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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FREE SOFTWARE—FREE PROTECTION

Ok, we all love FREE, if you are reading my blog, you know how often I like to put FREE in my blogs, ‘cause WE ALL LOVE FREE.

Well, this time it is the jackpot, FREE & USEFUL!

Comodo may be one of those companies you have never heard of and now you will wish you had. They offer a wealth of free software that focuses on security. Their catch phrase is the Trusted Internet. Basically what they want is to increase trust in use of the Internet and the businesses that operate on the Internet. They do have products they sell (hey they are a business) but they want to facilitate the Trusted Internet concept by providing software tools to protect computers. If people feel their computers are protected they are more likely to use the Internet and Internet businesses, thusly the Trusted Internet. If more people trust the Internet and use Internet businesses, Comodo will sell more of their products and make more money and therefore will be able to support all of their FREE software.

Get this they have ten (10!) FREE applications you can download. Perhaps more importantly they have very good overviews of what you are getting and a wealth of FAQ to support each product.

The ten applications are:
Comodo Firewall Pro
Comodo Memory Firewall
Comodo Verification Engine
Comodo iVault
Comodo AntiSpam
Comodo SecureEmail
Comodo AntiVirus
Comodo BoClean
Comodo Backup
Comodo Registry Cleaner
And as an added bonus Comodo AV Scanner which is not a download, it scans your computer from the Internet.

I did some research on Comodo and found they are a big wheel in the Certificate business. I read some reviews of the products and found some big time positive reviews. I also read that some of the software, in some cases, is perceived as too good. The Firewall got some criticism for intrusiveness. I guess there may be some folks who don’t understand that firewalls are designed to protect and may be intrusive. Overall, I suggest you go to their site Comodo, check out the software, see what you can use and try it for FREE!

3D Printing—Way, Way Cool

You may not be familiar with the term 3D printing but I bet you remember the replicator from Star Trek. Well kiddies, it is no longer just science fiction. Replication exists! Analog Science Fiction and Fact had a great article in the November 2008 edition called: “The 3D Train Wreck”. Thomas A. Easton, the author gave a great overview of the future of 3D printing.

Simplistically, take your 3 dimensional CAD drawing and print it out on a laser printer that will print layers with some type of raw material. Each layer is adhered to the previous layer until you have a full three dimensional finished product. There are a variety of existing technologies that are doing this right now. Rapid-prototyping in industry is the biggest market right at the moment.

Consider how incredibly convenient it would be to fabricate or replicate things right at home. My Polaris pool sweep needed a part yesterday. The part is unavailable, without the part the sweep doesn’t work. The alternative was to buy a new sweep for $500.00. If I had a 3D printer, I could have paid to download the schematic for the part, replicated it and been done for a lot less than $500.00.

Yeah, but this stuff is still way out there, no, not exactly. Idea lab is taking orders now for the Desktop Factory for $4,995.00. It fabricates composite plastic powder fused by a halogen light source. The volume of the initial products will be restricted to 5”x5”x5”. The Desktop Factory 3D printer is about the same size as early laser printers with the initial product measuring about 25 x 20 x 20 inches and weighing less than 90 lbs. That is just about the same size as my first HP LaserJet. The price sounds like a lot of bucks but remember what a desktop computer cost just 10 years ago, let alone 20 years ago. Demand and competition will drive the prices down and as the volume of sales increase.

Fab @ Home is a site dedicated to the promotion and development of fabbers, machines that can make almost anything right on your desktop. Much like the early computers, you can build your own fabricator. YouTube has a good video on the home built fabber.

Early home users will be geeks, just like the early computer users. As the industry and products mature, we will all jump on the bandwagon. The home replicator will be as ubiquitous as the home computer. The future is now!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

You Get What You Pay For.

Years ago and I mean years ago, like 20 years ago I had a buddy who owned a small garage. We were talking tools and I mentioned I needed a socket set. He highly recommended SK and while I don’t remember the price I remember being shocked. He insisted I would never regret it. He was right!

I have used my SK socket set for 30 years and finally cracked my ½” socket. First thing that has broken in 30 years. Could be the fact that I torqued that puppy with my not inconsiderable weight and thusly it deservedly broke. I thought what the, and goggled SK, got an email address and asked if the set was still under warranty. I received an affirmative with an address to send the broken socket. LO and BEHOLD, two weeks later I got back a brand new ½” socket with no charge, no questions, nada!

It is nice to know that there are still manufacturers that stand behind their product and do so years and years later. Hats off to SK TOOLS!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

70’s Wrap Up

Bullying is a hot topic at the home and school meetings. My grandson talks about a bully in school and as a counselor in the 70’s I had to try and see that bullies were thwarted. A tall skinny kid with a big mouth, I got my butt kicked more than once in the 60’s. There were days I was so anxious about going to school that I literally made myself sick. Luckily I finally bulked up while working in the steel mill and dealt out a few paybacks, petty but enormously satisfying.

The 70’s found me much bulkier, more confident and less likely to be bullied. Teaching elementary school in Appalachia, I found myself hypersensitive to bullying and inordinately robust in curbing any I found. Of course when you had the occasional 16 year old 6th grader, the potential for bullying was rather high. Cyber-bullying has become the equal opportunity method of bullying. Girls used to be less impacted by bullying and with cyber-bullying they have become a primary target.

Work place bullying is another issue. Again, equal opportunity seems to be the rule. Both sexes seem to have the random screamer who wants to dominate the work place with heavy handed tactics. In the 70’s, if recollection serves me, there was less tolerance for bullying because you didn’t really need a cause to get fired, you just got fired. The knowledge that you could lose your livelihood apparently deterred a certain amount of bullying. Besides relatively random hazing, I have little recollection of general bullying in the mills I worked in through college. Of course in the 70’s when there was interpersonal conflict it was normally solved with fists as opposed to today where every other idiot who feels downtrodden grabs a gun and opens up on a school.

Life often seems so simple looking back and so complicated while living it. Life is tumultuous now and was tumultuous then. We survived the $64,000.00 question and we will survive American Idol. My parents survived the depression, raised a family, taught us how to work and I did the same. My kids are hard workers and raising good kids too. Recession, election, war, drugs, sex, depression all have been here before and will be here again.

Live your life! Don’t pine for the good old days, don’t whine about the present and don’t worry about the future. Live your life as best you can, the 70’s were interesting, the new century is just as interesting. Don’t wallow in nostalgia; create tomorrow’s nostalgia by today’s actions.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ethical Advertising to Kids, an Oxymoron!


Ok, Bakugan Battle Brawlers is another extraordinarily overpriced TV show promoted kids game. If you kids watches TV cartoons, they are exposed to a continuous stream of thinly veiled infomercials. These are not cartoons like Tom & Jerry, they are the Pokemon version of extended commercials. Bakugan Battle Brawlers are another example of the despicable lengths our enlightened corporations go to market to kids. If the toys were reasonably priced then you might be able to justify the marketing ploys. Bakugan Battle Brawlers look like they should be found in Crackerjack boxes, remember the free toys in Crackerjack? These preteen infomercials create a market, promote an erroneous perception of value by alluding to the collector value of the toy (yeah right) and instigate conflict over the purchase of these questionable toys. If you refuse to succumb to the pleas to purchase, you are a horrible parent and obviously don’t love your kid. Short of banning TV, I don’t know what a parent can do to protect their kids against insidious marketing. Somehow we have to teach the kids to recognize their being scammed. The pea is never under the shell you pick and the Bakugan Battle Brawler is never going to pay your way through your freshman year due to it’s collectors’ value.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Swaptree Not So Hot

Why am I talking about a swap site on a tech (mostly) blog? Well swapping doesn’t mean FREE but it does mean inexpensive which falls under the money saving part. Admittedly posting the same blog on both my blogs seems excessive but somehow to me they fit.

Swaptree is an online swapping service where you can swap CDs, DVD’s and books with folks from all over. Premise is good, site is a bit sketchy, customer support is non-existent. SWAPTREE has no tech support, none, butkus, zip, nada, zero support. I have emailed their support, their contact or anyone who might answer and there is nobody there. If they have support then apparently they really are terrible since I got no response on any emails I have sent.

I wonder who did they pay off on Good Morning America to get recommended. Good Morning America, what were you thinking? There are several much better sites that actually have human beings involved with them.

I have a book on my wish list, Swaptree keep offering me a copy of the book that says specifically the pages have been waterlogged but it is readable. Admittedly I am a bit anal about books. (Probably more than a bit) I have told them at least four (4) times that I don’t want to swap for that specific book due to it’s condition. Every 8 or 10 days they try and get me to take it again. So their software needs some attention since there is no human being there to intervene as a response to my email asking them to stop offering me that book. They also sternly warn me that I will get less trades if I keep turning down books on my wish list, in spite of the fact it is the same blasted book, over and over.

Now if their software was better they could at least pretend to respond to email with automated responses but they aren’t even that good.

I have found Book Mooch and PaperbackSwap much better. I have gotten a much friendly reaction from the people using both those sites than I have from Swaptree. Both Book Mooch and Paperback Swap allow you to send books to others and bank the resulting points to use when books you want become available.

Titletrader is a bit different. The site looks like it would have been right at home on Compuserve bulletin board 25 years ago. The major benefit to TitleTrader is that you can trade “stuff” for books. Of course you can trade stuff for stuff too but I am the book nut, remember! I have posted electronics on there and you get points when someone takes what you posted. You can then use those points to redeem books or stuff. So far I have shipped some stuff and haven’t gotten any books yet, but I am hoping it works.

In all fairness to SwapTree, I like being able to swap my un-listened to CDs for books. Their concept is cumbersome though. You can’t bank points like the other services, you must have someone who wants what you have before you can initiate a trade. Sometimes the trades are three way or even more. You can see that complicates matters and means that trades occur far less often than on the other sites I have mentioned.

On the unlikely chance that anyone at SwapTree reads and or reads this, you really need to try answering your email. A total lack of concern for the people using your service will eventually force your demise, particularly when there are similar services that are substantially easier to use and have a responsive customer service department. (or at least someone who listens) Will I keep using SwapTree? I will probably continue to use them since I like trading CD’s for books. Am I happy with them? You be the judge.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Boomer's Must Click

Ok, we are aging, we don’t like it , we fight it but we’re BOOMERS!
My protective software found nothing scary in this clip, I’m sorry I can’t say the same. Click here, get a Kleenex ‘cause you are gonna laugh and maybe cry!
CLICK BOOMERS HERE-> BOOMERS!

Monday, September 8, 2008

70's Vietnam, Today Iraq & Afghanistan

War faced us in the 70’s. Vietnam was foremost in our thoughts as we aged.
Soldiers With 482nd Security Forces Squadron Return From Iraq


A good lottery number was often life saving. Iraq faces today’s kids and many do volunteer and some die. In the several years after high school I had many friends who never came home. Sadly today I know some kids who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I wore my ROTC uniform proudly in 1966 and wrote to my buddies who served overseas. Too often those same guys weren’t treated well when they got home. A positive change today is that at least our Vets are being accorded the respect they deserve. It doesn’t mean one whit what you think or feel about the current wars, the kids fighting them are just that, kids who deserve our respect and compassion. There was war then and there is war now, human nature and historic precedent indicate that we will always have war somewhere.

Friday, September 5, 2008

TRADE YOUR BOOKS, VIDEOS AND MUSIC AT SWAPTREE

I am an avid scifi/fantasy reader or perhaps just an avid reader. I keep the books I love for passing onto the next two generations of avid readers in my family. The bulk of current fiction and stuff I didn’t really love often seems to grow like coat hangers in an empty closet. What to do with all the accumulated things like Cd’s I don’t listen to anymore, movies I don’t watch and books I have read. WhooHoo, there is a place I can trade that stuff and get something I want in trade.

I have blogged about PaperBack Swap and frankly like it a little better than SwapTree. http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php PaperBack Swap takes paperbacks and hard backs but does not do music or videos. I like it better in the book area because I don’t have to automatically find someone who wants what I have to trade and who has what I want in trade. You bank your trades. If you have something someone wants, you sent it out to them and you pay the postage. In return you get a book credit and you can choose out of the thousands of books something you want. What I like is you don’t have to do it immediately. I like to fill in missing books in trilogies or series so I often wait until those books are put up before I use my banked trade. It works well and I have gotten a lot of good books.

I just started using SwapTree and have gotten a couple of books. I like that I can trade Cd’s and videos and get books in return. You post what you want to trade and then you see what you can get in return. So far I have not been able to get much in the scifi/fantasy category. I guess because I haven’t put much of that category up on their site. It seems like it is another good alternative to letting things just pile up. http://www.swaptree.com/WebFrmUserHomePage.aspx

Since the average postage seems to be about $2.61 to send someone a book, you are getting a book you haven’t read for that low price. You can’t buy a new book for that anymore and with SwapTree you can get a video or a cd for the same price. My experience with SwapTree and Paperback Swap has been positive at this date.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

AVG Failure

I have used and recommended AVG Free Home Edition for years. Today I removed it from two more of my computers and will be removing it from all of them. I don’t know if it is some insidious corporate move to get people to change to the paid version of AVG or just an inability to solve their update problem. For over two weeks I have not been able to get my systems to consistently update. Sometimes they update and sometimes they do not. I have seen a lot of comments on the web expressing the same concern. I haven’t heard or seen anything from AVG that has addressed the issue.

Neighing Horse
Since AVG is free it feels somewhat akin to looking the gift horse in the mouth to complain about it but somehow it feels like the other end of the horse. Anti-virus competency is not something most of us are willing to gamble is working. Again, since there has been no communication from AVG, who knows what is going on and how long it will last. In the meantime, I have uninstalled AVG and installed AVAST. I have had it running on one of my computers for two weeks and experienced no difficulties. AVAST has received a lot of compliments on the web and I have not seen any complaints about updating. Rest assured, if I find issues, I will let you know.
 Money Saving Tech Tips