeway that links together all the components of the computer and allows them to transmit data between each other and and communicate.

Every computer component on the computer connects to the Motherboard either by being connected directly to the Motherboard or connecting via a data cable. The devices or components that connect to the Motherboard are the CPU, RAM Memory, Hard Drive, CD ROM/DVD drive, Video Card, Sound Card, Network Card, Modem, Key Board, Mouse and Monitor.

There are additional peripheral devices which can connect to the Motherboard as well through a variety of data ports which are connected to the Motherboard such as a printer, digital camera, microphone, and even a HDTV. These devices can connect to the Motherboard using one of several ports such as a USB, Parallel, Fire-Wire, SATA (Serial-ATA), or HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) port.

In short the Motherboard provided the data communication infrastructure which allows communication between all the devices. What makes one Motherboard faster than another is the volume of data it can support being transmitted across what is called it’s data BUS and the speed at which it can transmit the data. One way to think of it is in terms of a street. Think of the data bus as a street and the data are like cars driving down the street. Older Motherboards communication was the equivalent of a two way two lane street with a speed limit of 25 MPH. Today the new Motherboards are like 8 lane highways with 200MPH speed limits.

New Motherboards are faster because they can allow more data traffic at higher speeds.

The CPU

The CPU or Processor is the brain of the computer. The CPU carries out all the instructions that you in conjunction with the Operating System, like Windows XP or Windows 7, asks it to do. CPUs can only carry out one instruction at a time but they do it so fast it seems like they are doing multiple tasks at one time or “Multitasking”.

Newer CPUs are faster because their “clock speed” or “clock cycle” is faster. The clock speed is the speed at which a CPU can carry out instructions. You can think of clock speed like the timing of a metronome, the device that helps musicians keep the right musical time. A metronome has a hand on the front of it which swings back and forth at a timing interval you set. As it swings back and forth it ticks like a clock. Like the metronome the CPU also ticks at a set interval but a CPU ticks at an incredibly fast rate which is measured in Mega or Gigahertz. The CPU carries out an instruction on every tick of its clock cycle.

New CPUs can not only carry out instructions at very high clock speeds but they can also be made up of multiple CPU Cores. Each Core can carry out its own instructions. When you have a Dual Core CPU it can carry out two instructions at the same time and a Quad Core CPU can carry out four. There are even six Core CPUs out now and like the newer Motherboards these CPUs also have a larger Data BUS to send and receive data faster through the Motherboard enhancing the computers overall performance.

RAM Memory

RAM or Random Access Memory is what stores all the instructions you have asked the computer to carry out. Every time we interact with our computer we are creating instruction data for the CPU to process and even the simplest interaction, like moving the mouse across the screen, requires many single instructions the CPU must carry out. You can imagine that playing a computer game or running an application like Adobe Photo shop can create a tremendous amount of instructions for the CPU. The CPU is fast and can execute a lot of instructions quickly but it can’t do them all at once which is why we need a place to store the instructions until they can be processed. This is why RAM was created.

RAM is basically the storage place for all the instructions that are waiting to be executed by the CPU. You can sometimes tell when you don’t have enough RAM when you have clicked on the mouse or hit the enter key to initiate a program and the hour glass just sits there spinning on the screen. It can appear that our computer has locked up or froze but what is actually happening is the computer is completing the series of instructions it has been given before it can perform any further instructions. When this happens we usually see it as the computer briefly locking up. It is also very frustrating.

The best way to resolve this problem is by simply adding more RAM to your computer. Adding more RAM is possibly the easiest way to increase the performance of your computer. Increasing the amount of RAM in your computer can help your computer run faster because it allows your computer store more instructions. This lets the computer carry out a lot of instructions while you continue to do your work and it reduces the computer freeze ups.

The speed of the RAM you use can also help the computer. If you use RAM that has a faster Data Bus speed it can send the instructions it is storing to the CPU at a faster rate. The faster the CPU gets the instructions the faster it can carry them out and the faster your computer will run.

The amount and type you can use is dictated by the type of CPU and Motherboard you use. The Bus speed of the CPU and Motherboard as well as the capacity of RAM the Motherboard can recognize will determine what type of RAM and how much you can use.

Some Motherboards will allow you to install as much as 32GBs of RAM and most Motherboards will recognize multiple Bus speeds so you can use several different types of RAM. Generally speaking the faster the BUS speed and the larger storage capacity of the RAM, the faster your computer will perform. The important thing to remember though is that with larger capacity and speed comes higher price.

What’s nice about upgrading RAM is most Motherboards can accommodate several different speeds and capacities of RAM so you can start out with a slower speed and smaller capacity, which will be less expensive reducing your initial upgrade cost and then later down the road you can upgrade your RAM to a larger capacity and high speed.

Replacing the Motherboard, CPU and RAM is actually a lot easier than you may think. The CPU and RAM are directly connected to the motherboard so you can replace all three components at the same time by simply swapping out the motherboard.

To do this you must first determine what kind of form factor of motherboard your current computer supports.

The Motherboard Form Factor

Many computer manufacturers such as HP, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, eMachine, and Acer build their computers based on 4 primary motherboard form factors or design specifications and they are:

  • ATX = Full Size Motherboard generally found in full size Desktop computers and Towers
  • Micro-ATX = Mid Size motherboard found in Mid Tower and Smaller Desktops
  • Mini-ATX = Small Motherboard found in Mid Towers, Smaller Desktops
  • Mini-ITX = Newest motherboards very small size found in new smaller towers and desktops

These form factors refer to the size of the Motherboard itself. The computer case is designed to accommodate a specific size of Motherboard. Once you have determined which form factor your computer model is, then all you need to do is purchase the correct form factor Motherboard that fits your computer models case.

It would work like this. Let’s say you have an HP Pavilion 750n desktop computer. This is an older computer with a single core processor. Nice computer when it first came out but very slow by today’s standards. You decide that you want to make it faster by upgrading it to a Quad Core CPU but you need to determine if you can upgrade it.

You can determine whether or not you can upgrade that particular computer by going to the HP support website. On the site you would type in your computer model and look at the hardware specifications for that computer. HP will list the form factor information in the specifications guide. Having done this many times, I already know the 750n uses a Micro-ATX form factor.

Each computer manufacturer I named has a support site on their webpage where you can go to determine your models form factor. You can also do a search on Yahoo, Google, or Bing and ask what form factor your computer model is. If that doesn’t work simply email me or leave a comment on this article and I can help you locate it.

Once you know the type of form factor your computer model supports you are now ready to decide what performance level you would like to upgrade your computer to.The performance level of the computer is generally dictated by the CPU it uses. You may recall I indicated the CPU is often referred to as the brain of the computer because it processes all the instructions and it sets the computers overall speed based on it’s clock speed.Since the computers overall speed is set by the CPU, you typically start your upgrade by determining the CPU performance level you want.

How you decide which performance level you would like to upgrade to can be based on how you use your computer and how much you want to spend to upgrade it. Generally speaking if you only use your computer to send and receive email, browse the web, and save and share digital images from a digital camera, then you may only need to upgrade to a Dual Core CPU to significantly improve you computing experience.

If you play lots of games, burns DVDs, edit movies or sound files, and work with high resolution images or graphics, then you may want to select a Quad Core CPU to increase performance and improve your computing experience.

From a cost perspective you can expect to pay more for a faster CPU than you would for a slower CPU and Quad Core CPUs are generally more expensive than Dual Cores. As a rule I believe you should purchase as much as you can for as little as possible that way you get the most for your money and you won’t have to upgrade again for quite a while.

When you are ready to select your CPU you will have choices based on manufacturer and type and there are also some differences between the various types of CPUs from each manufacturer which you should be aware of.

There are three primary CPU manufacturers Intel, AMD and Motorola, but for the purpose of this article we are only going to focus on Intel and AMD. Motorola is primarily responsible for making CPUs for Apple Computers. Apple computers, are a proprietary computer model and it can be more difficult and more costly to upgrade an Apple computer.

This article is focused on helping the budget conscious, who own what is generally referred to as an IBM compatible computer, upgrade their computer easily and inexpensively. IBM compatible computers are identified as those computers which primarily run a Microsoft Windows based operating system such as Windows XP or Windows 7. Intel and AMD manufacture CPUs that support IBM compatible computers so those are the two manufacturers we will focus on.

For the purpose of this article I am not going to go into great detail about the differences between Intel and AMD CPUs. There is already a significant amount of detailed information available on the internet which describes each manufacturers CPU chip architecture, as well as gives side by side comparison.

I would invite you to do a little research on how each manufacturers chips are designed and then review a website that benchmarks each CPUs performance. There are many links on CPU design, comparisons and reveiws on the weband this can help you make your CPU choice.

The prevailing sentiment regarding AMD vs. Intel is that both CPUs, in either Dual or Quad Core configuration, perform similarly with Intel being slightly faster. Intel CPUs have always been associated with executing business applications quickly while AMD CPUs run multimedia applications quickly. As you research their benchmark scores you will see Intel on a graph seems to dramatically out perform AMD but when you look at the duration of time between the two it is minimal.

Where you will see a significant difference between the two manufacturers is in cost. AMD CPUs are almost always less expensive than Intel CPUs. The question I always ask my clients is, “Is a 4 second faster speed difference worth an extra $200 or $300 dollars more by buying an Intel CPU?” To me it is not.

I am looking for an overall performance increase compared to what I am currently using. Once you upgrade your computer you are not going to be comparing it to another computer of equal performance, you will be comparing it to the speed of your last computer. If after your upgrade, you find your computer runs significantly faster than your last computer and it didn’t cost much for you to achieve that performance increase, you will be happy with your upgrade and that is what is important.

CPU Cache

Earlier I indicated that RAM stores all the instruction data being transmitted to the CPU and throughout the computer. The CPU Cache is another form of high speed memory only it is specifically devoted to the CPU. It has been shown that a CPU can process data faster if more of the data it must process can be stored on memory located closer to the CPU itself.

All CPUs come with a cache but some newer CPUs will come with an additional cache that is faster and can hold more data closer to the CPU. Typically CPUs operating at a higher clock speed and having an additional, faster cache will offer higher performance.

A good example of this is the difference between the AMD Athlon and Phenom Series of CPUs. Both the Athlon and Phenom series come in Dual and Quad Core configurations but the Phenoim Series has an additional L3 cache making the CPU faster. It also makes a Phenom series CPU more expensive than the Athlon Series.

Another interesting tidbit is there is now a version II for both the Athlon and Phenom Series. The version II offers a more faster cache hence both CPUs are supposed to be faster than their predecessors however the benchmark numbers show a relatively small increase in performance.

Be sure to do a little research on the differences between the AMD and Intel CPUs and select the one you feel will be appropriate for your computing needs while meeting your budget goals. Once you have chosen the CPU you want you will then be ready to select the Motherboard that supports not only your CPU but your computer form factor as well.

One last thing regarding CPUs are both AMD and Intel have different CPU form factors so when you are selecting a Motherboard for the form factor that meets your computers specifications you also need to select the one that fits your CPU choice. This may seem complicated but it is not that difficult once you start looking at the Motherboard and CPU combinations.

The resellers I have showed you have filtering options on their web pages which allow you to select Motherboards that can support either AMD or Intel. You can also filter by both CPU and computer form factor as well which can help you narrow down your decision making.

Once you have made a decision on the CPU, you want to select the Motherboard that will support the CPU you have chosen. As far as Motherboards go there are several major manufactures of Motherboards and they all produce the 4 main types of Motherboard form factors. The major manufactures are:

  • ASUS
  • Biostar
  • Gigabyte
  • MSI
  • Foxconn
  • ECSJetway
  • Zotac

This may seem like a lot to choose from but as you begin to filter on the CPU type you can narrow down your focus and make selecting the right Motherboard easier.

Each motherboard will come with common features that are necessary for standard computer operations and some can come with additional features that may or may not be beneficial to you. The primary thing to remember about the Motherboard is that all of the components connect too it and you can choose to customize your computer upgrade as much or as little you want depending on the Motherboard you purchase.

For example, you can purchase a Motherboard which has the video and sound card integrated into the board. This saves you both time and money because it eliminates the need for you to choose a video or sound card, but if you want a specific video or sound card, you can select a Motherboard that does not come with those integrated components and then pick the video and sound card you would like to install as add in cards onto the Motherboard.

Here is a list of common Motherboards features:

  • Keyboard and Mouse input often referred to as a PS2 connector
  • USB – Universal Serial Bus ports for connecting computer peripherals such as (Keyboard, Mouse, Printer, Digital Camera, external Hard Drive etc…)
  • Parallel Printer Port (not as much in newer motherboards as printers use USB)
  • Local Area Network or LAN connection for a network or internet connection
  • Dial-up Modem (not as common in newer boards due to high speed internet connections)

Optional Motherboard Features:

  • 1394 or Fire-wire connection (higher speed data connection)
  • External SATA or Serial-ATA connection (higher speed data connection designed to connect external SATA devices such as a Hard Drive)
  • HDMI – High-Definition Multimedia Interface to connect an HD Monitor or TV, or to an external High Definition Audio component

We touched on RAM earlier and we know that the RAM you choose must be supported by the CPU and Motherboard you choose. To make it simple it breaks down like this when upgrading. The CPU determines the type of Motherboard you have to choose and your computer model determines the type of Motherboard form factor you select.

The Motherboard will dictate what type of RAM you will be able to use so that will make your selection easier. The only thing you will have to decide when it comes to RAM, is the size of RAM meaning the amount of Gigabytes, Gigs or GBs of RAM you choose and the RAM speed you select.

One other thing you must be aware of is the newer Operating Systems such as Windows Vista and Windows 7 require a minimum of 2GBs of RAM to run properly so you will want to select at least 2GBs of RAM when you upgrade. Knowing this can make your decision regarding the amount of RAM pretty straight forward. As far as the speed of RAM you select that again will depend on the speeds the Motherboard will support, the amount of performance you want and how much you are willing to spend.

As far as determining the speed of RAM your Motherboard will support that is not difficult to determine. As you begin to look at Motherboards you will see they clearly specify the type and speed of RAM they support.

I have covered a lot of information up to this point and I hope you have a better understanding of what is required for you to be able to identify the Motherboard, CPU and RAM components you would need to upgrade your current computer. Buying these components and upgrading them your self is far less expensive then going out and buying a new computer and I am confident with this information as a starting point you too can save money buy upgrading the computer yourself.

There are however, two important additional pieces of information you should know before you attempt to upgrade your computer.

1. Before you upgrade your current computer you should back up all of your important data on to an external storage device such as an external hard drive, USB jump drive or burn it onto a CD or DVD.

The reason this is important is when you upgrade those components you will be forced to reinstall the operating system and that will erase all the current data on your hard drive. In additional if you don’t have an installation disk for your current operating system, you will need to purchase a new copy of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 to install once you have upgraded the components. This may not actually be a major concern for you if you were already considering upgrading to a newer version of Windows. Also I can help you find an inexpensive copy of the Windows operating system if you it.

2. The new components you will install in you current PC will be more advanced from a power consumption standpoint and upgrading them will most likely require you to also upgrade your power supply.

The upgrade is not expensive and is a very easy to accomplish. The type of power supply you will want to select will be roughly 400 watts at least and will need to be a 20×4 pin or 24 pin power supply. This is the type of power supply supported by the newer Motherboards. Again the Motherboard specifications will indicate the power supply requirements.

To make your computer faster all you need to do is upgrade the Motherboard, CPU and RAM. You start by identifying the type of Motherboard form factor your current computer will support, and the performance level you want to upgrade to. Then you buy the CPU that fits your performance needs along with the Motherboard and RAM that fits both your computer model and CPU specifications.

The one thing I didn’t cover is the actual installation of these components once you have purchased them and are ready to install. At a high level the process is nothing more then:

  • Unplugging the computer and disconnecting all peripheral components such as the keyboard, mouse and monitor from the case
  • Before you open the computer, discharge yourself electrically or purchase a static strap to ground yourself to the chassis, this will help you avoid static discharge which can fry a computer component.
  • Removing the side cover off the computer case
  • Disconnecting all the power cables and Data cables from the old Motherboard
  • Unscrewing and removing the old Motherboard from the case
  • Unscrewing and removing the old power supply
  • Install the new power supply
  • Install the new Motherboard into the case
  • Reconnecting all the power and data cables
  • Powering the computer back up and listening for proper post sound
  • Now you are ready to install the operating system

I know once you decide to start this process you will have many questions which is why there is one last thing I would recommend you do before you begin to upgrade you computer.

There are many do it yourself computer repair and upgrade manuals available online and they can provide you all the help you need to do your computer upgrade. Many of the books will provide you step by step explanation on how to replace just about every component on your computer and provide you with detailed diagrams so you can see how to actually perform the removal or install. I would suggest you make a small investment and purchase one of these books.