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Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, What’s Truly Scary!

You know what is incredibly scary, truly frightening, sweaty palm, shortness of breath terrifying? The number of people who have bitched and moaned about what is going on in the world who won’t pick their butt up out of their Barcalounger and get out and vote. The voting age population for the last presidential election (United States Election Project for Nov. 2004) was 221,256,931. The estimated number of voters in the 2004 election who actually voted was 122,294,978. This is just shy of 100,000,000 people who were too damn lazy to cast a ballot.

The homily that you get what you deserve seems to be appropriate for our nation. All our citizens have the franchise. Our women can vote. Our people of color can vote. Our religious preference has no impact on our right to vote. There are many places in the world where that just isn’t true.

I was lucky enough to be the Director of Kids Voting for Southeast Pennsylvania in the 2006 election. I was astounded at the willingness to work of my 1,400 plus volunteers on Election Day, of the hundreds of teachers who supported the program and of the more than 16,000 students who cast ballots. We don’t have to be apathetic.

Hope is a big word, only four letters but a gihugeic word regardless. I hope and I hope you hope that we, as a nation, get out and vote. If we don’t, again we will get what we deserve. I don’t care if you don’t like either candidate, get off your keester and VOTE on Tuesday. Otherwise Halloween won’t be the scariest thing you have to deal with in the next year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grand Theft Auto is NOT Suitable for Kids

The October issue of Wired magazine had a letter to Mr. Know-it-all from a father wanting to know if he should let his 10 year old son dress for Halloween as the main sleazeball character in Grand Theft Auto IV. Mr. Know-it not so much thinks he may send mixed messages to the poor brain damaged kid if he disapproves of him dressing like his sleazy character but lets him play the game.

Mixed messages? This guy isn’t sending mixed messages, he is shouting loud and clear that he can give a damn about the emotional well being of his kid. Scream all you want Grand Theft Auto fans, kids shouldn’t be playing it. Kids do not have the experience or resilience to be exposed to the unsavory themes of this distributing game.

Parents, it is ok to say NO! No matter how much they whine, complain, claim ALL their friends play it (maybe new friends are needed) you still can say NO! Parents have a responsibility to provide a wholesome as possible environment for children. Let college corrupt their behavior, that’s why you will be paying the big bucks. Parents, computers are not a substitute for oversight and common sense. Just because something is on the computer doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful. Would you take your 10 year old to an X rated movie? If so, commit yourself to the nearest institution before you screw up somebody else. If you wouldn’t take a child to a sleazy movie, why let them immerse themselves in a sleazy game hour after hour permeating their unformed personalities with grossly bad behavior. This isn’t Pacman or Tom & Jerry, this is thugs go wild.

Computer games have ratings, check out what your kid is spending so much time playing and make sure you aren’t abandoning your parental responsibilities.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Connect Your Computer to Your TV

You ever want to hook your computer up to your TV? If you have a Tivo and a network it is a piece of cake. Download the Tivo server software onto your computer and you can then see all your graphics files and music files on the Tivo. This is particularly good for showing off your digital photos on a much bigger screen. Conversely, you can save Tivo shows on your computer hard drive and if you want, you can burn them to DVDs. However this does require a Tivo or similar DVR. If you have no Tivo and you want to:
n View your digital photos on your large screen TVs
n Listen to your music through your home stereo system
n View videos stuck on your hard drive on your big screen
n Do basic web surfing in your living room or TV room
n Show off presentations to family, friends, or co-workers.
Our friends at Diamond Case Designs have a very good article in their Home Theater Information Center that gives step by step instructions in “HOW TO” connect your PC and TV. Again, we have no financial interest in Diamond Case Designs but we do recognize their expertise and they are kind enough to send us their newsletter so we find out all these cool Home Theater tips.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

GO PHILLIES


With all due respect to the Rays and their fans,



GO PHILLIES

Ego Shattered, the Naked Soul Shriveled, Dumb Contest

In the immortal words of Pink Floyd, “Is there anybody out there?”
As contests go, this is a bust so far. Not one comment this week, butkus, zip, zero. NO WINNER. It seemed simple enough, comment on one of my blogs and be entered, the more comments on more blogs the more entries. Alas I have stooped to add the sure fire key word, naked, to the title to see if anyone reads this particular post. It is possible that my prize of a Tripplite Circuit Tester is insufficiently attractive to get someone to read my driveling prose. On the other hand, since this is a geek focused blog, why wouldn’t you want a circuit tester unless, of course, you are sufficiently geeky that you already have one.

I guess I should be thankful that I have the occasional reader who accidentally stumbles into the twilight zone of my half-witty rending. If my satisfying self expression is predicated on readership I am doomed to a pathetic page rank. However if satisfying self expression is just the act itself of self expression then I find myself satisfied. Voyeur readership is better than no readers whatsoever. So thank you for reading, if no comments are forthcoming, so be it, I get to keep the four Tripplite Circuit Testers for my self, and what self respecting geek ever has enough cool gadgets, I shall remain comfortably numb.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hard Drive Crashes, Man Jumps Off Roof!

Has this happened to you? Has your computer hard drive ever taken a nose dive into oblivion? Don’t despair there is hope.

If you have had a computer for any length of time, you probably have had a hard drive failure. In and of itself a hard drive failure isn’t necessarily horrible if you have a good backup. However that is a seriously big IF! Most people intend to do backups, some think they do backups but very few actually do backups. So what if your hard drive crashes and you have no backup?

The other night a friend approached me at my favorite watering hole and told me that her hard drive had died. She was practically distraught in that all of her family photos were on that drive and she had no backup. I pulled out my key chain and read a name and phone number off of my led flashlight. The company I recommended was Drive Savers. Why do you recommend things or services? I make recommendations based on my experiences, sometimes on reviews but most comfortably based on my experiences.

Drive Savers is a hard drive recovery firm. I had a computer business for over 25 years and trust me, we saw a lot of dead hard drives and distraught, un-backed up users. The only company that I found that consistently came through on data recovery is Drive Savers. I have had no contact with them since I sold my computer business but I emailed them to tell them I had given out their name off of the led flashlight they had given me as a marketing tool.

I got a call based on my email and they asked me if I wanted to be an affiliate again. Since I do consulting I do run across folks who have difficulties so I decided to jump on board again. So you will find a banner for Drive Savers on my sidebar. Why?, because based on my experience Drive Savers is the best data recovery firm, period.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If you want change, then Vote!

This is the best attention getting, non-partisan ad for encouraging the vote I have ever seen. Feel in your name and watch the video.

AARP 08 Video
Enter your name to see who can bring real change to Washington.
First Name:
Last Name:

Win A FREE Tripplite Circuit Tester Contest

Just For Making Comments
I will give away one Tripplite Circuit Tester each week for the next four weeks to whoever posts the most comments on my blog. Please don’t comment successively, if there are two in a row by the same person, it will only count as one. I will keep track of the comments for each week and announce each week’s winner here. Cut off time for comments for each week will be noon on Sunday. I will be counting comments on Sunday October 26, Sunday November 2, 9 and 16.

AC Circuit Tester, 3 prong, brand NEW Brand New Tripplite Brand AC Outlet Tester A must have for every toolbox and desk drawer. I gave one of these to every one of my technicians when I was in the computer business. Many computer and consumer electronic issues are from "bad" power. This tester shows by means of three colored lights whether there is: an Open Ground--Open Neutral---Open Hot--- Hot/Grnd Reverse--- Hot/Neutral Reverse or a Correctly Wired Outlet. Avoid ELECTRICAL Outlet problems, TEST those Outlets. This product should not be used to replace the services of a qualified electrician.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How much computer security do you need?

Wired magazine has an article in the October edition that addresses that question. Security is big business. Look at Norton and McAfee, they get you with a fee each and every year. Every week you hear of some data base that has been compromised. Keep in mind that your home computer has little likelihood to be the target of the more talented hackers. Even those of us who have or had small businesses are not that attractive to the hackers. High volume shysters have been targeting gas stations with their parasitic card readers because that is where there is some serious money. Look at how many credit cards they can get in one day with minimal work so it stands to reason getting your credit card information off of your home computer is not going to be high on the agenda of the average cyber creep.

This is not to suggest that you should do nothing to protect your computers. You should have a good antivirus software package installed and a spyware destroyer or two. Most importantly you should make sure they are updated and working. Encryption software, encrypted hard drives, biometrics are all costly, effective but costly security devices. Most happy homeowners and small businesses really don’t need that level of security.

AVAST is a very good, free antivirus software package, click on the name to download it. I used to recommend AVG but they have had updating issues for several months now and frankly that drove me to AVAST which has been very unobtrusive and updates transparently.

Ad-Aware Free is free to home and personal computer users. It does a nice job on spyware and crap removal. Spybot-S&D is my other spyware program. The two programs don’t always play nicely. Ad-Aware may find some of the Spybot backup files and complain about them but otherwise they get along ok.

Periodically I go to the Trend Micro’s or Comodo's free online scan to check up on AVAST. I do have the security enabled on both of my routers.

Check out my post on Free Software-Free Protection on September 30 for more software suggestions.

Bottom line is that you can spend a fortune on security for your computer, it won’t hurt you (may slow down your pc) but it probably isn’t worth what you pay for most users.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Bit of a New Look or Some More Change


Looking at my blog, I decided that it has become cluttered with attempts to generate some miscellaneous income. My Amazon Store, my CafePress store, my Zazzle store all get some interest but seem like they detract from the blog itself. Thusly I have put all of those commercial ventures on my web site with links from my blogs to them. If someone wants to buy one of my "oh, so chic" t-shirts, a book or something from Amazon, it will now take two clicks to get there, one to get to my web site and one to get to the store. If someone really wants to buy something, I think two clicks are not a deterrent. If they don't then the presence of those commercial items on the web site may have deterred them from coming back.

Life is nothing but change. Alvin Toffler's book Future Shock suggested that we (his readers) would have difficulty changing with the accelerated pace of today's world. Change has gone from arithmetic to geometric.

I think all of us are capable of change. My 93 year old mother begrudgingly accepted the use of a walker. She wasn't happy about it, but it beats the heck out of falling and not having mobility. If she can handle change so can the rest of us.

Stock market be damned! Keep faith in yourself and those around you. We can handle change and who knows maybe we will end up being better off.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

LG Dare Cell Phone—I love it!

You may have seen my semi-rant posts on my Samsung FlipShot. The main reason I got the phone was the camera which turned out to be iffy at best. The killing factor on the phone was it’s refusal to accept incoming calls about 80% of the time. It would send the calls to voice mail before I could get the darn thing open. Made me crazy.(crazier probably) After nearly a year of complaining to Verizon and one replacement of the phone for the same model, Verizon came through and said they would replace the phone for me with a different model. (In fairness to Verizon, their customer support people were always friendly, courteous and very pleasant to deal with under trying circumstances.)

My replacement was the LG Dare. It has a better camera and it really does a nice job with the photos. The Touch Screen is terrific. It has tactile feedback which lets you know it really did feel your command. (I go all the way back to the original HP PC touch screens in the mid 80’s which were cool but you never knew for sure if your touch was registered.)

There is a standard headphone jack which would seem to be a no brainer but first phone I have had that has one. I hooked up my pc stereo speakers to my phone and was knocked over by how good the music sounded.

It was a piece of cake moving the photos off of the phone to my pc and moving mp3s over to the phone. LG included the cable to connect to the usb port of the computer which was a $20.00 extra from Samsung.

A good review of the phone is at Cnet.
There is also a video of the phone at YouTube.

Overall, I LOVE THIS PHONE! It actually accepts calls and gives me time to answer them. Data, music and photos transfer easily. The photos are terrific.
The specs are below, if you don’t want an iPhone then look at this baby because it is SWEET.

Manufacturer:LG Electronics U.S.A. Part Number:DARELGBLKVZW General
Cellular technology CDMA2000 1X Band / mode CDMA2000 1X 1900/800 Weight 3.76 oz Wireless Interface Bluetooth (A2DP) Combined with With digital camera / digital player Phone

Service provider Verizon
Wireless Vibrating Alert Yes
Voice Recorder Yes
Speakerphone Yes
Polyphonic Ringer Yes
Alarm Clock Yes
Calendar Yes
Additional Features Handwriting recognition,

Touch-screen Digital Camera Camera highlights With a resolution of 3.2 megapixels, this camera phone will give you better pictures than other phones. Still image resolution 640 x 480 Messaging

Data Services
Voice Mail Capability Yes
Short Messaging Service (SMS) Yes
Internet Browser Yes
Messaging / Data Features Text messages 3G Services / Included Services VCAST, VZ Navigator Digital Player / Recorder

Digital player supported digital audio standards MP3, AAC Digital player/recorder type Digital player Display
Display Type LCD display
Display technology TFT Display Resolution 240 x 400 pixels Color Support Color Color Depth 18-bit (262000 Colors) Power
Talk time Up to 280 min
Audible Battery Alert Yes
Cellular Phone style Candy bar Automatic Redial Yes
Call Divert Yes
Call Barring Yes
Call Timer Yes
Caller ID Yes
Call Waiting Yes
Volume Control Yes
Ringer Control Yes
Conference Call Capability Yes
Computer Link Yes
Physical Characteristics
Height 4.1 in Antenna Integrated Warranty
Service & support type 1 year limited warranty

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Panic or Greed Both Are Self Centered, Self-Fulfilling and Self Destructive

We live in the greatest nation in the world. I look at blogs in other countries where the blogger is in danger from his government for what he is writing. We have the freedom to express ourselves in so many ways.

At the moment we have a sizable portion of our nation trying diligently to destroy it. It is difficult to say whether panic or greed is fueling the current Wall Street nose dive. Greed obviously fed the conditions that led to our current financial crisis. Even the “rescue” couldn’t avoid the Washington game as usual pork.

It appears that a great many people can not see the benefit of our society and what it can be. Grabbing what they can, forcing down the market by selling to get theirs before it gets worse and fulfilling their own fears. It may be greed and it may be just sheer panic that the sky is falling and I better grab my chunk before it is gone. I don’t know the motivation; all I know is that the financial institutions that lead the panic and the poor suckers like me who watch their retirement swirling down the toilet are in the same sinking boat.

The damn boat is sinking because we refuse to have faith in our own country, our own people and our own destiny. I am not talking about believing in the lying, self serving weasels in Washington who let the greed ridden, golden parachuted CEO’s rape the financial institutions. I am not talking about having faith in our grand corporate edifices that reward failure at the top and lay off and penalize the bottom that does the actual work. I am talking about having faith that the average American still puts in an honest day for an honest dollar. I am talking about having faith in the small businesses of this nation that employ more people and do more good than those corrupt, grandiose, blue chip engines of corporate greed.

The big guys are only looking for how they can squeeze the last dime out of your widowed mother’s pension, they are not looking at the destruction they are doing to our nation and the world. As long as they get theirs, who cares about the rest of us?

We must care about ourselves. Have faith that we can survive this financial debacle. Stop running in panic and selling our stocks, driving down the market and fulfilling the over paid pundits predictions.

Just stop, take a breath, if you don’t sell it, you aren’t going to lose money on it. Historically our economy is strong. Historically the market will recover. We will be ok, our pensions will be there. Our retirement will occur. We just have to stop panicking. Withdrawing your money due to fear, selling your stocks due to fear just allows the vultures in the wings to pick up your investments for a dime on the dollar. The jackals will survive and flourish unless we curb our panic and face this financial crisis with common sense.

We, as a people, try our best to do good, to help others, to respond with aid to crisis here and abroad. We can not allow the greed and panic of a few to force us into a spiral of despair. Shelve that panic, you greedy fools stop your predatory practices, when you eat the seed corn you have no crops. When you destroy the economy and drag the world into a depression, you will have no safe place to spend your ill gotten gains. Buck up America, we aren’t wimps, we can survive this with common sense and a calm mind and faith in our great nation.

Donuts—The Perfect Food

First, the donut is the perfect diet food, it is well rounded and most importantly it has the zero calorie center. The symbolism of the donut is obvious, being one with the world and the evoked sadness due to the emptiness often found in many people's center. Man does not live by health alone, an occasional dip into dietary decadence is good for raising the spirit. If nothing else, donut lovers are emphatically expressing their support for law and order and the stereotypical donut devourer.

Wired magazine had an article about how to increase views of your site. One of their tips was to write about stuff in which you have strong expertise. In other words, something you are an expert on!

I humbly feel that I can claim a high level of expertise on Donuts. My earliest food memories feature donuts. I have fond memories of May’s Donuts Shop in New Castle, PA. They had wonderful filled donuts. Their lemon filled donut always had a tart flavor offset by the liberal use of powdered sugar. The jelly donuts were sweet but never overwhelming.

The First Street Bakery had exceptional glazed donuts. Ideally you went to the bakery late at night and had them drop the donuts off of the dripping/drying rod, right into your bag. Not to brag but those were the days you could eat a dozen donuts on your walk home from the high school dance and not gain a single ounce.

Publix in Naples produce a consistently good maple glazed donut. It is truly an epicurean delight. Their maple iced cake donut is also good. They have a glazed croissant that is wonderful but is inappropriate for this venue.

Ronnie’s on rt.278 in Hilton Head has a good donut. However since they have changed hands, the quality has dropped.

Factory donuts such as Crispy Creams, do not hold a candle to the small local donut shops. Grocery store boxed donuts should never be mentioned in the same breath as real donuts. However some groceries do produce a quite edible donut in house. Genuardi’s puts out a good solid, cruller like glazed and iced cake donut. Their traditional glazed donut is nothing to brag about. They do periodically have a glazed cruller that is exceptional even if it isn’t circular or have a hole. Giant used to have a good sour cream cruller which I haven’t seen lately but they also had a good cream donut.

Dunkin Donuts are ok, I think their coconut and butternut are their strong points. Surprisingly, YumYum puts out a pretty darn good and consistent donut. They have a fired, cake, glazed jelly stick that is simply delicious and their buttermilk crullers are at the top of the donut chain.

Alas donuts have gotten a bad rap the last few years. Dieticians seem to have no soul regarding donuts. I did run across a scientist on the Good Morning America site that provided some suppositions on why some of us, who aren’t in law enforcement, are so passionate about our donuts. The link is below.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/AheadoftheCurve/story?id=5428595&page=1

Please comment as to where you have found the best donuts. The sharing of good donut sources is sadly lacking. Happy eating!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Shipping Charge Scam

Basically if I go to a site and find what I want at a price I feel is fair I tend to buy it unless they hide the shipping charges. Hidden shipping charges drive me and I suspect drive an enormous number of people away from a site. Show the shipping charges before your customer is expected to put in their information and you will retain more customers.

How dumb does the vendor assume we are when they want all the information, including credit card, before they kindly let us know their shipping charges are outrageous. Why else would you hide your shipping charges? Buyer beware is even more important on the Web than ever before.

If a site doesn’t give you the shipping charges prior to collecting your information, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! If we all boycott the sites that think they can play bait and switch with shipping charges hidden, maybe they will wise up and give the consumer some credit. The $6.99 item including shipping is a much better deal than the $4.99 item with the hidden (until you check out) shipping charge of $9.99.

Don’t let inertia prevent you from going to another site and finding the real price up front, boycott the hidden shipping charge sites.

Friday, October 3, 2008

3D Printing Follow Up

I got a comment from Joris of Shapeways after my blog on 3D printing. He apparently works at Shapeways. I checked out their site. This photo is off of their site. Pretty cool stuff can be done there. If you have interest in 3D printing but don’t have the budget to go out and buy your own equipment, this is the site to visit. You can upload your designs and have them created. It seems like the perfect opportunity to see if you do want to get involved in 3D printing. Mudge said in his comment on the article, science fiction at work, I have to agree, too cool to believe. Shapeways also has a blog. Lots of interesting stuff on their blog too. No, this is not a sponsored review, just darn interesting stuff.
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