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Information Technology update – 10 October 2020

Greetings members.

Welcome to this month’s Information Technology update. This month lets explain why the computer you are using does not seem as fast as it used to be.

The resources on your computer are limited to what you have installed. Let’s look at each main component real quick:

  • Motherboard: This is the main board on the computer. Everything else installed plugs into the motherboard. Consider this the backbone of our computer.
  • CPU or central processing unit: Think of this as the brain of your computer. This is what tells the rest of the components what to do. Without the CPU, a computer is just a large paperweight. The speed of the CPU determines how fast it can interact with everything and could be a reason for a newer application to run slow.
  • System memory: One of the most important parts. Every program or file you open goes into the memory. If you are primarily working in a web browser or office programs, you do not need a huge amount. Gaming and video editing do require minimum memory and having more is always better. Memory has a speed just like the CPU to help move data around. In most cases, memory modules are installed in pairs, meaning if you have 8GB of total memory, you most likely have 2 4GB chips.
  • Graphics: This is critical for gaming and does come in handy with video editing. The graphics processor, or GPU, will depend on how you see all your applications on the monitor. Lower end built in GPUs on your computer will do the basics fine. To run high end games, get a high-end GPU. GPUs also have built in memory separate from the system memory. GPUs generally are the most expensive part of the PC.
  • Monitor: Just like your TV, your monitor is your display for viewing what your PC is running.
  • Hard drive: Your hard drive, or HDD, stores all of your programs and files so you can access them when you want it. They come in many sizes and types and are generally inexpensive. Older style magnetic HDD’s are being slowly replaced with SSD, which have no moving parts, are lighter weight and have faster speeds.

Knowing what is in your computer, we can now figure out why it is running slow. Most people do not delete things from a computer. Your HDD or SSD could be getting full and fragmented. Easy fix: remove those old programs you do not need. Backup files you wont use on a regular basis. There is also a built-in tool in Windows to help defragment your drive to help clean it up. You can also add in a second or third drive to expand your storage.

Your CPU and GPU could be getting old. Over time, newer programs just cannot run on older equipment. It will try its best, but you will notice bad performance, crashes or just a warning it cannot run.

Check your memory usage. Newer programs could be requiring more than you have. A PC will use some of the HDD as virtual memory, but that is limited to how much drive space you have left.

So, is it worth upgrading or buying a new one? That is a hard answer to give. Cost would be the main thing to check. Also, the age of the computer. If it is more than 5 years old, you might have trouble finding older hardware to upgrade in it. However, A newer computer with a lower grade GPU could easily be upgraded with a new one without any other changes being made.

Hope this helps, and if you have any questions, stop by and see our IT officer.


Information Technology update – 26 August 2020

Greetings members.

Welcome to this month’s Information Technology update. This month, let’s talk Linux.

The first Linux operating system was released in 1991. Linux is an open source platform, meaning that the source code is free to download and edit. This allows extensive customization and an unlimited series of versions. Versions of Linux are used now for smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, routers, network switches and numerous other personal devices. The very popular Raspberry Pi mini computer runs a Linux bases system as well.

To make better use of the older computers we have at the squadron, Linux Mint was installed. This version of Linux will have a common feel for most Windows users. The interface is purposely modeled to make navigation easy. It also includes LibreOffice, an open source version of the Windows Office suite.

All the computers in our operations room have been upgraded, and the remaining computers are in process. If you want to take Linux Mint for a test drive, go for it. Have an old computer at home that can’t run the newer version of Windows? Here’s a good opportunity to breathe new life into that old PC.

Quick note for Windows users. If you’re using any operating system below Windows 10, support will be very limited. Windows 8 ended main support in 2018 and extended support ends in 2023. This means, no more security updates will be made available. Windows 7 support completely ended in January.

If you have any questions, see our IT officer during a meeting or send me an email.


Information Technology update – 10 April 2020

Greetings members.

Welcome to this month’s Information Technology update. This month, we will review some online distance learning tools.

With schools closed and students doing distance learning, online meeting programs are now front and center. Our squadron meetings will also be utilizing some these tools. Here is a quick rundown of the 4 most common tools available.

Skype: Skype is used a lot by major businesses, although it can be used by anyone. It is free, is embedded into the Microsoft Office suite, and can be done through a web browser or installed application. You can share screens and type messages to the group.

Zoom: Zoom is great for larger groups, allows for screen sharing and invites. The free version only allows for 30-minute meetings, so plan accordingly.

Google Hangouts: Since most people these days have a Google account (or 2?), Hangouts is a good tool for online meetings. It’s easy to use and it’s free.

Discord: Started for gamers, Discord allowed for voice and video chat, groups, multiple rooms and is free to use.

Teams: Teams is part of the Microsoft Office suite. Primarily used for businesses, it has some advanced features that are useful, such as the ability to have breakout rooms, larger participation and no time limits.

If you have any questions, stop by and see our IT officer at the meeting.


Information Technology update – 08 March 2020

Greetings members.

Welcome to this month’s Information Technology update. This month, we’ll be reviewing security for your devices.

Mobiles and tablets: If you own a mobile device, just like a computer, it’s important to install any updates your service provider or cell phone manufacturer have available. Most updates are quick and take just a few minutes. Those quick updates are usually to improve the security of your device and prevent unwanted access or use. Mobile apps are sometimes the easiest way to get bad programs into your device. Android users should only download from the Google Play Store and avoid 3rd party sites when possible. Apple users can only download apps from the Apple App store.

PC’s: Most PC’s are set by default to automatically download and install critical updates. Windows 10 users should get those updates as soon as they become available. If you’re running Windows 8, the expected end of life for support is January 2023. All older versions of Windows, from version 7 and under, have already passed the end of life date. That does not mean your computer will no longer function, it will. However, Microsoft will no longer create security or software patches, meaning your computer is more susceptible to getting a virus or malware installed. Mac-OS and Linux users should check with your specific software to see how updates are made available.

What is a computer virus? – Well, simply put, a computer virus is a program and starts impacting files in your computer. Some are minor and cause a minimal impact. Others can permanently corrupt your files and data and force a complete reimaging of your computer.

What is malware? – Malware is like a computer virus but can be much worse. Malware is a program that can run in the background of your computer, most times unnoticeable to the user. Malware programs can capture passwords, credit card data and other personal information and pass it along to someone else. The most extreme type of malware is ransomware. This was on the news last year when the Baltimore City government was hit. Computers were frozen, data locked. And if the users don’t pay, they don’t get the files back. Ransomware attacks usually do not affect personal users, they generally attack large corporations or government agencies.

How can I protect myself? – Any virus scan software will help prevent unwanted data from entering your computer. Some are free. Others have a yearly fee, such as MacAfee and Norton Antivirus. Another free program that’s easy to use is Spy-Bot Search and Destroy. It will scan your entire computer and remove anything it thinks could problematic. Just a note: It will always find something. Not everything it finds is a major issue, but it will clean your computer.

Backup!!! – Backups are great when you do have a total crash of any kind. Either use portable media locally, or cloud storage to save important files.

If you have any questions, stop by and see our IT officer at the meeting.


Information Technology update – 07 February 2020

Greetings members.

I’d like to welcome everyone to the first in a monthly series of IT updates, current event discussions and lessons everyone can use.

Our webmaster, in coordination with National HQ, has redeveloped our squadron website. This is the public face for our unit and for Civil Air Patrol. Working alongside our Historian and Public Affairs Officer, we have created pages documenting the many accomplishments of our squadron over the past many years. Some of the records we’ve found date back to the 1980’s and earlier. Our current generation of members may find themselves listed in our awards section or have a news article published to recognize a special achievement.

Links are available to assist members with required uniform items and how to purchase them. You’ll also find a link for new cadet members to request the free blues uniform, once they complete the first achievement.

Our public Google Calendar is also available. Meeting nights, activities and events are posted as far in advance as possible to aid in planning. The new Squadron Events section will soon be how we sign-up for activities and external events. Stay tuned!

Our website is separate from the secure website used for taking tests and tracking operations. While our website does not require a log-in, the secure website does. It’s important to never share your password with anyone, keep it private and change it periodically. The website will prompt members every 90 days to change the password. If you get locked out, use the password reset link available on the front log-in screen and follow the instructions. Members of the unit are not able to reset passwords for the national site. It’s also important to make sure your personal contact information, email address and phone numbers are up to date.

We are also starting a new announcement list. Shortly after this email, you will receive a request to be added into the list. If you prefer not to receive the announcements, ignore the email. Announcements will be sent out periodically regarding activities, meetings and special events.

We urge you to browse around our website. If you have any suggestions to have something added or corrected, let me know. The website link is and is also available on a mobile device.

Thank you.



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