Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

50 Best Free iPhone Apps + More

For those of you iGadget types..

* 50 Best Free iPhone Apps

Plenty of iPhone apps are worth paying for, but there are plenty of great free ones, too. Here are 50 of the best.” Read more..

[ Note: most of those are available for Android devices as well. ]

Others may be more interested in..

* Analysts’ Favorites: 10 Best Bluetooth Speakers

Laptops and phones are smaller and thinner than ever, and so are their speakers. We tested dozens of wireless speakers and can recommend these 10 as the absolute best.Read more..

And of course there’s scary ‘news’..

* Windows 10 Upgrade Become More Creepy, No Option to Opt-Out

If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and have no plans to switch to Windows 10, then Microsoft could force you to install Windows 10*, making it harder for you to cancel or opt-out of upgrading…” Read more..

* emphasis mine. It’s time to turn off Automatic Update, and switch to “Notify me”, and manually reading each Update to make sure this *crud* isn’t allowed to happen. Sad. Just sad. Shame on you Microsoft! (Other option, image your C: drive daily..) Because unless you’re a kid needing improved XBox streaming, I see no real advantage to Win X.

And, it’s the weekend, so..

Click on image to see more by this artist.

Click on image to see more by this artist.

“Little lion” by Giordano Vasconcelos, courtesy of Flickr Commons

* * *

Today’s quote:Wondrous is the strength of cheerfulness, and its power of endurance – the cheerful man will do more in the same time, will do it; better, will preserve it longer, than the sad or sullen.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

Let’s all have a safe and marvelous weekend, okay?

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

October 17, 2015 Posted by | advice, Android, Apple, consumer electronics, gadgets, hardware, iPhone, Microsoft, News, software, Windows 10 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do The Dolby Numbers Mean?

Dolby 7.1 Must Be Newer Than 5.1, But Is It Better?

A reader wrote and asked me for some advice regarding a sound card.

Q: Paul — My son has been pestering me to buy “Audigy sound” for his computer. He is very much involved in some kind of online gaming world  and he says he needs this for better results. I have asked Capturehim to explain to me how this Audigy will make things better, but all I have been able to really grasp is that the item he wants is “Dolby 7.1”.

I am reluctant to purchase this additional item as only two Christmases ago Santa took special pains to make sure that my son’s computer could play all the latest games. I have checked, and his PC has Dolby 5.1.

Can you tell me why my son thinks he needs Dolby 7.1 to play today’s games?

A: First of all, a disclaimer: I am by no means an audiophile. I will do my best to provide a solid, computer geek answer (but I will also ask my more knowledgeable readers to assist and/or correct me) but I won’t dare get involved in parenting advice. I’ll try to be brief.

SBAudigy is a model name (a family of products) of Creative Labs—  a company practically synonymous with computer sound cards .. and it’s the company responsible for me becoming a tech, as they forced me to learn about IRQ’s and memory address spaces back in the early days.

Dolby is a audio format known for “noise” reduction, compression, and the ability to separate out discrete “channels” — which gives us the ability to create “surround sound” environments. It is this latter where the Dolby numbers come in.

The numbers represent the number of “channels” available. A “5.1” is a six channel ability and a 7.1 is an eight channel. The first number is ‘normal’ channels and the 1 is for a special, bass-heavy “sub-woofer” (designed to add psychological effect to thunder, and .. explosions).

The “channels” are assigned to an area — center, left front, right front, left rear, and right rear, and are intended to go to corresponding speakers. A “5.1” configuration is shown here.
surround5point1

In gaming, this can aid the player when audible clues are provided by the game designers.. for instance, stealthy footsteps may be sent to the left rear speaker, but not to any of the other speakers, and this could alert the player that an enemy is behind him (and to the left)… and it will probably be his only clue, before the enemy strikes.

A “7.1 configuration” allows the addition of two more speakers, as shown below.
7point1surround

What should be obvious now is that you need speakers (6, or 8) physically placed to take advantage of these “channels”. If all you have is two rinky-dink little PC speakers that came free with your system, or built into your monitor.. well, you really aren’t going to notice any difference between plain-old stereo, 5.1, or 7.1 .. so you need..
Gigaworks

.. as I have written and explained to Santa a few times now.

Okay, maybe you won’t need an ultra-deluxe get-up like the GigaWorks, but you will need a really high-quality set of headphones, or a multi-speaker + sub-woofer speaker set.. and you’ll need 7 normal + 1 sub-woofer to make an upgrade from 5.1 to 7.1 really pay off.

Perhaps, instead of a new sound card, you might consider, instead, a “gaming speaker” setup to take full advantage of the 5.1 you already have, like the Logitech G51 Surround set.

Today’s free link: for those who found my explanation of Dolby inadequate or confusing, click here for the Wikipedia page which describes “Hertz” and “bit rate” and “lossy” and junk like that much better than I did.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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March 11, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, how to | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments