Picking a Monitor.

Whether you are looking to get a new desktop or build your own gaming rig, one of the most critical decisions is what monitor to choose. Often times, this is something we don’t think about and simply buy the cheapest one. The mistake with that logic is you already paid for a high-tech monster gaming computer but are playing on an old style, low-resolution square computer monitor wondering why you spent the money on a rig that isn’t much better than your old Dell. Here is what you need to keep in mind when choosing your next monitor.

Size / Resolution:

These two go hand in hand and therefore we will talk about them together. If you are simply using your computer for word processing and doing your taxes once a year you probably don’t need to put much thought into the size or resolution. However, if you want to watch movies or play games these are two critical components of your decision. The larger the monitor and higher the resolution, the more powerful GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) you are going to need. You can’t get a low-end gaming rig and expect to run a 42″ 4K monitor. The computer won’t be able to keep up. Balance is critical. Make sure you check the specs on your graphics card to ensure it allows for 4K gameplay.

It is easy to find a monitor 24″ or larger with a 16:9 aspect ratio (full HD or 1080). If you are new to gaming and own a lower-end rig or are just watching movies,  a 24″ monitor with HD is probably the route for you. They are not very expensive and will do the job.

Refresh Rate:

Most monitors come in 60Ghz. This indicates how many times the monitor displays a new frame per-second. The higher the number the more frames and the smoother the action is. If you are a gamer and like fast paced shooters, you want to look for a monitor with 120Ghz or above. This will keep the picture clear(er) during the twitch style gameplay.

Screen Brightness / Contrast:

Think about the room you will have your computer in. Does it have a lot of windows? Is it mostly dark? Do you work all day and only play at night?

If you are in a bright room you will want to make sure your screen is able to keep up with with a high brightness level or candelas. The higher the candelas the better. Contrast is the difference between pixel colors. In other words, the higher the contrast ratio the bigger of a difference there will be between true black and “not so true but close black”. If your computer has a low contrast ratio you may not be able to see a difference between those two colors.

Both of these features can be adjusted after purchase through the on-unit menu.

Ports / Extras:

The last factor in your decision should be how many USB ports, HDMI connectors, DisplayPorts, etc are included on the monitor. Most often, having an HDMI or a DisplayPort (which does the same thing as HDMI) and a few USBs is sufficient, however think about what you want to connect to it and just make sure it has what you are looking for. If you have your tower (or rig) set behind your desk and it is easier to connect your mouse to a USB port on the monitor, think about how many other things you would like to connect (headphones, mic, etc.) as well.

Many monitors also come with camera, built-in microphones, and touchscreen capabilities.


Picking a monitor isn’t rocket science. There aren’t too many options and it’s easy to find what you want if you know what to look for. The most important thing to consider is your use. What do you intend to do with the monitor? If you are a gamer you may want to get a 32″ 4K 144Ghz beast. If you only need it to store pictures and write e-mails a simple 20″ HD with touchscreen capabilities will do the trick.

What is RAM Anyway?

Just about everyone nowadays owns a computer. Inside of which are many parts. Each serves a specific purpose, which when all working together, allows your computer to run smoothly.

One of these parts is called RAM. RAM is actually an acronym which means Random Access Memory. This component serves as the temporary storage center of your computer, while it utilizes the information to perform tasks.

An easy was to understand this process is to compare it to cooking. When you cook you take out the ingredients from the fridge and pantry. The fridge and pantry are like the memory of the computer, or the hard drive. You, or the CPU (Central Processing Unit), take out the ingredients and lay them all out on the counter.

If you have a small amount of RAM or 4GB you have a very small counter and it is hard to find everything you need quickly. If you have a large amount of RAM or 16GB+ you have a large counter where everything is easily laid out in front of you.

You grab the ingredients and cook your meal just as the CPU takes the information bits it needs and runs the program.

In regards to how much RAM you need, that is a pretty easy question. If you plan to do something that requires a lot of processing power or graphical power such as gaming or graphic design, you should probably stay around the 16GB or 32GB mark.

If you only use your computer for word processing, you will probably be safe around the 8GB. I don’t recommend anyone go below 8GB as most modern programs require at least 8GB (many ask for 16GB).

Virtual Reality.

If perception is reality, is virtual reality any less real?

Technology has come a long way and one of the most prevalent and fun examples is virtual reality. Although recently this technology has been more geared toward games, it wasn’t always full of light hearted fun.

An example is training simulators. A simulator is a type of VR referred to as semi-immersive. The immersion factor is determined by how many points of contact you have with the virtual world. To explain, in a simulator pilots sit in a mock version of an actual cockpit. They are not wearing any fancy headgear or hooked up to any sensors. Half the time the mock cockpit doesn’t pitch or roll. But where the windows would be are screens. These screens give the pilot a view of a simulated world so they can practice their skills without the risk of hurting themselves or anyone else.

Full immersion is where the individual is wearing a VR headset with visual and audio input, and standing on a special pad that allows the user to move around. The goal is to cut the user off from the real world as much as possible and put as many of their senses into the virtual world as possible. The user hears the virtual world, sees the virtual world, and feels the virtual world.

The goal of virtual reality is to place the users into a simulated virtual world where the users body actually believes they are where the computer tells them they are. If you want to find out more about what is possible in virtual reality check out this youTube video by segmentNext.


2.4GHz or 5GHz, what?

If you own a newer wireless modem or router you may be faced with a choice.

When you bring up the list of available WiFi networks in your home you may see a variety of options, how do you know which one to pick?

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Don’t fret, the choice is pretty easy if you know what to look out for.


First, start by identifying which of the options belong to your network. Oftentimes your modem or router (whichever broadcasts your WiFi) will have a sticker on the bottom or side of the unit with the name of the network.

Second, once you’ve identified which network belongs to you, you may notice there are two similar but slightly different options: 2.4 or 5.

The two numbers at the end of your network name refer to the gigahertz in that band. The WiFi broadcasting devices that uses these two bands are called dual-band and offer you the ability to switch between two network bands depending on the device you are using and where you are using it.

The 2.4GHz band is designed for devices that may travel away from the WiFi network and require a longer range. The speed for these devices will be slower, but the signal can travel further.

The 5GHz band is designed for a shorter range but the network is faster.

Let’s say you have your WiFi hub in your living room. The TV in your living room is a SMART TV and connects to your network via WiFi. You would want that on the 5GHz band. The TV is stationary, close to your WiFi signal, and could use a boost in speed. Your daughter has an ipad and uses it in the upstairs loft. She likes to walk around with it and fire small tubby birds at seasick pigs. You would probably want her device to be connected to the 2.4GHz band.

Deciding which band to use goes a bit deeper with the strength of your network, the location of your devices, and if you have any relay hubs or signal boosters throughout your home. But the rule of thumb is: if the device is close to the signal and is stationary use the 5GHz band, and if the device moves around use the 2.4GHz.

If I’m not driving, who is?

The lines between science fiction and reality are more and more becoming blurred. Things that 50 years ago were the stuff of novels, sending the readers on incredible journeys into what could be possible, are becoming commonplace in the world today.

One such instance is self driving cars.

Imagine yourself, sitting in your car, arms crossed lounging back in your seat watching the world pass by, when suddenly, red lights in front of you snap your attention back to the road. Before you think to grab the wheel and swerve to miss your rapidly approaching doom, your car casually signals the blinker and changes lanes swiftly cruising past the stopped traffic in the lanes next to you.

No this isn’t impossible, it is currently in existence. The car in question has eyes! Well, not actually eyes, but high tech gadgets and sensors that allow it to monitor the conditions of the road around you to include the other cars. One such sensor is a device called Lidar.

What is Lidar? Lidar is a sensor that sends out millions of beams of lasers (no sharks) and registers how long it takes them to come back. This allows the device to sense where objects are, how big they are, and how to best avoid running into them.

This technology was used on Apollo 15 to scan and map the surface of the moon. It has also been used to scan the bottom of the ocean to survey the ocean floor as well as scan from airplanes to penetrate through deep jungle to see the terrain underneath. I’ve also  witnessed it used to search for alien wreckage!

Elon Musk of Tesla believes camera can do the job of seeing for the cars instead of Lidar, and builds his cars that way. It is Google’s self driving car program, Waymo, that is heading up the Lidar use.

Unfortunately, in the recent news, a self driving (Google) car for Uber hit and killed a woman who was crossing the street with her bicycle. So, perhaps the technology has a ways to go before it is ready for the mass market. The makers of Lidar do insist that the issue doesn’t lie with their technology, but instead with the software that is designed to interpret what the Lidar sent it.

In the end, self driving cars may be here, but perhaps they are not quite ready for the mainstream highways. Perhaps once the technology is further developed we will see more and more of these driverless vehicles hit the road.


What is a HERS Rating?

The price of utilities is one of those things that never seems to cut us a break. Every winter the price of gas goes up and every summer the price of electricity follows suit. With the costs continually rising what can we do about it?

Energy Efficiency! There are quite a few perspectives in regards to this topic. Some people seek out energy efficiency to save the planet. Some are looking out for their kids. Others, simply want to save a little money. No matter which boat you are in, the best way to judge the energy efficiency of your home is to look at the HERS rating.

Something to note: if the home is preexisting and hasn’t had a HERS rating done during construction, you can get whats called an Energy Audit to figure out how efficient your home is. Afterwards, you will receive a report that details the steps you could take to improve your rating.

A HERS inspection is something done throughout construction and it evaluates the builders processes and systems while the home is being built. Throughout the building process they will conduct several inspections to ensure it doesn’t have any energy issues such as duct leakage or unexpected thermal losses.

So what is HERS? The acronym stands for Home Energy Rating System. It is a rating given to your home to indicate the estimated energy efficiency. Basically, how much heat or cold transfer exists in your home. The higher the rating the worse the home is for energy efficiency.

On average (depending on where you live) most older resale homes have a rating of around 140 on the scale. Most builders in the area will build to code or anywhere between 20 – 25 points under. Certain builders are what is called High Performance Builders and maintain a much lower rating which would save you big bucks in the long run.

High Performance Builders use what is called advanced framing techniques and utilize different materials throughout the building process to ensure they meet the quality of home HERS inspectors expect. In fact, if a HERS inspector encounters something that doesn’t meet their standards they will require the builder to fix it before proceeding with the home.

So what does this mean to you? If you want to protect the environment, this is the home for you. Since your home doesn’t require the same amount of energy to heat or cool it you are pulling less power from your local power plant.

If you are looking out for your children, other than the benefit listed previously, the resale of HERS rated High Efficiency homes is higher. This is because a home built by a High Performance Builder will surpass all of the current codes and any of the ones in the near to mid future making your home more valuable as it competes with future new-builds.

And, finally, those of you who are concerned with saving money, even though your utility bill never catches a break, your wallet will. A home with a HERS rating of 55 will save the home owner around $1,800 a year on energy savings (taken from local market data). Sure, this number is from a HERS certificate from a home in my area and since the energy cost savings is based on local utility rates, I recommend you check with a builder or realtor in your area.

Owning a home is the American dream, and with so many builders out there, it pays to do your research and find one who advertises High Performance Building. Make sure they use the HERS inspections throughout the building process and that you get a HERS certificate at closing. It will lower your utility costs, increase your resale value, and if you add solar panels potentially take you off the grid (if your rating is low enough). Wouldn’t it be nice to generate your own power and not have to worry about a utility bill at all?

So what exactly is 5G?

According to statista.com over 5 billion people in the world currently posses a cell phone. Without much argument, it can be agreed that the mobile revolution changed the world. The disagreements sit more around if the mobile change was a good or a bad thing. However, for the sake of this article, and having a technology based writing platform, I’m going to side on the fact that it is good. Along with the changing mobile technology in the form of your phone, connections behind your device have changed dramatically as well. So what does 5G mean anyway and why do I care which my phone uses?

To get an important piece of information out of the way, the “G” means generation.

When phones first came out, they existed on a network known as 1G. It allowed mobile phone users to make cell phone calls. 2G, which appeared a short time later, introduced text messages. 3G gave us data and the ability to surf the web. 4G came in several forms all of which worked to push the connection faster. Of those forms, LTE (Long Term Evolution) eventually won out due to its standardized system. From there, most people became familiar with 4G LTE.

On to 5G. AT&T and Verizon have both said that they plan to release 5G in several areas of the United States later on this year (2018). What does that mean for us? Well, to put it simple: faster speeds.

Currently, 4G LTE allows us to download about 1 gigabit per second. But wait, that is when the system works perfectly. When you have a tower in the exact place you need it, no buildings are around, North Korea isn’t jamming your signal, the contrails aren’t causing interference, and there happens to be no clouds of insects hovering nearby. The fact is, although the technology can reach 1 gigabit in speed, no one really ever gets there.

Enter 5G technology. 5G will allow our phones to reach speeds of 10 gigabits per second. This will give you the ability to download a full HD movie in just a few seconds vs. the old time of 20 minutes to an hour (depending on the roaming bug clouds).

Sure, we are going to have the same obstacles interfering with our 10 gigabit speed, but when you are no longer drinking out of a straw and instead you’ve turned on the faucet, a lot more gets through anyway.