Archive for September 2010

U.S. Senate to Vote on Censoring the Internet

OK, this is important, please follow this post to the end because it affects you! 

Pushed HEAVILY by the movie and recording industries, the U.S. Senate is moving forward on a bill to give the U.S. Attorney General the power to shut down web sites and block U.S. citizens from accessing certain sites.

The “purpose” of the bill is help prevent piracy of movies and music on the Internet, but the fact is that this gives the federal government the power to shut down or block any site that it feels like for whatever reason they like.  Suppose you post a page or site that the current government (at ANY point in time) doesn’t like, they can shut you down.  If a site in another country is highly critical of the current government (doesn’t matter who at the time is in power), then the U.S. government can block all Americans from accessing the overseas site.  This is what China does when their citizens try to search for “Tiananmen Square”.

It doesn’t matter what state you live in, you have only two Senators, take a minute and tell them you are against the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act”.  It’s ok to be against online infringement and counterfeit movies and music (and you should be), but THIS is a horrible way to approach it and does NOT LIMIT what they can do with the law.  This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, sooner or later it will be an issue for all of us.  I guarantee you they are hearing from (more like receiving $$$$$$ from) the movie and music industries.  Make sure they hear from you, and forward, “Like” or “re-tweet” this to your friends (but not forever, just let’s say the first week of October.)

Get your Senators’ email addresses here and tell them bill S. 3804 is a BAD idea: http://bit.ly/TekChic0188

More information if you want to read it about the bill is here: http://bit.ly/TekChic0189

XMarks Sync (formerly FoxMarks) to be Discontinued

My favorite bookmark (or “Favorites”) synchronizer, XMarks will be discontinued on January 10, 2011.  They had a great idea and it worked wonderfully, and what was best is that it didn’t matter what browser you used, it would synchronize al your bookmarks across different computers, different operating systems and different browsers.  It was SUCH a good idea that ALL the browser makers now have this feature built into their browsers (though it doesn’t work ACROSS different browsers), and as a result XMarks is shutting down in January.  If you use XMarks, you can continue using it.  They have a page dedicated to providing information about the shutdown, other browser alternative and privacy concerning your information at http://www.xmarks.com/about/shutdown.  If you wish you can immediately go there to permanently delete your user account and data (I’m marking my calendar and waiting until January.)

For you XMarks users, I’ll post a reminder in January before the deadline.  It’s a shame to see such a great product go, but alas, such is the way of the web.

DEAL: Microsoft Office 2010 Home & Student $99

image If the free online version of Office 2010 isn’t enough for you (see my post here) then Amazon has the Home & Student version for $99.99 and shipping is free.  It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.  If you need Outlook, this ISN’T the version for you.  The Home and Student version is $125 and Staples and $150 at Office Max and Office Depot, so the Amazon price is really good.

A Robot That Makes Drinks – Bar2D2 (really!)

imageIf you were wondering what to do with that old PC, AND you’re feeling the need for a DIY project, then here you go, an automated drink mixer controlled from your computer.

http://bit.ly/TekChic0184

Dropbox – Free and Easy Way to Share Files

Is this you?  You need to get a file or a bunch of files from one computer to another, it could be within your home or perhaps a business associate 1,000 miles away.  Or maybe you have a small office and have files that need to be available to all the computers in the office, but you don’t have or want the trouble or expense of maintaining a server. 

Say hello to Dropbox.  Dropbox is online storage that makes it SIMPLE to share files between as many computers as you want.  Just download Dropbox and install it on your computer (MAC, Windows, Linux and even Apple and Android phones.)  You get 2 Gigabytes of free storage, and you can even create private folders that are shared with specific people.  Dropbox creates a folder on your computer, and anything you put in that folder is immediately copied to the other Dropbox users in your account.  It also safely stores a copy online that you can access anywhere from any computer.  It’s also a great way to send a file to a friend that’s too big for email.  Just create a folder for them and drop your file into it.  From the Dropbox website you can send them a note and they will be given a link that lets them access that folder online.  It’s a great tool.

Use this link to get an EXTRA 250 Megabytes for free: http://bit.ly/TekChic0182

Anti-Glare vs. Glossy Screens

If you have a typical desktop LCD display, you probably have an anti-glare display.  The purpose is to reduce reflections on the screen so that it’s easier for you to see what’s on your computer monitor. But if you have a glossy screen, you might be seeing better clarity and color.

Sounds like a great idea, right?  Well, me too.  So let me very briefly give you my pro and cons of the two types.

Anti-Glare: You can see this screen in almost any condition.  Bright sunlight or in the dark.  I think you lose a little bit of fine detail/clarity, but it’s so minimal it probably doesn’t bother you.

Glossy: Anti-Glare screens work by diffracting the light hitting the screen away so you can see what’s on the computer display.  Unfortunately this diffraction works both ways, and it diffracts light COMING from the display. 

For reasons I don’t fully understand, LAPTOP manufacturers are shipping most of their computers with glossy screens.  If PORTABILITY is the reason you bought your laptop, then you will probably find yourself in a situation with the background very bright and making it hard to see what’s on your screen.

And for more reasons I don’t understand, DESKTOP monitor manufacturers are mostly anti-glare.

So here’s my advice: If you’re going to buy a laptop AND you plan on using it outdoors or with bright light behind you, get an anti-glare screen (if you can find one.)  For desktops, this matters on WHERE your monitor will be sitting.  If you have a simple wall or a dark window shade behind you, then go will the glossy screen if it’s available.  Without the “anti-glare”, the light from the screen goes directly to you and will appear much clearer.  The colors and blacks (for reasons I can’t explain) seem much richer as well.

I use a pair of HP 2509m monitors that I LOVE but would HATE if there was a bright window behind me.  You’ll have to shop, take your time and make an INFORMED decision – but a good monitor can make a big difference in your enjoyment of your computer.

Netflix Streaming Adding More of NBC

First, if you use Netflix, did you even KNOW that you can watch movies from your PC?  OK, so you knew, well now NBC has added shows from “Saturday Night Live”, “30 Rock” and Battlestar Galactica” to their downstream library.  Netflix will also be adding their NBC Universal cable channel shows like “Psych”, “In Plain Sight” and “Monk”.

Change Your Facebook Password in 60 Seconds

If you think your account has been compromised, then you need to change your password ASAP.  IF you don’t see the video in a window below, then click on the title above to go directly to the page on this site or here to go directly to YouTube.

Available in HD, select 720p and view full screen by clicking on image in the lower right corner.

iPhone Jailbreak Update

I know some of you are EAGERLY awaiting the jailbreak for iOS 4.1, but it’s not ready yet.  There is a FAKE Greenpoison jailbreak download out there, but it’s not the real thing AND they charge you $30 for the “software”.  Don’t do it, they just are after your money.  I’ll let you know the REAL jailbreak is available for the latest iOS 4.1.

UNSUBSCRIBE From Annoying Ads

Here’s a service you’ll definitely want to use.  It’s Unsubscribe.com.  What it does is make it EXTREMEMLY easy to unsubscribe from the mailing lists that you are on but don’t want to be.  Maybe you bought some clothes online one time, and now you find you’re getting 10 emails a week from various clothing sites – unsubscribe.com is the answer.  If you use Microsoft Outlook or Gmail (with Firefox) you get a simple button that you press and bingo, they take care of everything for you.

They have a free version that lets you unsubscribe from 5 mailings a month, or for $19/year you get unlimited unsubscribing.  Don’t expect to get off the list of the blatant spammers (you know, the Viagra, Canadian Pharmacy, etc.) but the stuff you perhaps “accidentally” subscribed to just got your name added because of an order, this is great.

In Outlook it installs in the icon bar:

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If you Firefox to access Gmail, it installs with the other buttons above your inbox:

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If you’d like to give it a try, go to unsubscribe.com, or just click on this link:  http://bit.ly/TekChic0181

DEAL: Lenovo 15.6” Laptop – $399 at Office Depot

image Office Depot has the Lenovo G550 15.6" LED-Backlit Widescreen Laptop Computer a Pentium Dual-Core Processor for $399 through 9/25.  It’s a good, basic laptop with lots of memory, a decent size 250 GB hard drive, built-in webcam, numeric keypad and Windows 7.  For average apps like Word and Excel, and web-surfing and watching videos on YouTube, this is a great deal.  The web site says “Delivery Only” so don’t expect to see it in the store.  Here’s the link:  http://bit.ly/TekChic0180

Watch a Movie – Get a Virus

Well, it isn’t quite that easy, but Adobe – who is gaining a reputation for a “we’ll get around to fixing it someday” attitude, has (yet again) problems with their Flash player and Acrobat PDF Reader. When you watch a video on YouTube and most web sites, they are using the Flash player in your web browser.  PDF files are usually viewed using Acrobat Reader.  Both have serious flaws that can allow a malicious flash or PDF file to run code (i.e. virus) that you probably wouldn’t be expecting.  So 1) be sure your programs are up to date. Go to http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ to get the latest Flash Player (you can UNCHECK the box for the McAfee Scanner piggybacking on the download.)  If you MUST use Acrobat Reader (most of you don’t), go here http://get.adobe.com/reader/ and again uncheck the McAfee box.  If you’re on Windows, I recommend using Foxit Reader for view PDF files instead of Acrobat.  It’s smaller, faster with fewer security issues.  Get it here: http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader/.  And just like the McAfee, when you get to the “Ask” toolbar in the installation, you can UNCHECK the boxes and DECLINE the agreement (it’s just for the toolbar) and the Foxit installation will continue.

Stay safe out there!

Use Office 2010 for Free on the Web

image Did you know that Microsoft let’s you use web versions of Office 2010 for free on the web?  The versions are simplified somewhat, but for most of us they do everything we want them to do.  You have Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote to use, create documents that you can store online or onto your computer – completely FREE!  First you need some kind of account with Microsoft.  It could be a Hotmail or Passport account from the past, or now they call them “Live” accounts.  If you don’t have or don’t remember yours, just make a new one at https://login.live.com/, it’s simple and fast.  Once you have your account, login and go here to accept the privacy agreement: http://bit.ly/TekChic0179.  Now you’re ready to start making docs with 25 Gigabytes of free storage – that’s a lot.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tablet Coming to Sprint

OK, this could make Christmas even more fun.  The Samsung Galaxy Tab will now be offered by all four carriers, so expect to see it go cheap when it comes out later in the fall.  Unfortunately, there are no plans currently for a wi-fi only version, so you will have to sign up for some kind of plan with a carrier.  Here are details from Samsung’s web site:

The Samsung Galaxy weighs less than a pound and features a brilliant 7-inch Enhanced TFT touchscreen display, Android 2.2, a 1GHz Hummingbird Application processor, supporting 3D graphics and smooth Web browsing, as well as dual cameras for video chat on-the-go. It offers two fast and easy ways to enter text onto the tablet – a virtual keyboard and SWYPE technology, which allows users to input text faster and more intuitively with one continuous finger motion across the virtual keyboard.

image “Samsung Galaxy Tab is another Android innovation for Sprint and adds a new category of devices to the Sprint device portfolio,” said Fared Adib, vice president – Product Development, Sprint. “The Sprint 3G network is designed to bring our customers a reliable data experience to keep them productive and entertained on-the-go. With Samsung Galaxy Tab, our customers will appreciate the ability to quickly and easily browse the Web, send email, share pictures and video, use GPS navigation or watch videos or live TV.”

Samsung Galaxy Tab features two cameras – a 3-megapixel camera with camcorder, flash and zoom, and a front-facing, 1.3-megapixel camera – enabling video chat. It also offers mobile hotspot capability to simultaneously connect up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices. Additional key features include:

  • Android Market™ for access to more than 80,000 useful applications, widgets and games available for download to customize the experience
  • Microsoft Document Viewer & Editor to open and make changes to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or PDF documents
  • Stereo speakers
  • Wi-Fi – 802.11 b/g/n
  • Integrated GPS
  • 2GB onboard memory, 16GB microSD card included, with support for up to a 32GB microSD card
  • 4,000 mAh battery

On-The-Go Movie Theater Experience

Samsung Media Hub will offer users an easy-to-use mobile video store with movies and TV shows available for purchase or rental and video content set up for an HD-like entertainment experience. Users can quickly get downloads of a full library of video content powered by some of the biggest names in entertainment using Wi-Fi, including MTV Networks, NBC Universal and Paramount.

Samsung Galaxy Tab will also enable sharing user-generated video content with other devices with Samsung’s exclusive AllShare service. AllShare wirelessly shares stored music, pictures and HD video (720p) to other DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) certified™ home electronics, including HDTVs, monitors, digital cameras and printers. Through AllShare, users can capture special moments with the phone’s camera and camcorder and wirelessly show them to friends or family on their DLNA-certified HDTV or download music from a PC to Samsung Galaxy Tab and take it on the road.

To make staying connected faster and easier, Samsung Galaxy Tab includes Samsung Social Hub, designed to integrate social networking services, messages, personal and business email, calendars and contacts. Calendar information from portal calendars, such as Google Calendar and social networking services, are displayed together in one calendar with two-way synchronization.

Yesterday was “Patch Tuesday”

image Yep, the 2nd Tuesday of the month and that means Windows Updates.  So if you’re seeing the little yellow shield or the message in your lower right tray that updates are available, the DOWNLOAD and INSTALL them.  There were several patches that fixed flaws that allowed a remote person to (uninvited) gain access to your computer.  And with the patches, the bad guys are figuring out exactly how to do it, so don’t waste time.  Stay safe and sleep well.

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